Windows Enterprise Desktop


December 13, 2019  2:57 PM

MS Unveils New Win10 Icon and More

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

On December 12, Jon Friedman posted previews of new Microsoft icons at medium.com. As the company’s Corporate VP for Design and Research, you might say he’s got ultimate oversight of such things. Included amidst those items was a new look for the Windows 10 icon, in the same vein as the new Office icons introduced just over a year ago (November 29, 2018). If you look at the graphics snippet from Friedman’s post, you’ll see that MS unveils new Win10 icon.

MS Unveils New Win10 Icon.red-circle

The item encircled in RED is a somewhat skewed version of the new Win10 logo.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

General Icon Redesign Means MS Unveils New Win10 Icon

In fact, Friedman explains the redesign reflects a “world where . . . social connectedness and collaboration are paramount to succcess. A world with immense potential for creativity and growth thanks to new flows of information.” Moreover, MS wants to  to “help facilitate and enhance these kinds of interactions and experiences.” Apparently, this drove MS to scale up its latest “icon design effort from 10 products to over a hundred.” Friedman’s blog post explores and explains the considerations that go into an across-the-board effort like this. It also recognizes the huge amounts of interaction and collaboration required to pull it off. Plus, where else could you find a figure caption like this one? “Rich gradients, soft curves, and fluid motion connect the Edge and Office logos to each other and the rest of the icons.”

I can’t help but wonder when the new icon shown above will make its official debut. Logic and guesswork tell me that it’s likely to take over from the current logo when Windows 20H1 aka 2004 is officially released. If history is any guide, that means sometime in April or May of 2020. In less than 150 days, we should know for sure. Stay tuned!

December 12, 2019  11:46 AM

MFA Offers Real Security Protection: Use It!

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
multifactor authentication, Windows 10, Windows Security

For the first 3 months of 2019, Microsoft’s identity threat research team undertook a fascinating study of password re-use. They scanned the contents of 3 billion leaked or inadvertently disclosed credentials to build a database. Running that against Azure AD and MS Services accounts, they discovered 44 million matches. This shows significant re-use of credentials across multiple accounts — a definite security no-no, according to most experts. MS is in the process of notifying account holders of its findings, so you’ll want to keep your eyes out for an email from them to that effect, or notification of a forced password reset. But here’s the real kicker: they tout Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) as “an important security mechanism that can dramatically improve your security posture.” That’s why I beg readers heed my warning — namely: MFA offers real security protection: please use it wherever it makes sense.

MFA Offers Real Security Protection

This tiny infographic offers two major take-aways from the MS password re-use study: 1. Don’t do it; and 2. Use MFA.

Why say: MFA Offers Real Security Protection

Need more ammo to boot yourself in the right direction? In the same study, MS reports further that (bold emphasis added is mine):

Our numbers show that 99.9% of identity attacks have been thwarted by turning on MFA. You can learn about Microsoft Azure MFA here. Microsoft also offers solutions to protect customers from breach replay attacks. This includes capabilities to flag users as high risk and inform the administrator to enforce a password reset.

There are very few quick security fixes that can reduce risk of exposure by 3 orders of magnitude (a factor of 1,000 in other words). MFA is one of those very few. Use it where and when you can. I’ve set it up for my Microsoft Account, Azure AD, various Google services, my bank and brokerage accounts, and more. And guess what? Even though it takes a bit longer to log in when you have to wait for a code delivered to your cellphone, I feel much safer knowing that hackers will have a MUCH harder time getting into any of those accounts. You should do likewise ASAP.

[Note: here’s a shout-out to Forbes magazine, whose December 6 story “Microsoft Security: Password Problem Affecting 44 Million Users Revealed” not only turned me onto this topic, but also provided a link to the actual Microsoft study. I’m always amazed at the many reports of findings, news, survey results, and more online that fail to cite original sources. Forbes is always good about providing proper attribution, as a magazine with good journalistic standards and practices should be. Thanks!]


