Category Archives: WED Blog

Beta Build 22635.2552 Adds System Components

I’ve known this was coming for some time now. Last month, I researched changes to the Windows Troubleshooters to a Get Help facility in Windows 11. Note: “Get Help” works for Windows 10, too. Indeed, it fell under a general heading of “System Components” as explained at MS Support. Thus it came with more of a sense of inevitability, not surprise, when Beta Build 22635.2552 adds System Components to its Settings → System subhead lineup. You can see that pretty clearly in the lead-in graphic, which has Winver superimposed to show Build info.

What Else Appears When Beta Build 22635.2552 Adds System Components?

If you look at the lead-in graphic you’ll notice the following list of elements under the System Components heading (in order of appearance):

  • Game Bar: former Xbox Game Bar app, now renamed to drop Xbox.
  • Get Help: Built in Windows troubleshooting facilities now runs as an app (and auto-launches when the OS itself spots trouble).
  • Microsoft Store: Primary source for Windows apps of all kinds.
  • Phone Link: Provides link and synch facilities between smartphones and Windows PCs (iOS and Android devices).
  • Tips: Built-in Windows notification, advertisement and “information” items.
  • Windows Security: Home to Defender’s AV, account protection, firewall & Internet controls, device security, health and family options.

Essentially this positions these specific apps as Windows built-ins that “come with the OS.” Thus, they can’t be uninstalled: inspection will show their Remove buttons are greyed out in Advanced Options. And although they can be terminated, from a runtime perspective, they’ll “keep coming back from the dead” in Halloween-appropriate fashion.

I find it interesting that MS lumps in Game Bar and Phone Link along with the other built-ins that comprise “system components.” It will also be instructive to watch this category to see when and if it expands, exactly what else appears under this heading. Stay tuned!



PC Manager (Beta) Version Is Out

I recently wrote an article for AskWoody about the Chinese-based Microsoft PC Manager utility. If you visit its MS Home Page, alas, it hasn’t changed since a new version came out yesterday (October 25). OTOH, winget will let you know that PC Manager (Beta) Version is out and ready for update or install. That’s what’s showing in the lead-in graphic above, in fact.

Home Page Unaware PC Manager (Beta) Version Is Out

I downloaded the version from the preceding home page link. It happily installed over version with no warnings or info. After that I confirmed it had rolled back to version Indeed, that’s how I got to the Windows Terminal/PowerShell stuff in the lead-in graphic. There, winget upgrade shows I’ve got version installed. And next winget upgrade –id Microsoft.PCManager.CN performs the upgrade to the higher-numbered version.

When my editor at AskWoody figured out that PC Manager was of Chinese origin, he was a bit taken aback. He noted multiple instances of fractured English in its screens and info. We share a somewhat surprised estimation of its slapdash assembly and overlap amidst its various pieces and parts.

What About That New Version?

This is apparently a pretty substantial rev for PC Manager. It’s got a new logo (which now prominently features “BETA” in its upper-left quadrant.

PC Manager (Beta) Version Is Out.logo

The new logo includes “BETA” label (Start menu entry shown).

The PCM UI has undergone substantial revision, too. Its left-hand buttons/icons now read:

Home: Provides access to memory boost, temp files cleanup, health check, Process mgmt, Deep cleanup and Startup items.
Protection: Run a Defender scan, access WU, jump to default browser settings, perform taskbar repair, restore default apps.
Storage: Deep cleanup, manage downloads, manage large files, jump to storage sense.
Apps: Process mgmt, startup items, jump to Apps, MS Store.
Toolbox: Access to Windows & Web tools, plus custom links (PDF conversion and MSN provided by default).
Repairtips: Checks PC for recommended settings, provides info when one or more is out of whack.
Settings: Toggles, settings for boost, shortcuts, startup with Windows, and early access to new versions.
Feedback: Abbreviated feedback a la Feedback Hub but seemingly outside that umbrella.

