Windows Enterprise Desktop

July 27, 2015  10:10 AM

After Raft of Problem Win10 Updates, MS Releases “Show or hide updates” tool

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Device drivers, Windows 10, Windows installation

Hmmmmm. Looks like I wasn’t the only Win10 cowboy stuck out in the pasture with no lasso for a badly-behaved Windows driver updates. Numerous reports surfaced this weekend about an Nvidia graphics driver update that caused headaches for users with multi-monitor setups. In response MS has published a troubleshooting tool called “Show or hide updates” available for free download, documented in KB 3073930.


With this troubleshooting tool, MS restores show/hide updates in Win10.

Essentially, here’s how the tool works in a best-case scenario:

1. User installs bad update successfully, discovers failing functionality.
2. User uses “View installed Updates,” selects the bad one and uninstalls it.
3. User downloads afore-linked tool, blocks the unwanted update and Presto! problem solved.

Alas, my issue with the Synaptics driver on my Dell VP11-7139 is probably more typical in that the driver installation fails, but also mungs the device it is supposed to service. In that case, the recovery scenario involves an extra step or two, as follows:

1. Download “Show or hide updates” tool onto a UFD or other external storage device.
2. Find a restore point or backup that precedes the application of the bad update, and roll back to that state.
3. Disconnect from Internet while system is rebooting, and install “show or hide updates” tool before restoring connectivity.
4. Run tool immediately after restoring Internet access, to hide problem update before update process can proceed, block problem update.

I’m so glad that MS realized this was a significant enough issue to warrant a tool. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, many notebooks and tablets are sensitive enough to updates that they warrant application of curated or vetted updates from the OEM, rather than general updates from the component maker (e.g. for my Dell VP11-7139, that would mean getting a vetted driver from Dell, rather than a one-size-fits-all touchpad update from Synaptics as was the case with my particular problem).

This looks like something that anybody with multiple Windows 10 systems to manage and maintain will want to grab pronto. Tell ’em: “Ed sent me!”

July 24, 2015  5:19 PM

Grrrr! No-refuse Synaptics Touchpad Driver Update Kills Device

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Windows 10, Windows installation, Windows Update Management

Starting on July 22, Windows Update on Win10 Build 10241 started offering me a Synaptics driver update for the touchpad on my Dell Venue 11 Pro 7139. And man, did my system get caught in a crack, because not only did that update fail to install, but my touchpad quit working completely on that machine. In fact, device enumeration no longer detects that the touchpad is present, though an HID composite device with Synaptics hardware IDs shows up in Device manager. Even after running down some Windows 10 software to try to reinstall the driver — courtesy of Lenovo, which is apparently on something of a tear, with lots of Windows 10 drivers becoming available for its notebooks and tablets over the past couple of weeks — I get no joy from this situation at all. Even uninstalling the drivers doesn’t seem to help (though I haven’t tried the option that clears the files out of the DriverStore directory, so maybe I should try that next). No dice there, either. Sigh.


This is the last thing you ever want to see when trying to re-install a munged driver.

It looks like I’ll have to perform a clean install of the final Win10 version whenever that comes along (something that probably makes sense anyway, given how many different builds I’ve installed on that machine over the past 8 months or so) to get my complete set of drivers back. I have to question the logic and/or controls offered to users or admins by Windows 10 update, in that it forces driver installation with no way to refuse. Given that notebooks and tablets can be very touchy about what drivers they will and won’t work with, it seems to me that these items in particular should be optional, so that those responsible for such systems can decline wholesale driver updates until they’re known to be good and working. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time jacking around with the touchpad on the Dell VP11 keyboard, as numerous earlier posts to this very blog will somewhat cheerlessly attest.

And another thing: even for Windows 8.1, MS provided links to TechNet for standalone installers for update items. Maybe something was wonky with the WU installer when it tried to update the Synaptics drivers. Maybe a standalone installer could have gotten me over that hump. It would be nice to have that choice, but if it’s available to me, I am clueless as to how to find it. Sigh again.