December 9, 2019  5:24 PM

China Says No Mo Windows or PCs Starting 2022

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Operating systems, Windows 10, Windows Operating System

Here’s one to remember and keep track of. According to the Australian Financial Review, as reported at MSPowerUser.com: “The Chinese Communist Party Central Office has ordered all government services to replace all computers running non-Chinese software and operating systems within the next 3 years.” By 2022, that is. That’s why I entitled this blog post “China says no mo Windows or PCs starting 2022.”

Apparently, this comes in response to the US Government’s decision to add Huawei to the “entity list.” That list is a compilation of companies with which it will not do business. (Nor may its contractors do likewise, for any systems that touch or interact with US Government systems.) I’m wondering if the Chinese Communist Party has the oomph to pull this off. It certainly adds impetus for Huawei to keep working on its Hongmeng/Harmony/Ark OS alternative (I wrote about this back in June of this year for Win10.Guru). Here’s a Huawei Central blog post from August, 2019, that provides something close to an “official line” (it’s probably in need of updating, though): HarmonyOS/Hongmeng OS: Here’s everything you need to know about this new Operating System.

China Says No Mo Windows or PCs Starting 2022.harmonyOS

Whoa! Huawei went all-out on graphics design for its new OS logo . . . NOT!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

If China Says No Mo Windows or PCs Starting 2022, Can They Make It Stick?

That’s the question, isn’t it? Given that Windows is 30 years in the making, knocking out an alternative may be quite a challenge. OTOH, it’s also given that Windows 10 is out there. Thus, it’s ready to be analyzed and reverse engineered (or perhaps even enhanced and improve upon). That’s one reason why it may be doable. Chances are excellent that MS Legal’s IP group will be keeping a very, very close eye on what comes out. Google, too, as it’s also a replacement for Android that runs Linus, Unix, Web and Android apps. This is a pretty tall order, but it’s also coming from the biggest of all economies and governments. I’m more than slightly curious to see what happens next. It will take a while to see anything tangible, but lots of people, companies (and governments, no doubt) will be paying close attention. Stay tuned!


December 6, 2019  1:05 PM

Customizing New Win10 Laptop

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Physical migrations, Windows 10, Windows OS Migration

A week ago today, I grabbed a great Black Friday deal from Lenovo. I purchased an X390 Yoga (i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD) for almost $150 less than what I paid for a similarly equipped X380 a few months back. In other words: a killer deal. I’ll be replacing my wife’s ancient (2011/2012) mini-ITX PC with this unit. Along with a Belkin USB-C/Thunderbolt Express 3 Dock, she’ll be able to use her present mouse, keyboard and monitor, access wired GbE networking, and obtain power through a single cable. Long story short, that’s how and why I’ve found myself customizing new Win10 laptop this week. Here’s what a glamor shot of the unit looks like:
Customizing New Win10 Laptop.X390

This slim unit includes a 13.5″ HD display, and works very well for normal workaday computing. I’ve got two X380 Yogas and like this model/form factor.
[Click image for full-sized view. Source: Lenovo.]

The Joys of Customizing New Win10 Laptop

It’s always fun, but time-consuming, to bring a new PC up to current standards. Given my wife’s specific interests, applications, and so forth, there’s also some extra effort involved to make it work for her just the way she wants it. The unit arrived with version 1903 Build 18362.356 installed, which tells me the machine came off the line between September 10 and 23 of this year. I had to run one raft of updates to bring 1903 up to current, after which I ran the 1909 upgrade, and a couple of .NET Framework CUs, and an Adobe Flash Player update. WU also delivered 13 driver updates, after which Lenovo Vantage added another 4 plus a BIOS update.

My next move — over the weekend — will be to use a copy of Laplink PC Mover to migrate everything over from the old mini-ITX desktop to her new laptop setup. If experience is any teacher, that will take somewhere around half an hour to complete. I’ll be curious to see how “the Boss” responds to the change. I’m hopeful she won’t notice much change, because she’s not a big fan of “wasting time” learning new computing tricks and wrinkles. I’ll report back later on how the transition goes for her. If we’re all lucky, it will be a case of  “no news is good news.” Stay tuned!

