Category Archives: Recent Activity

Updates Require Balancing OCD Against Time

I can’t help it. Tinkering with my PCs gives me great joy. I also love to check up on them at regular intervals. I work to keep the OS, drivers, apps and programs current and correct. But I learned long ago that it takes time — often, too much time — to attain absolute perfection. Or perhaps I should say “total update coverage” instead? Indeed, updates require balancing OCD against time. One must know when to quit or give up looking for elusive elements. Thereby hangs today’s tale…

If Updates Require Balancing OCD Against Time, How Much Is Too Much?

I use a couple of good tools to help me track non-OS updates for programs. The Store does a good job of keeping up with most apps. WU does well enough by me with the OS. For drivers, I rely on reading TenForums and ElevenForum to keep up. I also hasten to add that Windows 10/11 both do a good job of handling drivers on their own. That means I concentrate on Nvidia GPU drivers, output from the Intel Driver & Support utility, news about Samsung NVMe drivers, Realtek UAD audio drivers, and — occasionally — Thunderbolt drivers. The rest of them take pretty good care of themselves, though I do rely  on DriverStore Explorer to keep an eye on them, and to purge duplicates and oldies from time to time.

I use the free and excellent PatchMyPC Home updater to handle all the updates it can find. (It provides this story’s lead graphic, in fact.) Why? Because it is set up to silently install updates without requiring human intervention and action. I like that. But I also use the free version of KC Softwares’ Software Update Monitor (aka SUMo) because it finds more apps and programs than PatchMyPC does. That said, I wouldn’t recommend paying for its commercial version because their behind-the-scenes engineering for downloading updates is hit or miss. And the misses happen too frequently for me to want to pay US$30 per PC to grouse about them further. If SUMo finds a program that needs updating, you need to get and apply the update yourself.

Where to Draw the (Update Search) Line

In working with these tools, I’ve learned to spend no more than 10 minutes trying to get any individual item updated. Sometimes, SUMo reports updates available that I just can’t find. For example, SUMo has had me chase DolbyDAX2DesktopUI versions on multiple occasions that I can find nowhere online (though items that present themselves as valid links do pop up they lead only to the homepage).

After one or two revolutions when going around in circles, I’ve learned to give up. I also don’t worry about minor version discrepancies, especially when I know PatchMyPC will catch up to SUMo soon. Case in point: I just updated one of my Lenovo X380 Yoga ThinkPads. PatchMyPC took CrystalDiskInfo to version only for SUMo to tell me I needed to upgrade it to I know if I wait a while, PatchMyPC will get me there without me having to visit CrystalDewWorld, and then download and run the installer myself. So, that’s where I draw the line to avoid too much lost time. You can, of course, draw lines as you see fit.

According to eminent anthropologist Gregory Bateson, the 18th century British poet and artist William Blake said “Wise men see outlines and therefore they draw them.” Blake also said: “Mad men see outlines and therefore they draw them.” Wise or mad, I think drawing lines is an important part of managing how one spends time and effort. Don’t you?


Dev Channel Downgrade Raises Flightsigning Mystery

OK, then. Yesterday I posted here about the conditions under which Insiders can downgrade from Dev Channel to Beta or Release Preview channels. Today, there are reports that Insider Preview stuff may go missing in SettingsUpdateWindows Insider Program if you follow that advice. At the same time MS Insider Team member Eddie Leonard has posted a fix for same at As you’ll see in his step-by-step fix advice below, the Dev Channel downgrade raises Flightsigning mystery because it’s key to that fix. Here are those details, quoted verbatim (I changed the text color to red on the key term to make it stand out):


1. Click on Start
2. In the search box, type cmd
3. In the lower right of the search results, under Command Prompt, click Run as Administrator
4. On the UAC prompt, click OK
5. At the elevated command prompt, type: bcdedit /set flightsigning on
6. Press Enter
7. At the elevated command prompt, type: bcdedit /set {bootmgr} flightsigning on
8. Press Enter
9. Reboot the device

How do you know if you’ve got this problem? You’ll see a screen that looks like the one from the lead-in graphic (also cribbed from Eddie’s Answers Fix info). Notice that only the “Stop getting preview builds” choice appears, when you should also see choices for “Choose your Insider settings” and “Windows Insider account.” The preceding fix explains how to get those items back, and restore Windows Insider Program capabilities along the way.

