Category Archives: WED Blog

Windows 10 WU Offers 22H2 Upgrade

Upon reading reports to that effect, I just confirmed that Windows 10 WU offers 22H2 Upgrade on the Boss’s Dell OptiPlex 7080 Micro PC. You can see the offer in the preceding graphic. At the same time, you can also see the offer to upgrade to Windows 11 in the right-hand column of the same Window. I reproduce this below. It’s got a 10th Gen Intel i7 CPU, so no problem meeting the Windows 11 hardware requirements.

With its 10th-Gen Intel CPU, TPM support, and so forth, this PC is more than ready for Windows 11.

Sold: Windows 10 WU Offers 22H2 Upgrade

The Boss has decided to stick with Windows 10. She’s not interested in an OS upgrade, and will wait until she MUST switch. Or perhaps something new will come along in the interim. On a 3-year cadence for major Windows versions with an EOL date for Windows 10 on October 14, 2024, that could get interesting.

It raises the question of whether Windows 10 will retire before the next version comes along, or if that version will precede its planned demise. According to the date calculator, that’s still 2 years, 10 months, 1 week and 2 days away (973 days) in the offing. Plenty of time for her to figure out which way she wants to go.

Refresh and Upgrade, or Just Upgrade?

Lots of other users will be pondering the timing of their next upgrade transitions between now and October 14, 2025. Many will decide to refresh their hardware as they transition to a new OS. I can see a kind of “lost generation” for Windows 11 as a result.

It will be quite interesting to see how PC sales look over the next 2-plus years for the same reasons. The trade-off looks very much like: wait for the next Windows version and budget for new PCs versus refresh earlier and upgrade to Windows 11. Could get interesting…

 

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Windows 11 22H2 File Copy Fix Works

OK, then: I read the WinAero story about fixing the “slow file copy bug” in Windows 11 22H2. Indeed, it picqued my interest. “Hmmm,” I thought, “Maybe I can see on the P16 Mobile Workstation?” Yes, I could. I’m happy to confirm that the Windows 11 22H2 file copy fix works — on that PC, at least. What does this mean?

Take a look at the lead-in graphic. It’s a paused file copy. The file comes from my external F: Drive. (That’s a Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1 TB PCIe x4 NVMe SSD in a USB4 Acasis drive enclosure.) It’s copied to my built-in C drive. (That’s an internal Kioxio 2TB PCIe x4 NVMe SSD). Except for a dip about half-way through, it shows data rates from 1.2 to 2.3 GBps for a 20-plus GB file copy (a Macrium Reflect backup image).

That’s much, much better than the 600 – 950 Mbps I’d observed the last time I tried this with the same pair of devices. Looks like KB501738 issue does indeed get resolved in the latest Dev Channel Build (25252). I’m jazzed.

More Data: Windows 11 22H2 File Copy Fix Works

Even my slower USB3.2 NVMe Sabrent PCIe x3 with its older Samsung 950 1 TB SSD also shows a similar improvement. It shows a range of 750 MBps to a momentary high of 1.1 GBps in its copy of the same Macrium image file instead.

Gosh! It’s always nice when a usable performance bump occurs. It’s even better when the bump is both noticeable and measurable. And it makes the cost of relatively expensive NVMe drive enclosures more tolerable — maybe more justifiable, too — when the bump helps improve productivity.

Who knows? I might need to rethink my current take that paying US$100 extra to upgrade a USB3.2 NVMe enclosure to USB4 is too expensive. Stay tuned: more to follow next week!

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Transient Mysterious GeForce Experience Error

It’s great that I love a good mystery, because I have one on my hands. Yesterday (November 30) I ran GeForce Experience to update the Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation’s Quadro RTX A5500 GPU. An odd error message showed up at the tail end of the process. It read “Unable to install driver” but didn’t identify which one. Immediately thereafter, GeForce Experience announced a successful driver update (see lead-in graphic). I can only describe this phenom as a transient mysterious GeForce Experience error. As usual running things down means learning and figuring more things out.

