Category Archives: Windows 11

Checking Wi-Fi Signal Strength

Here at Chez Tittel, most PCs use wired Ethernet for their network connections. That is: of the 10 PCs on various LAN segments here, 7 use GbE connections; the other 3 use Wi-Fi. But our cellphones, iPad, and other devices — including 3 thermostats — are all on Wi-Fi. It’s a mixed bag. I like to check Wi-Fi quality from time to time, so I have to thank Mauro Huculak at Windows Central. He just reminded me about what’s up with checking Wi-Fi signal strength. See his story “How to check Wi-Fi signal strength…” for a raft of potential ways in Windows 11.

Checking Wi-Fi Signal Strength: Command Line

I’m a command line junkie, so I’ll skip the various UI-based methods he describes. There’s a single command in the network shell (netsh) that will tell you what you (or I, in this case) want to know:

netsh wlan show interfaces

Mr. Huculak also provides a tasty one-liner version in his article that’s worth sharing and keeping around (cut’n’paste into a text editor like Notepad, and remove all but one space between the text on the 1st & 2nd lines, please, so it will run in Command Prompt or PowerShell):

(netsh wlan show interfaces)
-Match '^\s+Signal' -Replace '^\s+Signal\s+:\s+',''

You can see both of these at work in PowerShell on one of my Windows 11 test PCs in the lead-in graphic above. The short version produces all of the interface info for the one and only Wi-Fi interface on that machine; the long version simply shows the signal strength as a percentage (i.e. the “99%” at lower left above). You can go either way. Works the same on Windows 10, too. Very handy!

Thanks again, Mauro. Made my morning…


Creating New Windows 11 VM Gotchas

Whoa! I hit a couple of interesting snags when setting up a new Hyper-V VM, late yesterday and this morning. Indeed I came across a couple of interesting gotchas that I want to document — if only to help me to remember what to do the next I have to do this. These creating new Windows 11 VM gotchas include getting the ISO-based install to run, and then being able to log into that VM. Pretty basic but vital stuff, in other words…

Creating New Windows 11 VM Gotchas Recited & Explained

Gotcha #1: Getting the installer to run from an ISO. Turns out you can’t do this from an RDP session. I had to do this from the physical desktop, probably because of too many levels of indirection from keyboard stuff in the input path. I also had to set up the VMs with TPM to get Windows 11 install to complete (otherwise, I would get the “doesn’t meet hardware requirements” error message). This turned out to be fairly easy, if vexing from the standpoint of “Why doesn’t Hyper-V do this by default?”

Gotcha #2:  Logging into the new VM, once installed. One must log into the VM with “Enhanced session mode” disabled, then go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options > Additional settings, then turn off “…allow only Windows Hello sign-in…” toggle. Turns out, this doesn’t work with RDP either, as explained at MS Answers. Boy, won’t it be nice when Copilot gets smart enough to do this with a single prompt (no luck right now).


Hotpatching Windows 11 24H2?

If Zac Bowden at WindowsCentral is right — and he often is — there’s something unusual coming in the next feature update for Windows 11 (24H2). When it emerges later this year, it may include something called hotpatching. In an October 2023 Learn Story, MS defines hotpatching. It is “…a way to install OS security updates … that doesn’t require a reboot after installation.” Basically, it means that PCs can defer the mandatory reboot that follows certain monthly cumulative updates. But there’s more…

Beyond Hotpatching Windows 11 24H2

Right now, hotpatching only applies to WindowsServer VMs inside the Microsoft Azure umbrella. Bowden also asserts it’s used on Xbox systems. According to his unnamed sources they’re already experimenting with hotpatching 24H2 images in Redmond. Same sources say MS plans to push them out into the Dev and Canary channels in coming months.

Because MS has been doing this for a while (with Windows Server VMs and Xbox) this is less startling than it might otherwise be. The MS Learn item is particularly worth reading for the section entitled “How Hotpatch works.” It explains this technique relies on patching “the in-memory code of running processes without the need to restart the process” so that “applications are unaffected.” Good to know!

A quarterly reboot is still required to make sure that an actual CU acts as the baseline for the current running Windows image (say in January). Then, February and March can be hotpatches, with another CU to follow in April, and so on, as shown in the lead-in graphic.