I really like Windows 10, and I think it’s a good, solid OS. But some of its ancillary features, particularly those relating to update selection and update management make me a little bonkers. Are you listening Microsoft? I sure hope so…

July 23, 2015  7:53 AM

DaaS hasn’t found a place in the enterprise

Margaret Jones Margaret Jones Profile: Margaret Jones

DENVER — Considering all the attention desktop as a service has gotten in the IT world over the last year, the technology has been a big failure.

That’s what Brian Madden said in his welcome address at this week’s BriForum U.S. 2015. According to Madden, desktop as a service (DaaS) has gotten a lot of lip service, but no one is really doing it.

At first I was surprised to hear him say that DaaS just hasn’t taken off, but when I thought about it, it made sense.

You could argue that VDI hasn’t really taken off either. VDI might never crack a 20% adoption rate, and it would be logical to assume that DaaS will see similar rates. VDI has been around a long time, so you have to consider that any shop where desktop virtualization was the answer to a big problem would likely have rolled out a deployment by now.

Mark DeBord, a senior systems analyst for Eastman Chemical Company based in Kingsport, Tennessee, heads up a shop where VDI was the answer, so he’s not itching to do DaaS.

“We already do VDI on-premises, so I’m not sure [DaaS] would really do us much good,” he said.

But that hasn’t stopped management from putting heat on DeBord to move desktops and applications to the cloud.

“I’m getting a lot of pressure at work to use DaaS,” he said. “During my review, my manager actually asked me why I haven’t been looking into it more.”

But moving resources to the cloud just for the sake of joining the cloud trend isn’t a good enough reason to do DaaS. Eastman’s existing VDI setup works for its global workforce, and shifting to DaaS could result in a lot of money wasted on a thriving deployment.

“I have an open mind about it,” DeBord said. “Maybe I could use [DaaS] for disaster recovery or to support outside contractors or for cloud bursting.”

For some companies, DaaS may never be the answer to their employees’ needs. But as Madden said in his keynote, there are plenty of other rapidly advancing technologies available to help IT make its end users more mobile, virtual and productive: There has been a new focus from vendors on integrating cloud and on-premises infrastructure, as well as improved support for Remote Desktop Session Host. And virtual mobile infrastructure has the potential to find a home in enterprise IT shops, too.

Do you agree that DaaS hasn’t taken off? Has your organization deployed cloud desktops? Share in the comments.

July 22, 2015  12:10 PM

Driver Difficulties Return in Win10 Build 20140

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Device drivers, Windows 10, Windows installation

For the last three builds of Windows 10 (10159, 10162, and 10166) the OS was remarkably well-behaved in installing drivers for my newest PC (a less-than-one-year-old Dell Venue 11 Pro 7139 with an i5 4210Y CPU aka Haswell M, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, NXP, and so forth). Alas that record was shattered with the installation of the current release candidate build numbered 10240.


I’m not sure troubleshooting drivers for half a day counts, but here’s a current Win10 slogan to ponder…

When I finally got around to checking the successful install on Monday of this week, I found a raft of device driver issues in the wake of that installation. Here’s a list:

1. The Dell 1537 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi driver for the wireless network interface failed to load (the device was apparently not recognized and showed up in Device Manager as Unknown Device)
2. The SATA AHCI driver loaded was two generations back from the current installed version
3. The O2Micro SD card reader driver was likewise older than it should have been
4. The SMBus driver for the Synaptics touchpad did not load (and also showed up as an unknown device)
5. The WPD FileSystem driver (which also showed up as an unknown device with hardware ID root/IWDbus) did not load
6. The Bluetooth Bus driver (unknown device with hardware ID root/BTath) also did not load
7. Two Dell pseudo-drivers with hardware IDs “*DellProf” and “*DDDriver” still show up as Unknown Devices and I haven’t taken the time to research how to repair them. I’m pretty sure one is associated with my Dell 2150cdn color printer, and the other with their Diagnostics software, but a quick search turned up no fixes, so I plan to wait for the official RTM to figure out how to resolve these items.

