Is ARM In Your PC’s Future?

I just saw an interesting story over at Windows Latest. It’s entitled Microsoft; Industry considers Windows on ARM as the future of computing. We’ve seen Windows on ARM for 3-plus years now. But so far, the user experience has been more under- than over- whelming. Nevertheless,  I’m inclined to agree that ARM has revolutionary PC potential going forward.  Thus IMO it IS reasonable to ask: Is ARM in your PC’s future? Let me explain… as you look at the CPU package in the lead-in graphic (Image Credit:

Why say: Is ARM In Your PC’s Future?

I’ve been writing ongoing tech briefs for HPE, around the  ProLiant server family since last December. Much of my research, analysis and reporting has centered around ARM CPUs. Specifically, I’ve been exploring benefits they confer on cloud-based servers vis-a-vis top-of-the-line x86 Intel and AMD processors :

  • Energy efficiency: ARM CPUs routinely deliver the same or better performance as the other CPUs, but consume 50-70% less power.
  • Footprint: ARM CPU-based servers require only 1/3 the physical space (and volume) of their intel or AMD counterparts. That means either major savings on rack space, cooling, cabling and yada-yada, or 3 times as much capability in the same space.
  • Predictable and improved performance: ARM (Ampere Altra and Altra Max) CPUs use a single constant clock speed and lots of cores to keep things in synch and running smoothly. They can handle higher loads, faster and more predictably (with less jitter, too) than the competition.
  • High core-count ARM CPUs (Ampere Altra and Altra Max) can handle AI workloads without needing supplementary GPUs to offload or assist with such processing. Considering that the latest high-end Blackwell NVIDIA GPU is expected to cost US$30-40K, that’s HUGE (the current spot price for the top-of-the-line Ampere Altra Max M128-30 is US$2,305).

Pretty amazing, eh? It’s already shaking up the cloud and data center server market in a big, big way.

What Does This Have to Do with End-User PCs and Laptops?

Right now, not much. But in general, the ARM processors all share the smaller footprint and improved energy efficiency characteristics that help set the high-end ARM server CPUs apart from intel and AMD. They won’t offer anywhere near the same number of cores, and they’re also likely to use multiple core types (Ampere Altra uses only single-threaded cores, all identical, all in lock-step).

A March 13 MS announcement about worldwide availability of an “ARM advisory service for developers” had this to say about ARM silicon:

This is no surprise, as many across the industry consider Windows on Arm devices as the future of computing, with unparalleled speed, battery life, and connectivity.

Like me, MS apparently sees the uptake of the advantages that ARM architecture brings to computing having a significant impact at the end-user level. This is going to be interesting to watch unfold. It’s going to be even more fun to play with and test, to see if the running gear lives up to the breathless hype. If the benchmarks that Ampere and HPE are publishing are any indication, this could very well shake up desktops and laptops over the next year or two, as it’s already doing so for the rack-mounted server market right now.

Will the next PC/laptop I test have an ARM CPU? Gosh, I hope so. Will the next PC/laptop I BUY have an ARM CPU? Jury’s still out, but it’s looking at least possible, if not downright likely…


MS Edge 122.0.2365.106 Winget Upgrade Puzzle

Here’s a good one, right from my Windows 10 desktop this morning. As per usual practice, I ran winget upgrade –all –include-unknown to see what updates might be available after the weekend.  I promptly ran into a Catch-22 as you can see in the lead-in screencap. I call it an MS Edge 1220.2365.106 Winget Upgrade puzzle, because the package manager finds an upgrade for Edge that I can’t figure out how to install. Let me explain…

What’s the MS Edge 122.0.2365.106 Winget Upgrade Puzzle?

In a nutshell, here’s what the lead-in graphic depicts (there’s more, as you will shortly see in the following list of items):

1. Winget reports that an upgrade for Edge from version 122.0.2635.92 to …106 (first three groups of digits stay the same) is available.

2. Winget upgrade –all –include-unknown fails because “install technology of the newer version is different…” I’ve definitely seen this before. Note the error message advises an uninstall/reinstall maneuver to fix things.

3.  Winget uninstall Microsoft.Edge fails with exit code 93

4. An attempt to force the uninstall fails with the same exit code

5. A visit to Settings > Apps > All installed apps offers no uninstall option for Edge. Indeed, it’s pretty well known in Windows circles that Edge is notoriously tricky to uninstall. See, for example. this github “Remove-MS-Edge” script…

When in Doubt, Report to the Winget Team…

I have to believe this is a slight hiccup on the Winget team’s part. From long experience in working with the program daily since it was introduced at the end of June, 2020, I know that (a) Catch-22s sometimes pop up and (b) they usually get fixed fairly soon after they appear. My best guess is that this particular instance will get handled in the next few days.

