Category Archives: Recent Activity

Windows 8.1 EOL January 2023

Here it comes, I guess. MS is reminding Windows 8.1 users that its end-of-life (EOL) is imminent. With Windows 8.1 EOL January 2023 just around the corner, what else is MS saying? Find out in their Support article entitled “Windows 8.1 support will end on January 10, 2023.” Intentionally or not, it includes some amusing stuff. It also speaks to their philosophy and stance regarding Windows 11.

After Windows 8.1 EOL January 2023, Then What?

The afore-linked MS support article actually calls the transition that will occur on January 10, 2023 “end of support.” But because most readers know what EOL means I used it here. MS also recommends upgrading Windows 8.1 devices “to a more current, in-service, and supported Windows release.”

If Statcounter is correct, as of October 31, 2022, Windows 8.1 held a desktop market share of 2.45%. MS also puts the size of the combined Windows 10 and 11 device or OS instance population at 1.5B. That’s in keeping with Earthweb’s total count estimate from August 2022 of 1.6B. Statcounter grants Windows 10 and 11 combined 86.71% of the global desktop tally. By my reckoning, therefore, that puts the possible number of 8.1 devices at just over 42M.

Upgrade to Windows 11 on a New PC

MS also recommends for Windows 8.1 devices that don’t meet Windows 11 hardware requirements, that users “replace the device with one that supports Windows 11.” Indeed, it makes sense when refreshing PC hardware to go as modern and forward leaning as possible.

In fact, Windows 8.1 made its public debut (GA) on October 17, 2013. This date calculator tells me that was 9 years, 1 month, and 1 day ago as of today, November 18, 2022. That makes it almost inevitable that hardware purchased on or before the 2013 date doesn’t meet Windows 11 hardware requirements. The Gen8 “boundary date” actually falls in 2017-2018 time range.

What Happens to 8.1 After EOL (or EOS)?

MS won’t be offering an ESU (Extended Security Update) program for Windows 8.1. Thus it will no longer receive technical support, software updates, and security patches or fixes. According to WinAero, “Microsoft’s own products including Office 365 and the Store app will stop working.” That should be enough to convince most business users that it really is time to get off that bus.

For me, some of the humor in this otherwise doleful situation comes from Windows 8 and 8.1 general marketplace fate. It was never that popular to begin with, nor did it ever enjoy the kind of uptake in business that XP, 7 and Windows 10 achieved. To think that as many as 42M devices may be affected by this impending retirement is mostly a testament to how enormous the total Windows market really is. And to think it’s dwarfed by a factor of 3X or greater by smartphones is truly mind-boggling.

Even so, prodding a device population of 42 million onto Windows 11 and new PCs could be a boon to the sagging PC market. At a modest average price of $1K per unit (low for a business class PC nowadays, but higher for home/casual users) that’s a cool $42B in sales. It comes pretty close to “real money,” in my book.

Shout-Out to Sergey Tkachenko: the WinAero story cited in the concluding section of this story originally led me to the MS Support item that provides its focus and impetus. Thanks, Sergey!

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VM SSD Speed Falls Off

What did I expect, I wonder? I’ve been digging more deeply into VMs on the amazing Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation. (It’s got an i9-12950HX, 2TB PCIe x4 SSD, 128GB RAM, Quadro RTX A5500, and Windows 11 22H2.) Most of the time, the VM runs almost indistinguishably from the physical OS. But various IO metrics tell a different story: most tellingly, VM SSD speed falls off measurably. That applies both to the Virtual C: drive inside the VM, and when accessing external USB4 storage devices from the VM.

How Much VM SSD Speed Falls Off

By most metrics, it’s 2X or more. To be more specific, CrystalDisk-Mark results for the C: drive are about half across the board versus the internal Kioxia SSD. For the all-important random read/write 4K single thread, it’s worse than that (2.5X to 3X). Worse still, large file copies to external USB drives fall off a cliff: typical rates of 250-280 MBps fall to 60-70 MBps. This is shown from File Explorer inside the VM in the lead-in graphic above. Here’s a comparison from the physical machine:

VM SSD Speed Falls Off.phys-copy

Notice: USB speed is at least 4X faster on a physical PC vs. a VM.