Presumably, full update integration would occur on the “next reboot” for hotpatched PCs. I’ve never had a Windows desktop run for 3 months without a single reboot myself. Thus, I’m pretty sure I’ll be finding out when and as hotpatches show up inside Windows 11 Insider Preview releases — hopefully, soon!



Windows 11 Nears Built-in IPRI Facility

Here’s a nice Windows 11 milestone to ponder. Those who opted for KB5034848 (released 2/29/2024) already have it. Those who wait for the March Patch Tuesday release will get it. What is it: an IPRI, or in-place repair install capability, as depicted in the lead-in graphic from my Lenovo ThinkPad P16 Mobile Workstation. That’s the basis for the title (also above) that reads “Windows 11 nears built-in IPRI facility.” Let me explain what makes this cool…

Sussing Out Windows 11 Nears Built-in IPRI Facility

I’ve been hip to the IPRI technique — which basically involves launching setup.exe from an installer image that matches whatever version of Windows is currently running — since I joined up at back in November 2014. It’s my favorite technique to restore Windows to stable, normal operations when things start getting weird and normal troubleshooting techniques shed no light on things. IPRI works by re-installing all the OS files but leaving apps, applications, and the registry alone.

And now in the CU Preview for March (and thus presumably also in the March update), Windows 11 users running the latest version will get the “Reinstall now” button that lets them attempt to “Fix problems using Windows update.” While this will reduce my level of need for to built an ISO for IPRI from time to time, it is incredibly convenient and generally helpful. Good stuff.

One word of warning: Having tried this tool out on a Beta release a couple of months back, I can observe it takes quite a while to do its thing. It took me 55 minutes to get through the process on that Beta image, and I assume it will do something similar with this Preview CU image should I put it to the test again. I’m pretty sure that’s because it has to build a custom image (just like the batch file does) before it can start doing its repairs.

And so it often goes, here in Windows-World, where spending more time for improved convenience is a common trade-off. Cheers!


Canary 26063 Throws Install Error

Oh well: it happens sometimes. One of my two test PCs on the Insider Preview Canary 26063 throws install error right near the end of the install process. It’s one I’ve seen before –namely:

Failed to install on ‎2/‎22/‎2024 - 0xc1900101

It’s something of a grab-bag error in that it can come from insufficient disk space, driver conflicts (esp. from external USB devices), an out-of-date driver on the target PC, AV conflicts, and more (see this MTPW Backup Tips note for all the deets).

When Canary 26063 Throws Install Error, Then What?

I’m trying a two-pronged strategy this morning. First thing is a simple retry. And when I ran that option in WU, it thought for a while, then jumped from the download phase to the GUI install phase. So obviously, it checked over yesterday’s UUP downloads and found them satisfactory. Right now, WU is 49% into installling 26063. Here’s hoping that works.

But on the other prong, I’m downloading the 26062 ISO from I’ve observed that when a WU-based install fails, sometimes a local install using setup.exe from a mounted ISO will work. It may also provide more useful error messages in local logs should it fall over near the end of the process yet again.

FWIW, this seems to be a pretty substantial update, too. And indeed on the other test PC — the one where the upgrade worked –it  says 24H2 in the Winver window. I guess that means MS is floating Windows vNext to Insiders right now.

Lookit that! 26063.1 says “Version 24H2.” It’s arrived…

More to Follow…

Now, the WU install is at 64% and UUP is building images and stuff for the upcoming ISO file. Based on yesterday’s experience, this will still take a while. I’ll jump back in and update when it gets wherever its going. Stay tuned!


CNF Conundrum Gets Some Love

OK, then. I’ve been trying to figure out why, on some of my test PCs, I get an error message when PowerShell loads my profile and tries to import the PowerToys WingetCommandNotFound (CNF) module. You can see that error message in the lead-in graphic above (from my ThinkPad P16 Mobile workstation). Thanks to some fiddling around, this CNF conundrum gets some love — finally!

I haven’t figured out how to fix the problem properly just yet. But for the nonce, if I go into PowerToys, visit CNF, uninstall and then resinstall same, it returns to work. This happens every time I open a fresh PowerShell session, so it’s at least mildly bothersome. But I’m starting to make progress on figuring things out.

