Category Archives: WED Blog

MS Adds Insider Canary Channel

Yesterday, MS announced a new addition to its Insider Program channel lineup. The Canary Channel, in that announcement’s own words: “is going to be the place to preview platform changes that require longer-lead time before getting released to customers.” Examples provided include major changes to the kernel, new APIs, and so forth. Thus, as MS adds Insider Canary Channel it should become the focus for more blue-sky, further out stuff that has until now been part of what’s been playing on the Dev Channel.

MS Adds Insider Canary Channel.showing

Amazing! There it is, in all its glory leading the line-up: The Canary Channel lives. [Click image for full-sized view.]

As MS Adds Insider Canary Channel, What Else?

MS shares the following Canary Channel (CC) observations in its March 6 fanfare:

  • CC will support preview builds for platform changes
  • Try-outs may appear in the CC that never ship, along with stuff that “could show up in future Windows releases” when ready
  • CC will bear higher build numbers than other channels, starting in the 25000 series (current Dev Channel Build = 25309)
  • Current Dev Channel Insiders will be moved to CC starting March 6 (announcement day)
  • A channel switch opportunity will be presented for those who’d like to leave the CC
  • CC releases will follow a “hot off the presses” approach — meaning “very little validation and documentation”
  • CC will offer limited documentation and will not get a blog post for every flight (only when new features appear)
  • Other channels will continue to get blog posts for each build

This is very interesting. It also helps me understand why I’ve been struggling with upgrading one of my test PCs to 25309. It is Canary now, and subject to situations where an occasional clean install may be required. I wonder if one of those occasions might be soon?


Windows Application Update Rhythms

Last week, I ran an experiment Monday through Friday. Each day, I made sure to use winget upgrade and Software Update Monitor (aka SUMo) to check updates on 9 PCs here at Chez Tittel. I kept track of how many updates each tool found in tabular form. In each daily data cell, the first value counts updates winget found, and the second value counts updates SUMo found. It was interesting and unexpectedly time-consuming (averaged 75 minutes each day). It does give me a better sense of Windows application update rhythms, though.

Checking Windows Application Update Rhythms

The  9 machines in my sample included 1 4th-Gen CPU and 1 6th-gen Intel CPU (both perforce running Windows 10). All but one of the other machines run Windows 11, and all but one are 8th Gen Intel CPUs or higher (the hold-out runs a Ryzen 7 5800X). Each machine runs anywhere from 24 applications listed in SUMo to as many as 62. In the results table, an “at sign” (@) means that either Winget or SUMo recommended an update that I couldn’t install (winget) or find (SUMo). That latter one proved time consuming indeed.

Table of Results

Daily Updates Found/Installed
Name 27-Feb 28-Feb 01-Mar 02-Mar 03-Mar
 LY7i 2/4  0/2 0/0 0/0 0/3@
 P16 1/0 1/2 1/1 2/0 1/3@
SP3  0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/1
Dx380 3/2 0/2@ 0/2@ 2/1@ 0/1
Bx380 4/4  0/6@ 0/1@ 1/4@ 0/5@
X12 0/0 0/1 0/2@ 2/1  0/3
X1C 3/2 0/1@ 1/1@ 1/1@ 1/2@
D7080 3/2 1/3 2/0 0/0 0/3@
i7Sky 2/2@ 0/3@ 1/4@ 3/3@ 0/1@
Ry7 3/3@ 1/3@ 2@/1 1/1 0/4@
 @ bogus update

A total of 131 updates were put forward by one or the other tool last week, for an average of about 14.5 for the week for each PC. The range of values went from a low of 8 to a high of 24.

What this tells me is that tracking updates could be a constant effort, were one minded to invest the time and energy. It also shows that the pace of updates is pretty brisk, and somewhat relentless. This makes it very clear why, except for emergency security patches, most organizations of any size prefer to limit updates to scheduled windows of fixed duration.

Otherwise, it’s the kind of rabbit hole into which admins could disappear, never to be seen again!


