Category Archives: WED Blog

Fixing WADK Upgrade Error 2008

Sometimes, strange things happen when using Winget (the built-in package manager in PowerShell). This morning, I got hit with an error when attempting to upgrade the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (aka WADK). This meant fixing WADK upgrade error 2008. Fortunately, I found a helpful GitHub post that explained how to overcome this issue.

Note: the lead-in graphic shows Winget commands to compare local ADK versions (in the list and show sub-commands) to the most current known ADK package (in the search sub-command).

Steps Toward Fixing WADK Upgrade Error 2008

Turns out the tried-and-true technique for fixing the upgrade error works here, too. First: uninstall the current version. Then, download and re-install that version (see this MS Learn article for that link). After that, all should work as it’s supposed to.

What’s interesting is the size and complexity of this environment. The adksetup.exe file is under 2MB in size, but it’s just a bootstrap loader. It brings in and sets up nearly 2GB of tools and supporting infrastructure. It also takes a while (about 5 minutes going and coming) to remove, then replace, that environment.

Once I worked through the maneuver, WADK no longer showed up in Winget. Nor did error 2008 recur, obviously.

When In Doubt, Remove/Replace Works Well

I’ve learned that when Winget gets wonky, there may be reasons connected to the runtime infrastructure at work in your Windows image. Often, the easiest way to clean that up is to remove the troubled package, reboot, then reinstall. This has bailed me out of difficulties on several occasions. That includes this morning’s encounter with the WADK.

If it works for me, it could work for you, too. As long as you have a fresh backup and can easily restore same, why not? I was covered today by my scheduled 9AM image, so I gave it a shot. It worked!

Going On (Brief) Hiatus

Let me take this opportunity to wish one and all the best possible end-of-year holiday. I’ll be silent here until Monday, December 26, as I take a break to spend time with family and friends. For those who celebrate the holiday: Merry Christmas! Otherwise, enjoy the break.

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SSDs Versus HDDs Revisited

I just saw some pretty amazing sales prices on external 2TB SSDs at Neowin. I’m talking something in the neighborhood of US$120 -140 for something rated at 800 – 1,000 MBps. This has me thinking about SSDs versus HDDs revisited. Why? Because over the past 6 years, I’ve been moving steadily away from HDDs to increasingly fast and affordable SSDs. These prices kind of put a cap on the whole phenom, IMO.

SSDs Versus HDDs Revisited: Late 2022

I realized the value of compact, portable 2.5″ external drives in the first decade of this millenium, when laptops really took over business computing. I carried my first luggables far back as 1988. But compact, usable external storage for field use really didn’t catch on until small, USB-attached drives became practical in the wake of USB 2.0’s introduction in 2000.

Right now, I’ve still got 4 2.0 TB USB 3 HDDs (which I hardly use anymore: Seagate Firecudas purchased in 2016/2017). I’ve also got 2 5.0 TB Seagate BarraCudas purchased in 2018/2019. Those I still use. But the fact is, those drives all cost me more when I bought them than what you’ll pay for a 2TB Crucial X8 NVMe SSD on sale right now (pictured above). That shows the immense increase in storage density, and decrease in power needed to drive such storage in the recent past.

What Now, Storage Wise?

I’m getting ready to gift off all of my older 2 TB 2.5″ drives to the nice folks at Goodwill (my old friend, Ken Starks, has retired and shut down ReGlue.org). Except for very big 3.5″ drives (12 TB+) I don’t plan on buying any more HDDs, ever.

In fact, I’ve already moved onto NVMe-based USB drives, with USB 3.1/3.2 as my baseline, and USB4/ThunderBolt4 as my “stretch target.” The latter are still kinda expensive. I think it’s more than the current performance bump is worth, but that will change substantially in the next 12-18 months.

For the Record: The Speed Hierarchy

The following data is enough to convince me that portable USB-based NVMe storage is the right way to go nowadays. How ’bout you?

Type     Drive              Fastest R/W
HDD      FireCuda 2TB       ~61/71    MBps
HDD      BarraCuda 5TB     ~137/131   MBps
mSATA    Samsung 1TB       ~455/400   MBps
NVMe-3   Samsung 950 1TB   ~1060/1040 MBps
NVMe-4   Sabrent R4 1 TB   ~2820/1290 MBps

I just took all these measurements using CrystalDiskMark’s highest large-block read/write values (version 8.0.4.0). I know where I want to be on this performance ladder, especially for image backups (one of my primary reasons for using and carrying portable storage on the road). Again: how ’bout you?

