A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure and privilege of sitting in on an NDA, Windows Insider MVP only briefing. It came from Aaron Lower, Microsoft’s Program Manager on the Core OS and Intelligent Edge (COSINE) Fundamentals team. Some of what I learned then I can now share with you, because Aaron has “guest-written” a post to the Windows Insider blog. It’s entitled “Optimize Windows 10 PC reset using the cloud.” It’s very much worth reading, but I’ll recap some high points here. In a nutshell, it reports that Windows Insider Previews Builds 18970 and up — 20H1 gains cloud reset capability.
What Does 20H1 Gains Cloud Reset Capability Mean?
It means that when you click Settings → Update & Security → Recovery → Reset this PC, you’ll see a screen like this one on your machine:
Note the Cloud Download option in first position above.
[Click image for full-sized view; Source: Microsoft.]
Note the top item in this new screen. It reads “Cloud download Download and reinstall Windows.” Lower describes the intent of this option very nicely as follows:
You can use the new cloud download option to get Windows from the cloud to reinstall instead of reusing the existing Windows files to construct a fresh copy. This can be a more reliable way to reinstall Windows and, depending on internet speed, can be a faster as well. To achieve a similar result previously you would have to download Windows and create a USB stick, but because this is built-in to Windows it doesn’t require the extra steps of creating a USB stick to do the installation.
I plan to try it out right away on one of my Insider Preview test machines. I ‘d like to see how it works (and how long it takes). But first, I’ve got to make a backup because it will need to be restored again afterward. That’s because my understanding remains that Reset still blows away all your installed apps and applications, personalizations, settings, preferences and so forth. I don’t want to have to redo all that work, so I’ll simply try it out, report on what happens, and then restore the previous backup to return to my normal working environment.
Poking around in Device Manager today, I noticed something I’d not seen before under the “Disk drives” heading. It showed up as Linux File-Stor USB Device (LFSUD). WTF? But of course, Google is always helpful when it comes to resolving mystery strings. A literal search on LFSUD turned up a post on the Ubuntu MATE Community that very quickly filled me in. I have a Moto Z Android cellphone, and I’ve plugged it into my PC on occasion for file transfers and access. That, it seems, shows mystery device equals Moto Z Android phone.
A search on the device name resolves the mystery:
Linux File-Stor Gadget USB Device.
[Click item for full-sized view.]
Determining Mystery Device Equals Moto Z Android Phone
Given the post that I found (duplicated also at XDA Developers), it was quite clear that hooking up my Moto Z for charging and access was responsible for this entry. I confirmed this by disconnecting the Android device, then running Uwe Sieber’s (USB) Device Cleanup Tool. Sure enough, it was gone, gone, gone. I’m not sure what’s responsible for this literal device name showing up in Windows 10. But now, I’m convinced that the Moto Z and the LFSUD are one and the same thing, device wise. Who knew?
In fact, when I turn on my Moto Z while it’s attached to my PC, it shows up in Explorer. And also in Device Manager, the Moto Z shows up under the “Portable Devices” heading under its own name (and there’s no longer an LFSUD entry under disk drives, either). Go figure!
Seems like Microsoft updates its Known Issues list on Fridays, if the emerging pattern remains consistent. Today, two new known issues already resolved Sept 19 showed up. Both of these have garnered considerable chatter on the various Windows 10 forums and news publications. MS attributes both of them to KB4515384, which appeared on Patch Tuesday, September 10. Here’s a screencap of what’s reported today (Details for IME item, Start/Search item):
Looking at the resolution discussed for item 2, I find myself thinking “some resolutions are more equal than others” a la Animal Farm.
[Click image for full-sized view.]
