Category Archives: WED Blog

Dell Display Manager Pops Outta Nowhere

OK, then. Yesterday, I fired up a local account on my production PC while investigating the new Firefox Store app’s behavior. When I did so, that account asked me if I wanted to install Dell Display Manager. That explains this story’s title: Dell Display Manager pops outta nowhere. I’d never heard of it before, nor seen it mentioned in other Dell apps. (For example, Dell Update Control or Dell Support Assistant, both familiar because the Dell Optiplex 7080 Micro that’s a family daily driver PC at our house.)

Good News When Dell Display Manager Pops Outta Nowhere

“OK,” I said to myself, “let’s give this a shot.” That turned out to be a good move. It’s kind of a pain to use the monitor’s own built-in control buttons to manage brightness, contrast, color profiles and so forth. The Dell Display Manager (which I’ll call DDM going forward) does all this on the Windows desktop. Much, much easier and more user-friendly.

My only question is: Why hadn’t I heard of this tool sooner? As a regular at TenForums and ElevenForum, people talk about monitors a lot. And some of those folks are also MVP-equivalent on the Dell forums as well. Yet I managed to remain not-so-blissfully unaware of the tool until now. And to think I’ve been buying Dell monitors since the mid-to-late 1990s!

If You’ve Got Dell Monitors, Use DDM

The home page for the utility includes  a download link for the tool. It’s entitled “What is Dell Display Manager?” and provides a useful and informative overview of its capabilities. As the page says, the tool is for standalone monitors only and “is not applicable to laptops.” Indeed, they have different display management tools. But since we currently have 4 Dell monitors here at Chez Tittel, this ends up being a useful and valuable item for my admin’s toolbox. If you’ve got Dell monitors, but didn’t already know about (or use) DDM, do yourself a favor and grab a copy today. You won’t be disappointed. Good stuff!

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Nvidia Game Ready vs Studio Drivers

In visiting the GeForce application to check for Nvidia drivers yesterday, I noticed a new pop-up in the options menu for driver selection. It appears in the lead-in graphic for this story. At present, it distinguishes between Nvidia Game Ready vs Studio drivers. “Hmmm,” I wondered, “what’s up with that?” I soon found out. Here’s the scoop.

Who Cares About Nvidia Game Ready vs Studio Drivers?

I’m glad you asked! For sure, all the important details are included in the NVIDIA Studio FAQs. And indeed, they’re worth reading end-to-end for those with NVIDIA graphics cards and concerns about which way to go. The simple dichotomy is: if you are mostly a gamer and want to keep up with new game releases, use the Game Ready drivers. If you are mostly a creative professional who wants to run graphics apps, use the Studio drivers. However, if you want to go both ways, you can. But that requires uninstalling one and installing the other to make that switch. Bit of a pain, actually.

To be more specific, here’s how the FAQs document ‘splains things:

  • If you are a gamer who prioritizes day of launch support for the latest games, patches, and DLCs, choose Game Ready Drivers.
  • If you are a content creator who prioritizes stability and quality for creative workflows including video editing, animation, photography, graphic design, and live-streaming, choose Studio Drivers.

GeForce Experience Lets You Pick

By default most people use the Game Ready Drivers (NVIDIA abbreviates them GRD). But if you click the vertical ellipsis to the right of Check For Updates (see lead-in graphic) the radio buttons that let you choose between GRD and SD (Studio Driver) popup. Voila! This is where you decide which fork in the driver path you’ll take.

Make the selection that works best for you, and take that fork. Just for the record, the SD version is best understood as follows. Basically, it’s a slightly back-rev, more fully tested, and more stable GPU driver that emphasizes reliability and functionality over speed and support for newly introduced gaming-specific features.

I’m switching my production desktop to the SD fork. My son, who’s a gamer of sorts, is sticking with the GRD fork. If any interesting distinctions between these two paths emerge, I’ll let you know. Stay tuned!

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Macrium Reflect 8 Free Version Now Available

Yes, I know. There have been alternate downloads (e.g. Softonic) for Macrium Reflect 8 Free available for 30 days and longer. This week, however, Paramount Software UK — the maker of Macrium Reflect — is offering an “official” free download of the well-known and respected backup/recovery toolset. Hence my title, which proclaims Macrium Reflect 8 Free version now available. Good stuff

With Macrium Reflect 8 Free Version Now Available, Grab One!

I’ll confess cheerfully and unreservedly, I was converted to MR through my association with TenForums. I’ve been using MR about as long as I’ve been a member there. And indeed, I concur with prevailing opinions there (and at its sister site ElevenForum.com) that MR Free is sufficient to meet the backup needs of most ordinary users.

