Category Archives: Windows 11

WinKey+P Powers Display Projection

Sometimes, it isn’t until things go terribly wrong that one appreciates the power of simple syntax. Check out this TenForums post, which explores the impact of the WinKey+P gone wrong: Win p key  pressed. Because WinKey+P powers display projection, a user’s nephew’s wrong menu choice made him think he’d lost access to 2 of his 3 displays in a multi-monitor configuration. Not so!

WinKey+P Powers Display Projection — Usually Into a Menu

Normally, when you strike Winkey+P on a Windows 10 or 11 PC, you’ll get a pop-up menu like the one shown in the lead-in graphic. It highlights the current setting — Extend in my case, because I have my desktop extended over a pair of Dell 2717 monitors. Overall, it offers these four settings:

  • PC Screen only: (tantamount to striking WinKey+P once)
  • Duplicate: copies primary monitor to all other monitors (select by striking WinKey+P twice)
  • Extend: extend the desktop across all available monitors (select by pressing WinKey+P three times)
  • Second screen only: use only Display #2 for graphical output (select by pressing WinKey+P four times)

Our hapless user’s nephew struck WinKey+P once, which apparently forced his PC into “PC Screen only” mode. On my PC, however, I got the menu shown above, and was easily able to move among the selections using my mouse.

When Key Combos Go Wrong, Try More!

Interestingly, advice on TenForums about what to do in this situation is spot on. It reads “Did you try pressing ‘WinKey+P’ again? Sometimes a key acts like an ‘on off’ switch.” In this case, our user wanted to press WinKey+P 3 times to get to the extend option through the keyboard. There’s no discussion of using the menu instead, which I find infinitely preferable.

For some odd reason I’m reminded of one of William Blake’s epigrams from his Proverbs of Heaven and Hell:

The fool who persists in his folly soon becomes wise.

This turns out to be good, if oblique, advice when dealing with unwanted WinKey key combinations. As for myself: I’d have looked it up online, and found all the insight I ever could have wanted, and more.

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Discretionary New Intel 30.0.100.9805 Graphics Driver

This morning, I learned about a DCH graphics driver from Intel, which adds Windows 11 support. This is the discretionary new Intel 30.0.100.9805 graphics driver. It’s shown in the driver properties for the UHD 620 integrated graphics on my Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga in the lead-in graphic. This driver installed quickly and easily on that test PC, albeit with a self-inflicted gotcha. Let me explain…

Why Say: Discretionary New Intel 30.0.100.9805 Graphics Driver?

Normally, graphics and other key Intel drivers come either through Windows Update or from the Intel Driver & Support Assistant (DSA). This time, things are a little different. I imagine it’s because this driver specifically targets Windows 11 (though it also works on Windows 10) that Intel hasn’t yet targeted it within DSA. Instead one must visit the Intel Graphics – Windows DCH Drivers page. There one must select the 30.0.100.9805 (Latest) version, and download either an .exe or .zip based installer. Here’s what it looks like online:

Discretionary New Intel 30.0.100.9805 Graphics Driver.download

The download page offers .exe and .zip options.
[Click on image for full-sized view.]

Who Should Grab This Update?

All Intel CPUs 6th generation (Skylake) or newer are on Intel’s “covered platform list” for this upgrade. It works on Windows 10 releases 1809 through 21H1, and on Windows 11. Laptop and tablet users should be aware that OEMs sometimes offer customized Intel graphics drivers through their own update channels. By switching to this Intel update, you forgo those customizations. Some contortions — such as uninstalling the Intel drivers and software — may be required if you want to switch back to OEM drivers later on.

The gotcha I encountered in installing this driver is mostly self-inflicted, but worth reporting anyway. I started the install process through an RDP session from my production desktop. About half-way into the install, the process hung and didn’t advance further. When I ended the RDP session, and logged into the X380 Yoga locally, it picked back up and ran to completion. Sometimes, driver install MUST run locally to work properly. Apparently, this Intel driver requires a local session to run all the way through. By comparison, I did use DSA to update the PC’s LAN and Bluetooth drivers via RDP just before starting the display adapter update for the UHD 620 without issues.

