Category Archives: Windows 10

{WED} Freezing Visual Basic Signals Impending EOL

Surprise! An interesting item showed up on the Microsoft Devblogs on March 11 (Wednesday). Innocuously enough, it’s entitled “Visual Basic support planned for .NET 5.0.” To begin, the story explains that Visual Basic will get a bunch of capabilities to support .NET 5/.NET Core. Next, it proffers a list of new application types, and benefits of long-term stability. Then comes an interesting paragraph. Its import is that MS freezing Visual Basic signals impending EOL (End-of-life) for this language. Here’s what I’m talking about. (I added the bold emphasis):

Going forward, we do not plan to evolve Visual Basic as a language. This supports language stability and maintains compatibility between the .NET Core and .NET Framework versions of Visual Basic. Future features of .NET Core that require language changes may not be supported in Visual Basic. Due to differences in the platform, there will be some differences between Visual Basic on .NET Framework and .NET Core.

Freezing Visual Basic Signals Impending EOL.oldlogo

Here’s what the Visual Basic (aka VB) logo looked like back in the day. Microsoft Basic first appeared as Altair Basic in 1975!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What Freezing Visual Basic Signals Impending EOL Really Means

Once upon a time, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to jump into computing. He and a Seattle friend, Paul Allen, founded Microsoft on April 4, 1975. Their very first product was a BASIC interpreter for Altair 8800 microcomputer. Later its name became Microsoft Basic. Later still, that changed to Visual Basic. And now, the end of its continued growth and support is in sight.

Gosh! Talk about the end of an era. In fact, it’s more like the the end of one universe, and the beginning of another. Honestly, I see it as a telling sign — amidst a raft of other, similar but lesser signs. Thus, there’s no doubt that Microsoft has reinvented itself completely. Azure and the cloud really do rule this roost, and that’s where Microsoft now lives. The rest of us are just catching up.

Personally, my first encounter with Basic came as a CompSci grad student at UT Austin in 1979. Many years later, I helped teach 5th and 6th graders Microsoft Small Basic at Cactus Ranch Elementary. This happened in 2015 and 2016 through their programming club. (In fact, my son was a participant, and I wanted to help out.) To me, it’s ironic that the URL for Small Basic is The new already encapsulates the old. Soon, the new will leave the old behind completely. All I can say is: Wow!


{WED} Warning! Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD

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

Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD.driver-ok

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

If Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD, So What?

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

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

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


{WED} Why Is Win7 Marketshare 25%?

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

Win7 Marketshare 25%.nms-graph

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

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

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

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

User Classes Include Individuals, SMBs and Governments

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

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

How Long Will Win7 Usage Stay High?

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


{WED} DISM /Resetbase Bites Back

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

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

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

If DISM /Resetbase Bites Back, What to Do?

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

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


{WED} Offline Samsung NWP2850 Misconfiguration Fix

If only I knew why this happens, I’d be happier living with this occasional gotcha. Alas, it seems that some Windows Update items reset the TCP port associated with my Samsung monochrome laser printer (NWP2850). When that happens, the printer shows up offline. Bizarrely, Printers and Devices reports the device as offline but offers no further help. I’ve learned to visit the right-click item named “Printer properties” when that happens. Resetting its IP port usually brings the printer back online. That’s what I offer up here, as an offline Samsung NWP2850 misconfiguration fix. Here’s what that properties window looks like with its Ports tab on display:

Offline Samsung NWP2850 Misconfiguration Fix.ports

From time to time a port named “SamsungNWP” with no IP address shows up checked here. This screencap shows the correct assignment.

What Is the Offline Samsung NWP2850 Misconfiguration Fix?

First, I have to rigure out the IP address assigned to my Samsung printer. NWP stands for “networked printer” BTW, so I have to scan my local network to find its current IP address assignment. For that purpose, I use NirSoft’s excellent NetBScanner. It produces a listing that tells me just what I need to know, as shown here:

Offline Samsung NWP2850 Misconfiguration Fix.netbscan

The Samsung printer shows up about half-way down the list at IP address That’s why I checked the corresponding box in the previous window.
[Click item for full-sized view.]