Researching Dev Channel Downgrade Raises Flightsigning Mystery

Of course that raises more questions — namely:
“What is flightsigning?”
“Why must it be turned on (twice)?”
I have no answers for these questions just yet, but I’m digging in. There’s a 2014 TechNet article “What is flightsigning?” It raises the question and provides the glimmer of an answer from bcdedit tool help “Allows flight-signed code signing certificates.” It also says “These are certificates used during the Windows development process and chain to an internal root.” Documentation simply says:

“…this command will enable the system to trust Windows Insider Preview builds that are signed with certificates that are not trusted by default:”

I’m guessing that downgrading from Dev Channel may somehow alter these certificate checks. Further, I believe Beta and Release Preview channels must have them turned on by default. Switching from Dev to lower channels requires them to get turned back on and enabled in the boot manager before Insider Program info can show up.

But details are sparse and documentation terse and limited. The BCDEdit command-line options at MS Docs mentions flightsigning only in passing (see “Changing entry options”). Even the GitHub info from MS Docs doesn’t say much about flightsigning. There’s also a tantalizing post at about “New test signing options.” But not a lot of hard or explanatory info.

I’ll keep digging. But if anybody has other sources or info, please comment or use the website’s Contact form to send me an email. All input gratefully received.



Downgrading Dev Channel Is Now Sometimes Possible

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the July 29 version of Microsoft Docs “Deeper look at flighting.” And of course, as the lead sentence reads “Flighting is the process of running Windows Insider Preview Builds on your device.” In an amendment to prior policy, downgrading Dev Channel is now sometimes possible for test PCs or VMs. Let me explain…

What Downgrading Dev Channel Is Now Sometimes Possible Means

The key to switching without requiring a clean re-install (the prior policy in all cases) is that the Dev Channel must have the same or lower Build number than the target channel. That means switching from Dev Channel to another channel requires users “to find your current build number and compare it to the current build number in the channel you wish to switch to.” Build numbers appear in the output from winver.exe, and in Start → Settings → System → About.

I quote the step-by-step process verbatim from the previously linked flighting document:

  1. Open Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program.
  2. Select Choose your Insider settings.
  3. Select the desired channel, either Beta Channel (Recommended), or Release Preview Channel.
  4. The next time you receive an update, it will be for your new channel.

This will make the process of downgrading channels simpler. It also provides an “exit strategy” for Dev Channel PCs. Prior policy insisted that the only escape from Dev Channel could be a clean re-install of some other Windows version. The other channels have always offered the option to drop back to production/RTM versions when they become available. This extends that out to Dev Channel, but requires two steps to get there: first drop back to Beta or Insider Preview, then drop back to production/RTM. Good stuff!

Why Am I Telling You This … Now?

As you look at the WinVer output from Dev Channel (left) and Beta Channel (right) in the lead graphic, right now the Build numbers are the same. That means that you can downgrade Dev Channel PCs as I write this story. Given that MS hasn’t released a Dev Channel build in a while this can’t last forever. If you want to try it out, act fast — or wait for the next synch-up. Your call…


Slow Charger Warning Means Underpowered Thunderbolt Dock

Here’s one I haven’t run into before. I wanted to use multiple USB-C ports on my Lenovo X390 Yoga yesterday. Alas, it has but one. So I plugged it into a Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Gen2 dock the company sent me. Even though it was for another computer I expected all itches properly scratched. Instead I learned that a slow charger warning means underpowered Thunderbolt dock at work. In fact, by the next morning, the battery was exhausted and the laptop inert, amidst a massive PC-to-iTunes music conversion.

Given Slow Charger Warning Means Underpowered Thunderbolt Dock, Then What?

Find a workaround, obviously. Luckily the X390 sports two USB 3 ports. I used one for the drive dock where the music files resided, and the other for the iPhone 12’s Lightning-to-USB cable. I ended up not using USB-C at all (except for power from the dock and then the brick later on).