Notes on the Test Rig

I ran the external drives via a Lenovo ThinkPad Universal Dock Pro (TB4-capable) through a TB4 connection into a Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Hybrid Tablet. FWIW, the NVMe-4 results are the best I’ve ever seen from an external drive. Nifty!

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Observing EoY Windows Updates

I remember the old Morton salt motto: “When it rains, it pours.” Aside from providing an apt description for today’s weather in Central Texas, it also describes my reaction when running winget this morning. I find myself observing EoY Windows Updates (that’s short for “End of Year”). I’m thinking: lots of software makers are pushing updates now so they can take a holiday break, too.

Mucho Activity While Observing EoY Windows Updates

As you can see in the lead-in graphic — PowerShell snapshot — winget found 10 items in need of upgrade this morning. KC Software’s Software Update Monitor (SUMo) found an additional 10 over and above that number. Items included Zoom, CPU-Z, Ring Central, GeForce Experience, FileZilla, SnagIt, MTPW and more. Wow! Last week was dead quiet by comparison.

Then, I decide to check on other PCs here in the office, beyond my production desktop (i7 Skylake running Windows 10 current version). I don’t see as much activity there, but do find some:

Device                     OS     #Updates
----------------------   ------   --------
P16 Mobile Workstation   Win11P       0
ThinkPad X380 Yoga       Win11D       2
Surface Pro 3            Win10RP      3
ThinkPad X12 Hybrid      Win11D       0
ThinkPad X1 Extreme      Win11P
----------------------   -------   -------
P=Production; D=DevChannel, RP=Release Preview

Upon considering this data, I have to change my initial supposition. While it’s probably true that software makers are pushing a last round of updates out to Windows users, looks like it’s not coming in a total rush this morning. Because I updated all of those other machines Wed-Fri last week, I can say it’s been coming for a while now. Looks like I didn’t get around to my production PC until later, rather than sooner.

More Data Delivers More Insight

This just goes to show that a larger sample size is helpful in making observations about updates more informed and cogent. It’s probably a good idea to schedule one more update cycle before the holidays (if you haven’t done so already). After that, it should be safe to wait until January 3 — or later — to make a next check.

My gut feel is not much will be happening, update-wise, for the rest of the next couple of weeks. I guess that means the EoY break is at hand. Enjoy!

Note: I will be blogging through Wednesday, December 21. I’m off then, but I’ll resume on December 26. Happy Holidays to one and all.

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Thunderbolt Docks Add Helpful Future-Proofing

I’m thinking about what kinds of hardware experiments I’ve conducted over the past couple of years. Especially this year (2022). Along the way, I’ve learned that Thunderbolt docks add helpful future-proofing for home and office users. Let me explain…

How Thunderbolt Docks Add Helpful Future-Proofing

Right now, Lenovo offers what can only be called a “Best Buy” in the arena of Thunderbolt 4 docks. Or maybe a couple of them, as I’ll recount shortly. Called the Universal TB4 Dock, it currently retails for just under US$290. This is about US$110 cheaper than its nearest competitors (e.g. Belkin and CalDigit, among others).

On December 8, I also wrote here about the Lenovo P27-u20 monitor, which includes a built-in TB4 dock. At US$527, with a 4K monitor included in the mix, it too, qualifies as a “Best Buy” IMO.

There is one thing, though: to make proper use of TB4, you also need TB4 peripherals. They will be no more than two years old (TB4 made its debut in H2’2020). There’s a lot of expense involved in climbing this technology bump. But if you’ve got newer peripherals, a TB4 dock is a great way to mate them up to PCs and laptops back to 8th Gen Intel (and equivalent AMD) CPUs. I’ve done that, and it works great.

Try TB3 for a Lower-Budget Approach

For readers who want to extend the life of a Windows 11 capable PC or laptop, it may make sense to invest in Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) instead. Such docks cost as little as US$40 (e.g. Dell refurb), and are readily available new for around or just under US$100. If you’ve already bought into USB-C (3.1 or 3.2 capability) or TB3 peripherals, this is a less expensive way to dock up. Worth researching anyway: I see lots of attractive options at Amazon and other online outlets.

Thanks, Lenovo!

While I’ve got your eye, I’d like to thank the laptop and peripherals teams at Lenovo for their outstanding support. They’ve sent me half-a-dozen different laptops (and one great SFF workstation), multiple docks and the aforementioned monitor this year to review.

It’s been incredibly educational and lots of fun to put different TB4 scenarios together. This lets me understand and measure how they work, and how to make them work best. A special shout-out to Jeff Witt and Amanda Heater for their great help and quick assistance this year (and beforehand). Happy holidays to one and all.

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25267 Last 2022 Dev Channel Build

It’s over … for now, at least. That’s right: the Build 25267 announcement states “This will be our last Dev Channel flight for the holidays.” Hence my title for today’s post: 25267 last 2022 Dev Channel Build. I must say it went pretty smoothly, too: it took under half an hour from start to finish: download, GUI and post-GUI install, and thence to the desktop. Good stuff!

If 25267 Last 2022 Dev Channel Build, Then What?

Enjoy the holidays, I guess. According to the change log, the only noteworthy element is “more rounded corners” for the expanded search results obtained via the taskbar’s search button. The lead-in graphic shows what that looks like. AFAICT, it’s no biggie. Note: I had to fiddle with the screen cap (and blew it up to 150% for improved viewability) so it’s a little fuzzier here than in “real life.”

Poking Around Behind the Scenes

Just for grins, I took a look at the size of Windows.old after this latest upgrade, to get a sense of how big a Windows 11 image is nowadays. On both of my test machine, it came in just over 23GB in size. (One PC is a Lenovo X12 Hybrid Tablet, with 11th Gen i7-1180G7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD; the other is a Lenovo X380 Yoga, with 8th Gen i7-8650U, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD.)

It used to be conventional wisdom that a Windows install required 20 GB of free disk space. Now, it looks like 25 GB is probably a safer general guideline. Interestingly, the Disk Cleanup utility reports the size of Previous Windows installation(s) as 15.4 GB, even though a properties check on Windows.old (Build 25262) returns the aforementioned sizes. Cleanup takes a little while, too: about 4 minutes on each test PC or thereabouts.

25267 Last 2022 Dev Channel Build.Windows.old

Note the reported size here is about 9 GB smaller. Interesting…

Marching into 2023

It’s still 17 days off, but 2023 is coming. I imagine we might see resumption of regular flighting the week of January 9. But heck, it’s been a busy, busy year for Windows 11. I count 32 Builds in Update History starting from March 21, 2022. And while I’ve encountered (and reported) occasional issues along the way, most have been minor. And none have stopped me from tracking along with each new Build as it’s emerged. I can only hope next year goes equally well.

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Backdoor Store That Updates Snipping Tool

Ha! There are times when I delight in being wrong. This is one of them. Thanks to Sergey Tkachenko at WinAero, I accessed a backdoor Store that updates Snipping Tool. Warning: it comes from a Russian source — namely rg-adguard.net. But it accesses MS URLs, so I’m inclined to think it’s safe (and FWIW, VirusTotal agrees). You can see the new version including a “Record” button, as the lead-in graphic for this story.

Using Backdoor Store That Updates Snipping Tool

Let me explain how I was wrong, before I explain how to visit the backdoor Store if you’re so inclined. In my Monday post, I said (bold emphasis added):

Visiting the Microsoft Store and running updates didn’t help either. Nor could I find a download source for the updated app. Of course, I didn’t expect that, either — the whole point of a phased roll-out is to limit access to new stuff to a carefully-chosen subset of the target population.

Tkachenko proved me wrong by finding a mirror of the MS Store that did indeed include a download for the missing 11.2211.35.0 version of the Snipping Tool. It may (or may not) be available to visitors at https://store.rg-adguard.net/. Enter the following string in the URL entry field (at center):

https://www.microsoft.com/store/productId/9MZ95KL8MR0L

On one of my Dev Channel test machines, I saw the desired listing (reproduced below). On the other, I did not. So obviously, YMMV. Here’s what it looked like on the successful attempt:

The desired package name is Microsoft.ScreenSketch_2022.2211.35.0_neutral_~_8wekyb3d8bbwe.msixbundl, where the version number 2211.35.0 is key.
[Click image for full sized view]

Just for grins, I installed this version on my “other Dev Channel PC” (even though I didn’t see it at the backdoor Store directly). And of course, it worked as expected there, too.

Caveat Emptor, Baby

Of course, you use such alternate (backdoor) sources at your own risk. And it’s entirely possible that the next CU  or upgrade will overwrite this version for those not included in the phased rollout. So you may want to stash the msixbundle file somewhere on another drive, and be prepared for evasive maneuvers. Or, you may decide to take the safest course, and wait for MS to bring the mountain to you.

As I said in my Monday post, my problem is one of patience (at least, in part). I didn’t want to wait for my turn: I wanted the new version NOW. I’ve got it and I’m playing with it. Do as you see fit, please!

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OCD Need Not Drive Software Updates

I’m something of a nut when it comes to keeping my fleet updated — now numbering 11 Windows desktops and laptops. But I’m learning that some updates are worth installing, while others are questionable. My OCD desires aside, a line between “must-have” and “nice-to-have” is coming clear. Hence the claim: OCD need not drive software updates. Let me explain, using the “free Kindle app” (Windows version), as an example.

Changes Occur, But OCD Need Not Drive Software Updates

Kindle illustrates my case in point. Check the lead-in graphic. It shows the General Options page for the Kindle App (Windows variety). Note the checkbox for “Automatically install updates …”  It’s checked! Note further: the Software Update Monitor tool (SUMo) reports ALL such updates.

Here’s the rub: Amazon/Kindle itself does not push updates unless they offer new functionality or security fixes. If SUMo catches one that the auto-update function does not push, catching up means extra work. First, one must uninstall the “outdated” version. Then, one must download and install the “current” version in its place. Winget does this easily, as I describe in my November 3 item. But Amazon/Kindle find it unnecessary (or they’d push it automatically).

Other Cases, Other Deferrals…

I’ve observed this pattern with other 3rd-party tools. One is ioBit Driver Booster Free (I run it as a test app on one Beta Channel PC). I emailed the company to ask about “skipped updates.” They responded with a helpful explanation. Paraphrased it reads “Some updates aren’t needed for existing installations.” They also offer updates explicitly whenever adding new stuff or security elements.

Thus, I’m learning to be choosy in updating applications. Perfect coverage takes time. I now understand that putting time saved elsewhere has benefits. That’s why I stress that OCD, however compelling, shouldn’t guide one’s update approach — especially mine!

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Sussing Out New Snipping Tool

Here’s a familiar plaint. Windows 11 Dev Channel includes a new version of the Snipping Tool with screen record capability. As far as I could tell, my two Dev Channel test PCs are not yet included. Then I figured out what’s involved in Sussing out new Snipping Tool, and proved that my version is behind the new one. Let me explain…

App Version Info Helps, Sussing Out New Snipping Tool

What you see in the screencap at the head of this story is the version number for the Snipping Tool running on my test PCs. According to this December 8 MS Announcement, the updated version number that handles screen recording is 11.2211.35.0. As you can plainly see above, my PCs are running 11.2209.2.0, which is a couple of digits lower in the second position.

Visiting the Microsoft Store and running updates didn’t help either. Nor could I find a download source for the updated app. Of course, I didn’t expect that, either — the whole point of a phased roll-out is to limit access to new stuff to a carefully-chosen subset of the target population.

Playing is Easy; Patience is Harder

As somebody who’s been later to receive items during most phased feature roll-outs, I can’t say I’m surprised by this turn of events. If I had the new version, I’d be using it right now (playing). Waiting for my turn requires patience, which I find considerably harder to exercise.

But indeed, as I know from repeat prior experience, that’s the way things go sometimes here in Windows-World. I’ll keep checking my test PCs after updates, and wondering how much longer I have to wait. Then, suddenly, they’ll get the update (or it will go into more general release) and I won’t have to wait any more.

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Curious Reliability Monitor Incident Occurs

Sometimes, no news is itself news. One of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories, The Adventure of Silver Blaze describes a “curious incident of the dog in the night-time” wherein “the dog did nothing…” Lately, as the lead-in graphic from Reliability Monitor shows, my production PS is such a dog. Over a 19-day period, it shows exactly one critical event. And that one is easily explained, thanks to an aging UPS battery.

Good News When a Curious Reliability Monitor Incident Occurs

According to WinFetch, I have 308 packages installed on my production desktop, of which Winget recognizes 226. Those numbers provide ample opportunities for things to go sideways. I confess: I check in on Reliability Monitor when seeking blog topics. It seldom fails to point toward interesting troubleshooting or clean-up exercises.