Because I believe in supporting makers who do good work, I own a 4-pack license for the commercial version of MR8 released earlier this year. But now, I can — and will — upgrade all of my other test and experiment machines to the free version directly from the source.

Macrium 8 Has Windows 11 Covered

The program has been reworked and revamped, especially in light of Windows 11. It supports use of WinPE 11 rescue media, and works well with the new OS. It supports removable media imaging and cloning, and uses VSS to support imaging of running Windows 10 and 11 instances. It’s got great backup exploration tools, and can mount its backups as VMs via Hyper-V.

In all seven years I’ve been using MR, it’s never failed me when it comes to restoring a backup or repairing damaged Windows boot facilities. MR7 was a great tool. MR8 is even better. If you’re not already using it, grab a copy of MR8 today. If you’re using MR7, it’s time to upgrate to MR8 (even on Windows 10 PCs). Cheers.

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Estimating Windows 11 Restart Time

Because today is Patch Tuesday (November 9) I got several opportunities to see WU at work handling updates. Owing to across-the-board Cumulative Updates (CUs) today, that meant 1 production version, 1 Beta version and 2 Dev Channel versions. As you can see from the lead-in graphic, estimating Windows 11 restart time is now part of what WU offers. I thought this was pretty cool, until I realized all 4 PCs proffered the same estimate.

What Does Estimating Windows 11 Restart Time Tell You?

Just for grins, I timed a couple of my restarts to see how long they would actually take. I’m pleased to report that the MS/Win11 estimate is conservative. It took 1:25 to get to the desktop with GadgetPack running to show me a second hand on its clock widget on my X1 Extreme (i7-8850H CPU, 6 Cores). It took 2:35 to get to the same place on my X380 Yoga (i7-8650U CPU, 4 Cores).

That tells me that MS isn’t necessarily driving the estimate from observation of previous start times. Rather, it looks like a rough-and-ready interval that will not set user expectations overly high. Why do I say these things? Because the number was the same across a range of CPUs. And because the number was too high for all of them.

My gut feel is that if this estimate were data driven, it would be slightly high on some and slightly low on others. Because it was the same for all four PCs, and too pessimistic likewise, it strikes me as a “safe estimate” probably based on worst-case observations.

How Does 4 Minutes Strike YOU?

All this said, I think 4 minutes is neither a terrible number nor a glorious one. When I’ve really worked at getting start-up times to their barest minimums on Windows 10 (haven’t yet tried this on 11) I’ve seldom gotten below 1:30 or so. But I’ve read about others who’ve documented start times just under a minute (0:45 or higher).

This may be a fruitful topic for research and play. Now, I just need to find the necessary spare time…

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WU Reset Tool Works on Windows 11

I’ve been a member over at TenForums for almost 7 years now. In fact, I joined up on November 14, 2014 shortly after the first Technical Preview emerged. This weekend, I was relieved to discover that the batch file Shawn Brink created as a WU reset tool works on Windows 11, too. (The preceding link goes to a tutorial that provides a download and explains how to use it to reset Windows Update, or WU).

It’s a Relief that WU Reset Tool Works on Windows 11

My Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga test machine would start downloading updates from WU just fine. But part-way through the download process, progress would stop. Eventually, I would get an “Update failed…” error message, with a Retry button. After several tries, each with its own similar failure, I knew sterner measure were needed.

I actually keep the batch file from the afore-linked tutorial on my shared desktop in OneDrive. It’s called

Reset_Reregister_Windows_Update_Components.bat

and it does a thorough reset of the Windows Update environment. It begins by halting all update-related services, then it empties all folders where recently-downloaded update files reside, checks (and if necessary resets) various WU-related registry settings, then restarts those same services. A reboot follows next, after which one can try one’s luck with WU again.

So I ran the batch file in an administrative cmd prompt on the affected machine, let it do its thing, then restarted that PC. Presto! After restarting, my next update attempt succeeded. I wasn’t 100% sure it would work on Windows 11 because the tool was built for Windows 10. But to my great delight and relief, it set the Windows Update environment back to working order. And thus, I was able to catch that machine up with the current state of the Dev Channel.

Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend the tool and its accompanying tutorial highly. Find it at TenForums as Reset Windows Update in Windows 10. Hopefully, Mr. Brink will soon do a run-through to create a Windows 11 specific version. Should that occur, I will add a link to that version here as well.

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Unusual Windows 11 Update KB5008295

Recently, some Windows 11 Beta and Preview Channel Insiders reported certain misbehaving apps.  Affected apps include Snipping Tool, Touch Keyboard, Voice Typing, the Emoji Panel, Getting Started, Tips and (for those who use it) IME UI. When  launched, they produce this error message: “This app can’t open.” Turns out MS let a certificate expire. Alas, those apps check that certificate and won’t run if it’s expired. This unusual circumstance prompted an unusual Windows 11 update KB5008295, released November 5.

Explaining Unusual Windows 11 Update KB5008295

In my experience, the update installs quickly and requires no restart upon completion. The lead-in graphic shows an updated Release Preview PC’s Update history. There, it’s simply labeled “Update.” Surprisingly, this update doesn’t increment the build number, either.

Those  running Windows 11 Insider Preview in the Beta or Release Preview channel should watch the aforementioned apps. If you see “App can’t open” you need the update. Visit WU, download and install KB5008295. From all after-action reports so far, it fixes this particular problem.

Indeed, MS closed its release blog for this update with the following text:

Please note: After installing KB5008295, the build number will not be revised or show as updated in “winver” or other areas in the OS. To confirm this update is installed, please check Settings > Windows Update > Update history.

That’s why the WU history list for Quality Updates from my test machine appears as the lead-in graphic for this story, in fact. Use it if you need it; leave it if you don’t.

When Will KB5008295 Hit the Public Release?

As usual, non-Insiders must wait for this update to trickle down to them. Educated guess: look for it in the upcoming November 9 Patch Tuesday CU. That seems quite likely AFAIK.

On the other hand, it might take longer. If the patch itself causes issues, it won’t arrive until they’re fixed, too. That’s the nature of the update game, where it never pays to replace one problem with another.

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Windows Web Experience Pack Mysteries

Recently, Microsoft Store has installed a new app on all of the Windows 11 machines I’ve checked. It’s named the Windows Web Experience Pack. It only has the name in the Description field, is categorized under “Utilties & tools,” and the support and website URLs on its store page link to Microsoft.com. So when, I say I’ve encountered some Windows Web Experience pack mysteries, I’m not kidding. In fact, it’s definitely more mysterious than not.

A List of Windows Web Experience Pack Mysteries

1. You can’t find this utility with a search. I tried.
2. Check out the whole Store page. There’s a Windows 10 logo in the Screenshots pane. System Requirements, however, specifically state “Window 11 version 22000.20 or higher.” WTF?
3. No description or working links for documentation. A search at docs.microsoft.com turns up zilch,  as well.
4. When you click on the “Open” link on the Store page, nothing happens. Nothing shows on the Processes or Details tabs in Task Manager either (at least, not as far as I can tell).
5. WinAero puts things best when it stays “Because there is no official word from Microsoft on what WWEP does, we can only speculate that this component is responsible for updating core web components in the OS used by Store apps.”

We know it’s something aimed at all Web browsers, because otherwise it would be Edge-focused and -specific. But beyond that we don’t much about it all. It’s a “mystery pack” much like the Recent Windows Feature Experience Pack and the Online Service Experience Pack introduced earlier this year.

One Mystery Resolved

Turns out you can also find the Web Experience Pack in Windows 10. Here’s a link to that Store page. Its system requirements are 2004/19041.0 or higher. Thus, it obviously originated with Windows 10. I think that explains the logo at the top of the Windows 11 version’s Store page. Somebody copied it over from the Windows 10 version and changed nothing except for the system requirements. Even the reviews for both versions include all the same stuff.

What About the Others?

Good question! I’ve got my curiosity up now, so I’ll keep digging around. But these “packs” seem extraordinarily opaque to those outside the inner circle of Windows architects and developers. This is definitely another case of “wait and see how it all turns out.” Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.

Note Added November 4

One of my WIMVP buddies — Shawn Keene — informed me that you can simply type “web” into the Run box (WinKey+R) and it will open File Explorer to that folder automagically. I tried it. Sure enough: it works. Use this as your shortcut for exploring. Thanks, Shawn.

 

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Windows Wallpapers Live Elsewhere

Here’s something I didn’t know, that you may not have known, either. Wallpaper images for both Windows 10 and 11 live in a separate folder hierarchy under C:\Windows\Web. That hierarchy appears as the lead-in graphic for this story. The parent folder spec is C:\Windows\Web. In Windows 11 each of the four subsidiary folder contains 2 or more images, all suitable for wallpaper use. When I say Windows wallpapers live elsewhere, I mean they live in their own private directory, as indicated.