How CNF Conundrum Gets Some Love

The error message keeps changing on me as I add things to the folder where the profile resides — namely %user%\documents\PowerShell. First, it complains about not being able  to find the module itself. I copy it into that folder. Then it complains about a .DLL. I copy that, too. Finally, it complains about an error handler not being able to field a thrown exception.

It’s not fixed yet, but I now know that this issue comes from my PowerShell modules path set-up. Something is wonky between those search paths (there’s one for the system, and one for my login account) and PowerToys. This happens for one of my Microsoft Accounts (MSAs)  every time I use it to log into Windows, because this information is shared across those instances through OneDrive.

What’s Next?

I’ve got to research how I should be setting things up in the OneDrive environment to get PowerShell and PowerToys to get along with each other properly. I’ll be contacting the WinGet crew (Demitrius Nelon’s team at MS) to request additional info and guidance. That’s because my online searches have only clued me into what’s going on, but not how to fix it properly.

Stay tuned: I’ll keep this one up-to-date. And I’ll probably post again, when a resolution is formulated. This just in: OneDrive is reporting multiple copies of the PS profile in its file store. Could this be related? I have to think so. Again: stay tuned…


Repair Install Fixes Instability

At the beginning of this month, I performed an in-place upgrade repair install on my Windows 10 production PC. It’s now running Build 19045.4046. You can see that this repair install fixes instability on the PC in the lead-in graphic. Over the past 20 days I’ve had only one critical event — mostly self-inflicted when testing winget Chrome update behavior (see last Friday’s post for details). Otherwise, this 2016-vintage system has been rock solid of late.

When in Doubt, Repair Install Fixes Instability

Gosh! I’ve long been a believer that an in-place upgrade repair install (IPURI) is something of a Windows cure-all. Reminder: an IPURI runs setup.exe from a mounted ISO for the same version of Windows that’s currently running on a PC. Thus, it requires the host OS to be running well enough to replace itself. See these terrrific and tutorials for all the details…

Thus, you can’t use this technique if you’re having boot problems, or the OS isn’t running well enough to get through  the GUI phase of a Windows upgrade. But for situations where the OS is running (but most likely, not as well as you might like) this technique works extremely well. My earlier Reliability Monitor trace, before the February 1 IPURI, looked something like a sawtooth wave on an oscilloscope. Ouch!

How to Get the Right ISO

I still use to match build numbers between what’s running and the ISO I have it build for me. Then, I mount that ISO, and run setup.exe from the virtual DVD drive ID Explorer puts out there for me. Lately it’s been showing up as the E: drive; but this morning it comes up as P:. But you’ll most likely see it labeled with the initial characters of the image label like this:Repair Install Fixes Instability.recent-iso

Here’s what Explorer shows me when I mount the ISO I used on February 1 for an IPURI: Virtual DVD Drive P:

For the record, I also use the excellent Ventoy project software to boot into my various ISOs when an IPURI won’t do. Admins and power users will want to keep a USB handy with their fave ISOs for repair and recovery scenarios. I do that on a 1 TB NVMe SSD inside a USB3.2 drive enclosure. Lets me keep dozens of ISOs around, ready to boot into any of them on a moment’s notice. Good stuff!


Winget Browser Updates May Be Curious

As far as I can tell, I’ve been blogging here about the Windows Package Manager — Winget, that is — since May 2022. Indeed it’s received regular mention ever since (nearly a third of all posts). I finally observed the other day that winget won’t update a browser with any of its processes running on the target PC. Also the browsers I use (Chrome, Firefox, Edge) still make you “Relaunch” to complete any update. This includes instances when Winget updates them successfully. Hence my assertion: Winget browser updates may be curious. And I mean both in terms of effect and outcome.

If Winget Browser Updates May Be Curious, Then?

It doesn’t stop me from trying, but the update doesn’t happen at all when any related process is running. Thus, for example, if any chrome.exe items show up in Task Manager>Details view, winget breezes past the update package and does nothing. Ditto for Firefox and Edge. But it’s a good flag for me to jump into each one’s Help>About facililty which is usually more than happy to update from insider the browser itself. And again, to request a “Relaunch” when that process comes to its conclusion.

