Category Archives: Windows 11

When Security Stymies Update Remove and Reinstall

Here’s an interesting issue — and another reason why I’m abandoning Norton security after I get my new PC built. I just tried to update CrystalDiskInfo and I couldn’t make it work. Norton data protection prevented the installer from — of all things — deleting old .bmp files for icons and graphics, to replace them with new ones. Even after I turned everything in Norton off for which it provides controls, the &*%$$ program still got in the way. Then it occurred to me: when security stymies update remove and reinstall still works. So that’s what I did, and that’s how I got it to work. Sheesh!

When Security Stymies Update Remove and Reinstall for New Version

Because update operations wouldn’t proceed even after disabling the auto-protect, firewall, and AV functions (see lead-in graphic), I was faced with two alternatives. First, I could completely uninstall Norton and then update. Or second, I could uninstall the old CrystalDiskInfo version, and then cleanly install  the new one. Because it was so much less time and labor intensive to undertake the latter, that’s what I did.

But man! I *HATE* it when security software gets in the way of authorized, valid update behavior and I can’t make it stop. By itself, that’s enough to have pushed me to get rid of Norton. But I’d already planned to do that anyway. I still use the password manager (which is a pretty good one), but I have no use any longer for the rest of the suite.

It just goes to show you: when it comes to maintaining Windows PCs, there’s always something lurking in the background ready to strike. This time, I got stung just a little. But sometimes, workarounds are less obvious, or less easy to find and apply. This time, I got lucky…

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

ARM Windows 11 Ecosystem Should Explode Soon

When I reported last week that only Windows 11 would run x64 emulation on ARM processors, I didn’t realize that this space should indeed open up soon. According to Rich Woods at XDA-developers.com, (a) Qualcomm currently has  exclusive access to Windows for its SnapDragon chips, and (b) that exclusive arrangement will expire sometime “soon.” When that happens (no firm dates) the ARM Windows 11 ecosystem should explode with activity. At a minimum, it’s likely that ARM chip vendors Samsung and MediaTek will want to get in on this action. With ARM doors wide open, even Apple Mac silicon may be able to run Windows 11 more effectively…

What Does ARM Windows 11 Ecosystem Should Explode Mean?

Competition, in a word. Right now, ARM-based laptops remain pricey when it comes to price-performance comparisons with intel or AMD based hardware. I expect that more vendors entering this market will drive prices down. Hopefully, that means they’ll come down enough to make ARM-based computers an attractive proposition.

I’ve looked at acquiring such a unit for nearly three years now. I saw my first ARM laptop early on at the MVP Summit in 2018. But each time I’ve looked at what an ARM-based system cost, I’ve steered clear because the cost just didn’t work for me. I’m curious but when it comes to spending my own money, curiosity only goes so far. A 14″ Lenovo Flex 5G costs $1,400 at Verizon right now, with 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM. For the same money, same vendor, I can get a more powerful CPU, 16 GB RAM and at least 512 GB SSD with Intel i5 or AMD equivalent processor. It’s not a compelling proposition — yet.

What Else Needs to Happen?

Lower prices. Better CPU parity. Stronger Windows support. It will still be a while before ARM can give either intel or AMD a run for Windows mind- and marketshare. But that will be an interesting race to watch. Hopefully, we all wind up winners when it’s been run. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Exploring Lenovo Yoga7i Loaner

I’ve got a new toy to play with here at Chez Tittel — a Yoga 7 14ITL5. My First Look at this unit appeared a couple of days ago, and includes detailed specs and other initial impressions. Since then, I’ve been exploring Lenovo Yoga7i loaner as my schedule has allowed and have uncovered some surprising and interesting information and capabilities. Let me tell you more…

What I’m Learning from Exploring Lenovo Yoga7i Loaner

I speculated that Windows 11 was applied as an upgrade as part of the “first boot” behavior on this laptop. I was wrong about that. The update history shows no upgrade, and there’s no Windows.old folder on the machine. You can see its disk map, courtesy of WizTree, in the lead-in graphic for the story. It grabbed all of my OneDrive stuff when it established my MSA user account, but it’s all Windows 11, all the way.

Obviously, interesting things are possible by way of Windows 11 OEM deployment. The OOB/first boot experience is different from anything I’ve seen in previous versions of Windows, from 10 back as far as you’d like to go. It looks like everything hinges on the Microsoft Account (MSA) that users supply for the initial login, which seems to conclude with a complete OS install and setup.

The disk footprint is reasonably modest. Discounting OneDrive, there’s about 55 GB worth of files on the Yoga 7’s C: drive. I just ran Disk Cleanup (admin) and was able to bring that down by 2.02 GB. Running DriverStore Explorer found about 32 MB worth of obsolete (probably duplicate) device drivers, too.

But it’s a completely native Windows 11 installation. Examining Apps & Features in settings, I see some stuff I neither want nor need, including Alexa, Disney+, McAfee LiveSafe, and Spotify. But as crapware goes, that’s a pretty light load. Kudos to Lenovo for not loading their image down with all kinds of useless cruft.

My verdict on this US$850-950 PC as configured: pretty good value for the price. I wouldn’t use this PC as a daily driver, but it is a nice casual computing platform. It runs reasonably well, and looks and behaves nicely, too. Good stuff!

 

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Macrium 8 Free Makes Normal Upgrade Appearance

OK, then: it’s finally making its way into the general Windows user population. I’m a zealous advocate of Paramount Software UK Ltd’s excellent Macrium Reflect Free backup/restore tool. Over the past 10 days or so, the company has now up-versioned that Free version from 7 to 8. This week, Macrium 8 Free makes normal upgrade appearance, via the tool’s built-in update facility. In fact, the lead-in graphic for this story shows a Notification that an 8-version update is available.