And indeed, that’s the way things went today, here in Windows-World. Cheers!

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Start11 Beta Arrives With Certain Complications

OK, then. Here’s a phenomenon that may interest some readers not at all, though I confess myself fascinated. When I first started using Windows 8 in February 2012, the new Start menu totally baffled me. With major deadlines close and breathing down my neck, I bought a copy of Stardock Software’s Start8 Start Menu replacement package so I could skip the learning curve and get stuff done. Since then, I’ve cheerfully paid the US$4-5 per PC that Start8 and later, Start10, licenses cost. I was immensely tickled this morning to find out that Start11 Beta arrives with certain complications in its wake. Let me explain…

What Start11 Beta Arrives With Certain Complications Means

I have licenses for Start10 on two of my three Win11 test machines. For the record, Start10 works fine on Windows 11 PCs, but it lacks native smarts and features. A for-a-fee beta version is available as of August 10. Like Start10, it goes for US$4.99. I find it a little odd to be asked to PAY to play where Beta  software is involved…

But for those with Start10 licenses, one can also pay to upgrade the software to that version and get updates as the product evolves. I qualified for a discounted (US$3.99) update price, so I ponied up and downloaded the installer file, named Start11-fs-setup_sd.exe.

Then the fun began. Because Start10 was already running, the installer informed me I had to close that program and uninstall it before I could install Start11. I killed all the Start10 related entries on the Processes tab in Task Manager.

But that proved insufficient: in fact, the Start10 service process would persistently keep restarting seconds after I killed it. So I opened the Details tab, and killed the Start10x64.exe process along with a few other hangers-on. Only then did the uninstall complete successfully, after which it informed me I had to reboot my PC to complete that process. After a restart, I was able to get Start 11 up and running.

First Impressions of Start11

I understand how the native Start Menu works in Windows 10 and 11 now, so it doesn’t bother me as it once did immediately following Windows 8’s debut. I’ll be up front and say I’m not sure Start11 is something that everybody — or even most people — need when running Windows 11. That said, as an old familiar tool for me, I immediately felt comfortable with its workings and capabilities. These include:

1. An option to shift the Start Menu button and program icons back to the left-hand side of the display.
2. Indirect access (one click to the native Start Menu through a Windows Menu button in the Start11 menu).
3. More sophisticated controls over Start Menu appearance, such as icon settings (size, background, columnar layouts), menu font controls, menu transparency controls, and customization options).
4. Right-click on Start button can be set to produce Win+X menu

Is Start11 a piece of essential Windows 11 software? Probably not. Is it nice to have? I think so, but others may disagree. I’m glad it’s cheap, but I found the install process far from smooth and well-engineered. But then, it IS a beta version. I’m guessing that will change as Start11 and the OS to which it’s matched both evolve into their production versions.

Start11 Beta Arrives With Certain Complications.about

The About screen shows Version number 0.5: a clear indication of a beta version. Hoping install will improve as the program evolves.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

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New Antimalware Exe Causes Regular Win11 APPCRASH

In watching a new Windows OS, I tend to check in on Reliability Monitor regularly to look for errors. After my intense efforts to get my Windows 11 PCs upgraded to Defender’s latest Antimalware engine recently, I have to laugh. My Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga in the Beta Channel has thrown 14 critical events since its July 29 upgrade. Half of those events originated from the Antimalware Service Executable, version 4.18.2107.4. Hence my assertion: New Antimalware Exe Causes Regular Win11 APPCRASH.

I have to chuckle, because getting to this version also fixed a documented problem with Windows 11. It did prevent the “Automatic sample submisssion” from resetting to off after each reboot. But apparently, something else in that executable is itself problematic. Such gotchas are pretty normal for Insider Preview code. I imagine MS is working hard to fix it, too.

New Antimalware Exe Causes Regular Win11 APPCRASH: What of It?