Needless to say, this came as a big, rude, and unpleasant surprise after all my good luck on the three previous installations. In fact, I’m still scratching my head as to why this would pop up unexpectedly after several successful experiences. But in putting my system back together I learned several useful things, too:

1. Intel, NVidia, and other device makers are starting to release drivers that specifically mention and target Windows 10 directly. In truth, I’ve had little problems with all of the Win10 builds getting Windows 8.1 drivers to work with Windows 10 so driver compatibility issues between these two OSes seem to be few and far between. Nevertheless, it’s cheering to see explicitly labeled Win10 drivers as the RTM date is nearly upon us.
2. I was able to go to the Dell Support site and get most of the drivers I needed for the VP11Pro with little muss or fuss.
3. After some Internet research, I learned that for the IWDbus driver, the easiest fix was simply to uninstall what Win10 install had left behind, then discover new hardware in Device Manager, and let Windows take care of the problem (worked like a charm, so I tried this with other Unknown Device items, with varying degrees of success).
4. I had to repair my Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) installation because the existing version carried over through the install didn’t work any more (I’m starting to learn it may be a good idea to uninstall this service before upgrading modern Windows OSes).

The bottom line is that it’s a good idea to get your drivers lined up and ready to reinstall on any newer systems that may include devices or need drivers that Windows 10 doesn’t recognize on its own. I use a tool called “DriverBackup! 2” that does a decent job of capturing all the drivers on any machine it targets and creating a backup set of same (some drivers, however, require installation programs and these may not always restore properly directly from the .inf, .cat, .dll and other files that the application captures on your behalf). You’ll probably want to take similar precautions if you’re going to be upgrading a machine from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 soon, or converting a preview/release candidate version to the RTM version when it becomes available.

July 20, 2015  1:21 PM

QuickTime Poses Interesting Win10 Update Issue

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
QuickTime, Windows 10, Windows Updates

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you already know I’m a big proponent of Secunia products, most notably Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector (PSI, but they also have a corporate version called CSI as well). Recently, I’ve been noodling about with Win10 because of a persistent warning from PSI that the installed version of QuickTime — Apple’s video playback engine — is out of date on my test machines. Interestingly, running the Apple Software Update scanner has found nothing out-of-date for the past couple of weeks. So when I saw a new version of iTunes available this morning, I figured the QuickTime fix would probably be bundled along with all the other changes involved in updating to a new version.

Long story short: I was wrong. The version I was running on my test machines was, and thanks to a bit of poking around on the Internet, I learned the latest version of QuickTime available for Windows 8.1 is That said, the official download available from Apple is version 7.7.7 (released October 2014) and mentions only Windows 7 and Windows Vista as valid install targets.


The official download page for Quicktime for Windows only mentions versions 7 and Vista (a support search turns up no explicit mention of Windows 8.1 for this software)

It wasn’t until I refined my download search to include Windows 8.1 that I learned that version is now available, and has been since July 3, 2015. I found a reliable 3rd party download source (,  and grabbed a copy. (Make sure to click the right download link, or you’ll grab stuff you don’t want — a typical “red herring design trick” nearly universal on such sites, which generate revenue by harvesting clicks from misdirected users.) Upon installation, PSI accepted that I’d installed the latest version and turned off its warning for that software item.

Problem solved, but I have to wonder why the Apple Software Update widget didn’t detect this discrepancy, and then fix it automatically. Everything I can find about Apple support for Windows fails to mention Windows 10 (not unusual for a beta OS version), so I can only speculate that the latest and soon-to-be-current version of Windows hasn’t yet been fully integrated with their update/patch utility. Methinks this will have to change soon, with Windows 10 RTM due in less than two weeks. But Apple may prove stubborn and wait until General Availability (October ?) to catch things up. We’ll see!

July 17, 2015  1:28 PM

Build 10240 Looks and Smells Like a Release Candidate

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Device drivers, Windows 10, Windows installation

Ha! Ha! No sooner did I post a blog about a build hiatus for Windows 10 Insider that did Microsoft release an honest-to-gosh release candidate in the form of Build 10240. How do I know this is a candidate for sure? Simple: no more watermark at the lower right of the screen (which labeled the software as an evaluation copy and a preview of some kind or another: technical, insider, and so forth). Also, check out what Winver now shows for the 10240 build:


No more expiration date, no more mention of evaluation or preview of any kind.

