Category Archives: Thoughts & concerns

POPCNT Fuss Is More Fizzle

OK, then: the ‘net has been abuzz since last week as upcoming Windows 11 24H2 requirements come clear. Indeed, that OS won’t run on processors that don’t support the POPCNT instruction . IMO this POPCNT fuss is more fizzle than it is a major obstruction. Let me explain…

Why Say: POPCNT Is More Fuss than Fizzle

The POPCNT instruction has nothing to do with stack processing as its name might suggest. Rather, it counts up all 1-values in a binary sequence. It’s part of the SSE4.2 instruction set. These were introduced in 2008 to both AMD and Intel processors — namely:

  • AMD K10 (codename Barcelona), released in April of that year
  • Intel (codename Nehalem), released in November same year

That means the oldest processors that DON’T support SSE4.1 (and POPCNT) are more than 15 years old. Not terribly suitable for running Windows 11 anyway and likely to fail owing to lack of support for TPM, Secure Boot, and other reasons as well.

You can use Franc Delattre’s excellent CPU-Z tool to check your CPU to see if it supports SSE 4.2 or not. Check the lead-in graphic next to “Instructions.” It pops right up even on my 6th-gen 2016 vintage Skylake CPU (still running Windows 10 BTW).

For all but the most diehard long-haul PC users running a machine more than 5 years old is pushing things (and 15-plus years is highly unusual). This very Skylake is my oldest at 8 years, and it’s due for retirement soon, soon, soon.

WTFuss? No Workaround

The problem with POPCNT is that it’s absolutely, positively mandatory for 24H2 to work. Whereas the other impedimenta — e.g. TPM, Secure Boot, UEFI and so forth — have all been cleverly worked around, there’s no known (or likely) workaround for this gotcha. Thus, older PCs that have been shoehorned into Windows 11 upgrades will not be able to advance past the 23H2 upgrade level. Hence such fuss as has emerged in the blogosphere since this news came out last week.

My best guess that that less than 1% of PCs in the US (and perhaps 5-8% of PCs elsewhere, mostly outside the first world) might be subject to the POPCNT limitation. Just another sign that even here in Windows-World, time keeps marching on.

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MS Provides “Complete” CPL File List

“What,” you may ask, “is a CPL file?” It stands for control panel item or component, and maps to something you can run inside the Control Panel hierarchy. You can see the top level of my Windows 10 hierarchy above, and a corresponding one from Windows 11 below. Though MS is working to replace CPL items with Settings elements, there are still a lot of CPLs around. In fact, MS provides complete CPL file list on one of its support pages. It’s called “How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command.”

Click image for full-size view (Windows 11 CP).

MS Provides “Complete” CPL File List: Use It!

Upon closer examination of this list, and comparisons with voidtools Everything output (search on “*.cpl”) I can see several limitations of this list. But for most of the items that do appear therein as actual .cpl references, they do provide quick access via PowerShell or the Command Prompt. That said two of the items — namely, the Fonts Folder and the Printers — simply tell readers to use corresponding folder structures.

OTOH, there are numerous items that aren’t on the list that do appear in the Control Panel window. That makes things interesting. You can also see that third parties can and do register items in the Control Panel. And the list is neither complete nor accurate when it comes to Windows 10 and 11. Let me lay things out, then explain…

Get It from a Table…

I built a table that shows item names, cpl file names (when present), and the name of the software item that launches. Some may surprise you: they sure surprised me!