These are the ports on the X390 Yoga. If all goes well, everything will hook up via Port 2 into the Belkin dock.
[Click image for full-sized view. Source: Lenovo.]


December 4, 2019  4:40 PM

Windows Graphics Card Reset Key Sequence

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
graphics card, Graphics Card Drivers, Windows 10

Hmmm. I’ve been having a recurrence of some “interesting” problems with Remote Desktop in Windows 10. On a couple of my older Lenovo laptops (the T520 and the X220 Tablet) sleep during an RDP session sometimes leads to a black screen with cursor upon waking. Sounds a bit weird to put things this way, but it seems like the rest of the laptop is waking up, but the graphic subsystem remains mostly asleep. When that happens, my first troubleshooting step is to issue the graphics card reset key sequence. Most of the time, that’s all it takes to set things back to to rights. That’s why the Windows graphics card reset key sequence is worth memorizing. For the record it’s: Ctrl+Shift+Win+B. I usually hit the first three with my left hand the and B key with my right because it’s something of a digital “Twister” manuever to try one-handed.

Another name for this condition should be “Nothing to see here, folks!” But of course, that’s not acceptable to those who want to actually DO something with their Windows PCs.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

When to Use Windows Graphics Card Reset Key Sequence

Whenever Windows graphics misbehave, act weird, or — as in this case — go MIA, the graphic card reset key sequence is worth a try. In my experience, it seems to help in somewhere around half the cases involved. For the other half of those cases, things get interesting. Most often, they’ll involve rolling back to an older graphics driver, re-installing the current (and possibly corrupt) graphics driver, or finding and installing a newer (and working) graphics driver to replace the current one. Over the years, I’ve had to do all of those things on a wide variety of Windows PCs. In general, older PCs seem to be most responsive (or fixable) through rollbacks, while newer PCs take more to the other two techniques just described.

But when graphics go off, your first move should always be to try the Windows graphics card reset key sequence: Ctrl+Shift+Win+B.


December 2, 2019  12:15 PM

Transferrus Interruptus Resumes in Win10

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
File Explorer, File transfer, resume, Windows 10

This weekend, I stumbled across a Win10 feature I had no idea existed. Let me explain: my 15-year-old son is discovering the joys of music. I’ve got almost 1 TB of ripped CD files and digitized recordings, some dating back to my first post-college job. (I worked at the recording studio in the US Library of Congress.) While copying all that from my PC onto another drive, I tripped over the USB cable linking up the target HDD. “Uh oh!,” I thought, “time to start over again.” With some trepidation, I reconnected the drive to the PC. Immediately, a dialog box appeared  and asked if I wanted to “Try Again.”  Upon approval, the file copy resumed and completed. Hence my observation that transferrus interruptus resumes in Win10. That is, Win10 allows large transfers to complete, even in the face of human frailty (or stupidity).

Transferrus Interruptus Resumes in Win10.redbar Transferrus Interruptus Resumes in Win10.status Transferrus Interruptus Resumes in Win10.error/retry

The top item shows red in the notification bar to flag a file transfer error.
The middle item shows transfer progress at the time I pulled the USB plug, so to speak.
The bottom item, presents a “Try Again” button to resume the interrupted transfer.
[Click either middle or bottom image to see full-sized; top image is full-sized.]

Why Say: Transferrus Interruptus Resumes in Win10?

If you check the preceding sequence of screen captures you’ll see what happens when I forcibly disconnect the drive caddy with both source and target drives for a copy operation. It throws an error dialog up and asks if I’d like to try again. As long as I reconnect those drives before clicking the “Try Again” button, the copy operation resumes and continues to completion. Honestly, I had no idea that File Explorer could do this. But gosh, it’s handy to be able to resume large file transfers (like my son’s audio, or the 19.6GB VM zip file shown above) should they be interrupted part-way toward completion.

Once upon a time, you had to use 3rd-party applications to get resiliency in Windows 10 file transfer. Apparently that is no longer the case! And I, for one, am very glad to see this working quite nicely.