Looking at all 14 “Critical Events” in Relimon since July 29, 3 come from Lenovo Firmware Update checks (fwdetectcmd1911.exe). All the rest — including the 7 from the antimalware engine — come from Windows internal components and elements. To me this is just the normal working out of a new OS release as it morphs from Insider Preview to nearly production-ready status. In other words, it simply shows that the development process is proceeding as it usually does.

Over time, the frequency of such errors will drop off. As Insider Preview users report specific items, MS dev teams will investigate. They’ll invariably fix those in need of fixing (as I expect will happen with this MsMpEng.exe issue). When only a few random or minor issues remain unsolved, the developers will start moving more aggressively to create production target builds for Windows 11. That’s usually when it would show up as a Release Preview channel item, and would signal that production release is immanent.

This time around, we already know MS will move heaven and earth to get Windows 11 ready by late October. That’s as far as they can push things, and still have PCs or devices with Windows 11 pre-installed ready for the holiday shopping season. Stay tuned, and we’ll see how it all unfolds.

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Remote Desktop App Holds Cloud PC Keys

OK, then. I’ve finally had a chance to read and learn a bit more about Microsoft’s Cloud PC offering. Indeed, it’s now finally available for subscription and use. I did not luck out and land a free trial (the offer was swamped beyond capacity within minutes of opening). Over at ZDNet, however, Ed Bott ponied up for a subscription. He reports on his experiences working with the Windows 365 Service, built around Cloud PC. His “Hands-on” story appeared yesterday and includes lots of useful info. Not least amongst its nuggets of wisdom and observation is the notion that the Remote Desktop App holds Cloud PC keys.

Why Say: Remote Desktop App Holds Cloud PC Keys?

Bott describes the “Open in Browser” button for Cloud PC as  “the simplest way to begin working with” its capabilities. His story shows useful screenshots and example. In fact, it’s well worth reading from end to end.

In that story, Bott further opines as follows:

“The browser is fine for casual connections, but you’ll have a better experience using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop client, which is available for download from a separate page on the Windows 365 dashboard. Apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.”

I wrote a story for ComputerWorld earlier this year called “Windows 10’s Remote Desktop options explained.” Its conclusion starts with the heading “The future of Remote Desktop.” In that section I put forward the guess that “URDC [the store app for Remote Desktop depicted as the lead graphic here] and MSRDC [an enterprise version of the same tool] will become much more important and capable clients than they are right now.” I also expressed the idea that this might spell the waning days for the old Remote Desktop application (mstsc.exe). I believe Mr. Bott’s story just proved me right, to my great relief.

What Remote Desktop Brings to Cloud PC

In short, it makes interacting with Cloud PC just like any other remote PC session. It permits full-screen (and even all displays in multi-monitor set-ups) operation and works just like desktop access over the network. Of course, that’s what it is, so this is no surprise.

What is surprising is what Bott report about Cloud PC performance. Not much lag, with only “momentary display glitches” for graphics-heavy apps, and “general productivity apps like Office perform just fine.” His only compatibility issue came when trying to connect to a Gmail account with Cloud PC (the server didn’t accept Outlook authentication dialog boxes, but Bott did access the account using the built-in Mail app and via MS Edge).

Bott’s economic analysis of Cloud PC is also interesting. At a minimum of US$20 per month (single vCPU, 2 GB RAM, 64 GB storage) — useful for what he describes as “only the most lightweight tasks” — it offers no significant value-add for home or small business users. For larger businesses, though, I think he observes correctly that the simplicity of Cloud PC (operable from any Internet-attached device including PCs, tablets and smartphones) could appeal to and might even cost less than deploying a managed and secured company-owned PC to employees at home (and other remote locations). It also lets remote users work from familiar local platforms already to hand and might even boost productivity.

So far, I very much like what I’m seeing and reading about Cloud PC. But that’s not the same as trying it out for oneself.

From Reading About to Hands-On

Next, my goal is to figure out how to get involved with Cloud PC myself. I’ve already floated the question with the Windows Insider MVP program if they can’t make  such subscriptions available as part of the award benefit.