Control Panel Item CPL filename Result in Windows 10/11
Accessibility options access.cpl not found (use Settings > Ease of Access)
Add New Hardware sysdm.cpl System Properties CPL (computer name tab)
Add/Remove Programs appwiz.cpl Add/Remove programs CPL
Date/Time Properties timedate.cpl Date and Time CPL
Display Properties desk.cpl Opens Settings > System > Display
Findfast control findfast.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Fonts folder ==none== Visit C:\Windows\Fonts
Internet Properties inetcpl.cpl Opens Internet Properties (General tab)
Joystick Properties joy.cpl Opens Game Controllers CPL
Keyboard Properties main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL
Microsoft Exchange mlcf632.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Microsoft Mail wgpocpl.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Modem Properties modem.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Mouse Properties main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL
Multimedia Properties mmsys.cpl Opens Sound CPL
Network Properties netcpl.cpl Not found (use Settings > Network & Internet)
Password Properties password.cpl Not found (use Settings > Accounts > Sign-in…)
PC Card main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL (but defunct)
Power Management powercfg.cpl Opens Power Options CPL
Printers Folder ==none== Use Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Printers…
Regional Settings intl.cpl Region CPL
Scanners and Cameras sticpl.cpl Not found (use Settings > Bluetooth… > Printers…)
Sound Properties mmsys.cpl Sound CPL
System Properties sysdm.cpl System Properties (computer name tab)

What’s Interesting Here?

This file clearly shows its age with some items (especially Exchange and Mail stuff) long, long gone from Windows. The need to use Settings elements instead of CPLs shows the gradual shift-over from the latter to the former. It’s also interesting how many still work just as they always did.

Ahhhh, Windows. It’s always an education to dig into the details and see how older versions still have influence. But new forces (and designs) will inexorably push old stuff out of the way (e.g. PCMCIA or PC Card stuff). Interestingly the meta-data says this file was created in 2017 and last updated in 2021. That shows, and explains why some of its info is just plain out of date and thus, wrong.

Enjoy!

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Counting PCs versus Stars

The number of stars in the night sky might as well be infinite. We quite literally can’t count them all. But for the number of PCs in global use, we can do better. According to MS there are somewhere between 1 and 1.1 B Windows 10 PCs. Throw in another 300-400 M Windows 11 PCs. To be more accurate, MS calls them “monthly active users” which probably captures situations where one PC may host zero or more physical Windows instances, and zero or more Windows VMs, any of which must do something with an MS server in a 30-day period to get counted. But there’s more to counting PCs versus stars in the sky — namely, PCs running Mac OS and Linux.

Counting PCs versus Stars Takes More Than Windows

Copilot estimates the number of global PCs running Mac OS and Linux at around 300 M each. Thus, with the Windows global pop at somewhere between 1.3 and 1.5 B that puts the overall total at between 1.9 and 2.1 B. Sounds big, but consider that the same source (e.g. Copilot quoting Statista) estimates the global smartphone count at 6.8 B. That really puts things into perspective.

All this comes as prolog to yesterday’s coverage of a Canalys report — for instance, Martin Brinkmann’s Ghacks.net item — that estimates up to 240M PCs may wind up getting junked after Windows 10 hits EOL on 10/14/2025. Personally, I think this is mere headline fodder. Many users who want to keep running older PCs will do so even if they don’t buy into Microsoft’s ESU (Extended Service Updates) program. Many will switch over to Linux instead.

Though some will undoubtedly get junked, I don’t think that means all such devices will wind up in landfills, either. But for those inclined to put them on the curb, I’d recommend finding a safer means and a better place for disposal. US-based readers should recall, please, that Goodwill accepts and disposes responsibly of e-waste, including PCs. And don’t forget to wipe their drives — thoroughly! — before passing them on to anyone else. If there’s no Goodwill in your area, call your local city or county trash pickup provider: they’ll probably know something useful. Cheers.

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Final 2023 Insider Channel Flights

It’s a consistent pattern. I’m looking at the most recent “flight announcements” in the Windows Insider blog. All of them include this sentence: “This will be our last <Name> Channel flight until January 2024” where <Name> is one of: Canary, Dev or Beta. The most recent instance popped on December 14. Its header appears as the lead-in graphic above.

Why Say: Final 2023 Insider Channel Flights Are Out?