November 25, 2019  3:29 PM

Thanksgiving Break 2019

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Windows 10

I wrote a couple of extra blog posts last month (October) so I could take the week of Thanksgiving off from blogging here at Techtarget’s Windows Enterprise Desktop. I’ll be around all week, just not blogging. Please check out my other posts at Win10.Guru, if you’re jonesing for some Windows 10 content. Look for my next post right here one week from today, on December 2. Happy holidays to one and all. Best wishes, too!

–Ed–


November 22, 2019  1:20 PM

1909 Gets Generic Keys

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

News is popping up all over the Web that generic keys for the Windows 10 November 1909 release are available. I’ll be darned if I can find the list at microsoft.com, but it’s available through countless third-party sources. I totally trust the guys at MajorGeeks.com, so that’s where the ones I reproduce come from. If 1909 gets generic keys, that means you can use the associated generic key during installation — especially useful for virtual machines (VMs) — even automated installation. You must still provide a valid key later on to activate that copy of Windows 10. But generic keys are invaluable for smooth installations, especially automated ones.

1909 Gets Generic Keys.slmgr

You can always use slmgr.vbs to replace a valid key with a generic one to make sure it works. Be sure to capture your valid key first!
[Click image for full-sized view. Note the key string matches the Windows 10 Pro entry below.]

If 1909 Gets Generic Keys, What Are They?

These keys come in two flavors. One is for Windows 10 installations that don’t use multiple activation keys (MAKs), or that don’t interact with a Key Management Server (KMS) for keys and activation. The other is for KMS-based environments. AFAIK, there are no generic MAK keys, so I can’t provide any. Here you go:

Windows 10 Product Keys (Direct Activation, no KMS):

Windows 10 Home: YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7
Windows 10 Home N: 4CPRK-NM3K3-X6XXQ-RXX86-WXCHW
Windows 10 Pro: VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T
Windows 10 Pro N: 2B87N-8KFHP-DKV6R-Y2C8J-PKCKT
Windows 10 Pro for Workstations: DXG7C-N36C4-C4HTG-X4T3X-2YV77
Windows 10 Pro N for Workstations: WYPNQ-8C467-V2W6J-TX4WX-WT2RQ
Windows 10 S: 3NF4D-GF9GY-63VKH-QRC3V-7QW8P
Windows 10 Education: YNMGQ-8RYV3-4PGQ3-C8XTP-7CFBY
Windows 10 Education N: 84NGF-MHBT6-FXBX8-QWJK7-DRR8H
Windows 10 Pro Education: 8PTT6-RNW4C-6V7J2-C2D3X-MHBPB
Windows 10 Pro Education N: GJTYN-HDMQY-FRR76-HVGC7-QPF8P
Windows 10 Enterprise: XGVPP-NMH47-7TTHJ-W3FW7-8HV2C
Windows 10 Enterprise G N: FW7NV-4T673-HF4VX-9X4MM-B4H4T
Windows 10 Enterprise N: WGGHN-J84D6-QYCPR-T7PJ7-X766F
Windows 10 Enterprise S: NK96Y-D9CD8-W44CQ-R8YTK-DYJWX
Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB 2016: RW7WN-FMT44-KRGBK-G44WK-QV7YK

Windows 10 KMS client setup keys (KMS host present on network)

