Category Archives: WED Blog

{WED} Warning! Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD

I’ve seen it before, and I’ll probably see it again. I just updated my production desktop to the latest GeForce driver, and it threw a BSOD. It’s one of the “mystery codes,” too: SYSTEM_EXCEPTION_THREAD_NOT_HANDLED. But when I say that the latest GeForce 442.59 may cause BSOD I already know what’s causing it. There’s a bug in the driver installer (not the driver) that causes a crash when it finishes the install. Thus, the driver itself is properly installed and working, as this GeForce snippet clearly shows:

Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD.driver-ok

This snippet from GeForce Experience shows the latest driver version — 442.59 — is properly installed and working. Also shows yesterday’s date.

If Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD, So What?

Yeah, it’s kind of disturbing — upsetting, even — to see your PC go down in flames with a BSOD. But as BSOD’s go, this one’s fairly benign. It would’ve bothered me a lot more if I hadn’t seen a run of these same BSODs in 2018 and 2019, right at the end of the GeForce driver install. Thus, I post this blog as a public service to warn others who may be keeping their GeForce drivers up-to-date. Before you do the install, close all open applications and save your work. If you’re seriously concerned, make an image backup just before running the driver install. But since the net result is a new and working driver, I’m inclined simply to say “Here they go again.” And of course, to let my readers know that they too may fall prey to this gotcha.

OTOH, you could decide to skip this update and wait and see if the next one fails to provoke a BSOD. I’m happy to keep plugging away at this stuff, and will update this blog when the next driver comes out. If it throws another BSOD I’ll let you know. If it doesn’t, ditto. Stay tuned!

[Note added 3/19/2020, afternoon] I just installed version 442.74 on my production PC. It got all the way through the install without a glitch, and asked me if I wanted to reboot. I was otherwise engaged so I did not. Just rebooted a minute or two ago, and everything concluded successfully. One can hope it’s because the installer issue — whatever it may have been — is fixed, or no longer an issue. Done!

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{WED} Why Is Win7 Marketshare 25%?

It’s been about six weeks now since Windows 7 hit end-of-life (EOL). Yet NetMarketShare still shows it with over 25% on active desktops. Statcounter shows it at over 30%. Why is Win7 Marketshare ~25% or higher? Who’s running the old OS? I have my suspicions, and would like to share them.

Win7 Marketshare 25%.nms-graph

Despite 6 weeks since EOL, around a quarter of all Windows OS users under NetMarketShare’s purview at still running Windows 7. Who and why are the questions I want answered.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Just for the record, the US Government’s tracking site — analytics.usa.gov — shows a lower share of 15.4%. (NetMarketShare’s exact number is 25.2%, and Statcounter’s is 30.57%.) This already suggests that some continuing Windows 7 use occurs on PCs that don’t access US Government websites. In turn, this tells me that it’s likely that 40% of continuing Windows 7 users are outside the USA, perhaps even outside North America.

If Win7 Marketshare 25%, Who’s Using It and Why?

No matter what the real number is, I believe it may be somewhat bigger than any of the numbers already presented. A certain number of Windows 7 systems are situated in kiosks and in embedded situations. These are unlikely to access the Internet. That means they wouldn’t show up in any of the monitoring sites already cited. Thus, it’s important to understand that the numbers are probably at least 1-2% low. In fact, they may be as much as 5% low, depending on how many “quiet” Windows 7 PCs are out there.

User Classes Include Individuals, SMBs and Governments

As far as visible numbers go, my guess is that they’re split pretty evenly between SMB users and private individuals. My gut feeling is that enterprises have mostly (90% or better) migrated already. A a significant number of government (local, state, and federal/country) agencies or departments are paying for extended security updates, too. Essentially, they’re buying time while they get onto the migration path. News stories suggest the US Government is much less involved in this program than they were during the XP to Windows 7 transition. Then, the US DoD bought as many as 2 million seats worth of such support. That said, I’ve seen news that report the German Government is spending ~800K Euros for 33,000 seats’ worth of Windows 7 extended support. Worldwide, it’s likely that the number of paid seats (which MS does not publicly disclose) is in the 1-2 million range.

For private individuals, numerous factors explain die-hard Windows 7 use. These include laziness, inertia, and unwillingness or inability to spend on upgrades. Also, there could be a perceived lack of need to upgrade. (This might reflect an imperfect understanding of growing levels of security threats, or “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” at work.) SMBs share all these reasons, too. They may also be bound by continued use of legacy applications (especially custom- or in-house-built code). These often won’t or can’t be upgraded to Windows 10 affordably or easily.

How Long Will Win7 Usage Stay High?