Chasing A Transient Mysterious GeForce Experience Error

I did some searching around to see where GeForce Experience keeps its installer logs. It’s a long file-spec, like so:

C:\Users\<acct-name>\AppData\Local\NVIDIA Corporation\NVIDIA GeForce Experience

My source for this insight came from an Nvidia Support article entitled “How to enable NVIDIA Graphics Driver and GeForce Experience installer logging.” The log files, obviously enough, end in the “.log” extension. There were plenty of them to look through, too:

Transient Mysterious GeForce Experience Error.logs

Four different readable log files, no joy in any of them.

I couldn’t find any errors in any of those logs, though, which is why I’m calling this a transient mystery. If I read the afore-cited NVIDIA Support note correctly, I probably needed to enable logging before installing the latest GeForce driver. But it’s kind of a Catch-22: I didn’t know I had an error until the error already happened. If I really, really wanted to get to the bottom of this, I’d roll back to my preceding OS image, enable installer logging, and then reinstall the driver. But because it’s working as it should be and is throwing no errors I can see (Event Viewer and Reliability Monitor) I’ll live with the status quo.

But that’s the way things go sometimes, here in Windows World. I’m just glad things are working as they should be.

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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?

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Build 25252 Offers Odd Install Behavior

Hey, it’s preview software, right? It’s supposed to do strange things from time to time. And indeed, on that front, Dev Channel Build 25252 (released yesterday) does not disappoint. What do I mean when I say that Build 25252 offers odd install behavior? At least two unusual items have popped up so far:

1. As is my usual practice, I attempted to RDP into both of my test PCs. Neither would accept a connection, and both reported “too many connections already in use” (none, in fact). But both were on the “Restart to continue install” window. I’ve never seen this result in RDP refusal before, but there you have it.

2. On the X12 Hybrid Laptop the 1st and 2nd reboots did not complete on their own. Instead, the PC shut down instead of restarting. A quick pop to the power button took care of this, but noteworthy nevertheless. I’ve seen this happen on other, earlier Dev Channel Builds on this very machine.

Feedback Hub Hears When Build 25252 Offers Odd Install Behavior

I’ll be reporting these oddities to Feedback Hub next, if they’re not already present in some form or fashion. It often gets interesting, figuring out how to describe install issues (and other Windows oddities) to synch with how others describe them there. I’m going to use RDP to jump onto both machines right now…

And that works as it should, thank goodness. I filed the RDP issue as “When Build 25252 Install Ready to Reboot, Doesn’t Accept RDP Connections.” I simply added a comment to my earlier filing on the other problem, which is named “Build 25231.1000 shuts down during install instead of rebooting.” This comment explains that the problem recurs for Build 25252.1000, and happens twice during the install process.

Another Build, Another Learning Exercise

This kind of thing is fairly routine for new Insider builds. I regard providing feedback as an important partĀ  — indeed, arguably the most important part — of my job as a Windows Insider. After all, if nobody tells MS about little oddities that occur they may never hear about them otherwise. Reporting is a vital aspect of arming the Windows team with as much information to find and kill bugs as possible. Plus, it’s fun!

 

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Macrium Announces Reflect Free EOL

Dang! I always hate it when this happens, but I do understand why it does. Macrium, maker of the excellent Reflect backup, restore and imaging software has just announced end-of-life for its free Version 8 of that package. As Macrium announces Reflect Free EOL, I realize I’ll have to start planning a different strategy for my test PCs and VMs going forward.

Details: Macrium Announces Reflect Free EOL

The announcement comes with plenty of warning. The company plans to provide security patches for the Free version until January 1, 2024 (more than a year from today). Users who want to keep using the package after the EOL data may do so, but will go unsupported thereafter. This also means that Windows version 11 22H2 is the most recent version of Windows that Reflect 8 Free will support.

What Else Is There?