Windows 10 Pro: W269N-WFGWX-YVC9B-4J6C9-T83GX
Windows 10 Pro N: MH37W-N47XK-V7XM9-C7227-GCQG9
Windows 10 Pro for Workstations: NRG8B-VKK3Q-CXVCJ-9G2XF-6Q84J
Windows 10 Pro N for Workstations: 9FNHH-K3HBT-3W4TD-6383H-6XYWF
Windows 10 Education: NW6C2-QMPVW-D7KKK-3GKT6-VCFB2
Windows 10 Education N: 2WH4N-8QGBV-H22JP-CT43Q-MDWWJ
Windows 10 Pro Education: 6TP4R-GNPTD-KYYHQ-7B7DP-J447Y
Windows 10 Pro Education N: YVWGF-BXNMC-HTQYQ-CPQ99-66QFC
Windows 10 Enterprise: NPPR9-FWDCX-D2C8J-H872K-2YT43
Windows 10 Enterprise G: YYVX9-NTFWV-6MDM3-9PT4T-4M68B
Windows 10 Enterprise G N: 44RPN-FTY23-9VTTB-MP9BX-T84FV
Windows 10 Enterprise N: DPH2V-TTNVB-4X9Q3-TJR4H-KHJW4
Windows 10 Enterprise S: FWN7H-PF93Q-4GGP8-M8RF3-MDWWW
Windows 10 Enterprise 2015 LTSB: WNMTR-4C88C-JK8YV-HQ7T2-76DF9
Windows 10 Enterprise 2015 LTSB N: 2F77B-TNFGY-69QQF-B8YKP-D69TJ
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 2016: DCPHK-NFMTC-H88MJ-PFHPY-QJ4BJ
Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB 2016: QFFDN-GRT3P-VKWWX-X7T3R-8B639
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019: M7XTQ-FN8P6-TTKYV-9D4CC-J462D
Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSC 2019: 92NFX-8DJQP-P6BBQ-THF9C-7CG2H
Windows Server 2016 Datacenter: CB7KF-BWN84-R7R2Y-793K2-8XDDG
Windows Server 2016 Standard: WC2BQ-8NRM3-FDDYY-2BFGV-KHKQY
Windows Server 2016 Essentials: JCKRF-N37P4-C2D82-9YXRT-4M63B
Windows Server 2019 Datacenter: WMDGN-G9PQG-XVVXX-R3X43-63DFG
Windows Server 2019 Standard: N69G4-B89J2-4G8F4-WWYCC-J464C
Windows Server 2019 Essentials: WVDHN-86M7X-466P6-VHXV7-YY726

Remember, these keys are not valid for activation purposes. They are handy for installation and large-scale Windows deployment but they will not activate. Thus, they do not convey a valid Windows 10 license in any way, shape or form. You’ve been warned/notified. They’re helpful nonetheless, so make yourself a local copy (or bookmark this blog post).

Note Added November 22, Hours Later

Ha! Ha! @KariTheFinn — my partner at Win10.Guru — reminded me that these are the same generic keys that have worked on previous Feature Upgrades to Windows 10. It’s always nice to have access to a copy, but they’re the same one we’ve been using for some time now. That’s a laugh for me, who knew from previous use that the generic key for Windows 10 Pro (ends in 3V66T) looked awfully familiar.


November 20, 2019  1:02 PM

Microsoft Teams Jumps to 20M Active Users

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Collaboration tools, Microsoft Teams, Windows 10

I wasn’t looking for exciting, dramatic news in yesterday’s blog post from CVP for Microsoft 365 Jared Sparato. It’s entitled “5 attributes of successful teams.” May I beg forgiveness for expecting something entirely touchy-feely, cheerfully and respectfully adapted from Stephen Covey? Indeed, there was plenty of such material therein, eminently worth reading. But the news that Microsoft Teams jumps to 20M active users is what really caught my eye. Here’s that paragraph from the post, verbatim:

In fact, today Teams has more than 20 million daily active users. What’s more, while these users start with simple text-based chat, they quickly move on to richer forms of communication and collaboration. For instance, last month Teams customers participated in more than 27 million voice or video meetings and performed over 220 million open, edit, or download actions on files stored in Teams.

That’s a lotta active users, and a lotta user actions, too. Paul Thurrott reports in a follow-up piece that this number is up from 13 million in July. This represents a staggering 35% growth rate in 5 months (which extrapolates to 84% growth annually). He also asserts that “…now there is no doubt: Microsoft Teams is well ahead of Slack and is growing far more rapidly.” Slack, however, has remonstrated to the point where Thurrott today published an item “Slack Claims Higher Engagement than MS Teams.” Ultimately it’s a numbers game and both sides can still claim to be ahead. But that’s not why I wrote this post . . .

Microsoft Teams Jumps to 20M Active Users.bug

This cool graphic adorns Sparato’s blog post. The video shows its visual items stand for elements in “the art of teamwork.”
[Click image for full-sized view.]

