Category Archives: Thoughts & concerns

What MS Surface Lifetimes Tell Us

I just read a fascinating story about the original Surface Hub models at Neowin. It led me to an even more interesting website named EndOfLife.Date (here’s its info for the whole Surface product family). As I think about them, what MS Surface lifetimes tell us is also quite engaging. That’s because it speaks both eloquently and directly to this question: “What’s the useful lifetime for a modern PC?”

Details from What MS Surface Lifetimes Tell Us

Take a look at the lead-in graphic for this story. It comes from the afore-cited EndOfLife.date website. It shows two Surface Hub models (built around large and expensive 55″ and 84″ monitors) that arrive at EOL today, November 30. The graphic ascribes a lifetime of “7 years” to each device, but the timeanddate.com calculator gives it 7 years, 5 months, 4 weeks, and 1 day to be more precise. I’d call that 7.5 years in round numbers, myself.

The entire dataset for Surface devices at EndOfLife.date is quite interesting, though. It shows that this 7.5 year device lifetime is longer than that for most Surface products, especially newer ones. These tend to fall in a range from 4 years (for the newest devices) to 6 years (for older ones).

How Long Does a PC Remain Useful?

I submit that this range of lifetimes tells us what Microsoft thinks, as far as keeping PCs in service is concerned. What data I can find from other sources (try this Google Search to see the inputs to my assertions) puts the low end of common practice at 3 to 5 years, and the high end at 8-10 years.

Microsoft’s data is not just an estimate or an average, though, as with those other data points. They actually stop updating drivers and firmware as EOL strikes. That means businesses that buy Surface devices know from the outset how long they can safely use such equipment, and when it must be retired and refreshed.

Is 3-5 Years Long Enough for Business PC Life?

Not just Microsoft, but many major PC makers — including Lenovo, HP, Dell, and others — are apparently convinced this is on target. Their business models typically reach EOL in the range of 4-5 years.

Speaking from experience, I know you can stretch those boundaries on desktop PCs, where component upgrades or add-ons can bring new features and capabilities to older models (e.g.Thunderbolt 4, USB 4, and so forth) thanks to adapter cards. Notebooks and laptops, which are less adaptible and extensible, usually fall right inside a 4-5 year lifetime. But I agree that 6 years is about the outside edge for useful PC life where time and costs of maintenance, upkeep, and security start looming larger as older technology ages out.

Among other things, this tells me I’ll need to retire my 2014 vintage (8 years!) Surface Pro 3 soon. It also says my 6-year-old 2016 production desktop is ready for demotion to test PC only status. I’ve got a 2021 desktop ready to move in for production status. My four mainstay test/experimentation PCs are 2018 vintage, and are rapidly aging out of usability, too. What does your PC fleet tell you?

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

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…

 

 

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Zoom Updates and Payment

Here’s an interesting set of observations. In the past weeks, I’ve noticed that the free version of Zoom no longer offers the “Check for Updates” option in its menus. I’ve also noticed that Zoom has been asking free users to “upgrade” to the for-a-fee pay version. That got me to thinking about Zoom updates and payment. So I conducted an experiment…

What About Zoom Updates and Payment?

I went ahead and signed up for an individual Zoom license. It’s assessed annually, and costs about US$185 per year. Right now, the first year is discounted, so my actual out-of-pocket was “only” US$95.88. But it renews automatically at full price one year from today. Ouch!

That said, as I suspected — and as you can see in the lead-in graphic above — if you do pay for Zoom, you also get the Check for Updates option back. That raises the interesting question: is automatic updating worth US$95 (this year) or US$185 yearly? I’m not convinced.

There IS Another (Free) Way

If you don’t mind running a few Winget commands, you can keep the free version and update as you need to. FYI, I use SUMo to tell me when it’s time to update, but because I don’t pay for a license to that software on all my PCs, I’ve figured out how to use Winget to handle that instead.

The basic concept is to uninstall the version that’s running. Then, if you install Zoom again it will grab the latest version. That results in an up-to-date version on your PC. Two simple one-liner commands are involved:

  1. Winget uninstall Zoom.Zoom
  2. Winget install Zoom.Zoom

That’s it. Works like a champ. Be sure to keep your sign-in account and password info handy, because you’ll need to sign into the newly installed version after going through this remove/replace operation.

But you can keep using the free version, and stay current, if you follow this simple two-step operation. That’s probably what I’ll revert to next year, when my renewal comes due. To be continued…

It’s Irksome, and Potentially Insecure

C’mon Zoom: this approach is potentially unsafe for lots of users who SHOULD be free (e.g. students, seniors, nonprofit workers, and so on). Sure, it may be an inducement for some people (me, for example) to purchase a commercial license so as to regain auto-update ability. But the vast majority of free users who have no choice but to stay put should not be exposed to potential security vulnerabilities in the name of (modest) incremental revenues.

