Category Archives: Windows Update

Dev Channel Build 22538 Gets Interesting

The old Chinese curse goes “May you live in interesting times.” Sounds innocuous, until you understand that what a reader of history might find interesting after the fact, someone who lived through such experiences might find disturbing or harrowing. In that sense then, I proclaim that Dev Channel Build 22538 gets interesting. Exactly what does this mean?

When Dev Channel Build 22538 Gets Interesting, Look Out!

I downloaded and installed this latest Build on my two test PCs yesterday, and finished up this morning. Everything went well, and finished in a reasonable amount of time. (That means under 30 min for both the X12 Hybrid [11th gen Intel i5/16GB RAM/512GB SSD)]and the X380 Yoga [8th gen Intel i7/16 GB RAM/1TB SSD].)

Things only got interesting when I started running the new OS version. If you shift the Start menu left (Start → Personalization → Taskbar → Taskbar behaviors → Taskbar alignment: Left), the Widget icon turns into a weather icon instead. Some users report getting a “weather bug” and temperature value. Others — including me — get only the weather bug. See the lead-in graphic for an illustration, as central Texas faces possible “wintry mix” today.

I was also in for a surprise the first time I remoted into the X12, using Remote Desktop Connection (.exe) . The Taskbar included only two icons. When I tried to run Task Manager to restart Explorer.exe (which usually fixes such behaviors) nothing was accessible. So I ended the remote session, logged into the X12 locally, and then tried again. Everything worked on a second attempt, thank goodness. Indeed, that was interesting!

Curiosity Prompts X380 Yoga Check

Curiosity led me to do likewise on the X380 Yoga. But it showed no such anomalies. Instead a flag from Windows Security informed me that memory integrity checks (Core isolation) were turned off. I had to restart to set things right, but that seemed to work OK, too. The flag was absent after the restart, and Windows Security offered a clean bill of health.

All I can say about the 22538 Build and Dev Channel builds for Windows 11 in general, is that they work surprisingly well. They’re supposed to have rough edges and not-fully-fleshed-out features and functions. I seldom find interesting things to report when I install and run them. It’s fun when things get interesting — at least, on test PCs where I don’t have to rely on them to get my job done.

Stay tuned: I’ll continue to report items of interest as I encounter them.

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2022 Gets First Windows 10 WUCU Woohoo

I can’t help it. I have to have fun with my headlines occasionally. In this case, WUCU refers to a Cumulative Update (CU) delivered via Windows Update (WU). Hence my proclamation, as 2022 gets first Windows 10 WUCU. The woohoo part is just for grins. I was busy enough with writing and phone calls yesterday that I didn’t notice the download and install part. But when I logged in this morning, I saw a notification that led me to the “Restart required” message in WU. It’s present on all the “regular PCs” in my fleet (those not running an Insider Preview).

When 2022 Gets First Windows 10 WUCU, Then What?

Why, restart all those machines, of course. I just checked the Windows 11 PCs, and they don’t seem to be queued up for Patch Tuesday action. I wonder if this is just a one-off, or if the update cadence for the newest desktop OS might be changing. I guess I’ll have to keep an eye on things, to see what happens.

Closer investigation shows that KB 5009566 hit Windows 11 machines yesterday (January 11) as well. It’s labeled as a Quality Update in Update History, not a CU. So it looks like the cadence continues as always, but that the labels attached to the Patch Tuesday update can be either QU or CU depending on their contents and recent prior preview update activity. Good to know!

Here’s what that looks like on my production-level Lenovo X1 Extreme (8th-gen Intel CPU, vintage 2018).

The update for Windows 11 also arrived on January 11, but it’s a QU not a CU. Go figure!

It seems that Windows 11 is finally starting to diverge from Windows 10. I think we may see some exciting new developments and capabilities in the run-up to this fall’s upcoming equivalent to a feature update. Should be interesting. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.

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Substantial First 2022 Dev Channel Build 22526

I’d hoped that the initial Dev Channel build for Windows 11 would show up this week. I’m glad it  did, but it’s something of a doozy. When I say it’s a substantial first 2022 Dev Channel Build 22526 I means it’s big, and it takes a while to download and install. Let me explain…

What Substantial First 2022 Dev Channel Build 22526 Means

First off, I noticed that it took longer than usual to download and install 22526. That means around 15 minutes to download, and another half an hour to install. By contrast, the preceding 22523 Build downloaded in 5 minutes or less, and took about 15 minutes to install. I had the same experience on both test machines, and also had to wait through another 2 minutes or so for OOB experience during the first boot into the OS.

Running WizTree on my two Dev Channel PCs (a Lenovo X12 Hybrid, and aThinkpad X380 Yoga) I see that the size of the Windows folder is 3.2 GB larger for 22526 than Windows.old for 22523. This, too, is kind of unusual. Normally, size doesn’t vary more than 200 MB one way or the other between adjacent versions.

What’s New in 22526?

According to yesterday’s Windows Insider blog post “Announcing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22526,” quite a bit is new. The dev team is “experimenting with showing ALT + TAB as windowed instead of full screen for some Insiders.” And whoop! I see that on the X12. Here’s what that looks like, courtesy of SnagIt 2022:

Instead of filling the whole display, ALT+TAB shows up in windowed mode as shown on PCs lucky enough to get this update in 22526.