In its comments on this build, WinBeta raises some interesting questions about whether or not it’s an RTM version. Whatever its status, all the signs point to something that’s really close to finalized, if not the actual cigar itself. The old Windows installation (build 10166, in my case, for both test machines) still weighs in at just under 20 GB, so it’s still worth cleaning up. I did have to update the RealTek Audio driver after this install, and I also found 72 copies of that driver in the DriverStore after running the DriverAgent installer for same, of which I was successfully able to delete 71 without difficulty. I also found three extra copies of the Nvidia GeForce drivers as well, and tossed them, too. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all the many Windows 10 installs I’ve done during the preview period, it’s that checking and cleaning the DriverStore afterward is every bit as important as getting rid of Windows.old. Use Driver Store Explorer aka RAPR to get this job done.

July 15, 2015  11:54 AM

Are high-density servers and VDI meant to be?

Eddie Lockhart Eddie Lockhart Profile: Eddie Lockhart

In his attempt to woo his future wife in the 1985 sci-fi hit Back to the Future, George McFly flubs his pickup line, saying “I’m your density” instead of “I’m your destiny.” That classic movie quote popped into my head recently as I was thinking about another potential marriage — one between high-density hardware and VDI deployments.

George and Lorraine are kind of like high-density hardware and VDI. George is a significantly more anxious person than most. High-density servers are the same way, but instead of nerves, they pack more compute power into less physical space than the average server.

Lorraine is like VDI; she’s a complex system that needs the right partner to flourish. (Case in point: In Back to the Future Part II, Lorraine breaks down without George and spirals into alcoholism.)  Likewise, without the right power behind it, VDI runs into I/O and memory constraints.

In both cases, it takes the right set of circumstances for these relationships to end happily ever after. So how can VDI and high-density hardware work in harmony?

High-density servers are a good fit for VDI in IT shops that have a large number of virtual desktop users and a limited amount of data center space. But compute isn’t often the resource that VDI needs most. Like the movie, there are unforeseen variables around every corner.

That’s why it’s important to consider the other resource constraints that virtual desktops encounter. The most dangerous one is the actual users behind the desktops, who can be very unpredictable. Some users might consume minimal resources whereas others open programs and never shut them down. It’s hard to predict how much memory users require on a given day.

The McFlys’ world isn’t perfect either. George is challenged by his rival Biff, but he eventually musters up the courage to punch Biff in the face, winning Lorraine’s heart.

Get the full story on whether high-density servers and VDI are destined for each other, taking into account some serious obstacles such as a potentially higher cost per desktop.

July 15, 2015  11:33 AM

Win10 Builds on Hiatus While MS Preps RTM Upgrade

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Windows 10, Windows RTM, Windows Upgrades

Thanks to Paul Thurrott, I am now hip to Gabe Aul’s additions to the Windows Insider updates to the 10166 Build Announcement post, which read as follows:

Update 7/13: We’re only a couple of weeks away now from our public release of Windows 10, and we’re preparing for the world to begin the upgrade process. Windows Insiders have been the first to see our work on Windows 10 at every stage. Now you will also be the first to get a build flighted to you using the channels that we’ll use for targeting and deploying to PCs for our staged rollout.

We’re suspending the availability of Windows 10 builds briefly while we prepare for that, and the next build that we flight to you will be delivered using the production channels. Starting tomorrow, we will also not be delivering any additional ISOs at this point as we really need Insiders to be using, stressing, and validating our distribution and upgrade processes. We’ll make ISOs available again in the future, but for now we ask you to upgrade your current build via Windows Update once the next build is released.

What this means for the time being is that neither build 10162 nor 10166 will be available via Windows Update, and that ISOs for 10162 will likewise be taken down. Somewhat more interesting, pre-release keys for Win10 will no longer activate builds up through and including 10166. I’m guessing this means that the next build to come will be the RTM build or something very, very close to it. Given that MS wants to make sure that insiders will “be using, stressing, and validating [its] distribution and upgrade processes” I can only imagine that this means the company is getting ready to turn the RTM over. That should be sizable audience, that includes not just the 5 million insiders, but also all those many users who registered to receive the Windows 10 upgrade at or around July 29. And, from what I’m reading about the upcoming launch, MS will also be available on 7/29 on new PCs and tablets, too. This population could easily be in the tens to hundreds of millions, which explains why MS is apparently laboring mightily to get everything ready.