Rest assured, I’ll be finding out. I came to Macrium Reflect Free (MRF, for short) thanks to the folks at TenForums.com and ElevenForum.com, my favorite online Windows communities. I’ll be watching to see what those people recommend. I also plan to dig into the elements presented in this recent (updated November 24) TechRadar story: Best free backup software of 2022. I’ll even be returning to MiniTool ShadowMaker and scanning over the MajorGeeks “Back Up” category.

But sigh: I wish this wasn’t necessary. MRF is a great, great tool. I’ll be sorry to see it go.

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Minimum Battery Charge Required Blocks BIOS Upgrade

I have to laugh. I’m putting my office back together following not just the big holiday yesterday, but windows washed on Tuesday. I’m talking real, physical windows on the house, not the eponymous OS that is the focus of this blog. I had to disconnect the Lenovo Thunderbolt 4 dock, the wired GbE LAN. That meant my X12 was untethered and uncharged for several days. When I tried to log in to that machine today, I learned that the minimum battery charge required blocks BIOS upgrade. Sigh.

WTF: Minimum Battery Charge Required Blocks BIOS Upgrade

The funny thing is, I had some interesting foreshadowing on this topic just last night. I had to upgrade my now-aging iPad Air 2 to the latest iPad OS. At first, the Install button didn’t light up. Apple helpfully provided a error message by way of explanation, saying that a “minimum charge level of 20%” was required for the OS update install to go forward.

Thus, after leaving the X12 untethered for four-plus days, I found myself wondering. “Gee,” I thought to myself “What do you bet that the X12 BIOS update can’t go forward without a minimum charge level, either?” Sure enough: I checked online and indeed, the battery must be at 25% charge or higher, even if the PC is on AC power, for the BIOS upgrade to proceed.

Easily fixed! It only takes time (about 20 minutes in my case) to get past that 25% threshhold. As I write these words, the BIOS flash is underway at the UEFI command line. It’s just over 80% complete, in fact. Good thing the iPad forewarned me about this possible impediment, eh? Otherwise, I might have jumped into major troubleshooting mode, built a bootable BIOS installer, and done a manual BIOS upgrade instead.

If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another…

It’s rare when I feel like the universe is looking out for me. Most of the time when trouble strikes, I have to roll up my sleeves and fix things the hard way. This time, time — and the related upping of battery charge levels — fixed things moreĀ  or less on its own. As you can see in the lead-in graphic, the same Lenovo Vantage utility that told me I needed a BIOS upgrade now shows me installation success for same.

I’m glad that’s over. I learned about Lenovo’s “self-healing BIOS” along the way to this resolution. I’m just glad serious troubleshooting and repair was unneeded in this happy case.

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Windows 22H2 Upgrade Recalls Windows Past

Holy Ebeneezer! I had a major shot of deja vu yesterday. In preparing for son Gregory’s lightning home visit for Turkeyday, I found myself updating the B550 Ryzen 7 5800X PC I built to mirror the one he took to school with him in late August. Try as I might, I couldn’t get Windows 11 updated to 22H2 on that system using only Windows Update. My subsequent contortions in completing that Windows 22H2 upgrade recalls Windows past. I’ll explain…

How Windows 22H2 Upgrade Recalls Windows Past

Going back to the days of Windows 3.X, I can remember countless upgrade installs to transition from an older to a newer Windows version. That drill goes something like this for as far back as I can recall:

1. Run setup.exe from install media (first diskettes, then CDs, then DVDs, then streaming downloads)
2. Perform all the steps of the upgrade process: GUI-based install, reboot, then post-GUI install with 2 or 3 reboots along the way
3. Download and apply updates from Windows Update
4. Repeat Step 3, ad nauseam ad infinitum, until no more updates are available

I can remember when the time required to complete steps 3 & 4 took waaaaaaaaaay longer than the time required for the first 2 steps. And, especially in the days of reading physical media, that initial time frame was nothing to sneeze at.

Since Windows Vista/7 Everything Is Changed…

That was roughly the era during which physical media gave way pretty much entirely to online downloads and access. Since those versions emerged, the time to install or upgrade Windows has also dropped from a typical 45 minutes to an hour, to something more like 18 – 25 minutes. And MS is doing a much, much, much better job of slipstreaming updates into official image downloads these days, so the seemingly endless sequence of updates that followed a clean install or an upgrade even for Windows Vista and 7, is now much less intense and onerous.