In fact, the Lenovo Dock claims to support “up to 65W power charging.”  And indeed, the X390 needs 65W of power delivery. But obviously, something wasn’t right. In fact, Reliability monitor showed an APPCRASH from PowerMgr.exe at 7:12 this morning. I guess that’s when the battery finally died. When I saw the error message after this morning’s walk I switched back to the regular power brick and the music transfer continued without further hitches or delays.

The moral of this story appears to be: if notifications ever tell you there’s a “slow charger” at work, you’d best use a different power supply if you want to keep your laptop running indefinitely. Lesson learned for me, for sure!

Note Added August 2: Reader Concurs

I got a comment from a LinkedIn member on this post that cites to issues with some docks and power bricks. Apparently these devices struggle to service peripherals and keep the battery charged at the same time. Interesting!


Beta Channel Insiders Get Windows 11 Offer

On July 22, I noted that my Insider Preview test machine hadn’t yet received a Windows 11 upgrade offer. This, despite assertions that such an offer was “coming soon” raised my curiosity, if not my ire. “Where’s mine?” I asked in the covering tweet for that story. Turns out it was where everybody else’s was, too: nowhere (not here yet). But yesterday, July 29, MS opened the Windows 11 floodgates to the Beta Channel. Thus, like many others, I witnessed and participated as Beta Channel Insiders get Windows 11 offer.

If you check the lead graphic for this story above, you’ll see the Beta Channel status window at right. It appears alongside Winver.exe output left, that shows this PC running Windows 11.

When Beta Channel Insiders Get Windows 11 Offer, What Next?

Just for grins, I timed the download and install processes for the new OS. I’m guessing server demand was high, because both took some time to complete. Download took 14:42, and Install took another 28 minutes and a bit more. Normally, OS download occurs in 5 minutes or less. Of course, the installation time is all on the local PC, so the servers have nothing to do with that.

Reliability Monitor also shows 3 “Stopped working” errors just after installation completed, while post-install updates and clean-up were underway. These included:

  • FwdUpdateCmd: a Lenovo System Update Plug-in, which probably hasn’t been updated and/or vetted for Windows 11 yet.
  • UsoClient: shows a BEX64 error, which usually indicates some kind of issue with Outlook. Interesting, because I don’t have MS Office installed on that PC. Might be related to the built-in Office trial.
  • Audio device graph isolation (audiodg.exe) shows an APPCRASH error, with CX64APO.dll as the faulting module. I recognize this as related to the Conexant audio driver present on the X380 Yoga. This is probably a driver hiccup incident to installation. From what I can see in Driver Store Explorer (RAPR.exe), all the current drivers are now stable and correct.

As I’ve been doing with Windows 11 on Dev Channel PCs, I’ll continue to explore, play and learn. I remain favorably impressed with this new OS, and look forward to learning and doing more with it in the weeks and months ahead. And yes, I’m glad to finally have another upgrade show up through “official channels.”


21H2 Preview Experiences After Two Weeks

I’ve got one lone test machine running the “other path” for older Windows hardware — namely the 21H2 Feature Update released on 7/16/2021. Here, I recite my 21H2 Preview Experiences after two weeks. While I’ve not encountered any show-stoppers, the Reliability Monitor report that appears above says it all. As is not untypical for new release forks, this one’s got some minor gotchas.

Summarizing 21H2 Preview Experiences After Two Weeks

I’ll start with a list of all errors reported in the foregoing Reliability Monitor screencap.

Date Source Summary
16-Jul Windows Hardware error
17-Jul Windows Update Medic Service Stopped working
Search application Stopped working and was closed
Search application Stopped working
18-Jul Windows Desktop Gadgets Stopped working
21-Jul PWA Identity Proxy Host Stopped responding and was closed
Windows Desktop Gadgets Stopped working

Upon examination, the error sources mostly originate from Windows itself. Only Windows Desktop Gadgets (which occurs twice) is a third-party app. The rest of the stuff is OS components, hardware, or built-in Windows apps.

IMHO, this kind of behavior is typical for a new release fork. It indicates a shakeout from current preview status on the way to something more stable. It’s only July and the release probably won’t happen until October, so there’s still plenty of time to get things right. If what I’m seeing right now is any indication, what needs fixing is mostly minor stuff.