Let’s Get Physical…

This actually provides an interesting justification for running certain workloads on physical rather than virtual PCs — namely, that IO and completion times can be dramatically affected. But given the convenience, flexibility and open-ended nature of VMs, this is not likely to matter that much except for highly specialized workloads where time is worth more than money.

Fascinating stuff, though — and great fun to play with. Check out the Get a Windows 11 development environment page at MS.

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Windows 11 Beta Channel Gets Improved Task Manager

Finally! I’ve been reading about — and seeing — cool changes to the Task Manager in Windows 11 for weeks and weeks. But only with Build 22623.891 for all of its users, Windows 11 Beta Channel gets improved Task Manager. What does this mean? Take a look at the lead-in screencap (and others below) and I’ll tell you more…

Woo-hoo! Windows 11 Beta Channel Gets Improved Task Manager

Let’s start with the lead-in graphic. Among the several improvements Task Manager now makes easily accessible in the 22623 fork of the Beta Channel, I can finally produce the Dark Theme. That’s what you see in that graphic, which makes for a more dramatic (but also visually sensible) set of CPU utilization graphs. Previously, this kind of thing was only accessible through ViveTool tweaks (which I avoid as a matter of practice).

What else is in there? You can search for processes by name in various Task manager panes (processes and details). The next screencap shows the results of a search for the ubiquitous svchost process in the Processes pane (notice it’s smart enough to map part of the .exe name to the related process names: cool!).

Windows 11 Beta Channel Gets Improved Task Manager.search

Notice that “Service Host” appears in nearly all of the elements shown as search results. Very helpful!

According to this story at WinAero from Sergey Tkakchenko, you can search on process name, ID or publisher with good results. That certainly worked for me.

One more thing: turning on “Efficiency mode” in Task Manager is now a right-click option from the Details pane. This lets users lower runtime priority to boost power efficiency, while upping stability risks. My example (e.g. the Chrome web browser) is an example of something you probably would NOT wish to run in this mode. For real.

Efficiency mode is easy to set, but should be approached with some caution.

I’m not sure I truly understand when or why to use Efficiency Mode (presumably on a tablet or laptop on battery power) but I’ll do some investigating and experimenting and see what’s up with that. Stay tuned! Should be fun…

In the meantime, I’m delighted to finally be able to see and exercise these Task Manager facilities for myself. If you have access to a Beta Channel Insider Preview, it’s worth updating to Build 22623.891 to see for yourself.

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Ready-to-Run Eval Windows 11 Development VMs

MS offers free downloads of ready-to-run Eval Windows 11 Development VMs (virtual machines). They incorporate a copy of Windows 11 Enterprise, Visual Studio 2022 edition, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), and Windows Terminal. They’re ready to run in developer mode, right “out of the box” as ’twere.

MS makes them available, free, for the following hypervisors:

  • VMWare
  • Hyper-V
  • VirftualBox
  • Parallels

Just for grins I downloaded the Hyper-V incarnation, and spent an enjoyable hour getting it installed and running yesterday, along with some exploration and investigation. The lead-in graphic shows the head of the download page for all this stuff.

Grab Ready-to-Run Eval Windows 11 Development VMs

I was able to bring up the VM simply by opening it in Hyper-V and using the “default switch” for the networking option. It’s just that easy to get it up and going. No kidding. But…

As I explored the new runtime environment I did find some limitations. Turns out the default install in Hyper-V does not resolve TPM issues. There’s a whole raft of “Generation 2 VM Security Issues” about which I had been blissfully unaware.

I’m going to need to work through those issues so I can try again. Why? Because if I want to keep the VM around as more than a transitory eval, I have to be able to upgrade to 22H2 (the download is 22H1). And here’s what the Windows 11 Installation Assistant currently has to say about that:

Upon running the PC Health Check on that VM, I’m informed that no TPM is detected. No TPM, no upgrade. This can be fixed: I see numerous recipes to make that happen. I’ll try them soon.