Installer Borks PowerPanel Program

Here’s an interesting one from the trenches. In working my way though today’s round of software updates, I found myself unable to get info from the CyberPower CP1500D uninterruptible power supply. It protects my primary production PC, so that’s a concern. I did some online research into the far-from-transparent error message “PowerPanel Personal Service is not ready.” I learned I was dealing with a documented bug. Turns out a rogue installer borks PowerPanel program . That said, it’s easily fixed. Let me explain…

When Installer Borks PowerPanel Program, Then What?

A search on the error string “PowerPanel Personal Service is not ready” took me to Woody Leonhard’s (in)famous AskWoody website. I learned that it wasn’t the installer that broke the service connection to the UPS, but the immediate reboot that it advised upon completion. Go figure!

But the recommended fix worked like a charm. Basically, it’s a remove-and-replace operation. That is, uninstall the CyberPower utility, remove all traces, then reinstall. Upon completion, don’t reboot immediately. Everything works!

Revo Uninstaller Recommended

The advice from AskWoody MVP “bbearren” recommends using Revo Uninstaller (the free version is fine: it’s what I used). It offers clean-up after it runs the program’s own installer and gets rid of leftover files and registry entries. (I used the middle “Moderate” clean-up setting.)

Then, I reinstalled the latest version of the CyberPower PowerPanel Personal software (2.4.8) from the download I’d already made for the update. It chunked through to a happy completion, after which I did NOT reboot my PC despite the installer’s recommendation. You can see the working results in the lead-in graphic for this story.

Problem solved! It’s nice when they go down easy and quick. That actually happens sometimes, some days here in Windows-World.


MS Phases iPhone Support into Phone Link

In early January, I wrote about Intel’s Unison app as a possible “killer app” for Windows 11. Why? Because it provides an app that (sort of) integrates the iPhone with a Windows PC. Now, MS is jumping into the game. Tuesday’s “Moment 2” announcement includes mention of a new connection for iPhones into the previously Android-only Phone Link app. And wouldn’t you know it? MS phases iPhone support into Phone Link for Dev Channel Insiders, and I’m not among those to whom this capability is currently extended.

Waiting as MS Phases iPhone Support into Phone Link

If you check the lead-in graphic, you’ll see that iPhone is now mentioned in an early Phone Link setup screen. But unless your PC is offered that functionality, that entry reads “iPhone® – Coming soon” in greyed-out text (see red box at lower right). Indeed, that means I’m waiting for one or both of my Dev Channel test machines to get the offer, so I can try things out.

Like Intel Unison, what I read about this capability is that it uses a Bluetooth link (and works only on Windows 11). Thus I make the same plea to MS I made to Intel: “Fix the app communications stack so it can use a wired connection — e.g. Lightning or USB-C cable — as well as Bluetooth.” To my dismay, I observed that Unison would quit working as soon as I plugged into my iPhone 12 by wire.

Other limitations include no support for MMS or SMS attachments. Those, I guess I can live with. I can always move stuff over after the fact for such things if I plug in a cable, right? LOL

Tick … Tock … Tick … Tock

But for now I’m waiting for the offer to hit my test PCs. It’s welcome news in a Windows-iPhone household like the one here at Chez Tittel. Soon, I hope to be able to see how well it works. Stay tuned!



KB5022913 May Break Customization Tools

Some people learn to live with Windows and make the best of it. Others refuse, and turn to third-party tools to bring back bits and pieces of prior capability that MS has removed. Ditto for adding functionality missing but desired in Windows. When MS released its “Moment 2” updates on February 28, it announced that KB5022913 may break customization tools in common use.

If KB5022913 May Break Customization Tools, Then What?

If an update breaks a third-party tool, users have two choices:
1. Remove the third-party tool, and continue forward with the update.
2. Uninstall the update, and keep using the third-party tool.
Of course, neither option is perfect but sacrifices are sometimes necessary here in Windows-World.