My plea/request: return the automatic updates to the free version! Find a different way to increment your income, please, in the name of better overall application security.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

IDKT: Windows Web Experience Pack Enables Widgets

FYI, IDKT means “I didn’t know that.” I suspect the rest of the headline may likewise provide new info for other readers as well. This morning, I ambled over to the Store to check updates and a new Web experience pack update 421.20070.615.0 was applied. Just for grins, I visited the Store page and saw a user comment on this topic. It basically says “Windows Web Experience Pack Enables Widgets.” What of it?

What Windows Web Experience Pack Enables Widgets Means

The “Most helpful favorable review” under the WWEP feature also indicates that if one uninstalls it, Widgets quit working. And if one then restores the WWEP, Widgets return to work. Pretty conclusive, if you ask me.

So I went looking for MS “Official info.” And sure enough, here’s what it says on the MS Support page for WWEP update how-to:

Some Windows 11 features, like Widgets, are delivered through Microsoft Store updates. If you’re having problems with the Weather widget or aren’t able to find some features that were announced for Windows, you might need to update the Windows Web Experience Pack from the Microsoft Store.

Other than this support item and the Windows Store entry, though,. there’s surprisingly little info available about WWEPs.

Coming at Widget from the Development Side

OK, then. Knowing that MS is opening up widget development to third party developers, I instead went looking for related info. I found several interesting items:

I’m not really seeing much useful description, examples, how-tos or other stuff to explain how third parties can build and deploy widgets. Maybe we’re not quite there yet? Hard to figure out what’s going on, if that’s not the case…

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 11 Dev Channel Upgrades Itself

Well, then. I’ve just returned from a week-long absence to visit my son’s chosen college in Boston. Today is my first work day back in the office since July 15. Imagine my surprise and delight when I see that my two Dev Channel test machines upgraded themselves without issue while I was gone. Indeed, that explains my claim that Windows 11 Dev Channel upgrades itself to Build 25163.1010.

If Windows 11 Dev Channel Upgrades Itself, What Then?

Less worry and work for me is always good. And it’s great to observe that Windows 11 can handle itself well. That goes double, when I’m not around to babysit the upgrade process. In fact, my current observations tell me that recent,  ongoing Dev Channel upgrades have been fast, easy and relatively trouble-free.

There’s always a potential jinx when stating claims like the preceding one on the record. I’m prepared to deal with what might be coming my way. I’m still in the habit of making an image backup after each and every upgrade, and regular, periodic backups besides. That way, should I shoot myself in the foot (or Windows 11 do that for me) I’m ready to roll back and recover with minimum effort.

What Update History Has to Say…

On the X12 Hybrid and the X380 Yoga, the number of Feature Updates in Update History is 19, as far back as February 24,  2022. That’s 19 upgrades over 22 weeks. Do the math, and it comes to once every 8.05 days.

I can recall only one or two issues that came along during this period that slowed down or stymied backup. I did have to reset WU on the X12 Hybrid at one point. I also recall having to download and install an ISO on each machine at least once (or perhaps twice) during this time frame.

Overall, though, even though the Dev Channel builds are as close to “the bleeding edge” as MS lets Insider Program members get, it’s been a mostly positive and pleasant experience. Though plenty of people have beefs with Windows 11, I am NOT one of them. I think it’s a good OS. It’s also almost far enough along that enterprises should really start looking at (and planning for) large-scale migrations. When the Windows 11 22H2 Upgrade appears in coming months, that would be an excellent signal to get upgrade/migration testing and pilot programs underway.

It’s long been traditional for Windows users in businesses to wait for “the next upgrade” after a new OS emerges before getting serious about migration. In view of that history, the upcoming release of 22H2 says it’s time to get ready. My experience with all versions of Windows 11 so far argues that migration should be relatively painless. Time will tell!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 11 21H2 Hits Broad Deployment

Does anybody else see irony in this? If you check the lead-in graphic for this story, you’ll see it captures the header of the Windows 11 known issues and notifications document. The section I show is dated May 17. It reads (in part): “Windows 11 is designated for broad deployment.” Thus, when I claim that Windows 11 21H2 hits broad deployment that’s almost verbatim.

So, where’s the irony? We’re taking about 21H2. It has an RTM date of June 24, 2021, and a GA date of October 5, 2021. This is late May 2022. As I’ve already reported on May 16, Beta Channel Build 22621 is very likely to RTM as 22H2 in a short while. That makes 22H2 GA likely in September or October. To me, the irony is strong. As the older version gets fully broadcast, the new one is entering the pipeline, heading in the same direction.