It’s all part of the learning process in working with winget to keep Windows up-to-date. Sometimes — indeed nearly all the time — winget handles update packages quite nicely on its own. At other times (less often) winget acts as a sentinel to warn me that an update is available, which I then must figure out how to install.

Here’s a short list of such programs above and beyond the browsers already mentioned: Kindle for Windows, Discord, certain EA game executables, Teams Classic, Windows Terminal (now fixed), and even Winget itself from time to time. But gosh, it’s always fun to see what’s out there and what happens when winget wrangles update packages. It’s made my life ever so much more interesting (and updates easier) since it emerged in 2022.


Build 26058 Explorer Brings Button Labels Back

It’s a small change but a helpful one. In Canary Channel  Build 26058 Explorer brings button labels back. That is, instead of simply showing labels and forcing you to do one of these:

  • Remember what they are and what they do
  • Mouse over the label icon and read the text tip
  • Pick one and hope for the best

Explorer once again shows text to accompany the icons so users know what they’re doing. These show up at middle in the lead-in graphic, with icon buttons above and text below. To wit: Scissors button/Cut, overlaid pages/Copy, Text “A”/Rename, Block with pointer/Share, and Trashcan/Delete. Good stuff!

You can see what the old way looks like in the production Windows version (Build 22631) below where the icons appear at the bottom of the Explorer right-click context menu for files inside a folder. Much less intelligible, IMO.

Build 26058 Explorer Brings Button Labels Back.notext

Notice the line of icons at the bottom of the content menu. Mouseover will show tip text.

Rejoice When Build 26058 Explorer Brings Button Labels Back

It’s not a huge change to see text show up with a button, unprompted. But it is a comforting usability improvement. I’d always wondered why MS adopted this ultra-compact approach. But given the presence of tip text on mouseover, I’d always been able to suss things out if I wasn’t 100% what was what.

This latest improvement saves the time and effort involved in mousing over. I definitely appreciate it. On the one hand: thanks! On the other: Why’d it take so long?

And if those aren’t among the major dueling dualities here in Windows-World, I haven’t been paying attention for the past 30-plus years. Yeah, right…


POPCNT Fuss Is More Fizzle

OK, then: the ‘net has been abuzz since last week as upcoming Windows 11 24H2 requirements come clear. Indeed, that OS won’t run on processors that don’t support the POPCNT instruction . IMO this POPCNT fuss is more fizzle than it is a major obstruction. Let me explain…

Why Say: POPCNT Is More Fuss than Fizzle

The POPCNT instruction has nothing to do with stack processing as its name might suggest. Rather, it counts up all 1-values in a binary sequence. It’s part of the SSE4.2 instruction set. These were introduced in 2008 to both AMD and Intel processors — namely:

  • AMD K10 (codename Barcelona), released in April of that year
  • Intel (codename Nehalem), released in November same year

That means the oldest processors that DON’T support SSE4.1 (and POPCNT) are more than 15 years old. Not terribly suitable for running Windows 11 anyway and likely to fail owing to lack of support for TPM, Secure Boot, and other reasons as well.

You can use Franc Delattre’s excellent CPU-Z tool to check your CPU to see if it supports SSE 4.2 or not. Check the lead-in graphic next to “Instructions.” It pops right up even on my 6th-gen 2016 vintage Skylake CPU (still running Windows 10 BTW).

For all but the most diehard long-haul PC users running a machine more than 5 years old is pushing things (and 15-plus years is highly unusual). This very Skylake is my oldest at 8 years, and it’s due for retirement soon, soon, soon.

WTFuss? No Workaround

The problem with POPCNT is that it’s absolutely, positively mandatory for 24H2 to work. Whereas the other impedimenta — e.g. TPM, Secure Boot, UEFI and so forth — have all been cleverly worked around, there’s no known (or likely) workaround for this gotcha. Thus, older PCs that have been shoehorned into Windows 11 upgrades will not be able to advance past the 23H2 upgrade level. Hence such fuss as has emerged in the blogosphere since this news came out last week.

My best guess that that less than 1% of PCs in the US (and perhaps 5-8% of PCs elsewhere, mostly outside the first world) might be subject to the POPCNT limitation. Just another sign that even here in Windows-World, time keeps marching on.