I use the heck out of my production PC: 8-10 hours a day, 6-7 days a week. Consequently, I’ve seen many less happy Reliability Monitor traces than the one at the head of this story. It is, in fact, something of an anomaly in my 6-plus years of working this PC as a daily driver. And that, to mangle Mr. Holmes, is what makes for a “curious incident” — namely that I could work both hard and long on this PC while maintaining a nearly perfect reliability score.

Windows 10 Gains a Ringing Endorsement

When nothing shows up in Reliability Monitor, the presumption is that the PC is behaving itself well. For example, I’m currently logged into 4 RDP sessions: 3 on various Windows 11 versions, 1 on Windows 10. Only one of them shows one critical error event like the lead-in graphic. It’s from a Dev Channel build that’s been running for 11 days, and the critical error it shows resolves into 4 events that occurred just after the new build installed on November 29.

The other 3 PCs show 3 or more critical events over the default 19-day interval typical for Reliability Monitor displays. And these, too, devolve into a half-dozen error events of one kind or another. My point is: the production PC is manifesting unusual calm and stability, especially as the other machines are less heavily used (though subject to beta software and primarily test or experimental situations).

I see this as another explanation for the relatively slow changeover from Windows 10 to 11 I wrote about yesterday (Where Windows 11 Business Use Stands). If the OS ain’t broke, there truly is no need to fix (or replace) it. I find it comforting, in a weird way; MS undoubtedly has more mixed feelings on this subject. But it offers a pretty compelling explanation as to why businesses aren’t yet taking the Windows 11 plunge in significant numbers.

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Where Windows 11 Business Use Stands

Here’s an interesting question to ponder: what is business doing with Windows 11? Data on general Windows 11 use (e.g. StatCounter, Statista, and so forth) shows that for every copy of Windows 11, around 4 copies of Windows 10 are in use. Determining where Windows 11 business use stands is a whole ‘nother story. That’s because there’s very little solid intelligence about the proportion of business to home/hobbyist/”other” users available. Frankly, I’m a little frustrated…

Where Windows 11 Business Use Stands Is Mysterious

For years now, MS has been careful about what kinds of numbers it discloses about Windows, particularly where business versus other uses are concerned. We know that roughly 1.8B copies of Windows are in use worldwide. If the breakdowns from still-available desktop marketshare analytics are relevant — I’ll use StatCounter (the source for the opening graphic here, as of November 2022) for reference — that means roughly the following:

1. With 69.75% of the total count, that grants 1.25B copies to Windows 10.
2. With 16.13% of the total count, that confers 290M copies to Windows 11.

Those observations may or may not be relevant, because the foregoing count may only include Windows 10 and 11, not the earlier versions (7, 8 and 8.1, as well as XP and “Other”) that StatCounter tracks. If that’s true — then the copy counts for Windows 10 and 11 increase to 1.46B and 330M, respectively.

The Key Known Unknown

With all due respect to Dick Cheney, what’s missing from these numbers is  sense of how each count breaks down across the “business versus all other users, by type” category. My best guess is that the ratio is no greater that 1:1 (that is, for each business user there is one or more other users). It could be less than that, though.

So far, business users haven’t found hugely compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 11. Indeed, it’s only the last year or so that I’ve seen most businesses I patronize or work with (including a great many law firms and medical practices and clinics) make the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

With Windows 10 facing EOL in just under 3 years (2 years 10 months and some change, as of my most recent reckoning last week), there’s not much driving businesses to migrate sooner rather than later. It will be fascinating to see how things unfold. A lot will depend on when “Windows Next” (version 12, perhaps?) starts to appear on the horizon.

To me, it’s looking increasingly likely that many businesses may leapfrog from Version 10 to “Windows Next”, skipping Windows 11 in the process. I see this as in part a function of combining hardware refresh with OS migration, and in part as a function of inertia (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). Time will tell!

A Bump May Be Coming

If I’m right about the reasons for delaying migration and hardware refresh, there could be a pot of gold for PC sales from mid-2024 through mid 2026. This would seem to dictate businesses will plan hardware refreshes around EOL for Windows 10, with a blurring of the timeline around the exact date of October 14, 2025. This could get interesting…

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