True or False: Two New Known Issues Already Resolved Sept 19
I agree wholeheartedly that Item 1 (the IME fix) offers a genuine resolution. But I’m not so sure about Microsoft’s claim of resolution for the Search or Start issues that fall under Item 2. Here’s what passes for a resolution in this particular case:
Resolution: At this time, Microsoft has not found a Search or Start issue significantly impacting users originating from KB4515384. We will continue monitoring to ensure users have a high-quality experience when interacting with these areas. If you are currently having issues, we recommend you to take a moment to report it in via the Feedback Hub (Windows + F) then try the Windows 10 Troubleshoot settings (found in Settings). If you are having an issue with search, see Fix problems in Windows Search.
As I’ve been following reports on the Forums and in the news, the number of users reporting Search or Start issues is indeterminate, to be sure. But enough of them are reporting such problems that I’m not so sure that the number is necessarily small, either. Aside from a pointer to potential Search fixes, I see no resolution here. Shouldn’t this still be in “Investigating” status?
Darn! I’m still hoping that MS will maintain transparency and keep us all informed about problems and issues. I don’t like to see this kind of summary resolution, when the real situation is best summed up as “Some users are reporting problems with Search and the Start Menu. We can’t reproduce these problems, and haven’t found any significant issues in these areas.” Let’s see how this unfolds, shall we?
Earlier versions of Windows had something that Windows 10 has so far lacked. However, Build 18980 gains the ability to see pending optional updates through Windows Update. That’s why I called this post “Latest Insider Preview Gets View Optional Updates Feature.” The new feature looks like the following screencap. (It comes straight from my Fast Ring test machine, a Lenovo X220 Tablet.)
The blue text at the bottom of this snippet reads “View Optional Updates.” Click on it to produce a list of updates. Windows 10 hasn’t installed them, but could if you wanted it to.
Working with Latest Insider Preview Gets View Optional Updates Feature
Here’s what shows up on the Lenovo X220 Tablet when I click the link and expand the listing under “Driver Updates.” Windows Update installs drivers when you tick their associated checkboxes, then click the “Download and install” button underneath that list. So far, I’ve checked only devices that I use on my two Fast Ring test machine. I didn’t install one driver on the other machine — a Realtek GbE Ethernet NIC/chipset. That’s because that NIC is broken (not working). The rest of the drivers all installed properly and both systems are working fine. Here’s the X220 Tablet list with all selections checked:
Of the 7 items shown, the printer driver failed to install properly. The rest are working just fine — so far.
[Click image for full-size view.]
Drivers Can Be Problematic, Though . . .
My group policy settings on local Win10 machines — a single Enterprise PC, and 8 or 9 Pro models — all forbid Windows Update to download and install drivers automatically. In a production environment, drivers only get updated once they’re tested and proven to work (and only when they’re needed). This is a good policy to maintain for such environments. This feature is handy for those who, run test machines to prepare for planned maintenance.
[Note: if you take advantage of this capability, be sure to run DriverStore Explorer (aka RAPR.exe) to clean out the old drivers from your PC. Of course, you must check to see if the new drivers work properly before doing so. Otherwise, you can roll back to previous versions, and remove the new and problematic drivers instead.]
There’s been a LOT of action on the Windows 10 1903 Known Issues lately. Thus we see 4 new Known Issues 9/13/2019. They include Wi-Fi issues for some specific Intel and Broadcom adapters, additional start menu and Windows search gotchas, an Input Method Editor (usually related to special keyboard entry tools for ideographic languages like Mandarin Chinese) snag, and audio problems in some games. Two days earlier, numerous users also reported an oddity — namely, that Screenshots and Snips on some Lenovo PCs with the Vantage app installed take on a distinctly Halloween-ish burnt orange tint. Here’s that list (note that 3 of the 5 items are mitigated and one is already resolved; this table markup was copied almost verbatim from the Known Issues list on 9/16/2019):
|Summary||Originating update||Status||Last updated|
|Safeguard on certain devices with some Intel and Broadcom Wi-Fi adapters
Microsoft and NEC have found incompatibility issues with some devices with Intel Centrino 6205/6235 and Broadcom 802.11ac Wi-Fi cards when running Windows 10, version 1903.See details >
|Not associated with a specific Windows Update or Build number||Mitigated||9/13/2019
05:25 PM PT
|Some users report issues related to the Start menu and Windows Desktop Search
Microsoft has received reports that a small number of users are having issues related to the Start menu and Windows Desktop Search.See details >
|OS Build 18362.356
September 10, 2019
05:35 PM PT
|IME may become unresponsive or have High CPU usage
Some Input Method Editor (IME) including ChsIME.EXE, may become unresponsive or may have high CPU usage.See details >
|OS Build 18362.356
September 10, 2019
05:25 PM PT
|Audio in games is quiet or different than expected
Microsoft has received reports that audio in certain games is quieter or different than expected.See details >
|OS Build 18362.356
September 10, 2019
05:25 PM PT
|Screenshots and Snips have an unnatural orange tint
Users have reported an orange tint on Screenshots and Snips with the Lenovo Vantage app installedSee details >
|OS Build 18362.356
September 10, 2019
10:00 AM PT
What Does 4 New 1903 Known Issues 9/13/2019 Mean?