More Fun Than…

In the meantime, I’m having a gas running VMs on the P16 Mobile Workstation (with 128GB RAM, a 24-core i9 12th Gen CPU, and so forth). Honestly and for the first time, ever, I can’t tell any diff between running a native OS and a VM. It’s awe-inspiring. I’ll keep digging in, and reporting more, but if you too wish to play, visit the download page. It’s a pure joy to mess around with!

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PowerToys File Locksmith Works Well

Starting with version v0.64.0, released on November 2, the PowerToys collection added File Locksmith to its mix.The tool’s own built-in description is sparse. It reads: File Locksmith is “…[a] Windows shell extension to find out which processes are using the selected files and directories.” Doesn’t sound like much but can be handy. Indeed, I learned that PowerToys File Locksmith works well this weekend. Let me explain…

Why Say: PowerToys File Locksmith Works Well?

As I tried to work through an update process for a desktop tool, I got an error message showing three instances of svchost.exe were impeding installation. Remember: File Locksmith is a “shell extension.” In this case, that means you can right click “stuck” files in File Explorer and then choose the “Who’s using this file?” menu option that appears.

This brings File Locksmith into the picture, wherefrom you can choose an “End Task” button for associated files that show up in the listing. Furthermore, you can see detail about each running process, so you can even match up process IDs inside Task Manager to make sure you “end task” only when and where you should, and leave other stuff alone.

PowerToys File Locksmith Works Well.fl-output

The offending items were various DLLs. They run within svchost processes so multiple programs can share access to them.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

This made my job pretty easy. All I had to do was end the offending tasks so the installation could complete. It did so pretty much immeditately after I told it to try again. And it ran to successful conclusion.

Warning: Because ending tasks for shared DLLS can leave certain important facilities inaccessible after such a move, I also restarted Windows after the update was done. You know: just to be on the safe side…

But gosh, File Locksmith made this sometimes vexing and onerous task easy and straightforward. I have to laugh about this too, though. Here’s why: earlier versions of PowerToys itself were prone to experiencing install delays owing to running items. These included dll host processes that required manual closing in Task Manager. Thus, it’s glaringly obvious how the developers figured out such a tool could be helpful — at least, IMHO.

But it’s here, it works, and has already proved useful in helping me update a utility included in my Startup items, and generally running in the Windows background. If it worked for me, it should do likewise for you. Enjoy!

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Samsung Printer Is Now HP

Boy! The interesting things one can learn when updating drivers are legion. Case in point: I learned I needed an update for the Samsung Easy Printer Manager program. Upon searching for same, I found myself directed to HP (!) Customer Support. Indeed, that’s where the latest version of said utility now resides. You can see a screencap of that download page at the head of this story. Looks like my Samsung printer is now HP,  in name and in fact.

If Samsung Printer Is Now HP Then What?

HP is the former division of Hewlett Packard that now sells PCs and printers, as well as peripherals. To give you an idea of how long this has been going on, this press release bears a November 1, 2017 date. Whoa: talk about missing that bus by a mile…

When HP closed the deal they did so for US$1.05B. They also acquired a portfolio of 6.5K patents, and “a workforce of nearly 1,300 researchers and engineers with expertise in laser technology, imaging electronics, and supplies and accessories.” I guess that means buying an official laser toner cartridge (I still have a spare in my utility closet) will cost even more than it did the last time I looked. I found the product page, but I can’t find a price (looks like I might have to set up an account). Amazon references an “HP Store” and offers same for US$76, so that’s not too pricey. OK then: it’s all good.

Plus çe Change…

That’s French for a saying that roughly translates: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The technology landscape is chock full or mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs and divestitures. I have to laugh about this one, because I’m definitely coming late to that particular party. But at least, I had no trouble finding an updated version of the software I needed. And it works, too!

And that’s the way things go, here in Windows-World, from time to time.

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Winerror versus Err: Enough, or Too Much?

Here’s an interesting dilemma. In the past, I’ve advocated use of the Windows Error Lookup Tool, currently Err_6.4.5.exe The other day, I had cause to rue my recommendation. I actually found a different, more focused tool named Winerror.exe. It’s part of the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit, aka Windows ADK. But then, you might also need to grab the older Windows 10 version to get the tool I’m about to discuss. It seems to be missing in the Windows 11 version.