For my part, I’m sending a link to this blog post to Demitrius Nelon, the leader of the Winget team via Twitter. This usually provokes immediate and corrective action. Let’s see what happens…

Stay tuned! Note: FWIW, Windows 11 versions are not subject to this gotcha. AFAICT this is a Windows 10 thing only. I even tried a repair install for Edge through its “All installed apps” entry and that didn’t help, either.  Indeed, a version check on the 122.0.2365.92 version comes back to report “all’s well”:

Note Added March 26: Gone!

Edge is still running as version 122.0.2365.92. But Winget is no longer reporting that it needs to upgrade it to 122.0.2635.106. Indeed, Winget show Microsoft.Edge now reports the latter as the current version, in need of no upgrade at all. Thanks Demetrius and team: problem solved!


NotePad Gets Gradual Spellcheck Rollout

I already know better, but couldn’t help but get excited yesterday. I read the “Spellcheck in Notepad…” MS announcement with care.  TLDR version: “Notepad gets gradual spellcheck rollout in the Canary Channel.” Fingers crossed, I checked Notepad settings. I hoped I might snap my unbroken streak and would see the new stuff.

You can see what this  feature looks like in the lead in graphic, where the spellchecker recognizes “lectrons” as a misspelling of “electrons” (that graphic comes straight from the MS announcement).

Left Behind, as NotePad Gets
Gradual Spellcheck Rollout

If you are included in the first batch of spellcheck and auto-correct endowed Notepad users, you’ll find those controls in Notepad settings. They occur beneath the “Opening Notepad” heading. The new heading reads “Spelling” and includes two toggles: first, “Spell check,” and second “Autocorrect.” By default ,Notepad turns both off when you edit a file whose type indicates some kind of markup or programming language is in use. Thus,  it might be something like .html, .xml. .py, .cs, .cpp,  .java, or .js  (IDs for the most frequently-occurring such file extensions).

Now my question is: how long do I have to wait to gain entry into the cohort that’s testing these capabilities? We’ll see. In a further triumph of hope over experience, I just checked my second Canary Channel test PC (it’s downloading and updating Notepad right now via the MS Store . . .).  No dice there, either. Stay tuned: I’m still waiting . . .


OneDrive Windows Desktop Shenanigans

Hey! It’s another Catch-22 on the Windows Desktop. This time, it involves OneDrive configuration and files that show up after you login to Windows using an MSA. If that MSA elects to “back up” the Desktop folder’s contents, that data gets synched between a local copy and a copy in the OneDrive cloud. Here’s where OneDrive Windows Desktop shenanigans come into play: if you’re not currently connected to OneDrive, File Explorer won’t let you delete the local copy of any such desktop file or folder.

Surviving OneDrive Windows Desktop Shenanigans

When I tried to delete a couple of files I didn’t want — namely:

  • Version.doc (some kind of automatic output I extracted from Microsoft 365 Office components)
  • An unnecessary shortcut for Microsoft Edge (there’s an icon in the Taskbar already, so I don’t need a second desktop entry point)

File Explorer politely let me know I couldn’t operate on those files without a live OneDrive connection. Not even PowerToys File Locksmith would ignore that prohibition.

OneDrive Login, and the Fix Is In!

This turns out to be absurdly easy to fix. I logged into OneDrive using my Windows login MSA. After a quick file sync, I was able to delete the .doc file. The Edge shortcut turned out to be some kind of short-lived artifact that disappeared on its own when the sync-up was complete. Here’s what OneDrive shows me about itself on this test PC (Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga) right now:

OD status reports version.doc deleted “11 minutes ago.”

I’m continually reminded that those who use OneDrive to back up and/or sync files across multiple PCs had best think carefully about what they keep in the folders placed under the OneDrive umbrella. In my case that’s Desktop, Documents and Pictures. Slowly but surely, I’m learning how to make that work.


So Long Syba DUAL mSATA

I guess it was inevitable. I purchased a Syba Dual mSATA SSD adapter (model SD-ADA40107) back in 2015 or thereabouts. Yesterday, I plugged it into multiple PCs and laptops inside a USB 3.0 SATA drive caddy and … nothing doing. It’s resisted all resuscitation attempts, including the maker’s own hardware utility, as shown in the lead-in graphic. Thus, I must say “So long, SYBA Dual mSATA” and consign it to my Goodwill safe e-waste disposal bag. It was nice while it lasted.