It’s nice to run into a simple network problem that’s easy to fix in Windows 10. If only, if only, I didn’t have to run into it so often! But that’s the way things go sometimes. I’ve learned to live with it.


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

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

Here’s a quote straight from the blog post:


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


{WED} Updating Realtek UAD Audio Drivers

I’ve learned the hard way that working with Realtek Universal Audio Driver (UAD) drivers can be interesting. I’ve accidentally switched back from the “Realtek(R) Audio” drivers shown in first screencap for this story to the Realtek HD Audio drivers more than once. But alas, only the “Realtek (R) Audio” drivers work with the Realtek Audio Console UWP app (see next image following). That’s why I wrote today’s post on the topic of updating Realtek UAD Audio Drivers. There are several steps involved, and a couple of (usually reliable) sources to which I turn for driver downloads. Read on for those details please!

Updating Realtek UAD Audio Drivers.realtek-audio

The name of the driver says nothing about UAD. You must simply recognize that the name “Realtek (R) Audio” signifies that a UAD driver is present and running.

Updating Realtek UAD Audio Drivers.console

Simply put, one MUST install the UAD (Realtek(R)) driver to use this UWP app.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Updating Realtek UAD Audio Drivers 1: The UAD Driver Itself

I use the excellent French Station-Drivers website to grab my UAD drivers. There, Realtek Audio gets its own landing page. It’s still a bit of a slog to get to the right driver from there. I’ll explain this as a sequence of steps for my particular motherboard, which comes from Asrock:

1. Click on Realtek High Definition Audio (HDA/UAD)

2. Click on Drivers (UAD).

3. Click on the name of your motherboard (or system) maker. (In my case, that’s Asrock.)

4. Examine the listings to find the highest-numbered drivers version (at bottom of list; in my case, that’s 8890.1).

5. Click on that version link, then click “Download” on the resulting web page.

This will grab a ZIP file that you can use to unpack and install the driver. Personally, I prefer to right-click the driver inside Device Manager, and point the “Update driver” option at the folder location where I unzipped the download file contents. Why? Because the Realtek installer requires not one, but two (2!), reboots to do its thing. I can use my right-click technique to update the driver without rebooting at all. Do what you like best on your PC(s), though.

Updating Realtek UAD Drivers 2: The Software Components

If you open the category in Device Manager named Software Components, you should see something like the next screencap, which shows three (3) additional Realtek software components. You can update the first two of these three items. I grab them from DriverHub, by searching for them by name. That is, I search on “Realtek Audio Effects Component” and “Realtek Audio Universal Service” and download the corresponding ZIP files. Right-clicking those drivers in Device Manager, to point the driver update function at the contents of those ZIP files works fine to update them, too.

Updating Realtek UAD Audio Drivers.sw-comp

Only the first two of these three drivers get updates, for whatever reason. Thus, that’s all you need look for.

I do this once every six months or so, unless I see a news or other online info item (perhaps at TenForums, which I visit more or less daily) to tell me an update is available sooner. And that’s how I keep my Realtek UAD audio driver and supporting items up-to-date!


{WED} Older Lenovos Need Utility Clean-up

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

+ (HT501246) Lenovo Quick Optimizer

+ (PD022501) Lenovo Solution Center

+ (DS105970) Lenovo System Interface Foundation

+ (DS012808) Lenovo System Update

+ Thinkpad Settings Dependency

+ ThinkVantage Fingerprint Software*

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

Older Lenovos Need Utility Clean-up.SolutionCenter

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

Why Do Older Lenovos Need Utility Clean-up?