PCM remains a hodgepdge of capabilities: some new, some old, and some pointing to other Windows facilities (mostly in Settings). It’s still got plenty of rough edges. I’m  a little concerned that installing an older version atop a newer one provokes no warnings nor notification.  Think I’ll send a feedback item to that effect and see what happens…

Nope: it’s apparently not tied to Feedback Hub, and I see more fractured English:

Note Added 10/26 mid-afternoon

There’s another new version of PCM out now: the next-to-last digit incremented from to So far I don’t see any obvious differences vis-a-vis the last update. Hmmm….


Experiment: Reset this PC

After digging further into Reliability Monitor on the P1 Gen6 ThinkPad, I realized things were unacceptably unstable. As an experiment, reset this PC came to the fore. It’s the option available as Settings → System → Recovery from the “Reset PC” button. The resulting window serves as the lead-in graphic for this story (above).

Why Conduct the Experiment: Reset this PC?

Alas, I had four straight days of error behavior like that shown in the next Reliability Monitor screencap. That is, over a dozen serious Critical events, including:

  • Windows stopped working (2)
  • Windows was not properly shut down (2)
  • Hardware error (2)
  • Windows shut down unexpectedly (2)
  • Various NVIDIA-related “Stopped working” errors (4)

Experiment: Reset this PC (ReliMon)

Whoa! That’s a lot of Critical errors for one day…and I had 3 more just like it. [Click image for full-sized view]

In addition, the OS install was showing other odd and unexpected behaviors. For example, I couldn’t get the Edge browser to run. The display was occasionally flashing on and off (probably related to the NVIDIA errors shown). File Explorer was herky-jerkey when traversing the file system. There was probably more, but that was more than enough for me to realize something wicked had already come onto that desktop. Hence, the reset experiment…

Since performing the reset, I’ve experienced exactly one (1) critical error over the past 24 hours. It may still be too early to tell if the reset really fixed things. It might just be having left this PC alone for the last while that’s kept things quiet.

Going through the Reset Process

It seems like Reset is an awful lot like an in-place upgrade repair install, except that it wants the end user to reinstall apps and applications one at a time (each had an “Install” entry in the Start menu/All apps after the first reboot). I’m too lazy to do one-offs like that, so I used the bulk installer built into PatchMyPC Home Updater instead. Works like a peach! Alternatively, I could have done most of those installs using winget instead.

I wasn’t sure if the reset function would take the PC back to its fresh-from-the-factory state. No, it didn’t: it simply reinstalled — via a cloud download — the same version of DevChannel Insider Preview already running on this test PC. Good to know!

Stay tuned: I’ll report back if the earlier instability persists. I had attributed it to an Intel firmware update. I’ll end up poking it one way or another over the next days and see if it blows up again.



New GSOD Implicates Intel Firmware

Here’s something nobody wants to see on a Windows PC. The lead-in graphic shows a Windows crash screen. Because this one is green, it’s sometimes called a GSOD (“Green Screen of Death”). The error message it carries is one I’ve not seen before — namely: secure_pci_config_space_access_violation. A bit of online research, and some inspection of reliability monitor’s copious error output tells me this new GSOD implicates Intel firmware.

Why Say: New GSOD Implicates Intel Firmware?

It’s not like I didn’t have plenty of potential issues from which to choose. Relimon pointed to Windows stop errors, improper shutdowns, unexepected shutdowns, and hardware errors. Indeed the actual BlueScreen error that provoked the GSOD refers to (and depicts) a CPU-Z .sys file. So again: why point at Intel firmware?

Online research (Reddit, Lenovo forums, and more) all report this very same error code after Intel firmware updates. And indeed WU itself delivered a — you guessed it — Intel Firmware update just before I upgraded to the most recent version of the DevChannel Insider Preview on this test PC.

One More Thing:

After I removed the program that caused the GSOD: Piriform Speccy, the problems have completely ceased and desisted. I imagine this program attempted to check the firmware during its scans, and that’s what threw the error. I’m guessing that a fix will come along in a future update. As long as my system stays stable otherwise, I’ll leave it alone and hope it does the same for me.

Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted…


Working Reclaimable Packages Mystery

For months now, one of my test PCs has claimed something remarkable. It’s a Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga (8th-gen i7, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB NVMe SSD). It’s a working reclaimable packages mystery, as you can see in the lead-in graphic. Note please: it shows 13 (!) reclaimable packages in the component store. But they never go away…

Why Is There a Working Reclaimable Packages Mystery?

Gosh, I wish I knew. But it’s got me learning more about DISM and the Windows Component Store (WinSxS) than I’ve known before. In particular, I’ve been digging into DISM’s /Get-Packages capability, to look into the contents of WinSxS to see what is — and apparently isn’t — going on in there.

Reading about the output of the /format:table directive, I see that the state column can produce a range of values. These include the following, as mined from Learn.Microsoft.Com by Copilot (quoted verbatim):

  • NotPresent: The package is not present in the image. It has not been installed or added to the image.

  • UninstallPending: The package has been marked for uninstallation, but the process is not complete. There are some additional steps that need to be performed before the package is fully removed from the image.

  • Staged: The package has been added to the image, but it is not active. It can be activated by using the /Enable-Feature option.

  • Removed: The package has been removed from the image, but some metadata about it remains. This allows the package to be reinstalled if needed.

  • Installed: The package is installed and active in the image. It can be deactivated by using the /Disable-Feature option.

  • InstallPending: The package has been marked for installation, but the process is not complete. There are some additional steps that need to be performed before the package is fully installed and activated in the image.

  • Superseded: The package has been replaced by a newer version of the same package or a different package that provides the same functionality. The superseded package is still present in the image, but it is not active.

  • PartiallyInstalled: The package has been partially installed in the image, but some components or files are missing or corrupted. This may cause errors or malfunctions in the package or its dependencies.

Digging Deeper Into the Mystery…

As I understand it, the dism /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup command will remove at least some of the packages in the “Superseded” state from the WinSxS. So I fired up the following command to look into the component store on another test machine. It reports 4 reclaimable packages via DISM, and inspection of the /format:tables output from that PC via Notepad++ reports 106 instances of the term “Superseded” in that text file.

Next, I run the afore-cited “cleanup” command. This takes a few minutes to complete. When I run /analyzecomponentstore again, the number of reclaimable packages is zero (0). So I generate new /format:table output, and open it in Notepad++ again. This time, a search on “Superseded” produces 0 hits. My theory is that the cleanup flushes these items out of the WinSxS, and this data seems to confirm that.

And Now, Back to the X380 Yoga

Here’s where things get interesting. Even though /analyzecomponentstore is reporting 13 reclaimable packages, the /format:table output from that PC includes no instances of “Superseded” in its contents. Somehow, DISM is seeing something that I can’t see via this lens into the WinSxS contents. Therein lies the mystery.

I’ll keep digging and see what else I can learn. Stay tuned! This could get interesting — at least if you, like me, find this kind of thing engaging.


Mouse Goes AWOL: Panic Ensues

I have to laugh — and mostly at myself. I confess: I was playing MS Solitaire this morning when my mouse quit working. It was a timed event so I wanted to get back at it ASAP. Because of that as my mouse goes AWOL, panic ensues as I try to get it working again. Long story short: I keep a backup, replacement mouse around just for occasions like these. It’s now in place, doing the job of the old one. Time to order another pair of replacements!

When Goes AWOL Panic Ensues Because of Timing

The lead-in graphic shows a picture from Amazon of my likely replacement mouse. It’s a Microsoft Mobile Mouse 4000, instead of the 3500 model that just quit working. They cost the same, so I figure why not get a newer model if I can at no extra charge? My only problem right now is that the best price is for delivery from China (!): $19.95 vs. $28.95 from US outlets, including the MS Store itself.

Let me be clear about one thing, too: I don’t blame MS for my mouse fail. Meese are consumables and I use them enough that I wear one out every 18-24 months or so. This comes as no surprise — except for today’s timing — and is a cost of doing business for me. Indeed, that’s why I always order them in pairs rather than singletons. I know it’s just a matter of time before another one drops out of service. My wife’s and son’s desktops also have external wireless meese, too. One or more of those will probably crap out before 2023 is over.