Winerror versus Err: Focused and General

You can see the issue in the lead-in graphic for this article. Notice that winerror provides two different expansions, one of which mentions normalization. Err_6.4.5, OTOH, provides 6. These come from a variety of error code source files: bugcodes.h, netmon.h, winerror.h, and ntstatus.h.

In simpler terms, winerror looks only at winerror.h; err… looks at a bunch of error code source files, including winerror.h. My point is that winerror may be worth consulting when you’re troubleshooting Windows 10 or 11. That goes double when the error reporting tool (err_6.4.5.exe) produces more output than you know how — or really want — to use.

Wm Blake Still Has a Point

The end half of the title for this story comes from William Blake’s Proverbs of Heaven and Hell. It makes the excellent point that you really don’t know you have enough until you have more than you need. That’s why I recommend using the older, but less general, Winerror.exe when you find that the latest error reporting tool (err_6.4.5.exe) has more to say than you really need to know.

‘Nuff said!

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Windows 10 versus Windows 11 Uptake

I just read a fascinating story from the man himself — Paul Thurrott, that is — over at his website. Entitled “Windows 11 Usage Share Is Struggling…” it raises some interesting questions. Chief among these is “When deciding Windows 10 versus Windows 11, what do business users get?”

Thurrott’s analyses lead him to this conclusion: “Not enough to justify migration.” If necessary, add “…if hardware refresh is required” to that statement. FWIW, I agree. However, I’m not as inclined to finger-point at MS for market manipulation as he is. Let me explain…

Windows 10  versus Windows 11 Is a No-Op

Looking back at typical business migrations as far back as I can remember (the Windows 3.x era, circa 1991), I see a consistent pattern. It explains why business uptake of Windows 11 remains somewhat scant.

Here ’tis: It usually takes 2-3 years for businesses to get serious about migrating Windows versions. And then, that’s only if  the version of Windows is judged “successful” (not Windows Me, Vista, or 8/8.1, for example). Right now, it’s been just over a year since Windows 11 released: October 4 was the anniversary date. Thus, it’s simply too soon for most migrations just yet.

Thurrott and readers make at least two valid points

(a) for a good portion of the installed PC base, Windows 11 won’t run (40-50% by most estimates, in fact)
(b) most businesses manage their own refresh cycle timing, and aren’t inclined to let MS dictate when that should happen.

All this said, I don’t think even MS can derail all of the prior migration history it already knows about, points (a) and (b) notwithstanding. My gut feel is that something else is up beyond seeking ways to force business users forward faster.

Windows 10 EOL Remains Unchanged

October 14, 2025 is now about three years distant. This acts as a full-stop for most business. They don’t ordinarily want to pay for extended support  unless stuck between rock and hard place. (Example: US DoD for Windows XP and 7, on the way to Windows 7 and 10, respectively.)

Various sources put the PC refresh interval in business globally between 4 and 10 years, with the most common recurring value at 5 years. Depending on where organizations are in that cycle, I guess at least 80 of businesses would refresh anyway before Windows 10 hits EOL.  CPUs and TPMs in use in early 2018 define the boundary between what’s in and what’s outside of Windows 11 requirements. That puts the maximum interval for refresh at about 7 years and 9 months (7.75 years). IMO, that’s longer than normal for most concerns.

New PCs purchased since 2019/2020 will meet Windows 11 requirements as a matter of course. Thus it’s really PC’s purchased before January 2018 (or older models purchased through 2020, no doubt to obtain steep discounts) that really come into play.

My best guess is that, as with prior major versions of Windows (3.1, 95, 2000, XP, 7, and 10 — see the pattern?), 11 migrations will get serious in late 2023 and throughout 2024. That’s just in time to stay ahead of EOL for Windows 10. It’s also in tune with most prior migration cycles. Need I say more? I think not…

 

 

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2023 Windows Insider MVP Application

Well, then. The deadline for the 2023 Windows Insider MVP application is in two days (November 4). I just uploaded mine a few minutes ago. I’m nearing the completion of my first 5 years with the program — I was first admitted in 2018 — and hoping to keep it going for at least that long again. As I filled out the application, I perforce took a look at my Windows related activities over the past 12 months. I’d like to report on same to my readers here as well.