When Microsoft Teams Jumps to 20M Active Users, I See Market Vindication

My friend and colleage, @KariTheFinn, use Microsoft Teams daily. This goes back to when we started work on our joint site in July 2017.  We’re on Teams 7 days a week most weeks, to interact with each other. Our shared website Win10.Guru, is the result of hundreds of hours of interaction, research, collaboration and discussion. We use it many times daily for chat items and file exchanges. When Kari writes something he sends me a chat message. It tells me to don my Editor-in-Chief hat and copy edit one of his posts or articles.

We also use Teams for voice. Occasional calls let us discuss budgeting, forward planning, and topic assignments. They’re handy to resolve matters when we fail to see eye-to-eye on certain topics. We’ve even held on-line by-invitation meetings with up to 30-40 attendees to deliver webinars on topics and tutorials that are also featured on the site.

In short, Teams works for us as an excellent and powerful collaboration tool. It’s part of a Microsoft Office subscription. It’s now being integrated into Windows 10. There’s a web page from MS entitled “Get Microsoft Teams for free” that explains how to take advantage of its basic capabilities at no cost. It also includes a section that explains how much it costs to subscribe to Office 365 Business Essentials or Premium versions, and what extra capabilities in Teams that confers on subscribers. From my own personal experience, I can say from extended experience that Teams is easy to learn, fun to use, and boosts productivity enormously. Kari and I both believe we couldn’t do Win10.Guru nearly as well without Teams in the picture. Check it out!


November 18, 2019  3:46 PM

Post Upgrade Windows 10 Update Assistant Cleanup

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Windows 10, windows 10 upgrade

What with the release of Windows 10 1909 last week (November 12), some may have already used the Update Assistant to apply the upgrade. Once it’s all done, there’s no real reason to keep that program around. Thus, post upgrade Windows 10 Update Assistant cleanup may be warranted. There are several ways to do this, so I’ll mention them in no particular order. Find the Update Assistant on the Download Windows 10 page, right up top:

Post Upgrade Windows 10 Update Assistant Cleanup.get-assistant

When you click “Update now,” the process begins with downloading and installing the Update Assistant to your Windows 10 PC.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What Makes Post Upgrade Windows 10 Update Assistant Cleanup Necessary?

It’s an application that shows up in a file named Windows10Upgrade9252.exe (for the 1903 to 1909 upgrade, anyway). Right-clicking the download, and selecting “Run” installs it on the target PC. This also launches the update installer. By default, this also creates a folder named Windows10Upgrade on the system/boot drive, like this:Post Upgrade Windows 10 Update Assistant Cleanup.explorer

As soon as you give the go-ahead, the Update Assistant sets up a root-level directory on the C: drive and gets to work.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Even though they’re no longer needed, the Windows10Upgrade folder and its contents stick around afterward. There’s really no reason for this (you’ll have to download a new one for the next upgrade anyway), so clean-up is a good idea.

Performing the Post Upgrade Windows 10 Update Assistant Cleanup

The easiest way to make this go away is to simply uninstall the Windows 10 Update Assistant. Visit Control Panel → Programs and Features, where it shows up in the list of installed programs. Right-click the program name, and “Uninstall” appears as an option. Select that option, and the uninstall program will remove the Windows10Upgrade folder and its contents at the same time it gets rid of the Update Assistant program itself. It will also remove the shortcut to the program that it leaves on your desktop, too. Alternatively, if you prefer to use a third-party uninstaller (I’m a fan of Revo Uninstaller myself) you can use something like it instead to bid adieu to the Update Assistant.

Other removal methods make the Update Assistant program unable to run through various means. Manually deleting the folder and its contents will do the trick (don’t forget the desktop shortcut, either). Or, remove execution permission on the program (Windows10UpgraderApp.exe in the Windows10Upgrade folder) for all users. That’s handled in File Explorer, where you’ll reset its “Read & execute” security properties. For those details, see Step 4 in this story from TheWindowsClub.

Personally, I think uninstalling is your best bet (it’s safest and easiest, too). When the next upgrade comes along, if you want to use the Assistant again, you’ll download and install another one, anyway. And don’t forget the cleanup!


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