Microsoft is continuing to keep up with input and chatter from Windows 10 users about issues and problems. I’m seeing that the Known Issues list typically gets updated within 2-4 days of an issue hitting widely-visited user forums such as Microsoft Answers, TenForums, and the numerous Windows 10 news sites I follow. In the past month, in fact, MS has been doing the best job of keeping up with — and hence also, acknowledging — problems and issues related to the Windows 10 OS. In the spirit of giving credit where silence has too long reigned and where the new transparency and openness is much-appreciate I say “Thanks!”
A week ago, I acquired an ASUS RT-AX88U wireless access device to replace a failing RT-AC68U. Today, suddenly and unexpectedly, all of my older wireless adapters found themselves unable to connect to that device. That is, all of my 802.11ac devices kept working fine, but none of my 802.11n devices (the oldest 802.11 version I’m still using) would connect. Drove me absolutely bananas. Ultimately, I would determine that cycling power fixes wireless weirdness. But first, I had to spend half an hour on the phone with the very nice and surprisingly knowledgeable folks at ASUS tech support in the Philippines.
When in doubt reboot applies to routers/WAPs as it does to Windows, apparently.
Why say: Cycling Power Fixes Wireless Weirdness?
I couldn’t get the 802.11n devices to work for love or money. After inspecting the built-in router page and configuration data myself, I didn’t see anything wrong. When I called ASUS, we tried a bunch of settings — including “802.11n only” (auto configuration off), a variety of name changes for SSIDs, and other stuff I can’t remember — but none of it made any difference. I even tried plugging in a USB 802.11ac USB wireless NIC into one of my incommunicado machines, and that didn’t work, either. So I said to the tech support guy: “Why don’t I cycle the power on the router, and see what happens?” His reply: “Yes, but first, return all settings to their previous values.” So that’s what I did.
Guess what? After the power was cycled, and the router started back up, all the 802.11n devices were able to connect to the ASUS device. Problem solved! I was reminded of the old “three-fingered salute” I used to use to solve so many Windows problems (CTRL-ALT-DEL). I should’ve been smart enough to figure that one out on my own. At least, I figured it out eventually. Sigh.
All right: I admit it. My local “fleet” of PCs is getting long in the tooth. The age distribution for the 9 systems at my immediate disposal is strongly skewed. That’s what has me pondering system refresh planning system retirements right now. Take a look at this table to see what I mean:
|Name||Mfgr||Yr Acquired||Brief specs|
|DinaMiniITX||Homebrew||2012||Mobile Ivy Bridge i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD|
|X220T||Lenovo||2013||Mobile Haswell i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD|
|T520||Lenovo||2013||Mobile Haswell i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD, Nvidia Quadro|
|XPS2720||Dell||2014||Mobile Haswell i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD|
|Surface Pro 3||Microsoft||2014||Mobile Haswell i7 Q4, 8 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD|
|Win10TP||Homebrew||2015||Haswell i7 Q4, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD|
|i7Skylake||Homebrew||2017||Skylake i7 Q4, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB NVMe SSD|
|Yoga X380||Lenovo||2019||Kaby Lake i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB NVMe SSD|
|X1 Extreme||Lenovo||2019||Kaby Lake i7 Q6, 32 GB RAM, 2×1 TB NVMe SSD|
Five of those machines run Haswell CPUs, which are pretty old. My wife’s Jetway-based Mini ITX PC runs an Ivy Bridge, which is even older. Yet all of these machines run Windows 10 1903 (or Insider Preview) versions quite well. I plan to keep using them until one of two things happens: (1) a breakdown or component failure occurs that costs more to fix than the machine is worth, or (2) some new Windows 10 upgrade or update finds the target machine unsuitable (blocks it from installing).