I would say this augurs well for those who plan to upgrade to 21H2 on production PCs. If your PCs won’t meet Windows 11 upgrade requirements, they should be able to run Windows 10 until EOL in October 2025 without too much fuss or bother. Good stuff!


Vexing Windows 11 Antimalware Platform Update Issues

Right now, I have two PC dedicated to Windows 11 testing and learning. Just recently, I discovered some vexing Windows 11 Antimalware platform update issues. The short version is: one of my PCs is up-to-date. It’s no longer subject to Automatic Sample Submission reset to off following each restart. Alas, the other remains stubbornly stuck on an earlier Antimalware platform release. None of the update options available work, so I can’t get no relief. Let me explain…

Fighting Vexing Windows 11 Antimalware Platform Update Issues

First, let me be clear. This is a known and documented Windows 11 issue. It’s been around since the initial release hit. Indeed, a fix exists: when the Antimalware Platform version gets to 4.18.2107.4 or higher, the problem disappears. For the record that problem is depicted in this story’s lead-in graphic. After every reboot, the Automatic Sample Submission feature for virus uploads in Defender is turned off. The feature is easy to turn back on, until the next reboot. OCD OS maintainer that I am, the workaround isn’t enough for me. I want it fixed, for good, now.

Here’s the vexing part. WU hasn’t yet deigned to update the antimalware engine behind the scenes. Ditto for the Protection updates option in Windows Security. There’s a registry hack documented on a related ElevenForum thread. There’s even a manual Defender update download that’s supposed to take the Antimalware engine release to 1.2.2107.02. It comes in a file named Alas, inspection of said update file shows the Antimalware engine to be 4.18.2015.5. It’s too old to fix the issue, in other words. Thus, no relief just yet, shy of a permanent registry hack.

The Perils of Perfectionism

Yes, I could hack the registry to turn this off. But I’d have to unhack it again when the fix finally shows up on the X380 Yoga that’s affected. I’m going to have to wait for WU to get around to providing me the latest antimalware engine on its own, or find a newer manual update. Alas, that’s the way things go sometimes, here in Windows-World. Oddly, I find myself hoping for a new Windows 11 build, in hopes the latest antimalware engine will be part of its contents. Stay tuned: I’ll let you know how all this shakes out.

Note Added August 4: Update Came!

Thanks to long-time and active TenForums and ElevenForum user @Cliff S, I learned this morning that Antimalware Client Version 4.18.2107.4 arrived via WU. Checking my own previously stuck test machine, I saw it too, had gotten this update. And now, my PC no longer reverts to Automatic Sample Submission=Off after each reboot. Fixed!

I’ve also determined this version is available through the Microsoft Update Catalog. Search for KB4052623, and grab the correct version, if WU doesn’t come through for you.




Next LTSC Is 21H2 Based: Windows 11 Follows Later

In a July 15 Windows Experience Blog post, MS VP John Cable writes that in “the second half of 2021” the next version of the Windows LTSC will hit. Here’s a quote: “…we will also launch the next version of the Windows 10 Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) based on version 21H2 at the same time.” A recent “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session said a “next LTSC” after that would use Windows 11. Hence my assertion: the next LTSC is 21H2 based, Windows 11 follows later.

Next LTSC is 21H2 based Windows 11 Follows Later. How long?

Good question. Take a look at a list of LTSC Windows 10 releases. I include my guess for the upcoming one:

1. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2015 1507   07/29/2015
2. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2016 1607   08/02/2016
3. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019  1809   11/13/2018
4. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021  21H1   11/??/2021

The gaps vary. It starts with just over a year (1 → 2). The next is over 2 years (2 → 3). That latest goes up to around 3 years (3 → 4). Recent history argues it will likely hit in two or three years. A lot depends on features that Windows 11 offers and Windows 10 does not. Equally important: how much they matter for deployments likely to use the long-lived LTSC code base.

Why Use a Windows LTSC Release?