But just because I think they should, doesn’t mean they will. In that case, I’ll have to carefully examine the family exchequer to see if it can float the $492 a 1-year subscription for a suitably equipped Cloud PC would cost. By hook or by crook, though, I want in! Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted…

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Updates Require Balancing OCD Against Time

I can’t help it. Tinkering with my PCs gives me great joy. I also love to check up on them at regular intervals. I work to keep the OS, drivers, apps and programs current and correct. But I learned long ago that it takes time — often, too much time — to attain absolute perfection. Or perhaps I should say “total update coverage” instead? Indeed, updates require balancing OCD against time. One must know when to quit or give up looking for elusive elements. Thereby hangs today’s tale…

If Updates Require Balancing OCD Against Time, How Much Is Too Much?

I use a couple of good tools to help me track non-OS updates for programs. The Store does a good job of keeping up with most apps. WU does well enough by me with the OS. For drivers, I rely on reading TenForums and ElevenForum to keep up. I also hasten to add that Windows 10/11 both do a good job of handling drivers on their own. That means I concentrate on Nvidia GPU drivers, output from the Intel Driver & Support utility, news about Samsung NVMe drivers, Realtek UAD audio drivers, and — occasionally — Thunderbolt drivers. The rest of them take pretty good care of themselves, though I do rely  on DriverStore Explorer to keep an eye on them, and to purge duplicates and oldies from time to time.

I use the free and excellent PatchMyPC Home updater to handle all the updates it can find. (It provides this story’s lead graphic, in fact.) Why? Because it is set up to silently install updates without requiring human intervention and action. I like that. But I also use the free version of KC Softwares’ Software Update Monitor (aka SUMo) because it finds more apps and programs than PatchMyPC does. That said, I wouldn’t recommend paying for its commercial version because their behind-the-scenes engineering for downloading updates is hit or miss. And the misses happen too frequently for me to want to pay US$30 per PC to grouse about them further. If SUMo finds a program that needs updating, you need to get and apply the update yourself.

Where to Draw the (Update Search) Line

In working with these tools, I’ve learned to spend no more than 10 minutes trying to get any individual item updated. Sometimes, SUMo reports updates available that I just can’t find. For example, SUMo has had me chase DolbyDAX2DesktopUI versions on multiple occasions that I can find nowhere online (though items that present themselves as valid links do pop up they lead only to the Dolby.com homepage).

After one or two revolutions when going around in circles, I’ve learned to give up. I also don’t worry about minor version discrepancies, especially when I know PatchMyPC will catch up to SUMo soon. Case in point: I just updated one of my Lenovo X380 Yoga ThinkPads. PatchMyPC took CrystalDiskInfo to version 8.12.4.0 only for SUMo to tell me I needed to upgrade it to 8.12.5.0. I know if I wait a while, PatchMyPC will get me there without me having to visit CrystalDewWorld, and then download and run the installer myself. So, that’s where I draw the line to avoid too much lost time. You can, of course, draw lines as you see fit.

According to eminent anthropologist Gregory Bateson, the 18th century British poet and artist William Blake said “Wise men see outlines and therefore they draw them.” Blake also said: “Mad men see outlines and therefore they draw them.” Wise or mad, I think drawing lines is an important part of managing how one spends time and effort. Don’t you?

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Dev Channel Downgrade Raises Flightsigning Mystery

OK, then. Yesterday I posted here about the conditions under which Insiders can downgrade from Dev Channel to Beta or Release Preview channels. Today, there are reports that Insider Preview stuff may go missing in SettingsUpdateWindows Insider Program if you follow that advice. At the same time MS Insider Team member Eddie Leonard has posted a fix for same at Answers.Microsoft.com. As you’ll see in his step-by-step fix advice below, the Dev Channel downgrade raises Flightsigning mystery because it’s key to that fix. Here are those details, quoted verbatim (I changed the text color to red on the key term to make it stand out):

 

1. Click on Start
2. In the search box, type cmd
3. In the lower right of the search results, under Command Prompt, click Run as Administrator
4. On the UAC prompt, click OK
5. At the elevated command prompt, type: bcdedit /set flightsigning on
6. Press Enter
7. At the elevated command prompt, type: bcdedit /set {bootmgr} flightsigning on
8. Press Enter
9. Reboot the device

How do you know if you’ve got this problem? You’ll see a screen that looks like the one from the lead-in graphic (also cribbed from Eddie’s Answers Fix info). Notice that only the “Stop getting preview builds” choice appears, when you should also see choices for “Choose your Insider settings” and “Windows Insider account.” The preceding fix explains how to get those items back, and restore Windows Insider Program capabilities along the way.