Here’s what the announcement says, verbatim (emphasis mine, for easy identification of possible offenders in the first paragraph; emphasis in the second paragraph is Microsoft’s):

After installing KB5022913 or later updates, Windows devices with some third-party UI customization apps might not start up. These third-party apps might cause errors with explorer.exe that might repeat multiple times in a loop. The known affected third-party UI customization apps are ExplorerPatcher and StartAllBack. These types of apps often use unsupported methods to achieve their customization and as a result can have unintended results on your Windows device.

Workaround: We recommend uninstalling any third-party UI customization app before installing KB5022913 to prevent this issue. If your Windows device is already experiencing this issue, you might need to contact customer support for the developer of the app you are using. If you are using StartAllBack, you might be able to prevent this issue by updating to the latest version (v3.5.6 or later).

Notice that MS puts the onus for figuring things out if Windows doesn’t work properly with such a third-party tool on that tool’s developer. This could make life extremely interesting for related tech support operations.

To Tweak, or Not to Tweak?

With apologies to Hamlet (and Shakespeare), the real question is how much, how often and what kinds of tweaks Windows users can safely make to their own installations? I’m of the opinion that “less is more” because it involves fewer things that could go wrong, and fewer such things to keep track of.

That said, I do indeed enjoy tinkering with Windows. I don’t see what MS is doing here as a general injunction against such efforts. Instead I see it as a warning against “unsupported methods” that some developers use. I agree with MS that on principle such tools are best avoided. But that puts an interesting burden on users to figure out what’s working and what’s not. I can tell you from copious personal experience that diagnosing and pinpointing trouble can be difficult and time-consuming. Indeed: the MS workaround seems like a well-intentioned way to shortcut that work, and bypass related problems.

Note Added March 2 AM

This morning, the first thing I saw on WinAero was a story entitled “A new version of ExplorerPatcher fixes issues with Windows 11 “Moment 2” Update.” According to WinAero principal Sergey Tkachenko, at least one set of already-identified problems is addressed. I guess that’s the kind of response you’d hope for, if you were an ExplorerPatcher user. While I am not, I see plenty of people over at ElevenForum who use (and praise) it.

Another item has joined the list of offenders, though: Stardock’s Start11 (says Neowin). That one, I do use, on some of my Windows 11 PCs. Guess I’ll have to watch closely and take evasive action as needed.

Stay tuned: this looks like it could get increasingly interesting…


Strange wt.exe Windows Terminal Behavior

I’ve got to admit I love nothing better than a good Windows mystery. And right now: I seem to have a doozy on my hands. Here’s the deal: if I open Windows Terminal on my production Windows 10 PC, it won’t run another terminal instance (wt.exe) either in PowerShell or in a Command Prompt pane. You can see this in the lead-in graphic above. The PowerShell error message also provides profound guidance on what’s going on here with this strange wt.exe Windows Terminal behavior. Can you see it, too?

Why Get Strange wt.exe Windows Terminal Behavior?

The clue is in the error message text where it shows the path for the version of wt.exe that PowerShell or Command Prompt tries to run. It’s the Preview version, which I have installed alongside the production version on this — and only this — PC here at Chez Tittel. By no coincidence, it’s also the only machine here that’s having this problem.

That said: I’ve also found various workarounds that bypass this issue:

1. Providing the complete path spec for the non-preview version launches a new Terminal window from  Command Prompt. The complete path spec for the preview version still provokes “access denied.” It sits there and does nothing inside PowerShell.
2. Opening Voidtools Search Everything, right-clicking and selecting “Run as administrator” launches a new Terminal window for either version. The same approach works in File Explorer, too. Ditto for Start menu access (but only for the production version, which is the only one that has a Start menu entry).

Version Confusion Path Dynamics

To me, this problem seems obviously path related. And indeed, the first entry in the PATH variable on the affected PC reads:

C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\Microsoft.WindowsTerminalPreview_

That explains why the shell tries to run the Preview version in the first place when it’s called at the command line. It’s very likely a side-effect of the Terminal Preview installation process. I didn’t edit PATH to include it, that’s for sure.