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

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

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



{WED} Some Errors Need Fixing; Others Are Hiccups

From time to time I check in the Reliability Monitor on my Windows 10 PCs. It gives me an excellent sense of PC health, and points me at causes when errors occur. Take my compact road laptop as an example: it’s a 2018 Lenovo X380 Yoga with an i7-8650U CPU, 16 GB RAM, and a 1 TB NVMe SSD. An entirely capable, reasonably fast, and incredibly stable machine. I was surprised recently, in fact, to see a driver error show up on that machine. As you can see in the screencap that follows, the faulting item is the igfxEM Module. That is the name that Intel gives to the software that drives the Intel UHD Graphics 620 built into the CPU chip itself. Upon seeing this error, I was reminded that some errors need fixing; others are hiccups. I soon learned that this one was an apparent hiccup.

Some Errors Need Fixing; Others Are Hiccups.devmgr

When some that starts with “igfx” pops up, I know it refers to “Intel graphics,” that being the company’s standard abbreviation.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Deciding on Some Errors Need Fixing; Others Are Hiccups

Windows update didn’t think I needed a new Intel graphics driver. Nor did the new UWP app named Intel Driver & Support Assistant. Ditto for the Lenovo Vantage UWP app, which does a pretty good job of keeping up with drivers, too. Thus, there’s no new driver to replace the offending item.

But because it happened exactly once and hasn’t recurred in the past two weeks, I’m convinced this particular error represents a hiccup rather than an ongoing problem in need of fixing. So I’ve concluded that there’s nothing further to do here — except, as always, to keep an occasional eye on Reliability Monitor. It’ll let me know if and when the situation changes.

Some Errors Need Fixing; Others Are

Intel’s new Driver & Support Assistant works inside a web browser and seems faster and more capable than it’s application predecessor.

SideNote: Running Reliability Monitor

Once upon a time, I could type “reli” into the search box in the Start menu, and the Reliability Monitor would run. No more, not since 1809 or thereabouts. Now, I type “perfmon /rel” into the search box instead. That still works. Or, if you prefer, try “reliability” spelled all the way out. That should produce the “View reliability history” control panel item. The long way around is to click Control Panel → Security & Maintenance → Maintenance → View reliability history. I wish my old method still worked: typing four chars beats typing 12. But that’s the way things go sometimes, here in Windows-World!


{WED} Future Win10 Driver Updates All Optional

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the MS Hardware Dev Center, posted February 18. It comes from Senior Program Manager Kevin Tremblay who focuses on Windows OneCore (OS kernel, methinks) and “device enablement” (LinkedIn Profile). Going forward, device driver updates for Windows 10 will always show up in Windows Update as “Optional updates.” Because future Win10 updates all optional now, that means users must initiate such updates manually. In fact, working through the process means:

1. Clicking Optional Updates

2. Checking boxes next to one or more available device driver updates

3. Clicking a “Download and install” button on the Optional updates page to initiate (and approve) those activities.

Here’s what a sample Drive updates window looks like, showing the checkboxes and the “Download and install” button. I’ve already made use of this feature myself on Fast Ring Insider Preview test machines, and can confirm it works as it’s supposed to from personal experience.

Future Win10 Driver Updates All Optional.example

Going forward, Win10 users will have to acquiese and participate actively, before WU will install device drivers on their PCs.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

If Future Win10 Driver Updates All Optional, Then What?

Previous Win10 feature updates have come in for qvetching, criticism, and occasional cries of anguish because of updates installed automatically. They could show up, without prior warning for users. This denies them the opportunity to refuse, or to take preventive measures (a backup image to restore should something go sideways, for example). As far as device drivers go, this is now off the table. Good on Microsoft, for making this change. Because drivers are a perennial and predictable source for post-update instability, this new approach provides a way to avoid trouble, rather than having to clean up a post-update mess. But wait? Isn’t this the way things worked in Windows 7 and 8.x versions. What was once old, is now new again, it seems. A welcome bit of news nevertheless!