I am surprised that this number remains so large. I wonder how long it will take for that number to erode further. I’m especially keen to see when it might go below the 10% range. This generally indicates a mostly moribund Windows OS (look at Windows 8.1’s relatively tiny 3.48% figure). It should be an interesting phenomenon to watch. Thus, I’ll report back in on this from time to time (probably at 3-6 month intervals).

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{WED} DISM /Resetbase Bites Back

I’m a profound fan of the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) command. But I found myself surprised by the behavior of the /resetbase parameter today. For the record, the complete command syntax is DISM /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup /resetbase. Silly me: I understood that /resetbase would not allow changes to the base established. But I thought the /startcomponentcleanup would run first, and then the base would be reset. Wrong! Today, I tried it on my Surface Pro 3, and DISM /resetbase bites back: the two reclaimable packages I thought would be cleaned up are now frozen into my runtime image. Sigh. Here’s some illustrative PowerShell output, made after I’d already used the /resetbase option:
DISM /Resetbase Bites Back.ps-sequence

Notice that even though I ran a /startcomponentcleanup command between a pair of /analyzecomponentstore commands, the 2 reclaimable packages cheerfully persist. Sigh.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Normally, running the dism /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup command would result in the second /analyzecomponentstore output reciting zero reclaimable packages, and no recommendation for component store cleanup. But I have no one but myself to blame for this, because I ran the /resetbase myself, not knowing it would freeze first and then fail to clean up at all. That’s why I like playing with test machines: not much real harm results even when things don’t work. Or when they don’t work the way I expect them to…

If DISM /Resetbase Bites Back, What to Do?

Not much, actually. I can either restore my most recent backup and do things right, or I can wait for 2004 and start afresh after that feature upgrade. Doing things right means: run dism /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup on the restored OS, then run the /resetbase version of that command to freeze the cleaned-up component store. I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, what with 2004 due out in the next month or two. OTOH, the Surface Pro 3 is a test machine and I won’t lose anything except time if I restore the latest Macrium backup, apply pending updates, and try again (the right way).

But now I know something important: if you want to use the /resetbase option in DISM, you should run the DISM /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup command first. That will clean up anything reclaimable. Then, when the number of reclaimable packages is zero, use the /resetbase option. Now, I know. Hopefully, you too can learn from my mistake. And so it goes, here in Windows-World!

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{WED} Another End of an Era: MS Announces Impending Final MCSA MCSE MCSD Retirements

Thanks to a rare weekend post from Martin Brinkmann at ghacks.net, I can share some big news. I now know MS Learning has a date for official retirement of its-big name 4LA (four-letter acronym) certs. This comes from an MS Learning Blog post and Alex Payne, GM of Global Technical Learning. Alas, these old stalwarts are all headed for retirement. Yes, that’s right: MS announces impending final MCSA MCSE MCSD retirements for June 30, 2020. Although I knew it was coming, it still has a big impact. In fact, rampant popularity of the MCSA and MCSE propelled me into the certification game. (I remember: this happened between 1994 and 1997). And 1997, of course, is when Exam Cram launched at Coriolis Press. (Pearson took it over in 2002, where it remains a pretty big deal today).

Here’s a quote straight from the blog post:

 

Since we announced our focus on role-based training and certifications in September 2018, we’ve added a total of 34 certifications to our portfolio across Azure, Modern Workplace, and Business Applications. As we continue to expand on role-based learning offerings, all remaining exams associated with Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) will retire on June 30, 2020.

When MS Announces Impending MCSA MCSE MCSD Retirements, Then What?

Of course, this shift has been underway at Microsoft Learning since September 2018. MS is axing its big-name, freestanding certs, and promoting role-based certifications. There are a lot of them around (34, according to the preceding quote). In fact, MS now lumps them together with MTA and MOS certs. (Explanation: MTA = Microsoft Technology Associate, and MOS = Microsoft Office Specialist.) All fall under various job roles at the “Browse all certifications” page at MS Learning. Overall, these include:

AI Engineer DevOps Engineer Messaging Administrator
Administrator Developer Modern Desktop Administrator
Data Analyst Enterprise Administrator Security Engineer
Data Scientist Finance & Operations Consultant Solutions Architect
Database Administrator Fundamental Skills (MTA) Teamwork Administrator

Heads-up: that’s 15 roles in all, if you’d care to count them.

Thus, when retirement rolls around at mid-year in 2020, MS certification finishes its total make-over. Truly, I’m a little saddened and nostalgic about this evolution, but it’s inevitable for many reasons. Of course, Azure leads this new parade. It proves the importance of virtualization and (or in) the cloud. Get ready: It’s almost time to say hello to a brave new world.

Cheers!