But yesterday, I got a chance to taste what I hadn’t experienced in quite a while. I went through three rounds of updates on 21H2 before I realized WU wasn’t going to upgrade it to 22H2. Then, I visited the Download Windows 11 page and ran the Installation Assistant (depicted in the lead-in graphic above). That got my PC to 22H2. Then I ran another two rounds of updates (the first brought half-a-dozen items to that PC, the second only one).

That got the B550 Ryzen PC current with Windows 11 22H2. It wasn’t exactly like the “good old days,” really. But it was close enough to jog my memory about the way things used to work when dinosaurs roamed the earth and 16 MB was a HUGE amount of RAM.

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No Remote WinSAT No Batteries

In following up on yesterday’s memory training item, I started messing about with WinSAT. For those not already clued in, WinSAT stands for Windows System Assessment Tool. As it turns out, such assessment depends on steady, reliable power and “close to the metal” access to the PC it’s assessing. That’s why, I believe that MS says “You cannot run formal assessments remotely or on a computer that is running on batteries.” (Using WinSAT). Hence the assertion: no remote WinSAT no batteries.

If No Remote WinSAT No Batteries, Then What?

A formal assessment on WinSAT runs a whole battery of checks. You can still do feature-by-feature checks remotely (just not the whole thing). Here are the results of WinSAT mem over a remote connection to one of my 2018 vintage Lenvo X380 Yoga ThinkPads:

No Remote WinSAT No Batteries.rem-mem

A single feature check — mem, or memory — does work remotely.

But if I run the whole suite (WinSAT formal) in the same PowerShell session, I get an error message instead:

No Remote WinSAT No Batteries.rem-formal

Going formal with WinSAT “cannot be run remotely…”. No go!

Such things lead to head-scratching from yours truly. I can kind of get it because it’s undoubtable that the remote connection is going to affect results reported because of the time involved in remote communications. But why allow checks one-at-a-time, but not all-at-once? MS is mum on this subject, so I’m not getting any insight there. It could be that singleton checks add relatively little overhead, but that cumulative effect of an entire suite of same adds noticeable delay. Who knows?

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P16 Posts Mysterious Memory Training Message

OK: here’s a new one on me. This weekend, I updated the UEFI on the Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation. Along that update path, the P16 posts mysterious memory training message. Something along the lines of “the screen will go dark for 2 minutes while the system performs memory training.” I’d not enountered this terminology before so I was taken aback. Turns out it’s a well-known thing, tho…

Learning Ensues When P16 Posts Mysterious Memory Training Message

Apparently memory training — or as Lenovo calls it in the P16 Maintenance manual: “memory retraining” — can happen after hardware changes or following UEFI updates. Online research eventually led me to a document that explained what’s going on. It’s called DDR4 SRAM: Initialization, Training and Calibration, and it’s darned informative. In fact, it’s worth a read-through for those interested in going beyond the basics I’ll present here.

For my purposes, it was enough to know the following:

1. Device or firmware changes can affect memory timing and performance
2. Training uses an iterative approach to altering timing values
3. It converges on settings that provide a workable trade-off between speed (faster performance) and stability (fault-free memory access)
4. If your motherboard uses JEDEC timings, training/retraining is not usually required (or performed)

In fact, it’s a lot like what I used to read at Tom’s Hardware about over-clocking PC memory back in the late 1990s. Start from a safe setting, increment and try. If it works, increment again. Repeat until a failure occurs. Back off to the preceding increment. Done!

Changes Sometime Cause (Re)Training

The bottom line is that what I was entirely normal. I’d either never seen or never noticed such warnings before, but they’re typical following hardware (usually RAM module swap-outs) or firmware (including UEFI) changes. Now I know. And it gave me a good excuse to download and read around the maintenance manual for the P16. That’s always fun, too.

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