2023 Windows Insider MVP Application Highlights

Here’s an abbreviated, bulleted list of what I reported to the Windows Insider Team in making my 2023 application:

  • 217 posts in the period from November 1, 2021 to October 31, 2022 right here to EdTittel.com
  • 27 Windows-related articles for ComputerWorld (including revisions)
  • Over a dozen Windows-related articles for each of Tom’s Hardware and TechTarget
  • Over 500 posts to TenForums.com and over 200 posts to ElevenForum.com
  • Regular social media presence for Windows work on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

It’s not much different from what I’d been doing for the preceding 4 years, but it’s always fun and interesting to see how much happens over the course of a year.

What Comes Next?

It takes a while for the Windows team to handle all the incoming applications, including renewal apps from the 100-plus people who already belong to this program. You can check out that list under the “Get to know Windows Insider MVPs” heading on the program’s home page. Here’s what my listing there looks like:

2023 Windows Insider MVP Application.listing

Hmmm. Looks like I need to update my profile mention of Windows 11, too. [Click image for full-sized view.]

Indeed, Windows 11 certainly took a lot of my time over the past 12-18 months (it made its preview debut on June 28, 2021: I got in the second day of release). I can’t wait to see what happens next, and to learn how to install, use, tweak and troubleshoot same.

Wish me luck: I’m hoping for another 5 years of WIMVP status, if not more. As soon as they let me know if I’m in or out for 2023, I’ll report here. Fingers crossed, in the meantime.

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Using Winget For 4 Ways To Update

I’ve been researching an upcoming ComputerWorld story about the terrific and powerful PowerShell based Windows packager: Winget. It’s a peach! I mostly use it for keeping applications and supporting elements current. Lately,  I’m  using Winget for 4 ways to update my apps. Let me explain…

How-to: Using Winget for 4 Ways to Update

Way 1: Check Pending /Available Upgrades

By itself, the command winget upgrade simply shows what’s ready to upgrade. It doesn’t actually do any upgrades. Thus, it offers a quick easy way to see what upgrades are available. That’s why it appears as the lead-in graphic for this story.

Ways 2 & 3: Perform Blanket Upgrades

In fact, two different command strings provide varying degrees of upgrade capability

  1. winget upgrade –all
  2. winget upgrade –all –include-unknown

By default winget only upgrades to a new version when it recognizes the current version. Then, if the current installed version is lower-numbered than the pending one, the upgrade goes ahead. Some-times, for whatever reason, winget can’t find the current running version into. In such cases, the upgrade –all variant skips them. Thankfully, adding –include-unknown to the string tells winget to upgrade those anyway. Consequently, I use that more inclusive variant because there’s less follow-up needed.

To illustrate, the next screencap shows winget upgrade –all –include-unknown output on the PC that produced the lead-in snap. Notice please: 5 items found, 5 items upgraded. Good-oh!

The –all –include-unknown variant of winget upgrade covers the most possibilities. On this PC, all 5 candidates upgrade.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Way 4: Targeted Winget Upgrades

Examined closely, both preceding screencaps shows an ID column. Indeed, that information provides a “package name” for its associated application. Thus, you can always upgrade a single package at time using this syntax:

winget upgrade <package-name>

For example, names shown in the screencaps include Mozilla.Firefox, TeamViewer.Teamviewer, AntibodySoftware.Wiztree, Google.Chrome and Microsoft.WindowsSDK. That follows a mostly predictable structure: builder-name.package-name. For speed, I like to use it when winget presents only a single option, or when a winget blanket command fails.  I’m learning that happens sometimes, for various odd reasons.

There are many ways to work with winget I haven’t yet mentioned. These could appear in future posts here. Certainly, they’ll definitely be covered in my upcoming ComputerWorld piece. Right now, that’s scheduled to appear online before month’s end. Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to catch that during the busy holiday season.

 

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