The Proper Stocking of Spare Parts

So, here’s a short list of the spares I keep around the house knowing that I’m going to need them sometime (preferably later, rather than sooner):

  • Mice, both wireless and wired (mostly MS wireless, but also Logitech Bluetooth and Unifying Receiver models)
  • Keyboards: mostly MS Comfort Curve 4000s, but a couple of Logitech wireless models, and a couple of wired el-cheapo chiclet types
  • GbE switches: I like the NetGear unmanaged 8-port models, but I also have 5-port and an 8-port models (house brand from Fry’s).
  • Cables of all kinds: RJ-45 Ethernet in lengths from 6″ to 100ft, USB: 2.0 and 3.0 (Type A), USB-C 3.1-2, Thunderbolt 3 and 4, plus other miscellany; and video cables including HDMI 1-3 and DisplayPort 1.2-1.4 (also in various lengths and models).

This lets me deal quickly with predictable troubles as they happen. And when they do, I always order replacements plus at least one extra as things happen. That way, I’m already prepared for next time.


Appreciating Microsoft’s Update Ecosystem

As part of my daily Windows routine, I run the winget package manager to keep most of my applications up-to-date. Occasionally, I’ll also check in on the MS Store to see what it’s been finding and updating on its own. As the spirit moves me, I sometimes click the “Get updates” button to spur its actions along. I find myself appreciating Microsoft’s update ecosystem more and more (yes, even WU) as I work with it constantly. Let me explain…

Why I’m Appreciating Microsoft’s Update Ecosystem

The lead-in graphic shows an artfully arranged update view of MS Store’s Library tab, with three items “modified momens ago” in front. Behind, you see winget inside Windows Terminal/PowerShell working to install 8 different updates.

The amount of effort involved is pretty negligible, and the results are almost always trouble-free, speedy and reliable. Although I still have to turn to third-party tools to catch updates outside this ecosystem, under its umbrella things work pretty darn well.

Now, if only those other app makers would get on the manifest circuit and start offering packages for winget to use, life would be entirely peachy. But alas, life isn’t like that — especially here in Windows-World, where a certain amount of chasing one’s own tail is too often a necessary part of the daily grind.

But a WIMVP can always hope for a better future, right? Surely, someday it will all be completely automated and totally easy. Yeah, right: I’ll keep dreaming about it, but that’s the closest I’m sure I’ll ever get.


October 2023 Windows 11 Monthly Active Users

Here’s an interesting item, for a variety of reasons. Yesterday, Zac Bowden at Windows Central reported that “Windows 11 is now in use on over 400 million monthly active devices” (emphasis his). In typical headline fashion the title of the story inflates it to “almost half a billion devices.” I have to laugh about that, but the number of October 2023 Windows 11 monthly active users is no joke. Even if those numbers come from, as Zac puts it, “…my sources who are familiar with the matter…” Right!

What October 2023 Windows 11 Monthly Active Users Means

Mr. B observes that this uptake comes at half the rate for Windows 10, but without the upgrade pressure that Windows 7’s retirement put on those numbers. Ditto for the notion, widely held at the time, that the free upgrade would only last for a year or two. In light of those factors, he also reports that these numbers beat internal MS expectations.

IMHO, business users don’t really care that much about the Windows running on their desktops or devices. Business will migrate when it’s good and ready, which means the clock really hasn’t started ticking too loudly just yet (Windows 10 EOL date is 10/14/2025). In fact, it’s just barely audible right now… That will change next year.

So Good, So Far

In my own experience, I ‘ve found Windows 11 to be a workable, reliable and attractive desktop OS. I’m almost completely migrated myself, with only 1 physical PC still running the older version, along with a handful of strategically placed VMs. I have at least 9 physical PCs running Windows 11 here at Chez Tittel, and another 2 off at college with my number-one son.