Beyond the flat assertions from MS indicating they’re on pause until after New Year’s, I’ll observe this is a typical thing for Windows development. It’s been ongoing as far back as I can remember. Indeed, it usually hits in the 2nd or 3rd week of December, before the major end-of-year holidays get going in earnest.

This makes pretty good sense to me. Productivity usually slumps between December 20 and January 3 or 4 (depending on what day of the week New Year’s hits — next year it’s a Monday). MS is smart to call a hiatus by the middle of the month, to give everybody time to gear up for, and then recover from, the hollidays. Most other businesses (except those in leisure and hospitality) tend to do likewise.

Take a Deep Breath, And …

Indeed, I just wrote my last weekly blog/column for GoCertify yesterday (it will publish Monday). And I’ve noticed the pace of work will be letting up with the websites and publications I write for starting next week.

Does this mean I’ll be taking a break from this blog, too? Yes and no. I probably won’t blog on December 24 and 25 or January 1, but other than that it should be close to normal as it ever gets here at Chez Tittel. I should have more time to fool around with my PCs, so I should find plenty of stuff to share. Do stay tuned if you’re so inclined, but I hope you’ll have time to enjoy the end-of-year break in your own special ways. Cheers!

 

 

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Windows 10 Lifecycle Changes

If I’m reading its HTML metadata correctly, Microsoft updated its Lifecycle FAQ = Windows document yesterday (December 5).  That’s when they added information about Extended Support Updates (ESUs) beyond the Windows 10 EOL date of October 14, 2025. ESU is a paid-for kind of support that allows licensees to get updates even after that cut-off date. Let’s explore what these Windows 10 Lifecycle changes  could mean.

Exploring Windows 10 Lifecycle Changes

For previous versions of Windows (e.g. 7) MS offered ESUs only to MS customers with existing paid-for support or licensing agreements. If I’m reading the afore-linked FAQ’s text correctly (see lead-in graphic), ordinary users (“individual users”) will also be eligible to pay for and receive these updates. That should be interesting.

I asked Copilot this question “How much did MS charge for ESU on Windows 7?” Here’s how it answered (superscript numbers 1-3 link to the sources for this information):

According to the web search results, Microsoft charged different amounts for Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows 7 depending on the edition and the year of purchase. For Windows 7 Professional, the ESU prices were $50, $100, and $200 per device for the first, second, and third year respectively1For Windows 7 Enterprise, the ESU prices were $25, $50, and $100 per device for the same period1However, some customers could get ESU for Windows 7 for free through Windows Virtual Desktop or other support contracts23.

Given that EOL for Windows 7 was January 14, 2020, let’s factor in some inflation. That makes it exactly 5.75 years between that date and the Windows 10 EOL. Using a low-ball average inflation rate of 2.5% over that period means adjusting the foregoing numbers by 14.4% or thereabouts. That means $50 becomes $57, $100 → $114, $200 → $228. You can do the math for the rest (but I think the Professional prices are the ones to go by).

Are They Ready to Rumble?

I’m forced to speculate that MS is adding individual consumers to its upcoming ESU coverage because they believe they left money on the table during the Windows 7 extended service period. This essentially brings businesses and users who are willing to pay for coverage, but who don’t have a licensing agreement or equivalent already in place with MS. It could easily be as big a revenue stream as the covered Windows 7 population was when EOL rolls around.

Inertia is indeed a strong force in business affairs. And sometimes, smaller businesses — especially sole proprietorships — can strongly resist change. This should be interesting to watch and try to figure out. I’m not sure if I should be impressed or appalled. Stay tuned: I’ll tell you…

PS Thanks to Sergey Tkachenko at WinAero.com for bringing this to my attention. I figured out the date info on my own…

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Windows 11 MarketShare Jumps Quarter Mark

Well, well, well. Here’s an interesting Windows statistic for you. According to StatCounter, the global desktop OS marketshare for Windows 11 hit 26.17% at the end of October. That’s up by 2.53% from the previous month. And it’s the first time Windows 11 shows running on over 1 in every 4 PCs using the Internet. You can see some related numbers in the lead-in screencap.  Indeed, it claims Windows 11 marketshare jumps quarter mark vis-a-vis other versions.