This is the first time in my personal experience to get selected for a new feature when a limited rollout or A/B test is announced. I’m jazzed.

Other new items in 22526 include:

  • Support for wideband speed using Apple AirPods to improve voice call quality
  • Credential Guard now enabled by default on Domain-joined Windows 11 Enterprise (E3 and E5) licensed PCs
  • File Explorer will index more file locations to make native file search faster and more efficient

Don’t know where the size bump comes into play among all this stuff, but it’s definitely noticeable.

2022 Insider Previews Off to Interesting Start

I’m tickled to see new stuff showing up so soon. I’m even more tickled to be included in the select few who get to see new features under test. It should be interesting to see how things develop, as we work our way deeper into the New Year. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.

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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…

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WU Reset Tool Works on Windows 11

I’ve been a member over at TenForums for almost 7 years now. In fact, I joined up on November 14, 2014 shortly after the first Technical Preview emerged. This weekend, I was relieved to discover that the batch file Shawn Brink created as a WU reset tool works on Windows 11, too. (The preceding link goes to a tutorial that provides a download and explains how to use it to reset Windows Update, or WU).

It’s a Relief that WU Reset Tool Works on Windows 11

My Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga test machine would start downloading updates from WU just fine. But part-way through the download process, progress would stop. Eventually, I would get an “Update failed…” error message, with a Retry button. After several tries, each with its own similar failure, I knew sterner measure were needed.

I actually keep the batch file from the afore-linked tutorial on my shared desktop in OneDrive. It’s called

Reset_Reregister_Windows_Update_Components.bat

and it does a thorough reset of the Windows Update environment. It begins by halting all update-related services, then it empties all folders where recently-downloaded update files reside, checks (and if necessary resets) various WU-related registry settings, then restarts those same services. A reboot follows next, after which one can try one’s luck with WU again.

So I ran the batch file in an administrative cmd prompt on the affected machine, let it do its thing, then restarted that PC. Presto! After restarting, my next update attempt succeeded. I wasn’t 100% sure it would work on Windows 11 because the tool was built for Windows 10. But to my great delight and relief, it set the Windows Update environment back to working order. And thus, I was able to catch that machine up with the current state of the Dev Channel.

Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend the tool and its accompanying tutorial highly. Find it at TenForums as Reset Windows Update in Windows 10. Hopefully, Mr. Brink will soon do a run-through to create a Windows 11 specific version. Should that occur, I will add a link to that version here as well.

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Windows 11 Upgrades Gain Momentum

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.

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Windows Updates Gain Expiration Dates

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:

NEW 7/21/21
EXPIRATION NOTICE

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…

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Windows 11 Gets New Update Stack Package

Last June, MS announced the release of a Windows Feature Experience Pack (120.2212.3920.0) to Insiders in Beta and Release Preview Channels. In yesterday’s Dev Channel Preview Build 22478 release notes, they announced something called “Update Stack Packages.” Let’s call the former WFEPs and the latter USPs for brevity. USPs provide a “…new process for delivering new update improvements to our customers outside of major OS updates…” But if Windows 11 gets new Update Stack Package, what does that really mean?

Sussing Out Windows 11 Gets New Update Stack Package

The key to understanding comes from a sentence in the release notes discussion of USPs. It reads “The Update Stack Package will help ensure that your PC has the highest likelihood of successfully installing new updates with the best and least disruptive experience available.” Sounds like a mechanism to make sure the OS image is free of potential impediments to upcoming updates. Why does this remind me of “servicing stack updates?”

Overall, the discussion of USPs is much like that for WFEPs earlier this year. To wit:

1. USPs are currently limited to “a very small set of update-related system files … developed independently of the OS.” WFEPs have been small and limited since their June 2021 introduction. That said, they focus on “feature improvements to customers outside of major Windows 10 feature updates.”

2. USPs and WFEPs both come to Windows installations via WU.

3. Both seek to sanity-check and test their approach and capabilities with Insiders, but ultimately aim to “expand the scope and frequency of releases in the future” (quote from WFEP June announcement).

Looking for Enlightenment…

What’s really going on here? MS seems to be experimenting with different kinds of update mechanisms independent of “major OS updates.” Given that feature updates are dropping back to yearly frequency, this provides a way to introduce changes more often than that. I’m curious to see either (or both) of these mechanisms deliver something meaty. So far, they’ve been used only for tentative, small-scale updates and changes. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how they behave when they get a more serious workout.

Right now, for both USPs and WFEPs there’s far more fanfare than clarity or understanding. Hopefully time and experience will cure that imbalance and bring some useful demonstrations of what these things are for, and what they can do when exercised more heavily.

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Windows 11 GA Follies Underway

OK, then. I learned something new and interesting yesterday. Thanks to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, I now know that October 5 really started at 4 PM Eastern (US) the day before. That meant I was able to try out two new facilities late in the day, as Microsoft got the Windows 11 GA follies underway in earnest. Let me explain…

What Does Windows 11 GA Follies Underway Mean?

GA stands for “General Availability” and represents the timeline entry for an OS release at which point anyone can access it. If they have a legit Windows 10 license they can upgrade to it. They can also now access numerous Windows 11 specific tools through the Download Windows 11 page, including:

  • The Windows 11 Installation Assistant (for upgrading the machine you’re using)
  • The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool (for creating a bootable UFD or DVD)
  • Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO) to obtain a mountable multi-image ISO for planned installation or image customization

I’ve already done all of those things, though I haven’t yet used the UFD I built, or put the downloaded ISO to work. Here’s a brief recitation of what happened.

Item 1: Installation Assistant

My first GA upgrade target was my trusty Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme laptop (8th-gen Intel CPU, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB NVMe SSD, TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot enabled). I’d already made sure it met Windows 11 requirements, but I did hit a snag during installation.

I had Start10 installed on this PC. And when the Installation Assistant got about 80% through with the installation part, it stopped and told me I had to uninstall Start10 before it could proceed. Because uninstalling Start10 itself requires a restart, I knew this meant I had to clear this out and then start over. So that’s what I did.

To my surprise, the Installation Assistant kept the install files so I didn’t have to download them again. This short-circuited the process by a good five minutes. But the second try at install took quite a while to complete — nearly 40 minutes by my clock. My advice to readers: if you’re running a start menu replacement program, uninstall it before you begin the upgrade process. In the long run it will save on time and aggravation.

Item 2: MCT Revisited

The new version of the MCT is named MediaCreationToolW11.exe. At 9,532KB in size (as reported in Explorer) it’s a pretty quick download. I like it that MS is labeling MCTs with the version of Windows they’ll grab for you. Makes them much easier to tell apart. In fact, I usually label them when I download them anyway for that very purpose. Glad to see MS beating me to the punch here.

Just for grins I went through the UFD drill with an older 8 GB UFD I had sitting around. The download part took less than a minute to complete (I have a fast Internet connection, fortunately). Building the on-media image took a little bit longer: a bit under five minutes on a 2016 vintage Patriot Blitz 8GB UFD device. It got renamed to ESD-UDB during the build process (which reflects MS use of the compressed version of WIM for speedier download/smaller disk footprint). Total disk space consumed: 4.16 GB.

Item 3: ISO Download

Because I’m a huge Ventoy fan (and regular user) this method gets me images for all kinds of uses (install, repair, troubleshooting and so forth). That’s why I don’t mess around with bootable UFD devices anymore. MS advertises, and DISM confirms, that this is a multi-part ISO image (7 parts, in fact, as shown in the following screencap):

Windows 11 GA Follies Underway.dism-scan

7 total images, each with its own index, in the official Win11 ISO
[Click image for full-sized view.]

So Far, So Good. What’s Next?

I have now force-upgraded the X1 Extreme (and then installed Start 11, which is supposed to get a major update in a couple of days). I plan to update my wife’s Dell 7080 Micro with its 11th-gen CPU today or tomorrow. I’m going to wait on WU for other Windows 11 ready machines to see when the get “the offer.” Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted as the rollout proceeds. So far, though, it’s been pretty easy and straightforward. Except for the Start 10 surprise in fact, it’s been smooth as glass.

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Windows 11 Dev Channel Goes Nickel

Just yesterday, September 2, the MS Windows Insider team re-forked the Beta and Dev Channels for Windows 11. The Windows 11 Dev Channel goes Nickel. Thus, it picks up a new release branch where experimental features not tied to specific upcoming releases can be exposed and explored. Note the major Build number in the lead-in graphic. It jumps to 22449, far ahead of other build numbers of any sort.

The Beta Channel, on the other hand is still tied to 21H1 and Build 22000.  As the upcoming Windows 11 release date — October 5 — edges ever closer, that should remain constant. Beta will be the focus for bug hunts and ongoing fixes. The run-up to that GA date (32 days away as I write this story) should be interesting.

Finally, these two release forks now diverge. I predict Beta will continue to track “the next, upcoming Windows 11 release.” Dev will show us what’s possible but not inevitable for future releases .

When Windows 11 Dev Channel Goes Nickel, What to Expect?

MS has already warned Insiders about future Dev channel releases. They will be less stable and more subject to gotchas and bugs. The 22449 release blog says (emphasis mine):

These builds are from the earliest stage in a new development cycle with the latest work-in-progress code from our engineers. These aren’t always stable builds, and sometimes you will see issues that block key activities or require workarounds while flighting in the Dev Channel. It is important to make sure you  read the known issues listed in our blog posts as we document many of these issues with each flight.

And please: if you participate in the Dev Channel, I urge you to follow Microsoft’s advice. That is: “read the known issues” as each new upgrade emerges. More than once, I’ve been bitten because I jumped first, and read the issues list second. Thus, I’ve learned from first-hand experience, little of it positive, to heed that warning.

I’m glad to see this happening. I look forward to what emerges in  Dev Channel releases going forward. That’s why I joined the Insider Program to begin with. It’s why I look forward to bashing bugs, reporting (and learning from) issues, and making things work. For some of us in Windows-World — including me — this passes as entertainment!

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