And it turns out that when wt.exe runs, it adds itself to the PATH. This raises the question of why, even when I launch the production version, the Preview is the version added to the PATH. Interesting!

Workarounds Will Cover My Needs

For the time being I can get Terminal to do what I need it to do without completely figuring out this strange path dynamic that’s at work. I imagine that I could simply uninstall the Preview version and my issue would disappear. I’ll think about and fool around with this for a while yet, and see if I can figure another solution. For further discussion of what turns out to be a bigger mystery than I was expecting see this github issues thread: Windows terminal path is different if launched with wt.exe. This one appears to possess Dantean qualities (“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…).

Let me be clear about this, though. This happens only on one of my near-dozen Windows PCs. And it’s the only one with both Preview and Production versions of Windows Terminal running side-by-side. It’s definitely a tempest of sorts, but one in a pretty small teapot.


Update Semantics: Current versus Preview

Here’s an interesting situation that frosts me just a tad. The other day, I found myself chasing a version of OneDrive that I couldn’t find on its Release Note page. According to that page, I had the current release of that software installed on my production PC. Turns out that KC Softwares Software Update Monitor (SUMo) disagrees with Microsoft (and me, FWIW). It points users at what I learned by experiment is the current Insider preview update. This has me questioning their update semantics: current versus preview. I’ll explain

Questioning Update Semantics: Current versus Preview

Common usage for current in the context of “current software release” is usually understood as “official vendor or developer sponsored software release that represents that latest and greatest stable version.” A “preview software release” OTOH usually means “a preview of upcoming software that’s not guaranteed to be bug-free or stable.”

If you look at the lead in graphic, then at the item after this paragraph, you’ll see that what SUMo recommends as the current release for OneDrive is actually the Insider preview update. I think that’s a mistaken approach. But I’e noticed that SUMo tends to recommend the highest-numbered version for software it tracks. That happens sometimes (e.g. SpaceDeck) we when AFAIK (and have been able to ascertain) that version number does not exist!

Notice the SUMo version available matches pre-release version at right top.

Because I’m quibbling about semantics here, I’ll give SUMo credit for saying that the higher-numbered release is available not current. But gosh, they expect you to download, and update or install to that version number. If that’s not at least an implicit claim that it’s the right version to run, I’m sadly mistaken. I wish instead they’d key on the version from the release notes page which Microsoft clearly labels as the current (stable and shipping) version. C’mon people! Get it right… And while you’re at it, adopt this practice for all the apps you track. Thanks in advance … I hope.


Win11 Allows March Beta Escape

Here it comes. In the surest sign that a new version of Windows 11 is headed for production Win11 allows March Beta escape. An explanation appears in this February 23 post to the Windows Insiders blog. Indeed, MS offers a limited-time-only “Off-ramp for Windows Insiders in the Beta Channel.”

What does this mean, in plainer English?  If you opt in, you can leave the Beta Channel for Insider Preview. In fact, you’ll return to the production version of Windows as it settles down in the wake of the upcoming release.

If Win11 Allows March Beta Escape, Why Do It?

It’s the easiest way to unenroll from the Beta program, and go back to a production version of Windows. Works equally well for physical PCs and VMs. I’ll summarize the basic elements of the “escape” (read the announcement for all details):

  1. The off-ramp started January 23. It’s open through March 8.
  2. Offer applies only to those running Build 22621.1325 or 22623.1325 (older Beta Channel builds are not eligible; I assume this means newer minor builds will also qualify — the announcement does not specifically spell this out).
  3. While the offer is open, a troubleshooter handles the unenrolling process, which requires a reboot to change status from Beta to production. Once unenrolled, the PC no longer gets Beta builds.
  4. When the troubleshooter finishes, the “in-place upgrade with the March 2023 “B” release (the next Patch Tuesday)” is installed. This puts it into the then-current release for Windows 11 22H2.