What Windows 11 MarketShare Jumps Quarter Mark Means

I have some questions about the Statcounter image and numbers (see lead-in graphic), though. Across the top bar of the image you see Windows 10 at 68%, and 11 share at 26.66% and so forth. But if I mouseover the data points at the end of those counter lines, they report 69.31% for Windows 10 and 26.17% for 11. I don’t understand why there’s a discrepancy, but I’m taking the numbers from the charts rather than the top line stuff as “correct.”

By way of comparison, I also checked analytics.usa.gov which keeps track of devices visiting US government websites (“5.33 billion sessions over the past 90 days,” so an appreciable data volume from which to draw statistics and inferences). It doesn’t report Windows 11 numbers per se. (I believe they’re included in its Windows 10 count because Windows 11 still uses a Windows 10 user agent ID in web browsers.) But it shows 98.37% of Windows visitors were running one or the other of those two OSes. (Add the 2 Statcounter numbers together and you get 95.48% — not horribly divergent.)

Alas, Copilot still quotes old Statista numbers (the company requires an annual subscription that costs US$1,788 for free, unfettered access to their latest stats). Thus, I can’t use them as an additional point of reference.

Looking at the Trend Lines

Whereas the Windows 11 line in the Statcounter chart is definitely trending upward, you can’t really say the Windows 10 line is visibly trending downward. It’s sort of meandering, with both ups and downs in the 12-month period on display there.

The 2.53% September-to-October jump for Windows 11 is pretty interesting, though. That’s a 10.7% jump in a single month, which is massive. It’s significantly higher than preceding month-to-month changes. All of those are positive in slope, but none comes close to even half that value.

Recently, I’ve commented that business hasn’t yet gotten serious about migrating from Windows 10 to 11. This spike could be evidence that my comment is based on outdated tracking and stats. We’ll get a much better idea if things are truly picking up, or if this is a short-lived spike, as data for the next few months gets reported.

This has, however, piqued my interest pretty sharply. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know which way the worm turns next. It could be that the tide is finally turning… The numbers may not lie, exactly, but they don’t always slap us in the face with what’s going on, either.

Is a Leapfrog Release Coming? (Added Dec 4)

Fascinating follow-up from a Martin Brinkmann story over at Ghacks this morning. It’s entitled Windows 11 24H2 and Windows 12 Expected in 2024. It puts forward two fairly credible sources for info that MS may ship an entirely new Windows version next year. This would put “Windows 12” (stalking horse name, since MS is of course mum on this topic) out before Windows 10 goes EOL. That would indicate a jump from 10 to 12 would be in the offing, leapfrogging over 11 entirely. Now there’s a twist I didn’t see coming. This should be fun to watch.

 

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Learning to Hurdle Terminal Chat Gotchas

When I was a kid we lived in Kendall Park, NJ in 1962 and 1963. The barbershop where my Mom took me for haircuts was interesting. It was long and narrow and lined with mirrors on both sides. That created what I have forever since called “the hall of mirrors” effect. There a poor man’s infinity is born as those parallel mirrors reflect each other forever and ever. I remembered that hall as I read the MS November 17 Windows Command Line blog Terminal Chat in Windows Terminal Canary. Since it came out, I’ve been figuring out how to hurdle Terminal Chat gotchas in similar wise. Let me explain…

Pre-reqs Precede Hurdle Terminal Chat Gotchas

If you look at the lead-in graphic (it comes from the afore-linked Command Line blog, a personal fave) it shows a “Welcome to Terminal Chat” message inside a PowerShell/Windows Terminal session. I’ve been trying to get to the point where I can bring that message up myself on a test or production PC, but I’ve yet to surmount the hurdles in my way. Let me enumerate them:

1. In Windows Terminal team lead Chris Nguyen’s words “Terminal Chat only supports Azure OpenAI Service for now.” That means one needs an Azure OpenAI Service endpoint and key.