If Windows Wallpapers Live Elsewhere, Visit Them

I spelunked around the four-folder hierarchy and found 37 images therein. Many of them are based on those twisting laminar surfaces that have come to stand for Windows 11. I copied all of them into a single directory so I could find them all in one place. The next screencap shows a listing of those images by filename. You’ll probably want to set a similar view to Extra Large or Large icons, so you can identify them by visual content (I did it this way for compactness).

WWindows Wallpapers Live Elsewhere.details

What to do With Windows Wallpapers

Overall, they’re an astonishing collection of images and graphics. Microsoft operates an image service named Spotlight, that curates over 4,000 high-quality professional images of nature, cities, objects, and more. All of these work well for desktop backgrounds and lockscreen images. I have an older app from Timo Partl (no longer in the Store, alas) that does a great job of visiting the Spotlight connection and downloading anything I don’t already have locally to a target directory. For those of you who, like me, like lots of variety in your lockscreens and backgrounds, this provides a trove of beautiful eye-candy of amazing variety and great quality.

I’m adding these wallpapers to that collection. I assume that means they’ll show up occasionally, as the forces of random selection dictate. Check out the 11 wallpapers and feel free view them as and when you like. Cheers!

Note Added Nov 4

I got a great tip from my fellow WIMVPs about this–namely Shawn Keene. He observes that if you open the Run box (WinKey+R) and type “web” into the box, then hit OK, it will open a fresh instance of File Explorer to that directory. Very handy!

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Kill These Windows 11 tw*.tmp Folders

Here’s an interesting bit of news. After seeing reports about folders that end with a .tmp extension (!) in Windows 11, i found some on every machine I checked running that OS. These folders are invariably empty, and may be safely deleted. When I say: Kill these Windows 11 tw*.tmp folders, you shouldn’t suffer any adverse effects if you take that advice.

See a representative list in the lead-in graphic for this story. The folder spec is clearly spelled out therein. For the record, it is:

C:\Windows\System32\config\systemprofile\AppData\Local

Why Kill These Windows 11 tw*.tmp Folders?

Because they’re empty. Because you don’t need them. And because they can swamp the other, valid data in that folder. I read reports of “hundreds” to “tens of thousands” of such empty folders at WinAero and Ghacks.net. The largest number I found on any of my Windows 11 PC  was 94. Ironically, it was the one running Build 22000.258, a recent production 21H2 version. My other Beta and Dev Channel PCs had between 40 and 50 such folders in the same directory, by way of comparison.

After cleanup, here’s  what’s left in that folder on my i7-8850H X1 Extreme laptop:

Kill These Windows 11 tw*.tmp Folders.post-cleanup

Not much left after cleanup: 5 folders and a lone .tmp file
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Over at Ghacks, Martin Brinkmann correctly observes as follows. “Empty folders don’t take up much disk space and they don’t interfere with the operation of the system.” It’s not mandatory to clean them out yourself. But OCD inclined Windows users (like me) will nevertheless delight in doing so!

Note: According to Brinkmann’s in-story reference to Woody Leonhard (AskWoody) this issue appears in 2019 versions of Windows 10, through current versions, too. And right now, I count a whopping 1,115 of them on my production desktop as I send them to the Recycle Bin. Woo hoo!

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I Get No MS Defender Preview

The other day, I found myself unable to partake of Online Service Experience Packs in Windows 11. With tongue in cheek, I asserted that I found myself on the outside looking in. It’s nothing new to me when certain preview or pre-release features open to some — but not all — Windows Insiders. Today, I’m in the same boat again. There’s a new version of Microsoft Defender available in the MS Store for download. As you can see from the lead-in graphic for this story, I get no MS Defender Preview. Instead I get an error message that reads “Your account isn’t authorized to use Microsoft Defender yet.” Sigh. I hope I haven’t jinxed myself.

If I Get No MS Defender Preview, Then What?

It’s frustrating to be a vocal, committed and active Windows Insider yet be denied access to new features and apps as they make their way into release. As far back as I can remember, when an A/B test or a gradual rollout occurs for Insiders, I’m never included early. Rather, I have to wait until the feature goes into general release. Or if I’m lucky, I might find some other way to install it.

I’m trying my best to remain patient and take my turn when it comes. In the meantime, you can read more about what’s up with the Microsoft Defender Preview in this October 27 story from The Windows Club. I’d love to tell you more about it based on personal experience, but it seems I’m not allowed to access the Preview. At least, not yet.

Stay tuned, though: when my turn comes, I’ll tell you more about what’s new and different. Coverage so far on the Preview is light on details. So maybe it won’t be too late to do my readers some good. As usual, time will tell…

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