Researching Dev Channel Downgrade Raises Flightsigning Mystery

Of course that raises more questions — namely:
“What is flightsigning?”
“Why must it be turned on (twice)?”
I have no answers for these questions just yet, but I’m digging in. There’s a 2014 TechNet article “What is flightsigning?” It raises the question and provides the glimmer of an answer from bcdedit tool help “Allows flight-signed code signing certificates.” It also says “These are certificates used during the Windows development process and chain to an internal root.” Documentation simply says:

“…this command will enable the system to trust Windows Insider Preview builds that are signed with certificates that are not trusted by default:”

I’m guessing that downgrading from Dev Channel may somehow alter these certificate checks. Further, I believe Beta and Release Preview channels must have them turned on by default. Switching from Dev to lower channels requires them to get turned back on and enabled in the boot manager before Insider Program info can show up.

But details are sparse and documentation terse and limited. The BCDEdit command-line options at MS Docs mentions flightsigning only in passing (see “Changing entry options”). Even the GitHub info from MS Docs doesn’t say much about flightsigning. There’s also a tantalizing post at OSR.com about “New test signing options.” But not a lot of hard or explanatory info.

I’ll keep digging. But if anybody has other sources or info, please comment or use the website’s Contact form to send me an email. All input gratefully received.

 

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Downgrading Dev Channel Is Now Sometimes Possible

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the July 29 version of Microsoft Docs “Deeper look at flighting.” And of course, as the lead sentence reads “Flighting is the process of running Windows Insider Preview Builds on your device.” In an amendment to prior policy, downgrading Dev Channel is now sometimes possible for test PCs or VMs. Let me explain…

What Downgrading Dev Channel Is Now Sometimes Possible Means

The key to switching without requiring a clean re-install (the prior policy in all cases) is that the Dev Channel must have the same or lower Build number than the target channel. That means switching from Dev Channel to another channel requires users “to find your current build number and compare it to the current build number in the channel you wish to switch to.” Build numbers appear in the output from winver.exe, and in Start → Settings → System → About.

I quote the step-by-step process verbatim from the previously linked flighting document:

  1. Open Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program.
  2. Select Choose your Insider settings.
  3. Select the desired channel, either Beta Channel (Recommended), or Release Preview Channel.
  4. The next time you receive an update, it will be for your new channel.

This will make the process of downgrading channels simpler. It also provides an “exit strategy” for Dev Channel PCs. Prior policy insisted that the only escape from Dev Channel could be a clean re-install of some other Windows version. The other channels have always offered the option to drop back to production/RTM versions when they become available. This extends that out to Dev Channel, but requires two steps to get there: first drop back to Beta or Insider Preview, then drop back to production/RTM. Good stuff!

Why Am I Telling You This … Now?

As you look at the WinVer output from Dev Channel (left) and Beta Channel (right) in the lead graphic, right now the Build numbers are the same. That means that you can downgrade Dev Channel PCs as I write this story. Given that MS hasn’t released a Dev Channel build in a while this can’t last forever. If you want to try it out, act fast — or wait for the next synch-up. Your call…

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Beta Channel Insiders Get Windows 11 Offer

On July 22, I noted that my Insider Preview test machine hadn’t yet received a Windows 11 upgrade offer. This, despite assertions that such an offer was “coming soon” raised my curiosity, if not my ire. “Where’s mine?” I asked in the covering tweet for that story. Turns out it was where everybody else’s was, too: nowhere (not here yet). But yesterday, July 29, MS opened the Windows 11 floodgates to the Beta Channel. Thus, like many others, I witnessed and participated as Beta Channel Insiders get Windows 11 offer.