In its LTSC explainer in Microsoft Docs, MS works hard to distinguish LTSC from other release channels and to identify typical usage scenarios (italic text is quoted verbatim):


The Long-Term Servicing Channel is not intended for deployment on most or all the PCs in an organization. The LTSC edition of Windows 10 provides customers with access to a deployment option for their special-purpose devices and environments. These devices typically perform a single important task and don’t need feature updates as frequently as other devices in the organization. These devices are also typically not heavily dependent on support from external apps and tools. Since the feature set for LTSC does not change for the lifetime of the release, over time there might be some external tools that do not continue to provide legacy support. See LTSC: What is it, and when it should be used.

The latter document calls out a “key requirement … that functionality and features don’t change over time.” These include medical systems like those used in MRI and CAT scan devices, industrial process controllers, and air traffic control systems. All such systems are costly, complex, and relatively isolated from public networks.

My gut feel is a long wait doesn’t matter that much for LTSC deployments. Because they’re so specialized and focused. engineers will build around whatever’s available when they put LTSC to work. When it gets used, the Windows OS isn’t really important: the function and capabilities of the overall system in which LTSC is embedded is what really matters.


Beta Channel Update Has Uncertain Timing

I always have troubles with patience. That goes double when I know a PC will run Windows 11, but hasn’t gotten the upgrade offer just yet. I’m talking about my second Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga unit. It had been on the Release Preview Channel. But two days ago, I bumped it up to the Beta Channel in hopes of getting the Windows 11 upgrade. Because this Beta Channel update has uncertain timing, I’m not sure when this PC will get the offer. Here’s the irony: I have a second, nearly identical X380 unit (they differ only in the SSD installed) that’s been running Windows 11 since Day 1 on the Dev Channel.

Does Trickle-out Mean Beta Channel Update Has Uncertain Timing?

As you can see in this story’s lead graphic, Beta Channel PCs should be getting “these Windows 11 builds…” So far, this particular X380 Yoga is hanging back on Windows 10, Build 19043.1149. I’m eager to get the machine onto the new OS, but I want to see how long this is going to take to happen.

My track record on such things is far from stellar. I’ve forcibly upgraded many machines to new Windows 10 versions when upgrade offers were slow to appear. That raises the question: Can I wait long enough for WU to do its thing? Or will I succumb to the fatal allure of instant upgrade and do it manually?

I do want to understand how things will work in the Beta Channel. But I’m having trouble waiting on the system to catch up with me. Let me try another reboot and see if that will help … goes off to make that happen … Nothing doing.

Stay tuned. I’ll be back (soon, I hope) to tell you that WU has come through, or to confess that my patience wore out and I used an ISO to perform an in-place upgrade to Windows 11. One way or the other, I’ll get there, I promise!


Windows 11 Adopts Annual Upgrade Cadence

Interesting news from the latest version of MIcrosoft’s Windows Lifecycle FAQ (updated July 24, 2021). It says upgrade frequency will change with Windows 11. No more semi-annual “feature updates” that characterized Windows 10 (e.g 20H1, 20H2, 21H1 and 21H2). Instead,  one such update/upgrade happens each year. Most likely, it will hit in October. That’s why I say that Windows 11 adopts annual upgrade cadence in this post’s title.

When Windows 11 Adopts Annual Upgrade Cadence, What Else?

In the FAQ, we also get information about the servicing timeline for Windows 11 versions. Here’s a snapshot of the table clipped straight from the FAQ. It answers this question: “What is the servicing timeline for a version (feature update) of Windows 11?”

Windows 11 Adopts Annual Upgrade Cadence.servicing

Business, education and IoT versions have a 3 year timeline; other versions get two years.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What is a servicing timeline anyway?

As I understand it, this is the length of time that Microsoft will provide updates and enhancements for a particular Windows version or release. When that interval expires, PCs must update to a more current — and still-supported — version. Business, education and I0T versions benefit from a longer timeline. Consumer, end-user and SMB focused versions (Windows 11 Pro, Pro Education, Pro for Workstations, and Home) get a shorter timeline with more frequent upgrades expected.

As the footnote says, Windows 10 Home “does not support … deferral of feature updates.” Thus, it will usually not hang around long enough to get forcibly  updated when an older version hits its planned obsolescence date.

Very Interesting! This should make things easier for everybody, especially for IT departments in larger organizations. They most adopt an “every other year” upgrade cadence anyway…