2. To obtain said endpoint and key, one must create and deploy an Azure OpenAI service resource.

3. To create and deploy an Azure OpenAI service resource, one needs an Azure OPen AI Service enabled Azure account. This requires setting up monthly billling for consumption of Azure resources with an OpenAI rider added. (For pricing info, start with Plan to manage costs for Azure OpenAI Service for the OpenAI piece, then check out Understand Cost Management Data for the underlying Azure piece). It’s daunting!

Only when you have all the pieces in place, and then create and deploy a valid Azure OpenAI service resource, can you install and use Terminal Chat. I’m not there yet. In fact, I’m thinking hard whether or not minimum monthly charges of at least US$50-150 are commensurate with the joy of using Terminal Chat.

Enough … or Too Much?

This subtitle comes courtesy of William Blake’s Proverbs of Heaven and Hell. I’m inclined to bow more to the infernal side of that dichotomy when it comes to putting all the pieces in place. All I wanted to do, really, was to see what kind of advice Terminal Chat could dispense at the command line. I’ve already got Copilot ready to advise me on PowerShell and Command Prompt input with some basic ability to plop it onto a command line.

Why so many hoops and hurdles? I’m sure there’s an answer. I’m reaching out to the author of the blog post to see what I can learn. Should be interesting… Stay tuned!

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Folding Back Windows 11 Into 10

Here’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve been noticing lately. Seems that despite its “no new features updates” stance for Windows 10, MS has been folding back Windows 11 into 10 where some features and functions are concerned. Let’s start with the Photos app (just wrote about that for AskWoody recently, look for it on December 4). Then there has been motion on the update policies front (like the WU setting to “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available”). And of course, MS has made much of the back-port for Copilot into Windows 10 as well.

Is there a pattern emerging? Looks like it. So I have to ask: “What does this mean?” Let me speculate…

What Folding Back Windows 11 Into 10 Means

As I think back on the transitions from XP to Vista to 7 to 10, there’s a certain shape to the timeline for big-time business migrations that emerges. It seems like it takes a year or two beyond EOL before the migration hump really tilts toward the newest edition. And with EOL for Windows 10 on October 14, 2025, that means there’s still some time to pass before that boundary starts to press.

Shoot! I just used a date calculator and from today (11/28/2023) it is 1 year 11 months and 4 weeks before EOL rolls around. 2 years, give or take. Indeed, the same calculator says that October 14, 2027 — two years after EOL — is still 3 years, 10 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days away. That’s pretty close to 4 years in the offing.

Methinks businesses are really just now starting to note it might be time to consider Windows migration — after New Year’s 2024, maybe. There’s still not much urgency here…

What Else Might Fold In?

This is where things get a bit hazier. For grins, I asked Copilot “What can Windows 11 do that Windows 10 cannot?” Its answers included:

  • The new “more modern and elegant” UI. Not much impetus for business there…
  • Snap Layouts, Snap Groups and Snap Assist. Ho hum… Nerdophilic stuff in this category for sure!
  • Voice typing: this could persuade some business users to take a second look. People would rather talk than type for all kinds of content and text.
  • DirectStorage: Improves load time for games, and is  thus something from which business will steer clear. Enough distractions already…
  • Android Apps “allow… you to run Android apps on your PC” courtesy of the Amazon Appstore. What did I use this for? Wordle…. ummm… yeah. Plus, it’s still in beta (and if you ask Copilot which Android apps are hot on Windows the list is not business-centric: Instagram, Disney+, TikTok, Candy Crush Saga and Kindle come out on top). Sigh.

I’m surprised they didn’t mention Phone Link, and Dev Home. But maybe this does make more sense than it has for MS than in days of yore. Still thinking about this…what’s your take? I need to do some more research, but would love some reader comments, please.