What Refresh and Retirement Really Mean
That said, I know it’s just a matter of time before I have to replace all of the Haswell and Ivy Bridge models. Thus, I plan to acquire a Surface Book 2 to replace the Surface Pro 3. At least for now, the two new Lenovos replace the two old ones. I need to rebuild my wife’s Mini ITX using a new-generation motherboard, CPU, RAM and NVMe drive instead of the current SATA SSD. I’ll also rebuild the Win10TP machine, and make it my new production desktop, and demote i7Skylake to test machine status. I’m thinking about replacing the Dell XPS 2720 All-in-One with a Surface Studio 2 (or its replacement model, because that will probably fall outside this year’s planned expenditures).
As best I can estimate that means I’ll be spending $4K or more this year to replace the Mini ITX, purchase a Surface Book 2, and build a new homebrew production desktop PC. With prices starting at $3,500 and zooming past $5K for current models — and an educated guess that next-gen models will be a little pricier — the Surface Studio is going to have to wait.
I’ve been slowly but surely working my way through all of my test machines recently, putting things to order. In do doing, I keep running across a list of files and folders on the C: drive that Disk Cleanup (or its new fave counterpart “Managed Disk Cleanup“) fails to get rid of. In the interests of documenting what I’m finding, I’ll keep this list going as I find new stuff. But, after cleaning up a half-dozen machines, here’s what I’ve seen that I’ve deleted with a brief explanation and links to more info.
$SysReset shows up on most of my systems, even after Disk Cleanup.
When Disk Cleanup Fails Use Search To Determine What’s Safe to Delete
|$Hyper-V.tmp||Folder||Any upgrade/enabling Hyper-V||Yes||GHacks.net|
|$Windows.~WS||Folder||Any upgrade||Yes||MS Answers|
|Windows10Upgrade||Folder||Win10 Upgrade Assistant||Yes||WinHelpOnline|
[Note: Because WordPress doesn’t properly format hyperlinks inside tables — go figure! — I manually turned them italic, underlined them, and colored them blue in Column 5 of the preceding table. Thus, they won’t change color after you’ve clicked them, as they ordinarily would.]
As far as the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant goes (resides in the Windows10Upgrade folder) you could also elect to uninstall that program instead. Do this using Control Panel → Programs and features, then select Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant and Uninstall.
As I find more of these things I’ll keep adding them to this list. If you’d care to suggest possible entries, please email them to me at ed at edtittel dot com and put “SDCMissing” in the subject line. Thanks!
[Note: $Hyper-V.tmp added on 10/4/2019.]
OK, then. A couple of weeks ago, my 6-year-old ASUS RT-68U started getting flaky on me. What does that mean? It means it began losing its configuration settings on the 5 GHz band with the Windows 10 PCs it served. How do I know this? Because network status shifted from Private to Public and wouldn’t respond to normal Win10 methods to reverse that setting. At first, I suspected issues with Hyper-V (but that proved irrelevant). Next, I wondered about ISP issues (Spectrum’s usually excellent diagnostic tools found nothing wrong). Interestingly, the RT-68U worked fine on the 2.5 GHz channel and only improperly on the 5 GHz channel. Thus, I reluctantly diagnosed intermittent failure and decided to purchase a replacement. Configuring that new device, I realized that technology advances require basic IP address understanding.