Why I Like This Off-Ramp News…

It tells us that a new version of Windows 11 22H2 is headed our way. It’s always nice to know for sure. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks, Microsoft!

Here’s a shout-out to John Callaham at His story there alerted me this morning to yesterday’s announcement. Thanks!


So Long Surface Pro 3

OK, then. I think I’m at the end of a long, long road. I remember buying my Surface Pro 3 in 2014. It was the first in a long series of tablet PCs I’ve bought over the years. Included were models from MS (Surface), Dell (Latitude), Fujitsu (Stylistic) and Lenovo (ThinkPad). But now, it’s time for me to say: “So long Surface Pro 3.”  Please: let me explain what’s going on…

Why It’s Time for So Long Surface Pro 3

This morning when I logged into my network, I noticed the SP3 had switched over from the wired GbE port in the dock to its wireless interface. It’s been dropping this wired connection for months now. As (almost) always, a reboot brought the wired interface back up. But I can tell the dock is starting to fail.

I just spent US$19 last week to replace the power supply brick for the dock. But I hesitate at replacing the dock outright (costs about US$100 for a refurb unit). It’s time to quit futzing around with this old beast, and unload it into proper disposal channels.

Where to Take This Aging Beast

For years, I’ve given my older PCs to Reglue, a charity that placed them in the hands of under-served students and their families to confer low-cost/no-cost Internet access. But alas, the founder of that organization has retired and is no longer accepting donations.

For about the same period of time, I’ve recommended Goodwill as a safe, responsible drop-off for used PC electronics of all kinds. Thus, I’m glad to see that the Austin Reuse Directory likewise recommends Goodwill for such purposes. I’ve already got a Goodwill bag going with some old hard disks, memory modules, cables and interfaces ready for drop-off.

I’ll need another bag for the SP3 and its accoutrement, though. I’ve accumulated a major mound of stuff for this unit over the years. This includes:

  • an MS keyboard with fingerprint reader
  • the dock, with its external power brick
  • the original power brick shipped with the SP3
  • a Brydge aluminum keyboard that turns the SP3 into a clamshell style laptop

Another thing to take care of this weekend, when out running errands and shopping. Good thing my nearest Goodwill location is only 3.2 miles away!


Start10 Blocks 11 Upgrade

For some time now, my spouse Dina has resisted upgrading to Windows 11. Her 11th gen Dell 7080 Micro meets all of the hardware requirements. But she’s not ready to take the plunge. Thus, when somehow, someway Windows Update started the Windows 11 upgrade process on her PC, I got a little worried. I shouldn’t have bothered — part-way into the install process, the installer halted the upgrade. Why? Because of a compatibility hold, Start10 blocks 11 upgrade on that PC.

Easy Fix for Start10 Blocks 11 Upgrade, But…

Yes, I know: if I were simply to uninstall Start10, the upgrade would proceed without further demur. Ironically, it serves as a form of insurance in this case. When Dina’s ready to upgrade, I’ll upgrade her (and install Start11 on the resulting build to minimize the impact of that change). That’s when I’ll take Start10 off the board, then…

The frequently-offered upgrade got started somehow in the last week. Somebody must’ve clicked the “go-ahead” button without really understanding what was going on. If it happens again, I now know that the upgrade process will quit before it gets to the post-GUI install phase.

Shoot! It might even be the case that now the compatibility hold is known to the Windows Installer, it won’t even try again. I certainly hope so. But sometimes, here in Windows-World what looks like a curse is actually a blessing. Of course, that vice is often versa, so it doesn’t always (or only seldom) works in one’s favor.

Thus, I’ll revel in this surprisingly friendly turn of events. It will certainly help to preserve domestic tranquility here at Chez Tittel. It should also suspend the too-typical “What did you do to my PC?” that “The Boss” has been known to emit after Windows Update does its periodic thing on her machine.

When this error shows up in WU, I can bail on the upgrade. Funny that it doesn’t screen in advance, but after downloading and during the GUI install phase (about 35% of the way in, if what the UI says is true). Go figure!