What Windows 11 21H2 Hits Broad Deployment Means

Simply put, this means MS is not longer withholding an upgrade offer of Windows 11 21H2 to any qualified PCs. Previously, they’d been holding back on machines with known issues such as device or driver incompatibilities. Now, it’s open season for anyone with an eligible PC. In part, this tells business users that “Windows 11 is ready for prime time.”

This comes at roughly the same time that Panos Panay delivered a Computex keynote in which Windows 11 figures strongly. In that address, he touted Windows 11 in a string of superlatives. Windows 11, he avers, is MS’s highest rated, highest quality OS ever, with faster business adoption than “in any previous version of Windows.”

Interestingly, Panay also mentioned that “Windows 10 had that great moment” (emphasis mine). He went on to say that “But Windows 11 in its moment …[is]…driving in the right direction for our customers every day.” Paul Thurrott interprets this to mean “…you shouldn’t expect any meaningful updates to Windows 10 going forward.” FWIW, I agree.

Too Much Windows 11 Drama

Lots of news outlets online are expressing dismay and disbelief in reaction to Panay’s keynote. I’m not upset, and I think I understand what’s going on. Panay is working to move the business base to dig into 11 and to get the long, slow, deliberate migration process going. Given that business usually waits for the first “real upgrade” to a new OS to start its processes forward, I see this more an an announcement that “The upgrade is coming. Time to get serious about migration.” more than anything else.

Hyperbole is to be expected in trade show keynotes. I see a more serious and not at all sinister purpose at work. Call me naive, or even a Polyanna, but this looks like a calculated wake-up call to me.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Finding New Windows 11 Shutdown Dialog Box

Here’s an interesting bit of administrivia. Upon reading at OnMSFT that MS had snazzed up its Dev Channel dialog box for Windows 11, I went looking for same. That proved a bit more challenging than I initially expected. But I eventually got past finding new Windows 11 Shutdown dialog box, and made it appear. It serves, in fact, as the lead-in graphic for this very story (see above).

It Was Tricky, Finding New Windows 11 Shutdown Dialog Box

The usual method is to employ the Alt+F4 keyboard shortcut. But on my Lenovo X12 hybrid tablet PC that did precisely nothing. Then I found a source with something like this tell-tale sentence:

On some laptops it may also be necessary to press the Function (Fn) Key as well.

That turned out to be just the trick I needed to get the keyboard shortcut to work. Indeed, it’s what allowed me to produce — and then screen capture — the lead-in image for this story.

What IS New in Dev Channel Shutdown Dialog Box?

It’s kind of hard to tell just from the screenshot what’s new. For comparison, here’s what the Windows 10 version looks like:

Notice it prominently features the Windows 10 logo at the top of the dialog box. Notice also its corners are squared, not rounded. AFAIK that’s about it for what’s new.

That said, in keeping with a sparer and more spacious UI in Windows 11, it’s a bit easier on the eyes. IMO it’s also a bit easier to read and understand. For me, the learning came from producing the dialog box more than its contents. But hey, that’s why I have so much fun messing around with Windows. Cheers!

 

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 11 Dev Beta Channels Diverge

OK, what had been joined is now put asunder. Yesterday, Windows 11 Dev Channel went to Build 25115, and Beta Channel to Build 22621. This means that the two Insider Previews are now different. In fact, when Windows 11 Dev Beta channels diverge, it means they have different goals. According to WindowsLatest, 22621 represents a big push toward the first feature update for Windows 11. OTOH, 25115 shows that MS is still pushing forward into future releases looking into 2023 and the “next” feature update upcoming.

When Windows 11 Dev Beta Channels Diverge, Then What?

Among other things, this explains why MS broadcast an email warning to Dev Channel Insiders last week that “unstable and buggy preview builds will soon begin rolling out in the Dev Channel” (source: WindowsLatest,  May 8). In other words, the Dev Channel is returning to its primary role as a “first exposure” to new features, functions, and whatnot making its way into limited circulation for testing and feedback. Frankly, I’m looking forward to this.

As for the Beta Channel, it’s gearing up for progressively more locked down snapshots of what will become the 22H2 release for Windows 11. Thus, it should become an increasingly accurate rendition of the next production Windows 11 release. Again: I look forward to this, too.

You can see the Winver output from these two different versions in the lead-in graphic for this story. The Dev Channel release (Build 25115.1000) is to the left.The Beta Channel release (Build 22621.1) is to the right.