MS Announces Impending Final MCSA MCSE MCSD Retirements.table
The first 16 of 79 role-based MS certs (including MTA and MOS items).

Above, you’ll find the first 16 (of 70-plus items) that show under “Browse all certifications” at MS Learning right now. It’s downright fascinating…

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{WED} Older Lenovos Need Utility Clean-up

Poking around on my two old Lenovo laptops today, I noticed several of their vendor-supplied utilities are passe. Indeed, now that Lenovo offers its Vantage UWP caretaker app, many older ThinkVantage tools are obsolete. That’s why I assert that older Lenovos need utility clean-up. Lenovo itself will happily let you download and install Vantage on any of its PCs. But it doesn’t automatically remove the older stuff when you do. In fact, if you check information pages at Lenovo (URLs below) for the following items, you’ll see what I mean:

+ (HT501246) Lenovo Quick Optimizer

+ (PD022501) Lenovo Solution Center

+ (DS105970) Lenovo System Interface Foundation

+ (DS012808) Lenovo System Update

+ Thinkpad Settings Dependency

+ ThinkVantage Fingerprint Software*

Note: all of the preceding items, except for the last one, can be safely uninstalled. Happily, the Lenovo Vantage UWP app supersedes all of them (except for the Fingerprint software, which must be at version 6.0 or higher for Windows 10 users). Likewise, do NOT uninstall Lenovo Service Bridge: it remains necessary to report your Lenovo PC’s serial and model number info back to the Lenovo servers.

Older Lenovos Need Utility Clean-up.SolutionCenter

The old-fangled Solution Center and its various brethren are all now longer under developer support. Most of them can go.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Why Do Older Lenovos Need Utility Clean-up?

Good question! Apparently, Lenovo left it to device owners to root out these older items (except for the Fingerprint Software, which you must keep if you have an older fingerprint reader and want to keep using it). Methinks they should’ve offered a clean-up utility. Better yet, the Lenovo Vantage installer should look for these passe items and offer to uninstall them as part of its install process. I’ll be communicating this back to Lenovo, in hope that they might listen to — and possibly even heed — this plea. We’ll see.

What About Newer Lenovos? Do They Need Clean-up, too?

I checked my newer Lenovos, of which I have four: two 2018-vintage X380 Yogas, 1 2018 vintage X1 Extreme, and 1 2019 vintage X390 Yoga. All had the older System Update utility installed, except for the 2019 X390 Yoga. Consequently, I did a bit of clean-up on those newer laptops, too. All’s well now, though.

 

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{WED} MS SaRA + Removing IRST Restores Win10 Stability

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been fighting some vicious Windows 10 issues. One of them manifested in the form of over 100 Outlook MoAppCrash errors related to WindowsCommunicationApps that check in with remote email servers. Those came at a rate of at least 5X daily. The other involved regular IAStorDataMgrSvc.exe errors, at the rate of at least one a day. Between the two, as the intro screencap shows, my system’s Reliability Index hit rock bottom 7 days in a row. But between using the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant (aka MS SaRA) and removing an unnecessary driver, I’ve been able to return my production PC to more or less normal operation. Hence this blog post’s title: MS SaRA + removing IRST restores Win10 stability.

MS SaRA + Removing IRST Restores Win10 Stability.main

As SaRA’s home screen shows, it’s good for addressing a broad range of Windows problems. It definitely fixed my Outlook errors without too much muss or fuss.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

The Many Powers of SaRA

I hadn’t used SaRA much before (though I did have a copy in my utilities folder). But when I ran it, the software asked me to revisit its Download Center page to grab the latest version. I’m glad I did, because it’s added a lot of new Office and Outlook capabilities in this latest incarnation. And because that’s just what I needed, it was well worth doing. Having now used it on multiple occasions to fix a couple of trivial problems and this latest, more annoying and persistent Outlook issue, I can recommend it to Windows admins, power users, and even ordinary users alike. It should be part of any Windows user’s troubleshooting arsenal, as it is now part of mine (it goes way beyond Windows 10’s built-in Troubleshooters, available through Start → Settings → Update & Security → Troubleshoot). Grab a copy today.

Why Use the Intel IRST Drivers?

The ultimate source of my IAStor related “stopped working” error messages came from this folder:

C:\Program Files\Intel\Intel(R) Rapid Storage Technology\IAStorDataMgrSvc.exe

That’s what clued me in that the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) software was involved. Although IRST offers some modest performance boosts for SATA disks run independently, its biggest benefits come through its support for software-based RAID (Redudant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks). It turns out that for AHCI users who don’t have RAID disks, IRST is more or less optional. If you really want ALL the details on IRST drivers, versions, and access to nicely-modded alternatives, check out Fernando’s IRST Coverage at Win-RAID.com.