Good News for 7 Users: Macrium 8 Free Makes Normal Upgrade Appearance

A Macrium Reflect 8 Free download has been available for some time now through Softonic. It also showed up on the Macrium site a couple of weeks ago. But this development is nicer, because it means Reflect 7 users get an upgrade to Version 8 without requiring them to find, download and install the new version manually. Now, it’s simply part of the program’s own routine upgrade behavior.

For most users, the Free version is all they’ll ever need for home or small office use. Note: the commercial Free license limits the number of instances to 10 per location. Version 8 builds native Windows 11 rescue media, even though Win10 equivalents still work. I particularly like the program’s boot repair facility, its VSS repair and recovery, and its ability to boot backups as Hyper-V VMs.

Why Buy Reflect 8 Workstation?

Personally, when something as good and reliable as Macrium Reflect comes along, I believe in supporting its maker with an outright purchase. I have a 4-pack Reflect 8 Workstation license, and I run Reflect Free on the other 7 machines currently resident here at Chez Tittel. All are test/experimental machines I use for research and writing about Windows stuff.

I strongly recommend Macrium Reflect, in either free for for-a-fee versions. It’s the only backup tool I’ve ever used — and I’ve used many of them over the years — that’s never failed to restore and repair my Windows PC when they encounter difficulties. I blush to confess that many of those issues are self-inflicted, but this tool gives me the courage to try crazy stuff with Windows, knowing that I can fix it if it breaks on me.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

x64 ARM Emulation Only for Windows 11

Organizations and users pondering Windows 11 adoption just got another reason. In  a November 16 story, Windows maven Paul Thurrot reports an interesting development. He quotes a spokesperson: “Microsoft wants to share an update that x64 emulation for Windows is only generally available in Windows 11. For those interested in experiencing x64 emulation, a PC running Windows 11 on ARM is required.” That means: x64 ARM emulation only for Windows 11, not Windows 10.

Why Does x64 ARM Emulation Only for Windows 11 Matter?

x64 emulation supports modern applications/apps, of which many aren’t available in 32-bit form. According to at least one source, “x64 apps brought not only improved compatibility but significant performance uplifts as well” (WinAero). Even though Windows 10 Insider Previews announced x64 emulation in December, 2020, things have changed. MS amended that post to include this notice:

Updated 11/16/2021: x64 emulation for Windows is now generally available in Windows 11. For those interested in experiencing this, a PC running Windows 11 on Arm is required.

It’s not just for Insiders anymore. But it is just for those running  Windows 11.

That said, BusinessWire reported last month (October 13)  about ARM PC sales. Together, Qualcomm and MediaTek account for just over 20% of that market. Revenues are forecast at $949M for 2021. Thus, native Windows devices account for at most $190M of that total. Figuring a ballpark price of $2K per unit, that’s around 95K units. Compare that with the 300M or so units that firms like Statista show for the last four quarters (Q4’20 thru Q3’21). From that viewpoint, ARM PCs represent well under 1% marketshare.

Is This Big News, Then?

It is, and it isn’t. ARM PCs don’t represent a big chunk of the PC market right now. It is significant that MS delivers advanced features only in its current OS. IMO, the ARM portion of the PC market has noplace to go but up. Consider also that such processors totally rule smartphones, with annual unit volumes over 1B.

I think it’s significant MS decided to forgo x64 emulation on ARM in Windows 10. I think they’re betting on the impetus to “buy new” (and get the latest OS) for those considering future ARM PC purchases. Whether or not this accelerates the usual 18-24 month lag between a new Windows version and noticeable business OS migration efforts is anybody’s guess. Methinks it won’t make much, if any, difference.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Bringing Offline Printers Back Online

Something odd is still fiddling with my local switch domain. Fortunately, it only affects my office here at Chez Tittel. The usual symptom is that my LAN-attached Samsung ML-2850 shows up in Devices and Printers. But it is grayed out and shows status as offline (see lead-in graphic, middle right and bottom). When that happens bringing offline printers back online requires a specific drill.

How-to: Bringing Offline Printers Back Online

I use Nir Sofer’s great little NetBScanner tool to confirm or establish the IPv4 address the Samsung uses. (Lately, it uses192.168.1.133.) I right-click the offline printer (labeled Samsung ML-2850 in the lead-in graphic). Then I select “Remove device” from the resulting pop-up menu. After that, I must confirm that removal by responding “Yes” to a prompt window that reads “Are you sure you want to remove this device.” Done!

Next, what has been removed gets reinstated. This means clicking “Add a printer” from the top-line menu, then clicking “The printer that I want isn’t listed” when the automated search fails to find the Samsung ML-2850. Next, I click the radio button next to “Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname.” Then I double-check NetBScanner to confirm that the ML-2850’s IP address remains unchanged (aha! It’s moved to …134, so that’s what I enter).

I leave the default “use currently installed driver” option selected and click “Next” again. Then I shorten the printer name  to SamML-2850. Because the printer is network-attached, there’s no need to share it (this is required only for USB or other purely device-specific printer connections).

And when I print a test page, Presto! The printer is once again back online. Good stuff!

Bringing Offline Printers Back Online.restored

After removing and re-installing (after double-checking IP address) the Samsung networked printer is back online. Goody!
[Click image for full-sized view]

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

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!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

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!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

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.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

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…

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin