Here’s an interesting bit of news. After seeing reports about folders that end with a .tmp extension (!) in Windows 11, i found some on every machine I checked running that OS. These folders are invariably empty, and may be safely deleted. When I say: Kill these Windows 11 tw*.tmp folders, you shouldn’t suffer any adverse effects if you take that advice.
See a representative list in the lead-in graphic for this story. The folder spec is clearly spelled out therein. For the record, it is:
Why Kill These Windows 11 tw*.tmp Folders?
Because they’re empty. Because you don’t need them. And because they can swamp the other, valid data in that folder. I read reports of “hundreds” to “tens of thousands” of such empty folders at WinAero and Ghacks.net. The largest number I found on any of my Windows 11 PC was 94. Ironically, it was the one running Build 22000.258, a recent production 21H2 version. My other Beta and Dev Channel PCs had between 40 and 50 such folders in the same directory, by way of comparison.
After cleanup, here’s what’s left in that folder on my i7-8850H X1 Extreme laptop:
Not much left after cleanup: 5 folders and a lone .tmp file
[Click image for full-sized view.]
Over at Ghacks, Martin Brinkmann correctly observes as follows. “Empty folders don’t take up much disk space and they don’t interfere with the operation of the system.” It’s not mandatory to clean them out yourself. But OCD inclined Windows users (like me) will nevertheless delight in doing so!
Note: According to Brinkmann’s in-story reference to Woody Leonhard (AskWoody) this issue appears in 2019 versions of Windows 10, through current versions, too. And right now, I count a whopping 1,115 of them on my production desktop as I send them to the Recycle Bin. Woo hoo!
The other day, I found myself unable to partake of Online Service Experience Packs in Windows 11. With tongue in cheek, I asserted that I found myself on the outside looking in. It’s nothing new to me when certain preview or pre-release features open to some — but not all — Windows Insiders. Today, I’m in the same boat again. There’s a new version of Microsoft Defender available in the MS Store for download. As you can see from the lead-in graphic for this story, I get no MS Defender Preview. Instead I get an error message that reads “Your account isn’t authorized to use Microsoft Defender yet.” Sigh. I hope I haven’t jinxed myself.
If I Get No MS Defender Preview, Then What?
It’s frustrating to be a vocal, committed and active Windows Insider yet be denied access to new features and apps as they make their way into release. As far back as I can remember, when an A/B test or a gradual rollout occurs for Insiders, I’m never included early. Rather, I have to wait until the feature goes into general release. Or if I’m lucky, I might find some other way to install it.
I’m trying my best to remain patient and take my turn when it comes. In the meantime, you can read more about what’s up with the Microsoft Defender Preview in this October 27 story from The Windows Club. I’d love to tell you more about it based on personal experience, but it seems I’m not allowed to access the Preview. At least, not yet.
Stay tuned, though: when my turn comes, I’ll tell you more about what’s new and different. Coverage so far on the Preview is light on details. So maybe it won’t be too late to do my readers some good. As usual, time will tell…
Clint Rutkas and his team have been talking about it for months. I’ve been waiting to check it out myself. That’s right: in its latest release, PowerToys v0.49.0 gets video conference mute capability. Right now it’s available through GitHub, though I expect it’s just a matter of time before it comes via the Microsoft Store. The new control page in settings serves as the lead-in graphic for this story.
What PowerToys v0.49.0 Gets Video Conference Mute Means
I run at least 4 different video conferencing platforms regularly: Zoom, Teams, Blue Jeans, and Google Meet. From time to time, I’ll get invited to another, similar platform for online meetings. Each of them offers a mute capability, but each one uses a different control in a different place in its app window.
What I like about Video Conference Mute in PowerToys is that it offers one single set of controls for mike and camera, for all such apps. Here’s the set of keystrokes it uses:
Keys to toggle the mike and video together, or separately. Good stuff! (Source: PowerToys built-in Welcome docs)
For those already using PowerToys, an update is in order. For those not already using the tool, you can simply run the installer and it will set you up. Then, right-click the PowerToys icon in the notification area to open its UI, and go to the VCM pane. There you simply need to move the slider labeled “Enable Video Conference Mute” to on (as shown in the lead-in graphic if you exercise the option to view it on its own web page). It’s just that easy. I already liked PowerToys a lot, but this latest and long-anticipated addition just made me like it a whole bunch more. Check it out.
OK, then. I knew I was doomed when I saw the October 27 Windows Insider Blog. It covers Windows Insider Dev Channel build 22489, which I’d already installed. As soon as I saw the words “we are beginning to roll out…” I knew they weren’t rolling it out for me. Don’t ask me why I’m always out of A/B Windows tests. But whenever MS rolls something out to a select few, I’m never in the first cohort. If I had any hair on my head, I might tear some out. Good thing I’m bald…
Is Bad Luck Why I’m Always Out of A/B Windows Tests?
I don’t think so, but who knows? The latest feature that I can’t play with is called “Your Microsoft account” (available in Settings → Accounts). The lead-in graphic for this story is what those lucky few get to see (but not yours truly, not on either Dev Channel test PC).
For me, the question then becomes: “When do I get to see this new feature?” If experience is any guide, it will happen later rather than sooner. And it can’t be because my Windows 11 test PCs are of ancient vintage, either. The oldest one does run an 8th gen Intel CPU, but the newer of the two is 11th gen with Thunderbolt 4, even.
Learning More About Online Experience Packs
According to MJF at ZDnet this particular capability represents a real-world use of its Online Service Experience Packs. These mysterious “outside of OS updates” update mechanisms have been the subject of wonder and curiosity for some time now. As MJF says so pithily “Microsoft execs have said fairly little about Windows Feature Experience Packs,” another extra-OS update channel that’s equally enigmatic. To me, these things are the equivalent of the MSR in on-disk Windows layouts, which MS reserves for its own unstated purposes and about which I’ve been able to learn mostly zilch as well.
Thanks for helping to keep the mystery alive and well in Windows, guys. It always keeps me paying attention, at least. Stay tuned, and I’ll let you know if BigFoot puts in an appearance, too…
For Windows 10 and 11 users alike, those who try to run PC Health Check (PCHC) may experience an interesting initial impediment. Instead of running whatever version of the tool may already be installed, Windows will install the latest version. Numbered 3.1.210929003-s2, it shows up on all my updated Windows 10 and 11 PCs. Apparently, WU delivers new PC Health Check version as a routine part of the update process.
Why WU Delivers New PC Health Check Version, In Brief
My best guess is that MS wants to make SURE all Windows PCs have the latest version of PCHC at their disposal. WU itself offers to run the tool as part of its routine update checks now. As you can see in the lead in graphic (at bottom) this means the installer runs to remove the old version, then loads and configures the new one automatically. Only then, can you tell (at top) that the latest PCHC version is running.
It came as something of a surprise to me to invoke PCHC on my PCs, and get the installer first instead. Looks like this is one update that MS does not leave to user discretion. Here it comes, ready (and like it) or not!
PCHC Goes to All Players…
Even on my Surface Pro 3, which WU correctly labels as “unfit for 11” I still get an offer to get PC Health check as shown here:
This 4th-gen Intel laptop with no TPM will never run Windows 11. Yet WU still hopefully proffers PCHC.
[Click image for full-sized view].
I’m bemused. There are no “things I can do in the PC Health Check app” that will ever bring Windows 11 to the old Surface Pro 3. Am I wrong to read the language shown above as extending some glimpse of hope that things might turn out otherwise? Nah. It’s just a teaser. Good thing I’m running this system to keep track of Windows 10 as it runs out its tether to the 2025 EOL on purpose, eh?
Note Added 00:30 Later…
Just saw a very nice story on this phenomenon from Liam Tung at ZDNet. It’s entitled Windows 10 users get PC Health Check app for diagnostics and troubleshooting. Worth a read it makes some interesting points, and provides a quick way to remove PCHC for those so inclined. That tip reads “Users can uninstall PC Health Check by going to Apps → Apps & Features → App list (Windows PC Health Check) → Uninstall. (I substituted the right arrow entity for Mr. Tung’s less-elegant > (right caret/greater than sign) in this rendition.)
This morning (October 26) Twitter is ablaze with reports of qualified PC getting the “Windows 11 offer” via WU. I just checked my eligible PCs still running Windows 10 (all both of them). The Intel i7 11th gen machine gets the offer; the AMD Ryzen 5800X does not. So, as Windows 11 upgrades gain momentum the coverage remains partial. I guess, it’s just a bigger piece of the overall pie.
Twitter Sez: Windows 11 Upgrades Gain Momentum
But gosh, I see dozens of posts on Twitter this morning from people with all kinds of PCs indicating they’ve accepted the offer. Most report a successful install. Some report hanging, of which most seem to involve the post-GUI install phase somewhere between 80 and 100% complete.
FWIW, such issues have been common with other new Windows versions. One could argue — and MS often does — that the whole point of the “gradual rollout” they now follow is to ensure the highest likelihood of success to those who get “the offer.”
What I Do if WU Upgrade Hangs
This hanging has happened to me often enough in my 7 years as an Insider that I’ve got a step-by-step approach to trying various fixes:
1. Power off and restart. Often, the install will pick where it left off and continue to completion.
2. If rollback happens after restart, I try using the setup.exe from an ISO equivalent to the current install version. That has worked for me in most (9 out of 10) cases.
3. If a standalone/local installer won’t cut it, that often indicates driver or hardware issues. I’ll often roll back and wait for the next upgrade or a new ISO to come along. For those who MUST get to Windows 11, the only thing left to try is a clean install from the same ISO as in Step 2. This works for 9 of the remaining 10 hard cases.
But as I’ve recently learned with the Lenovo X1 Carbon Gen 9 that has a Thunderbolt Firmware issue I can’t fix for love or money, even a clean install doesn’t ALWAYS work. That’s why I’m sending that one back to Lenovo with a “Thunderbolt doesn’t work” note in the box. Sometimes, the forces of darkness do prevail. I can only add that I *HATE* when that happens.
Because it was announced in Windows 10 21H1, it was just a matter of time. The Windows Management Interface Command-Line utility, aka WMIC, is deprecated. No longer simply slated for oblivion, WMIC is missing from the Dev Channel version of Windows 11. The lead-in graphic shows what (doesn’t) come up in cmd.exe for Build 22483 and higher. Hence my title: Windows 11 says Sayonara WMIC. For the record, it’s still in production Windows 11 versions but reads “WMIC is deprecated.” in red.
Notice the red text at top of help response. It’s MIA In Dev Channel versions now.[Click image for full-sized view.]
Though Windows 11 Says Sayonara WMIC, WMI Remains Around
Microsoft has good advice for would-be WMIC users. They should use PowerShell replacement cmdlets instead. Turns out that the Windows Management Interface (WMI) remains alive and well. In a story about this change-over, WinAero.com suggests using a specific PowerShell command to learn more:
Get-Command -Noun WMI*
For the record, that string produces the following output that shows this is just the beginning of a sizable set of cmdlet documentation.
The 5 cmdlet WMI facilities: Get, Invoke, Register, Remove and Set.
[Click image for full-sized view.]
Each of these five facilities has its own muti-level help files. Looks like the switch-over is supported. That said, it requires climbing a new learning curve to bring users under the PowerShell umbrella.
Wow! It’s been quite a week here at Chez Tittel. It never fails but when I get busy with paying work, the frequency of and/or workload in handling Windows updates goes up, too. Including a loaner unit, I have 11 PCs to take care of right now. And this week has seen a Preview CU for production Windows 10, a release for 21H2 Windows 10, and various updates and upgrades for Windows 11 Insider Previews in all 3 channels (Release Preview, Beta and Dev). Hence my summary, that heavy update traffic complicates fleet management.
When Heavy Update Traffic Complicates Fleet Management, Get Busy!
As I check update history on my PCs, I see one or more items this week on all of them. Around here that’s about as busy as things can get. Fortunately, except for a firmware update issue on a loaner PC — which has nothing to do with MS updates AFAIK — it’s all been pretty routine and trouble-free. All it takes is paying attention and a little time.
I also use a couple of tools to keep up with applications and suchlike as well. PatchMyPC is a free updating tool that keeps up with most of my stuff. SUMo (Software Update Monitor) Lite is a free scanning tool that tells me what else I need to update (but leaves me on my own to get that done). I try to run these once a week, or as time permits. Lately, there hasn’t been much free time to spend on updates, but it’s getting done now, as I think of it.
The “Clean-as-you-Go” Principle
In keeping up with my PCs, I try to do a little bit every time I use them, so I don’t have to deep clean at longer intervals. A little bit of clean-up and update on an ongoing basis works better for me as a maintenance regime that periodic, scheduled (but longer) update/clean-up sessions.
Here in Windows-World, you can pick whichever regime makes most sense for you. I’ve got my routine and I’m sticking to it!
Big Sigh. I’ve been trying to get the Thunderbolt 4 firmware updated on the snazzy new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 they sent me, but to no avail. Today, I observed that Win10 rollback works but Thunderbolt issues continue. Something gets weird when the PC reboots to do the firmware install. I see a short (and tiny) error message long enough to know it’s there, but definitely not long enough to read it, or interpret its significance.
When Win10 Rollback Works But Thunderbolt Issues Continue, Then What?
First, the good news. I elected to roll back my Windows 11 update on this machine and it not only went well, it finished in under 3 minutes. That’s amazing! It also confirmed that the Windows.old snapshot is of whatever vintage and state the OS was at the time of upgrade. All my account stuff remained clear and workable, thank goodness.
Now, the bad news. I remain unable to complete the firmware update successfully. That means Thunderbolt sees no devices on either of the PC’s two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports. Bummer! It also means I’m sending this fish back to the pond (Lenovo, that is) with a request to return it when THEY can fix this driver issue. For me, Thunderbolt 4 is a big deal. I don’t think I can review this system without a working and capable Thunderbolt 4 connection for me to test performance, throughput, and so forth.
That said, the USB-3 Type A port is remarkably fast. I get better performance out of my old, tired mSATA drives on this machine (Samsung EVO SSDs in Sabrent mSATA enclosures) than I’ve ever seen before.
Do All Things Come to He Who Waits?
I guess I’ll be finding out. Tomorrow, I’ll fire off an email to the reviews coordinator, explain my situation, and let them know I’m sending the laptop back. It will be absolutely fascinating to see how they respond. I’m hopeful I’ll get a fixed (or replacement) laptop soon. If and when I do, I’ll start posting madly about what I see and learn. Right now, I just can’t go forward with a major subsystem on the fritz. Hope that makes sense…
Take a look at the web page for this June vintage 19042 Windows 10 preview item KB5003690. As the concluding term in its title states, this item is EXPIRED. It’s also no longer available for download. Revised MS policies mean that some Windows Updates gain expiration dates (or status, anyway) when they reach obsolescence. The lead-in graphic for the story shows the revised KB5003690 title and its EXPIRED status above.
If Windows Updates Gain Expiration Dates, Then What?
It’s not exactly like a carton of milk from the grocery store. You won’t know in advance when any particular KB item might (or will) expire. This looks like the kind of thing that will pop up when you try to access older updates that Microsoft has removed from circulation.
The details of Microsoft’s EXPIRATION NOTICE read like this:
IMPORTANT As of 7/21/2021, this KB is no longer available from Windows Update, the Microsoft Update Catalog, or other release channels. We recommend that you update your devices to the latest security quality update. The latest security quality update is cumulative and contains all the addressed issues in this update.
Apparently, the idea is that as certain updates age out, they will no longer clutter up the update universe. WindowsLatest opines this will be a boon to those who might pause or skip updates, by reducing download items and data volume. They also assert that “… older and redundant packages will now expire automatically, which can improve the performance of Windows Updates and reduce update cache size.” Same effect applies to scan time: with fewer updates to look through, scan results should come back more quickly as Windows PCs “Check for updates” in WU.
Less Is More?
Certainly from data management and networking perspectives, reducing the population of update items is a good thing. I’ll be curious to watch for this status to start coming up when checking KB items.
Just for grins I checked a newer Preview update for status. KB5005101 (released on 9/1/2021) remains available, and its Catalog download likewise. Looks like expiration dates don’t kick in until an item — even a Preview item — gets to be four months old, or older. Time will tell if that boundary is flexible, or fixed…