In my case, I decided to uninstall the whole environment because anything that causes errors but provides only modest performance gains is not something I want. Out it went. And, as the rising tide of the Reliability Index shows, taking care of both errors finally has things moving in the right direction. And that’s the way things go sometimes, here in Windows-World. I’m mildly pleased to see the system becoming more stable. Let me see it get back to a perfect 10, and I’ll be somewhat more pleased. Fingers crossed!

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{WED} Windows Enterprise Desktop Blog Gets New Temporary Home

Just yesterday, I learned that my ongoing blog for TechTarget Windows Enterprise Desktop (WED) is no more. It first appeared on September 29, 2008 as Vista Enterprise Blog (see the banner graphic below for that initial item). Since that first post appeared, I wrote 1,583 items for that blog. My assigned frequency was 12 times a month. Starting on October 2008 through January 2020, gives 135 months. In fact, my actual monthly posting frequency was 11.72 over that period. Given holidays, vacations, and occasional sick days, I believe I met my blogging commitment over the 11 years, 3 months, and 13 days that my blog ran on TechTarget. For now, Windows Enterprise Desktop blog gets new temporary home here at edtittel.com.

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. It’s not just my blog that’s been cancelled. All the other 80-plus blogs at the IT Knowledge Exchange are cancelled, too. TechTarget plans to post no new Q&A or other content to that site, either. It’s the end of an era, and I’m just one of many industry people and players affected. Insider sources tell me the decision emerged from declining statistics, and unsatisfactory SEO results. That’s why I’m neither devestated at the loss, nor inclined to take it personally. Apparently it’s a hard-boiled business decision, pure and simple.

Windows Enterprise Desktop Blog Gets New Temporary Home.banner

I’m bemused to see my tenure extends back to the much-reviled Windows version named Vista. Personally, I never thought it was all that bad. Among many other good things, it brought us Desktop Gadgets, which I still use today.
[Click for full-sized view.]

Windows Enterprise Desktop Blog Gets New Temporary Home Right Here!

I will keep blogging 3 times a week about Windows 10 topics. Right now, I’m still negotiating with TechTarget about obtaining access to my historical blog stream. They own the copyright. Even so, I’m hopeful I can make an archive copy for my readers. While we’re working out those details, however, I’ll post three times a week right here on Windows 10 topics until I get things worked out. So far, my friend and colleague KariTheFinn has graciously offered to host the blog at our jointly-owned Win10.Guru site. But because I already post 3 times a week there on Windows 10 news and topics, I’m concerned that doubling up might reduce my following there. (Yes, there is indeed the possibility of “too much of a good thing.”) I’m also in conversation with a couple of other websites/content developers about staking out a presence somewhere else, so we’ll have to see how things turn out.

Time to Change Your Favorites/Bookmarks

For the next little while, you’ll want to change your bookmarks or favorites from one of the two that worked for this blog’s previous incarnation to the temporary new one. Here’s a list of relevant links:

1. TechTarget: SearchEnterpriseDesktop: Windows Enterprise Desktop (Old, but still has archival content)
2. TechTarget: IT Knowledge Exchange: Windows Enterprise Desktop (Old, but still has archival content)
3. EdTittel.com: Blog: WED posts in my ongoing Blog Stream will start with {WED} ahead of the actual post title. I plan to post there every Mon-Wed-Fri (starting today), until a new home is found or built.

Stay tuned!

A Preview of Coming Attractions

There are several different kinds of items I like to post to WED. First and foremost, I like to document Windows 10 problems, errors and misunderstandings that I experience myself, up close and personal. If I can find a fix or workaround, I’ll include that in the coverage because “problem + solution” beats “problem by itself” without exception. Some mysteries do, alas, remain forever unsolved. Second and less often, I like to share important bits of Windows 10 news and information that should impact or interest readers. Third, I like to share step-by-step instructions or how-to’s for Windows 10 topics that I’ve had to tackle and use on my systems, on the theory that others may find them useful too. Fourth, I’m a little bit of a gadget freak, so when I find a piece of gear that helps me work with Windows 10 more productively in the office or on the road, I’ll share my experiences, describe the gear, and point toward the best prices I can find.

All in all, it’s enough to keep me engaged and interested in publishing bits and pieces three times a week. Ongoing, longtime readership suggests that others feel the same way about these modest efforts. Thus, I hope you’ll shift your bookmarks around (or add a new one) to keep up with these re-housed, but continuing adventures in Windows-World. Thanks for your patronage and support over the past 11+ years. I hope you’ll allow me to keep it going forward.

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