If you check the lead graphic for this story above, you’ll see the Beta Channel status window at right. It appears alongside Winver.exe output left, that shows this PC running Windows 11.

When Beta Channel Insiders Get Windows 11 Offer, What Next?

Just for grins, I timed the download and install processes for the new OS. I’m guessing server demand was high, because both took some time to complete. Download took 14:42, and Install took another 28 minutes and a bit more. Normally, OS download occurs in 5 minutes or less. Of course, the installation time is all on the local PC, so the servers have nothing to do with that.

Reliability Monitor also shows 3 “Stopped working” errors just after installation completed, while post-install updates and clean-up were underway. These included:

  • FwdUpdateCmd: a Lenovo System Update Plug-in, which probably hasn’t been updated and/or vetted for Windows 11 yet.
  • UsoClient: shows a BEX64 error, which usually indicates some kind of issue with Outlook. Interesting, because I don’t have MS Office installed on that PC. Might be related to the built-in Office trial.
  • Audio device graph isolation (audiodg.exe) shows an APPCRASH error, with CX64APO.dll as the faulting module. I recognize this as related to the Conexant audio driver present on the X380 Yoga. This is probably a driver hiccup incident to installation. From what I can see in Driver Store Explorer (RAPR.exe), all the current drivers are now stable and correct.

As I’ve been doing with Windows 11 on Dev Channel PCs, I’ll continue to explore, play and learn. I remain favorably impressed with this new OS, and look forward to learning and doing more with it in the weeks and months ahead. And yes, I’m glad to finally have another upgrade show up through “official channels.”

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Vexing Windows 11 Antimalware Platform Update Issues

Right now, I have two PC dedicated to Windows 11 testing and learning. Just recently, I discovered some vexing Windows 11 Antimalware platform update issues. The short version is: one of my PCs is up-to-date. It’s no longer subject to Automatic Sample Submission reset to off following each restart. Alas, the other remains stubbornly stuck on an earlier Antimalware platform release. None of the update options available work, so I can’t get no relief. Let me explain…

Fighting Vexing Windows 11 Antimalware Platform Update Issues

First, let me be clear. This is a known and documented Windows 11 issue. It’s been around since the initial release hit. Indeed, a fix exists: when the Antimalware Platform version gets to 4.18.2107.4 or higher, the problem disappears. For the record that problem is depicted in this story’s lead-in graphic. After every reboot, the Automatic Sample Submission feature for virus uploads in Defender is turned off. The feature is easy to turn back on, until the next reboot. OCD OS maintainer that I am, the workaround isn’t enough for me. I want it fixed, for good, now.

Here’s the vexing part. WU hasn’t yet deigned to update the antimalware engine behind the scenes. Ditto for the Protection updates option in Windows Security. There’s a registry hack documented on a related ElevenForum thread. There’s even a manual Defender update download that’s supposed to take the Antimalware engine release to 1.2.2107.02. It comes in a file named defender-update-kit-x64.zip. Alas, inspection of said update file shows the Antimalware engine to be 4.18.2015.5. It’s too old to fix the issue, in other words. Thus, no relief just yet, shy of a permanent registry hack.

The Perils of Perfectionism

Yes, I could hack the registry to turn this off. But I’d have to unhack it again when the fix finally shows up on the X380 Yoga that’s affected. I’m going to have to wait for WU to get around to providing me the latest antimalware engine on its own, or find a newer manual update. Alas, that’s the way things go sometimes, here in Windows-World. Oddly, I find myself hoping for a new Windows 11 build, in hopes the latest antimalware engine will be part of its contents. Stay tuned: I’ll let you know how all this shakes out.

Note Added August 4: Update Came!

Thanks to long-time and active TenForums and ElevenForum user @Cliff S, I learned this morning that Antimalware Client Version 4.18.2107.4 arrived via WU. Checking my own previously stuck test machine, I saw it too, had gotten this update. And now, my PC no longer reverts to Automatic Sample Submission=Off after each reboot. Fixed!

I’ve also determined this version is available through the Microsoft Update Catalog. Search for KB4052623, and grab the correct version, if WU doesn’t come through for you.

 

 

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