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November Windows 11 Deprecation Includes Tips

For some, this may be good news. For others, not so much. MS announced a raft of “Deprecated features for Windows Client” on November 7. Among them is one of my personal pet peeves. That’s right November Windows 11 Deprecation includes tips app amidst its number, along the Computer Browser, WebDAV, and Remote Mailslots, atop a list of older items. See the afore-linked MS Learn item for all the details.

If November Windows 11 Deprecation Includes Tips, Then What?

First of all deprecated doesn’t exactly mean “dead.” Instead, it means something more like “while it’s on its way to oblivion, you’d best learn to live without it.”  Microsoft positions this status as follows:

The features in this article are no longer being actively developed, and might be removed in a future update. Some features have been replaced with other features or functionality and some are now available from other sources.

That’s OK with me, because I was never a huge fan of the Tips app. I seldom, if ever, turned to it explicitly. And when MS fired it in my direction thanks to defaults or settings I didn’t (yet) know about, I would invariably turn them off when they made themselves known.

Tips app info from the Windows 11 Start Menu.

But that’s just me. For all I know, there are plenty of people left in the lurch with the immanent departure of Tips from the scene. All I can say is; I’m glad not to be a member of that no-doubt disconsolate group.

For Me, Opting In Beats Opting Out

In general I’m of the opinion that if MS wants to make information services available to users, they should introduce and explain them. Then, after demonstrating their costs and benefits, they should give interested users an opportunity to opt in. Those who want to use those services can do so, but those who don’t want them need do nothing to keep them at bay.

Indeed, there’s a whole class of emerging Windows built-ins called System Components (see my October 27 post for deets) for which the same treatment makes good sense (Tips is among them, in case you wondered). Ditto for things like the new Windows Backup app, now included in ALL Windows 11 distros, over the vehement and vociferous objections of Enterprise and Education license holders.

Gosh! If MS were to adopt an opt-in philosophy for all stuff that’s not strictly necessary for Windows 11 to function properly, it would make life easier for the admins who handle images and their deployment and the people who use them. Something to consider, eh? Hope somebody high up at MS takes this to heart…

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Teams App vs. Application Issue Redux

Back in June, I posted here about an odd issue regarding Teams updates. With a new app version of Teams out, it’s back again but in a different form. Simply put, winget wants me to upgrade from the standalone version  to the app version. The old version (which MS labels “Classic” online) is ID’d as Microsoft.Teams. So is the app version, but it is named “Microsoft Teams (work or school)” rather than just “Microsoft Teams.” In this distinction lies an interesting rub.

Why There’s a Teams App vs. Application Issue Redux

Turns out the “work or school” distinction matters to those who want to use Teams with an MSA that is NOT part of an Azure or Active Directory domain. That would be me, with the MSA I use for my WIMVP access to an online community that MS itself set up for this group. You can’t use the app version to login to this community because MS isn’t exposing the the right kind of alternative authentication outside the Azure/AD umbrella. When I try to use the app version with the MSA I need, it doesn’t work. If I switch to an MSA that works, I can’t access the communities I wish to see and use.

So I have to keep the classic version around, even though I typically log in to the WIMVP and other communities through the Web interface to classic teams. Indeed, I haven’t been able to access my non-Azure/AD MSA-based communities in Teams except through the classic version. This is interesting, and a bit frustrating, because the app version only works for my old Win10.Guru (AD-based) MSA, but for none of the other Teams communities to which I belong.

Teams App vs. Application Issue Redux.classic

When I type “teams” into the Start menu, the default is to open the app. Alas, I MUST use the “classic” version.

It’s just one of those things. I guess. I’ll be happy when Microsoft gets the work done to permit such MSAs to use the app version. Only then can I uninstall the classic version. Until that happens, I’m stuck with the “winget nag” phenomenon. Sigh.

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