But what about those numbers? Given that many (if not most) businesses have yet to move from 10 to 11, I think they’re pretty high. In other words, I’m pleasantly surprised as MS apparently is also. My gut feel is those numbers will swell by as much as 200-300M next year, and more the year after that.

Meanwhile, somewhere between 1.2 (IDC) and 1.4 (Statista) BILLION smartphones sold in 2022. That’s a whole different ballgame. Increasingly it’s the game that matters most. So let’s keep this all in perspective, shall we? That said, Windows-World remains my home!


KB5031356 Error Calls for KIR

I just got an example of what makes Microsoft’s KIR, aka Known Issue Rollback, useful in the field. A recent story at WindowsLatest recites how an install KB503135  error calls for KIR. (This KB takes Windows 10 to Builds 19044.3570 or 19045.3570.) Some users are getting error code 0x8007000d along with a failed update. Because the problem is apparently of MIcrosoft’s making, they can use KIR to clean things up through WU by pushing an amended update.

When KB5031356 Error Calls for KIR, Then What?

The lead-in graphic provides some important clues to what KIR does (and comes from a Microsoft Community piece entitled How KIR works for the end user). KIR works by loading a configuration change from the cloud. Devices connected to WU (or WU for Business) get notified (settings data to the PCs at bottom). As the same time the new, problem code gets turned off.

MS tries to head trouble off by identifying and pushing out rollbacks before updates get widely applied. As they put it in the afore-linked item “most end users will never see the regressions.” PCs that agree to provide diagnostics info to MS will send information related to the affected code to which the update and regression apply (that’s the diagnostics data in grey). This idea, says MS is “to help us learn how well the rollback is succeeding…”

What About KB5031356 Itself?

The Update rolled out on October 10 (last Tuesday). Reports started appearing immediately. Apparently, MS pushed the rollback on or around October 12. They say it takes 48 hours for the rollback to interact with updated PCs, so that would indicate users who attempted updates between October 10 and October 14 (Friday) could be affected. Those who do fall prey to the error, according to WindowsLatest, should be able to recover using the DISM … /RestoreHealth command.

The error didn’t bite me, even though I updated on Patch Tuesday. But by now, it should be fixed. Worst case, one could uninstall the original KB then re-install the by-now patched version. That should work!


X12 Upgrade Quit Halfway

Yesterday morning, I tried to remote into my Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Hybrid tablet. No go. I got the familiar error “Remote Desktop can’t find the computer…” Interestingly, when I went to restart that PC, nothing happened. Eventually I had to disconnect all cables, then hold the power button down for a full 60 seconds to force it to reboot. Then I remembered: I hadn’t touched the machine since the 25967 upgrade hit on Tuesday. That means the X12 Upgrade quit halfway through the process and didn’t come back up after the reboot.

If the X12 Upgrade Quit Halfway, Then What?

Poking around on the Lenovo website, I found an evocative forum post. It was entitled “Laptop suddenly shuts down, won’t turn on.” It confirmed something odd was up, and prevented the PC from restarting. And indeed, my approach (disconnecting all cables, holding down the power button for 60 seconds) is just what the forum rep recommended to the poster, too.

When all else fails, this is one way to get a Lenovo PC to restart normally. And sure enough, once the PC did get far enough along to tell me what it was doing, it showed the spinning circle and progress that goes along with finishing up an upgrade or update install.

Just for grins, I opened up Reliability Monitor on the X12. I found a shutdown error staring me in the face. The detail reads: “The previous system shutdown at 5:55:00 PM on 10/10/2023 was unexpected.” Last Tuesday, at the end of the working day, just when I wouldn’t notice that the X12 failed to come back from the pending reboot during the update process. Go figure!

There’s proof that the PC shutdown when it shouldn’t have.

Speculating on Causes…

This device is attached to a CalDigit TS4 hub for power, GbE, video and storage. I’m wondering if something about that kind of complex USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 connection might not complicate boot-up. OTOH, I’ve upgraded plenty of times before on the same overall rig without difficulty. That’s what keeps things interesting, here in Windows-World.