Why Do Technology Advances Require Basic IP Address Understanding?
Just as the RT-68U I’m replacing is actually a full-fledged router as well as a Wi-Fi device, so also is the RT-AX6000 that replaces it. At first, I couldn’t get to the AX6000 at all, even with a direct, wired RJ-45 connection to the device from one of my laptops. So I did two things — and presto, my problems became solvable. First, I chatted with Spectrum and got them to add the MAC address and serial number for my AX6000 to their device whitelist table. Second, I chatted with ASUS and learned that, in addition to plugging directly into a switch port (not the Internet modem port) I could access the device at IPv4 address 192.168.1.1.
Sure, the ASUS guy on the phone said 192.168.1.1, but it turns out to be 192.168.50.1. No matter! As long as I know what it is, I can — and did — get there to make my configuration changes.
Actually, my next reboot occurred with a laptop plugged into a switch port and the AX6000 disconnected from the LAN. IPCONFIG showed me the Default Gateway address was 192.168.50.1. No matter: with that information in hand, I was able to access the router page using that address via Chrome on the attached PC. From there, I selected the “Wireless Access Point” configuration option, and I was off to the races.
All’s Well, and Ends Well
I’ve now got the AX6000 humming along, offering wireless access to the half-dozen-plus wireless devices here at the house. (That includes 5 laptops, 1 All-in-One, 1 iPad, and 3 iPhones.) It is pretty fast, too. I just got 450 Mbps-plus downstream, and about 45 Mbps upstream through Ookla Speedtest. That’s to my closest ISP (Suddenlink, in Georgetown, TX, 8 miles away). This came courtesy of my X1 Extreme, and its built-in Intel Wireless AC-9650 NIC, operating at 160 MHz (first time I’ve seen that option show up in the network selection criteria).
The ASUS documentation says things will run even faster if I install a new Intel driver designed to work with 802.11ax frame buffers. I think I’ll have to check that out next . . . Stay tuned!
Note Added August 5
I’ve checked the ASUS documentation about drivers. It says that PCs running various models of the Intel adapters — including my dual-band Wireless AC-9650 — should be running version 20.70.0 or higher. Mine’s running 22.214.171.124 and is offering the 160 MHz option, so my X1 Carbon is already up-to-date. My other wireless adapters are too old to take advantage of this higher-level service, except for the Yoga X380 (and it’s au courant as well, but does not show the 160 MHz option).
On August 26, Microsoft rolled out KB4512941 to Insiders signed up for the Release Preview distribution. On August 30, that same Cumulative Update went live to 1903 users in general. I’m lucky I was gone for the holiday weekend. I came home to lots of issues and potential gotchas. One of them even bit me — the persistent .NET related 0X800F081F error code — on my release preview machine. But when I say 1903 KB4512941 garnering numerous issues, here’s what I mean:
– More info on the 0X800F0801F error code and a fix: Upgrade Repair Install Fixes Stubborn 0X800F081F Error
– Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 KB4512941 causes high CPU usage (Appears Cortana and Windows Search related, see next item)
– Windows 10 KB4591941 breaks Windows Search for some users
– Lots of discussion at TenForums, also includes specific mentions of O&O Shutup10 and MSI Afterburner/Riva Tuner
For admins and power users, the question becomes “Do you WANT to install this upgrade, or skip it and wait for the next one?”
What Does 1903 KB4512941 Garnering Numerous Issues Mean?
For those whose practice or inclination is updating sooner rather than later, this represents a warning along the lines of “Here be dragons.” For those who trail behind the leading/bleeding edge of MS updates anyway, it’s a more-than-usually-serious indication that this update demands strenuous and thorough compatibility testing.
KB4512941 reportedly addresses some interesting and important issues. See the release notes for its lengthy and fascinating “Improvements and fixes” section. Nevertheless, it may pose more trouble than it addresses for the moment. I’m installing in on my production PCs only piecemeal, with some caution and checks upon completion. I strongly urge IT pros and power users to do likewise.