After So Long Syba DUAL mSATA, Then What?

I’ve had trouble with this and other similar devices. It cost perhaps US$45 when I bought it back when, so it’s no great loss. The real question is: do I buy more hardware to house those still-usable Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB SSDs the now-failed adapter houses? I can now buy the same Sabrent USB 3.0 mSATA enclosure that used to cost US$30 or more for about $15. That’s pretty cheap.

“Why bother?” you ask. Because even an mSATA SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure is still 8 or more time faster than an equivalent flash drive or a conventional HDD. But because I have 3 of them already (250, 500 and 1000 MB in size) it may be a simple case of overkill. I’ll have to ponder the state of the exchequer and think about this for a while. As I’m thinking you can see what CystalDiskMark says about the 500 MiB mSATA device I just plugged in:

So Long Syba DUAL mSATA.850-500

This is still 4-8X faster than UFDs or HDDs (same port, same PC).

As I do, I’ll bid adieu to the non-functional Syba adapter. It was a useful bit of hardware. I’ve still got another one (also with 2x250GB Samsung EVO SSDs) ensconced in a drive caddy where it serves as my M: drive on the production PC. I guess I should start planning to replace that, too. It’s just a matter of time…



24H2 Versions Gain Storage Pool Delete

Once upon a time Storage Pools in Windows fell under Control Panel’s sway. Bit by bit, control over Storage Spaces has been moving from Control Panel into Settings. With Build 26080 (Canary channel) Windows 11 24H2 versions gain Storage Pool delete capability in Settings as well. I learned this today, thanks to an article in WindowsLatest by Abishek Mishra. Note: this article also provided the source for the lead-in graphic, as I did not have time to set up a NAS to build a local storage pool myself.

Reflecting on 24H2 Versions Gain
Storage Pool Delete

There’s been a slow but inexorable switchover from Control Panel (and its CPL executables) to the Settings app since it first appeared in Windows 8 in February 2012 (Technical Preview). That’s been underway for over a decade now, and the process is not yet done. But each little step away from CP toward Settings marks incremental progress toward a new way to control and manage Windows.

This has me wondering: will I live long enough to see that switchover complete? My best guess is that the switchover is somewhere between half and two-thirds accomplished. There are still around 20 CPL executables in Windows 11, of which most still run. Thus, MS still has work to do to make the switchover complete. I’ll keep watching, and keep reporting, as this process grinds its way along. Stay tuned!

Warning: AskWoody Item Coming Soon!

I’ve actually been working on a series of stories for the AskWoody newsletters to look at the ongoing move from Control Panel to Settings. I am completing a piece on Settings that shows where CP still comes into play. I’ll follow that up with a complete listing of all CPLs still present in Windows 11, and also indicate which ones lead back into Settings and which ones remain necessary and outside that umbrella.

It’s fascinating stuff, trying to tease the details out of an OS as big and complex as an average Windows 11 instance. Fun fact: a typical Windows install will have a Settings tree (a map of all the functions and capabilities it provides) of between 1800 and 2000 nodes. That’s big, and it changes to reflect what’s plugged in at any given moment, and moves around as the OS gets updated. It’s both fascinating and mind-boggling at the same time…


Restore Point Pros & Cons

By default, Windows 10 and 11 both turn on restore points (RPs). These may be used to return an OS environment back to a prior state. The OS typically shoots one RP daily, and takes one as it starts the WU process. In addition, app developers may include taking an RP snapshot early on during their own install processes. All this said, there are plenty of Restore Point pros & cons.

What Are Restore Point Pros & Cons?

These days you reach Restore Points through the System Protection tab in the System Properties window in Control Panel. Interestingly enough, you have to navigate through Settings > System to get there. Once you find what you’re looking for (see lead-in screencaps) you can enable or disable RPs, and also allocate a maximum percentage of the system/boot disk which these system snapshots can occupy.

RP Pros

RP’s positives include the following:

  • Convenience and ease of use: you can create an RP manually with a few mouse clicks, and it takes little time to complete one. It’s also fairly easy to revert to a Restore Point using either Windows built-in tools or one of my faves (it’s an oldie, but a goodie): System Restore Explorer. It tool 33 seconds to create one on my i7Skylake desktop, and 1:05 to restore same on that PC.
  • Provides a simple layer of system protection: can easily revert Windows to undo update, app or application, and driver changes. This is faster — but more limited in scope — than even the fastest image backup restore. As a knock-on effect: this can also undo software or library conflicts (after adding an app or application, or a new .NET version, or something else that’s similar).
  • Some cleanup when removing new software: This might be somewhere between a pro and a con.  Restoring an RP does result in removal of executable files and dlls added when installing apps. But shortcuts, preferences, and other files (including home folders — e.g. inside C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86)) remain intact.

RP Cons

By contrast, RP’s negatives include:

  • No antivirus protection: restoring an RP won’t necessarily eliminate triggers for or stealth executables that cause malware infections. Thus malware can return even after using an RP.
  • No data file backup: RP copies the contents of the system volume shadow using the Volume Shadow Service (aka VSS). This does not include data files by intention. So RP provides no data restore capability (see the note at the end of this story for a 3rd-party tool that does provide such capability, however).
  • New user accounts are not protected by RP: if you define a new user account after the point in time at which an RP shapshot is created, those accounts will no longer exist when that RP is restored. That said, the User files for that account will persist. IMO, this is a kind “worst of both worlds” situation. Sigh.

My Net-Net Is: Don’t Rely Solely on RPs

Reading through the previous plusses and minuses, it’s pretty easy to see that  RPs can have value in a limited set of circumstances. But they’re no substitute for a recent image backup, and they’re no panacea for solving non-trivial Windows issues or problems.

I don’t use RPs much myself anymore myself (though I did in the Vista and Windows 7 eras). These days I rely mostly on in-place upgrade repair install for semi-serious to serious troubleshooting, and a clean install (or image restore) for outright system failures and boot problems. It’s also my repair of last resort when nothing else will produce a working Windows instance. Go figure!

Note Added March 19: More Madness

I got a comment from and regular “Old Navy Guy” (ONG) this morning reminding me that the NirSoft ShadowCopyView tool does allow users to view and copy certain data files from a VSS snapshot. This *does* allow access to user files and folders and adds to what you can recover from such a snapshot.

I totally forgot about this tool, and am glad to be reminded of same. More important, I’m grateful to have the chance to point this out to you, dear reader — and to make that tool known and possibly useful for you. AFAIK, this capability applies only to files and folders in the Users folder hierarchy, so if you keep stuff on a data drive — as I do — it won’t help much, or at all. But it could still be helpful nevertheless. Cheers!

Note Added March 21: Including Other Drives

Another Homer Simpson moment has come and gone for me. ONG commented again to remind me that ShadowCopyView does data drives, too. I initially wondered how VSS could accommodate drives other than the C: (boot/system) drive where the OS and other key stuff lives. Then it hit me: you must enable RP protection on those drives, too. Here’s an illustrative screencap:

Restore Point Pros & Cons.ddarrow

Turn on Protection for the D: drive so it gets VSS snapshots, too.

Maybe there’s more to this protection scheme than I originally gave it credit for. It took 12 seconds to capture an RP for my C: drive and 13-14 seconds for my D: (Data) drive on a Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga. WizTree says C: contains ~80GB of data, while D: contains ~400GB. So it is indeed remarkably fast. And with VolumeShadowCopy providing access to contents, it provides workable file and folder level access to bring back items one-at-a-time or as portions of a target drive’s file hierarchy. Good stuff!


Widget Screenshot Users, Beware

Wow! Did I get an ugly surprise in the mail yesterday. I got two demand letters from a Canadian image rights company, seeking payment of US$1,334 for use of two thumbnails in a screen capture I made. Where and how did this happen? I was reporting about the introduction of the Windows News Bar (Beta) app, before the whole news and weather widget stuff rolled onto the Windows taskbar. That’s why I admonish fellow bloggers and Web content developers: “Widget screenshot users, beware!”

Ouching into Widget Screenshot Users Beware

The actual images the claimant asserts I’m using without a license are thumbnails. They measure 78×41 pixels. They’re included as an illustration of what the news bar looked like on the Windows desktop at the time (after I downloaded and installed the app).

Of course, news and weather info is now available from the taskbar. It comes courtesy of the so-called “Widgets” icon there, where the popped-up window that clicking on it produces is simply called Widgets. It shows both captions and images because it has more pixels to work with. This original design let users pick whether to see captions or images (images by default). Because I screen-capped two of their clients’ images on March 30, 2020, I must pay . . .  says the claimant.

Fair Use to the Rescue

“Not so fast,” is my response. I replied in writing  as follows:

  •  I make no money from my website
  • I was reporting news about a new MS Store app (News Bar Beta)
  • I used the image strip (5 or 6 of them altogether, if memory serves) purely to show what the app looked like, and made no reference to individual images
  • I reproduced the strip as thumbnails only, heavily cropped
  • I do not sell or license images to any third parties, and I make no money from the site, so it can’t impose commercial losses on the copyright holders

These are all part of the arguments through which “fair use” is proven in the US. I think I’m on solid ground, but it’s pretty disturbing nonetheless. Going forward, I’ll look more closely at exactly what’s in my screencaps. I’d advise you to do likewise for anything that goes online as well. Better to avoid trouble than to have to (de)fend it off.


Another Teams Iteration Hits Build 26080

Yesterday, March 13, Windows 11 Canary Channel saw a new feature update hit the Insider Preview Canary Channel: 26080.1. Amidst the many changes it brought, I found an add-on of particular interest — Microsoft Teams. In an era when Teams (classic) and Teams (work or school) coexist side-by-side, a new version of the latter is available via WinGet or the Microsoft Store. You can see its icon in the lead-in graphic. If you read this blog, you can probably guess that when another Teams iteration hits Build 26080, I got it via WinGet. You can also see its traces in the next Windows Terminal screencap that follows.

Another Teams Iteration Hits Build 26080.winget

Examine this closely to see a new Teams version ending in .1505.
[Click image for full-size view.]

Why Another Teams Iteration Hits Build 26080 Matters

For the longest time I’ve had to use both Teams (classic) and the previous iteration of Teams (work or school).  Actually, I’ve often used its web-based counterpart to avoid Taskbar confusion.

No longer! This latest version lets me use the same program, define multiple accounts, and switch easily between them. Minor quibble: MS says this switching is “fast” but it does take a while. Indeed, some of my Teams logins use 2FA and require re-authorization each time I enter the environment. I guess I’m starting to grok what passwordless  authentication is about, eh? But once you’ve got multiple taskbar elements open, switching takes only a mouse click.

For the moment, though: I’m tickled. It is a lot more helpful to be able to use both AD- or Entra-managed work or school accounts alongside personal ones. Good work, MS. I wish you’d done it this way from the outset. But, as things sometime turn out in Windows-World, later is always better than never.

News Flash Added 1 Hour Later

In both 26080 announcements (it’s out in both Dev and Canary channels) MS talks about “a preview experience of the new, unified Microsoft Teams experience on Windows.” Windows Central calls it a “unified Teams client.” I like that terminology and wish I’d made it up. You’ll definitely want to read the announcement for lots of useful deets and examples. Good stuff.

Another Possibly Helpful Test/Observation

Just for grins, I made an image backup of one of my Canary Channel test PCs, then uninstalled the old version of Teams from same. With the new version installed by itself, I am still able to do what I need to do with just the one version installed. That said, I do seem to have lingering MSA issues when using only my personal account. Very interesting!


Failed Update Shows Increasing Winget Smarts

Here’s an interesting observation. Since its release in May 2020, built-in Microsoft packaging tool Winget has been a work in progress. I don’t mean this as a critique: it started out pretty good, and it’s kept on getting better and better. I was reminded of this yesterday when an update for my CyberPowerSystems UPS software failed. But that failed update shows increasing Winget smarts. You can see the whole trail of events in the lead-in graphic.

How Failed Update Shows Increasing Winget Smarts

You can see the error message about one-third the way down from the top as it reports:Installer failed with exit code: 1. But it’s the lines above that really show off Winget’s increasing smarts:

v.2.5.1 cannot be updated through the installation package. Please remove the old version of Personal first and then install v2.5.1

This remove-replace (reinstall) maneuver is a fairly frequent occurrence when using Winget to update Windows software. It’s usually the next thing one tries if an update/upgrade fails. What’s new here is that Winget itself explicitly recommends this strategy. Previously it might indicate a “change in installer technology” to make such recommendations. This seems like more general — and broadly applicable — advice. I like it!

Doing What Winget Says…

If you look at the bottom section of the lead-in graphic, you’ll see it did just that (right-click that image, and select something like “Open image in new tab” to see the whole thing). Using the package’s ID string for unambiguous identification, I first uninstall it, then I install it again (note that it picks up the desired version: v2.5.1). That works: good stuff!


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