Ready or not, world and Microsoft, here comes Windows 10!

Buckle up guys and gals: this could get interesting!

July 13, 2015  11:47 AM

RelMon Shows How Drivers Get Handled During Win10 Install

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Device drivers, Windows 10, Windows installation

For a while now, I’ve been speculating about what goes on with device drivers each time a new Win10 Build goes onto one of my test machines. In visiting Reliability Monitor (RelMon) this morning, I finally got confirmation that Win10 starts afresh with drivers during the install process, immediately following device enumeration as shown here:


Looks like my i7 4770K machine requires 24 drivers during the install process, and is finding everything it needs.

I’ve got to say that I’m either benefitting from having a less-than-bleeding edge system (it’s about two years old) or MS is doing a bang-up job of finding the drivers it needs (DriverAgent is reporting that all 119 devices on this test machine are correct and up-to-date, without requiring any action from yours truly to make it so). It’s nice to get confirmation that Windows 10 does start with fresh drivers each time a new build installs, but even nicer to have a sense that MS is handling those drivers without too much muss or fuss (remember the Vista driver debacle? Looks unlikely to repeat with this version…). Even my Dell Venue Pro 11 7139 (a much newer system, with 4 drivers showing “behind” on that platform, keeps that status unchanged from one new Windows 10 build to the next — I am unable to update those drivers, either because the results of the update cause the system to fail (a not uncommon phenomenon on notebook and tablet PCs), or because the new drivers won’t install for any of a number of good reasons — which tells me that MS has got the driver thing pretty well figured out for Windows 10.

That’s one thing that those who upgrade to Windows 10 following the July 29 release date probably won’t have to worry about. That’s a bit of unalloyed good news, because nothing brings systems down like driver difficulties.

July 10, 2015  4:01 PM

Win10 Build 10166 Pops Up

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Windows 10, Windows installation

Having been distracted by other projects for most of this week, I was pleased to have missed the latest Fast Ring release of Build 10166 by only one day. I got it fired up and running almost immediately: it took less than half an hour, all told, to download and install on my trusty desktop test machine. It’s installing on my Dell Venue 11 Pro 7139 right now, and I sincerely hope it fares better during installation than did Build 10162, which failed when installation was nearly complete because of an unresolved driver error of some kind.


Say hello to Build 10166; it really does look like 10176 is likely to be the source for RTM, at this rate.

So far, I can’t tell much difference among the last four builds, all the way back to 10159. I did notice with 10166 that, for the first time, the build came up without apparently having rolled any of my drivers back to earlier versions. I’m hopeful this means MS has finally added some logic to the install to grab more current drivers from what’s already running if they’re available before overwriting them with some canonical, but outdated, notion of what’s needed during installation. Alas, that’s probably too much to hope for, and it simply means that for once MS’s notions of what drivers are current are in synch with DriverAgent’s ideas on the same topic for my desktop test machine.

I also noticed that the DriverStore folder is staying pretty clean following the OS Upgrade. For some time now, I’ve been seeing duplicated drivers showing up post-installation, about which I can only conjecture that MS had been adding drivers during installation, even if they weren’t needed. After this latest install I found exactly two duplicated Nvidia drivers for my graphics card, and one duplicated RealTek Audio driver. This makes it one of the easiest post-install clean-ups ever, and certainly the best one so far for all the Win10 builds I’ve installed.

The Dell got through the initial installation (download, install prep, file unpack and layout) as far as the first reboot, and then into the Upgrading Windows circular progress bar. I’m going to keep this post open until I can report on the outcome of this first installation attempt. After getting farther on that circular progress bar than on any of the 10162 attempts, the installation on the Dell Venue Pro 11 finished successfully, too. Hopefully, that means MS figured out what was up with the driver problem on the last go-round and managed to fix it as well. Good on them!


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