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:
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.]
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 . . .
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!
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:
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:
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!
Hmmmm. Here’s an odd one for you. I just upgraded my production desktop to 1909 on Wednesday (Build 18363.476). When I plugged my iPhone into that machine this morning to make a backup using iTunes, the PC crashed immediately. Any USB Iphone link-up causes BSOD like this one:
Immediate crash/BSOD, as soon as the PC recognizes the USB plug-in. Ouch!
[Click image for full-sized view.]
Further investigation via Nir Sofer’s BlueScreenView utility produces a bug check value of 0X000001A1. This is interesting and a bit maddening because the MS Docs Bug Check Code Reference jumps over this value, going directly from 0X000001A0 to 0X000001A3. Interestingly, there’s an article on the string value SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED (I’ll abbreviate this as STENH going forward) that equates it with 0x0000007E, though I didn’t find this value in any of today’s many and varied .dmp files.
Numerous dump files (5) appeared on my system drive today, in the wake of my repeated, mostly deliberately caused BSODs.
[Click image for full-sized view.]
When USB iPhone Link-Up Causes BSOD, Then What?
Of course, my first move was to report this item to the Feedback Hub. You’ll find that report there under this title “plug in iPhone via USB/Lightning cable, immediate bluescreen” if you want to check it out. The quickest way to find it is to search on “iphone bluescreen” there. So far, nobody else has responded or reacted to this submission.
My next move was to start researching the specific STENH stop code string. Alas the error does not identify a specific driver, as the MS Docs article says it might. It is pretty suggestive, however, that plugging in the iPhone causes an immediate crash each and every time on this PC. Even though correlation isn’t the same as proof of causation, I’m still inclined to think that something is up in the latest build on this particular motherboard with the various iPhone drivers.
In the meantime, because the iPhone mounts fine on my new Lenovo laptops (also running Build 18363.476, albeit as an Insider Release Preview) that’s where I’ll interact with it going forward. I’ll try plugging the iPhone in on my production PC from time to time. When that stops crashing with a BSOD, then I’ll switch back to that connection.
And so it goes here in Windows-World, where surprises never cease, and one must beware of the occasional gotcha.
For once, the rumors about 19H2/1903 panned out. With yesterday’s Patch Tuesday, MS let slip the 1909 release. That’s right: Windows 10 1909 is here, and available through normal Windows Update channels. It’s also been integrated into the Windows 10 Update Assistant. And although the Download Windows 10 page still touts “Windows 10 May 2019 Update,” the MCT (Media Creation Tool) is indeed proffering 1909 to visitors. For those who are ready, willing and interested 1909 will serve itself to their PCs. [Warning: seems like the MS WU Servers — that is, Akamai — are pretty swamped right now. Downloads will take some time.]
Check Details in the Properties window for the MCT exe file to get version info. To clarify, it works every time!
A Kinder, Gentler Windows 10 1909 Is Here
The most interesting thing about upgrading to 1909, in my experience, is the lack of fuss and bother. Download delays aside, it’s incredibly quick and painless to install the upgrade. It really is like a Cumulative Update (CU), rather than the typical Feature Upgrades of the past. In fact, it’s so much like a CU that it doesn’t even reset Reliability Monitor:
Normally, after an upgrade, Reliability Monitor would reset itself and start over. As you see here, the November 13 data (the day I upgraded) carries on from the preceding release.
[Click image for full-sized view.]
In the Windows Blogs, there’s a noteworthy November 12 post, particularly for Windows admins in production, commercial environments. It’s entitled “How to get the Windows 10 November 2019 Update.” (BTW, Windows 10 November 2019 Update is the official name for the 1909/19H2 release.)
What MS Recommends for 1909 Experimentation and Deployment
Here’s a pair of paragraphs from that post that should greatly interest such readers:
With today’s release of the November 2019 Update (Windows 10, version 1909), IT administrators should begin targeted deployments to validate that the apps, devices and infrastructure used by their organizations work as expected with the new release and features. Windows 10, version 1909 is available through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Windows Update for Business, and the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC)1 for phased deployment using Microsoft Endpoint Manager (the combination of Configuration Manager and Intune plus cloud-powered features into an integrated management solution) or other systems management software. (Note: The next Semi-Annual Channel release of Windows Server—Windows Server, version 1909—is scheduled for general availability later this month via the Azure Portal and the Volume Licensing Servicing Center.)
For information about the latest features for commercial customers, including the 30 months of service support for Enterprise, IoT Enterprise and Education editions, see What’s new for IT pros in Windows 10, version 1909. For specific information on the update mechanics of Windows 10, version 1909, see this blog post.
In fact, my advice is to get 1909 up and running in a test environment ASAP. Then you can do as Microsoft suggests, and get a sense of Windows 10’s new future. It’s actually quite stable and steady, as I blogged at Win10.Guru a couple of days ago. Good stuff! Be sure to check it out.
Sure, you can always get Windows Update history from Windows 10 itself. Simply click Settings → Update & Security → Windows Update, then select “View update history” under that heading. But as is sometimes the case with built-in Windows tools, their output doesn’t always tells you everything you’d like to know about info on display. That’s why I jumped all over Nir Sofer’s lastest creation when I read about it today at ghacks.net. Learning that Nirsoft releases Windows Update History Viewer, of course I had to see it for myself. I was glad I did. In tabular form, for each update, it provides data under the following headings:
- Title: Name of the update (same as what shows up in the Microsoft Update Catalog, where applicable)
- Description: Text info from the KB article blurb describing the update
- Install date: Date and time the update hit your system
- Update operation: Usually install, this describes what operation WU ran using the update (uninstall is also an option and will be reported as such)
- Operation Result: One of Succeeded (green button at far left); Failed (red button at far left); or Aborted (yellow button at far left)
- Information URL: KB article URL
- Support URL: Support note for update, when available; otherwise, links to http://support. microsoft.com
- Uninstall notes: Instructions describing how to uninstall the update
- Client Application ID: Name of process that initiated the update, usually one of UpdateOrchestrator (WU), Update, Scan for Updates (manual update initiated by user), or Windows Defender (AV update)
- Service ID: GUID for service that handled the update process
- Update ID: GUID for update object applied
- Revision number: update revision number, where applicable
- Unmapped result code: result code reported if an update fails or aborts (10 digit numeric code)
- hResult: error code reported if an update fails or aborts (8 digit hex code, often of the form 0x8024dddd which maps into the class of Windows Update errors)
Alas, the tool is too big (it covers the width of almost 2 27″ monitors if I show all fields fully expanded. Here’s a screen cap that shows fields I believe to be most likely of interest expanded, and those not compresssed. It’s still pretty darn huge (click the image to see a full-sized — and intelligible — view, please).
Note the traffic light status indicators at left (RGY), name, date and status info. All good stuff!
[Click image for readable view.]
That’s a whole lot more than you get from the built-in Update History output which tells you:
- KB number
- Number of attempts (in parentheses)
- Installation status (Successfully installed or failed)
Because Nirsoft Releases Windows Update History Viewer, You Should Grab It NOW
I find Nirsoft tools to be pretty valuable in general. Invaluable even, in some cases. If you need to research updates you’ll find this useful in your admin toolbox. It doesn’t have to be installed, so you can carry it with you on a USB key or portable drive, or run it from cloud storage of some kind. Definitely helpful.