Fun and Foibles A’Comin…

With a more freehwheeling and experimental take on Windows 11 coming to the Dev Channel, life is about to get more interesting. Who knows? There may be bugs or hiccups to detect and report, and trouble to shoot. That’s why I signed up for the Insider program, and why I’m looking forward to more new stuff ahead. Sure, there may be instability and bugs. But that’s a good thing in the interests of getting things out there, and then getting them right. Cheers!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Build 22610 Brings Explorer TaskMgr Changes

Very interesting. I’ve taken some time to explore and play with the latest Dev Channel build. Mostly notably Build 22610 brings Explorer TaskMgr changes to look and feel. You can see this pretty strongly in the Explorer screencap above, and in the Task Manager screencap that follows.

Build 22610 Brings Explorer TaskMgr Changes.taskmgr

Task Manager gets a cleaner, less cluttered look (Details view on display), but… [Click image for full-sized view.]

Build 22610 Brings Explorer TaskMgr Changes Explored

On the Explorer side of things, I see no toolbar ribbon in a sparser toolbar overall. Mouseover pop-ups require clicking a menu item before they’ll appear (I’m almost fluent in the new iconography, but occasionally need a reminder). The new look of the Details pane (far right) is pretty neat, IMO: I like the look and layout. That makes me more inclined to use it. Check out the new thumbnails view for a LOT more of the same kind of thing, too (icon at far lower right).

Switching over to Task Manager, the same sparse and spare look also comes into play . Navigation switches from a tab bar at the top to left nav icons. Again, I’m going to have to master the iconography, but mouseover pop-ups appear without doing anything to prompt them. There’s a new “Efficiency mode” right-click item on the Details pane that lowers power allocation and warns of potential resulting instability. Could be good for laptop/tablet users runnning on battery.  Lots of interesting changes so far. I need to explore further and learn more before I feel like I really understand all the differences. That should be fun!

Net-Net Nut

Overall, I’m liking what I’m seeing quite a bit. I’m coming to prefer the look, feel and behavior of Windows 11 over Windows 10. It’s been slow but steady coming on. These latest changes make the newer OS more compelling, visually, and two of its most common and important tools a little easier to work in and use. As far as I’m concerned, I give the latest version two solid thumbs up!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 11 Start Menu Video Ignites User Fury

Earlier this week, MS sent an email to Windows Insiders. It included a link to a YouTube video. It’s dated June 28, 2021. It’s entitled “Windows 11 Insider Story — How We Made the Start [Menu].” Alas, this revived but older piece about the Windows 11 Start menu ignites user fury worldwide. I mean: people are seriously aggravated.

Note: The comment obscured in the lead-in graphic by category data reads “It’s really easy to design something that you like…” A small part of the flap is that this sentiment is contrary to prevailing responses from actual Windows 11 users. While I’m not as taken aback as many on this topic, I’ve had my own issues with the Start Menu over the past 10 months, for sure.

Why Windows 11 Start Menu Video Ignites User Fury

Paul Thurrott’s coverage of this item makes a good example. In fact, it’s something of a nonpareil in its incredulity and scorn.  Thus, I quote the first bit to illustrate the reactions it’s provoking:

If you have any hope at all that Microsoft put any thought into the design of the Windows 11 Start Menu, do not watch this video. If on the other hand, you hate yourself and everything you care about, this is a fantastic way to develop a drinking problem.

I cannot believe they published this video. It makes what was bad even worse.

You can find similar stories at other Windows news and info outlets, including Windows Latest. In the current climate of misinformation, Microsoft’s blithe assertions about listening to and learning from user input is almost scary. But it’s a year old, people. And it’s based on the earliest version of Windows 11 ever previewed. Come on!

Houston … err, Redmond … We Have a Problem

Indeed, the Start Menu in Windows 11 has been a constant source of consternation, upset and sometimes outright hostility pretty since Day 1. Remember: the Windows 11 Insider Preview also went public on June 28, 2021. I’m a daily reader of all the active threads on ElevenForum.com. Thus, I can personally attest that the Windows 11 start menu is a constant and ongoing cause for chatter, comment, complaints and more.

This same impression is pretty consistent across all the public feedback channels I can easily access, including Microsoft Answers and various Microsoft forums. Ditto for chatter on the MS news and info sites. Thus, the video comes off as either disingenuous or seemingly, from some alternate reality.

All this said, the situation is somewhat a case of “Much ado about nothing.” The feedback from users is pretty consistent that the Windows 11 Start Menu still needs work, and reasonably specific about what kinds of things are needed or wanted. I have to believe that MS really is listening and that they will get it right over time. But they’re not there yet, however much this year-old item might imply otherwise. I’m sure the tempest will soon die down, and we can all get back to work.

I did find Thurrott’s comments darkly funny, and hope you got a chuckle from them, too.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin