Windows Enterprise Desktop


May 3, 2019  1:49 PM

19H1 Release Preview Bug Bites

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

I’m running the upcoming Release Preview here at Chez Tittel on a couple of PCs. On one of them — the now-venerable Surface Pro 3 purchased in November 2014 — I found myself bitten by an interesting but well-known bug this morning. I was trying to upgrade to Build 18362.30. It would download from WU, then get into the GUI install. Each time I tried (and re-tried), it would hang at 25%. Eventually it would pop up a Window saying it had to check a few things. Fairly quickly thereafter WU would pop up a “PC can’t be upgraded to Windows 10” error window that explained I would have to wait for another build to try again. Here’s what you’ll see, if the 19H1 Release Preview bug bites one of your PCs:

19H1 Release Preview Bug Bites.needs attention

If you see this warning while trying to upgrade to 19H1, an SD card may be getting in the way.
[Click image for full-sized view. Source: PCWorld.com]

If 19H1 Release Preview Bug Bites, Then What?

As explained in this MS Support note,  there may be easy fixes. It’s entitled “This PC can’t be upgraded to Windows 10” error on a computer that has a USB device or SD card attached. Apparently something happens during the upgrade process that causes “inappropriate drive reassigment” (different drive letters, one presumes) vis-a-vis the usual setup. That’s what causes the error message that mentions “keep your Windows settings, personal files, and apps.” If you pop the SD drive (and/or external USB-attached drives, according to some) out and try again, the install runs to completion without difficulty.

That’s how it worked for me anyway. I’m glad I keep up with this kind of stuff (thanks to daily forays at TenForums.com). I pretty much recognized the error message and knew what fix to make before trying again. And fortunately, it did the trick! And so it goes, here in Windows World.

May 1, 2019  10:34 AM

MS Valuation Hits Trillion Dollar Mark

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Stock market, Windows 10

On April 30, the trading day ended with Microsoft’s valuation above US$1 Trillion, at $130.60 per share. According to MarketWatch, this makes “Microsoft the second U.S. company to hit the trillion-dollar valuation after Apple, which has since retreated below $1 trillion.” Other sources identify MS as $1T Company number three, behind Apple and Amazon. Wow! In fact, this makes MS one of the most valuable companies around (arguably the most valuable at the time of this writing). As MS valuation hits trillion dollar mark, what does this say about the company and its offerings?

MS Valuation Hits Trillion Dollar Mark.chart

Over the past year, MS stocks had some ups and downs, but the overall trend continues upward.
[Source: Nasdaq MSFT info; Click image for full-sized view.]

MS Valuation Hits Trillion Dollar Mark, Now What?

Not surprisingly, a quick look at the company’s third quarter FY 2019 results shows where its growth and strength originate. Highlights include the following:

  • Revenue of US$30.6B, up 14% year over year.
  • Operating income of US$10.3B, down 25%.
  • Net income US$8.8B, up 19%.
  • Diluted earnings per share of $1.14, up 20%.
  • Share buybacks and dividends to shareholders totaled US$7.4B (and explain operating income declines).
  • Productivity and Business Processes revenue was US$10.2B, up 14%. This included gains in Office Commercial (12%), Office Consumer (8%), LinkedIn (27%), and Dynamics (13%).
  • Intelligent Cloud revenue was US$9.7B, up 22%. This included server products and cloud services (27%), enterprise services (4%).
  • More Personal Computing revenue was US$10.7, up 8%. This included Windows OEM (9%), commercial products and cloud services (18%), Surface (21%), and more.

Things are jumping upward all over, apparently. MS forecasts this behavior to continue for the rest of calendar 2019 and beyond. The real growth (and driver for future growth) comes from Azure, and its increasing mind and market-share for cloud-based and -enabled tools, technologies and platforms. As a long-time Microsoft follower and fanboy, it’s odd to think of the Colossus of Redmond as a true colossus indeed, even in financial markets. But that’s where and how things stand right now. Given Apple’s rise and subsequent fall from such grace, one hopes MS can hang in there and keep up the good work for some time to come.


April 26, 2019  11:42 AM

Web-based vs Offline DotNET 4.8 Installers

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
.NET, Windows 10, Windows Updates

When I learned  that MS released a new version of the .NET Framework , I saw both web-based and offline installers. “Hmmm,” thought I to myself, “I’ve never used a Web-based installer for Win10 OS components. Let’s give it a try!” The difference between web-based vs offline DotNET 4.8 installers turned out to be both interesting and considerable. I’ll let Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks.net explain the difference between these two approaches:

The .NET Framework is offered as a Web and Offline installer. The core difference is that the Web Installer requires an active Internet connection during installation as it needs to download components from Microsoft servers.

The .NET Framework 4.8 offline installer is larger in size but requires no Internet connection as it includes all the components:

Web-based vs Offline DotNET 4.8 Installers.web

The Web installer zips through the download process pretty quickly, but takes a LONG time to get through installation

It Makes a Difference: Web-based vs Offline DotNET 4.8 Installers

I’ve never tried a Web-based installer for Win10 OS components before. Thus, I wondered about the tradeoffs involved. My observation is that while it’s much quicker to download the web-based installer, it takes LOTS longer to install that way as compared to an offline/standalone installer. As Mr. Brinkmann explains in the preceding quote, that’s because the web-based installer includes only what it needs to get installation going and grabs everything else over the Internet. The offline installer, OTOH, grabs everything it needs in one swell foop. The Web-based installer is 1.46 MB in size, the offline version is around 70 MB. I guess we know what makes up the difference, eh?

But, my goodness, how that difference plays out in installation. On a relatively fast i7 (6700/Skylake) it took over 5 minutes (318 seconds) to handle the install from start to finish. On an older, slower mobile i7 (2640M/Haswell) laptop it took just under 3 minutes (178 seconds) to complete. That’s a pretty big difference!

My take is that for those with faster Internet access, the offline/standalone installer is definitely the right way to go. Note also, once the new .NET environment is installed a reboot must follow. Curiously Programs and Features still mentions only .NET Framework 4.7 Advanced Services after the update is installed. There’s no mention of .NET Framework 4.8 in Settings → Apps & Features → Manage optional features, either. The Registry tells you what’s installed:

Web-based vs Offline DotNET 4.8 Installers.regcheck

The key to check is shown in the address line just below the menu bar in regedit.exe. Note that “Version” takes the value “4.8.03761.”
[Click on image for full-sized view.]


April 24, 2019  12:09 PM

Win10 Minimum Hardware Requirements Get Interesting

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
CPU, Windows 10

Yesterday brought me an interesting item in the TenForums Windows 10 News forum. Tantalizingly, it’s entitled “MS updates CPU requirements page for Windows 10 May 2019 Update.” Thus, this item reflects the latest and greatest set of Win10 CPU requirement in particular, and hardware requirements in general. In fact, a table in the cited MS Docs item there is called the “Windows Client Edition Processor table.” All by itself, it tells an engaging story. When taken in tandem with the Minimum Hardware Requirements for Windows 10 web page, it makes Win10 minimum hardware requirements get interesting. I’ll explain, but first here’s that table lifted verbatim:

Windows Edition

Intel Processors

AMD Processors

Qualcomm Processors

Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 1507

Up through the following 6th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7-6xxx, Core m3/m5/m7-6xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v5), and through series
equivalent Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 6th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-8xxx & E-Series Ex-8xxx & FX-870K)

N/A

Windows 10 1511

Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), and Intel Atom, Celeron,
and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx)

N/A

Windows 10 1607

Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), Intel Atom, Celeron,
and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx)

N/A

Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 1607

Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), Intel Atom, Celeron,
and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx)

N/A

Windows 10 1703

Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6) and 8th Generation
Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7-8xxxU), Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and
N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron, and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx), AMD Athlon 2xx, and AMD Ryzen
3/5/7 2xxx

N/A

Windows 10 1709

Up through the following 8th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-8xxxK/U/H/G, and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1]),
Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx, AMD Ryzen
3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2]Processors

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

Windows 10 1803

Up through the following 8th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-8xxxK/U/H/G, and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1]),
Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx, AMD Ryzen
3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2]Processors

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and 850

Windows 1809

Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel
Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors,
AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD
EPYC 7xxx[2]

Qualcomm Snapdragon 850

Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 1809

Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel
Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors,
AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD
EPYC 7xxx[2]

N/A

Windows 10 1903

Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core
i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel
Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors

Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series
Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors,
AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD
EPYC 7xxx[2]

Qualcomm Snapdragon 850

Table Footnotes
[1] Intel Xeon processors are supported on Windows 10 Pro for Workstations and Windows 10 Enterprise only
[2] AMD Opteron and AMD EPYC processors are supported on Windows 10 Pro for Workstations and Windows 10 Enterprise only

What Makes Win10 Minimum Hardware Requirements Get Interesting?

Consider this: examination of ever-increasing Win10 version numbers shows that taking advantage of advanced features requires more current CPUs. That’s the only way I can read support for 7th generation in 1607 and 1703, 8th in 1709 and 1803, and 9th in 1809 and 1903. From experience, however, I know even 1903 works nicely on Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors. Because Ivy Bridge goes back to Q3 2012 (see this Intel ark page “Products formerly Ivy Bridge“) that gives Windows 10 a long reach. That said, the real difference comes down to performance, especially in support for faster RAM and faster I/O buses (most notably for NVMe via PCI-e).

Does this mean MS is back-handedly encouraging hardware refresh for Win10 users? You bet! Though current underlying minimum hardware requirements remain unchanged, careful reading shows the same impetus. Sure, the CPU minimum still reads “1 GHz or faster CPU/SoC,” and the RAM minimum still says “1 GB for 32-bit OS” and “2 GB for 64-bit OS.” But TPM and UEFI Secure boot are now required (though again, even 1903 runs on systems that don’t support them). The same is true for things such as NFC, Bluetooth, and other increasingly complex peripheral support.

And of course, these minima have very little to do with what people end up buying and using, especially with some degree of comfort or satisfaction. For most PC buyers today, real-world minima include a 64-bit CPU, 4 GB of RAM, at least 256 GB of NVMe SSD storage, and so forth. But here, I see MS pushing at those minima and raising the bar to encourage Win10 system buyers to spend a little more on hardware, and get more in return for buying new systems with better, faster, and more capability.


April 22, 2019  11:24 AM

X1 Carbon Extreme 6-Core Really Flies

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
laptop, Laptops, Windows 10

A little over two weeks ago, Lenovo sent me a couple of loaner laptops. To be more specific, their largesse included one each X1 Carbon Extreme and an X380 Yoga.  Today, I’m going to explain some recent experiences with the X1. And when I say this X1 Carbon Extreme 6-core really flies, I’m not kidding. But first, some speeds and feeds, courtesy of Piriform’s (free) Speccy tool:

X1 Carbon Extreme 6-Core Really Flies.speccy

For those in the know, these are some pretty impressive components. Let me explain…

Killer Components Explain Why X1 Carbon Extreme 6-Core Really Flies

The X1 Carbon I received is very well equipped. It’s got a 6-core i7-8550H (Coffee Lake/8th generation) CPU, 32 GB of DDR4-2666 RAM, Intel UHD 630 and Nvidia GTX-1050 Ti graphics, and two fast (960-equivalent) Samsung OEM NVMe drivers (1 TB and 512 GB units). Simply put, it runs faster than my current production PC. For the record, that desktop features an Asrock Z170 Extreme 7+ motherboard, an i7-6700 (Skylake/6th generation) CPU, 32 GB DDR4-2132 RAM, and a Samsung 950 Pro 512 GB SSD.

I’ve tested a lot of laptops. Most notably I chewed my way through many dozens of machines writing reviews for Tom’s Hardware during the 2000s. This is my first time to encounter a compact, high-end current-generation laptop that outperforms my production PC. Lenovo will release 9th-generation models later this year. They should improve upon the already-impressive stats and behavior of the X1 Carbon.

I’m not ready to abandon desktop technology in favor of laptops, though. I need the extra storage (I’ve got 10 drives currently connected to my production desktop, ranging in size from 128 MB SSDs to 4 TB conventional HDs, and a total of 13.5 TB). I also use a higher-end graphics card — an MSI Nvidia GTX 1070 with 8 GB of DDR5 VRAM — to drive a couple of 4K 27″ monitors to give me a lot of screen real estate while I’m working.

This Time, Spending More Means Getting More

But wow! The X1 Carbon Extreme with the high-end CPU and the next-to-highest-RAM configuration (it will actually accommodate 64 GB max) is a great performer. My son is using it as his preferred homework PC, and I’ve taken it on the road for a couple of legal engagements during which it has both shone and flown. If you’re looking for a higher-end work laptop to take on the road, and don’t mind spending up to $2,700-2,800, this machine will do you proud. If it lasts like my previous Lenovo laptop duo has done — I bought a T520 and an X220 Tablet back in 2013 and they’re both still solidly in service — that substantial investment will repay itself several times over before you need to move up to a newer model.

It’s amazing. Highly recommended!


April 19, 2019  10:44 AM

Comet Offers Interesting Disk Cleanup Alternative

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Disk cleanup, Windows 10, Windows utility

Last September, I reported here that MS had announced plans to “deprecate” the venerable Disk Cleanup utility. That post was aptly named “Bye Bye Disk Cleanup?” Among the issues I raised therein was the threat of loss of command-line access to disk cleanup capabilities. This morning, I saw a recent post from Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks.net that helped to allay that very concern. It is entitled “Comet is an open source Windows Disk Cleanup clone.” This item tells a nice story about a potential stand-in that works with equal facility in the Windows GUI and at the command line. That program is named Comet, and it seems that Comet offers interesting Disk Cleanup alternative.
Comet Offers Interesting Disk Cleanup Alternative.ico

If Comet Offers Interesting Disk Cleanup Alternative, Then What?

To download this program, when you visit the project’s Github page, click that page’s Releases tab. Then, download a Release-<date>.zip file. Be sure to grab the latest release, and unzip it into a directory of your choosing. If you download the ZIP from the home page, you’ll get a source code hierarchy instead (which you could compile, if you wanted to, but why bother when the .exe itself is readily available?)

Comet Offers Interesting Disk Cleanup Alternative.releases

Comet is portable, so you can run it from anywhere, including a USB stick, if you like.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Working with Comet right now is exactly like working with Disk Cleanup. It seems to be a nearly indistinguishable facsimile of cleanmgr.exe (aka Disk Cleanup). The developer does allow the app window to be resized, unlike the original, so I’ve already tweeted him the suggestion that he show more checkbox items by default when that window is expanded. Right now, the “Description” pane grows with the expansion. This doesn’t really do much for users, which is why suggested showing more checkbox items instead. To wit:

Comet Offers Interesting Disk Cleanup Alternative.expandedapp

If I can grow the app window, as this screencap shows, why not grow the checkbox item display pane instead of the Description pane?

Nevertheless, this is a great little tool. And now, should Microsoft retire Disk Cleanup, looks like there’ll be a worthwhile replacement. I’m pleased and relieved. You should be, too.

AMAZING NOTE Added 4/20/2019: Feature Provided

I tweeted the developer of the Comet program yesterday with the foregoing suggestion. It’s already implemented. The program name has also changed to Managed Disk Cleanup, and the exe file is now named mdiskclean.exe. Check out this screencap!

Comet Offers Interesting Disk Cleanup Alternative.fixed

Now THAT’s what I call a quick and very helpful developer response. Yowza!


April 18, 2019  12:02 PM

MFTRCRD64 Shows More NTFS Timestamps

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
File management, NTFS, Windows 10

Recently, working on a legal project I found myself having to explain timestamps for computer files. That’s when I stumbled across Joakim Shicht’s excellent but cryptic Master File Table (MFT) Record decoding tool. And while my particular focus was on file timestamps, a quick look at the help file for this command shows that it can do a lot more than display file metadata. In addition, it can dig into and display many aspects of the MFT itself for any NTFS volume.  If this is something of interest to you, download this tool from Github at jschict/MftRcrd. Here’s what it shows about timestamps when I look at an older install.wim file in a temp directory, for example:

MFTRCRD64 Shows More NTFS Timestamps.timestamps

In addition to the more usual create and modifed timestamps, you also get MFT entry modified and file last access timestamps, too. Sometimes, when proving dates, all of this info is important.

MFTRCRD64 Shows More NTFS Timestamps … Plus!

Shicht built a very nice interrogation tool for NTFS file metadata (or its equivalent as stored in the MFT), and for on-disk MFT structures themselves. The best way to learn about the command (its readme.txt file is empty: 0 length, that is) is to use the help command — namely:
mftrcrd64 /?
Here’s what that output looks like:
MFTRCRD64 Shows More NTFS Timestamps.help

The help file has lots of good examples to guide you into the program’s inner workings. It’s the best way to explore what it can tod for you.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

More MFT Information

To start learning more about the Master File Table (MFT), check out this MS Windows Dev Center article entitled “Master File Table.” NFTS.com is another great source of information, too. Their MFT section is definitely worth reading as well. The NTFS section in Part 2 of Windows Internals (by Mark Russinovich and others) is also worth a look-see (I’ve got the 6th edition, but the 7th edition is out now, too).


April 14, 2019  3:09 PM

MCT1903 Misnomer Not Available

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

In perusing my usual newsfeeds this morning, I saw what looked like an interesting story. It says something like “Use the MCT to Get Win10 May 2019 Update without Insider signup.” (Check that link to get the full title, please.) But the story promises more than it actually delivers. Yes, it turns out there’s a download link to a file named MediaCreationTool1903.exe. But if you actually grab that file, and start looking at what’s inside, you’ll see that MS hasn’t yet made the right behind-the-scenes connections. It’s actually the same ISO you’ll get if you visit the Download Windows 10 page at Microsoft (17763.379, to be more precise).MCT1903 Misnomer Not Available.WinExp

The filename looks tantalizing, but there’s nothing new under that hood . . . yet!

Why Say MCT1903 Misnomer Not Available?

More than mildly curious, I downloaded the MediaCreationTool1903.exe file. I took the option of saving the files it proffers in ISO form. I named that ISO Windows1903MCT.iso just to make it easy to identify. But after mounting that ISO to drive N:, I ran DISM against the install.esd it includes in its /Sources folder. Index 6 covers Windows 10 Pro, and here’s what I got in response to the DISM command shown:

The MCT may be labeled 1903, but the contents are indisputably 1809. Sigh.

Is this a Put-up Job?

I imagine some enterprising Windows-head found this file by presuming it existed, supplying the URL (the same one linked in paragraph 1), and grabbing same. But MS has obviously not yet made the right connections for this tool to grab the 1903 release. The obvious reason why is because it’s not released yet, so those connections haven’t yet been made. So no, it’s not a put-up job. It’s just not ready for prime-time/real use just yet. The existence of the file is simply indicative that someday in the near future (before the end of May) it will actually work the way it’s should. But in the meantime, steer clear.


April 12, 2019  10:58 AM

Dude, Where Is My SDXC Drive?

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Beta Testing, Device drivers, Windows 10, Windows Upgrades

A funny thing happened when I upgraded my Surface Pro 3 to the latest Release Preview. I’m talking Build 18362.53, otherwise known as 1903 aka May 2019 Update. Before the upgrade, the PC saw its SDXC card and contents without issue. After the upgrade, nada. Before the upgrade, DevMgr saw something named “Richoh SD Disk Device.” After the upgrade only a generic “SD Disk Device” appears there, and it doesn’t work. I didn’t see this myself though. I got a private message from TenForums user StanP50 that asked if I could access my SDXC card under the latest build. His wasn’t working. So I checked mine, and sure enough: it wasn’t working either. And that’s what led me to the immortal question “Dude, where is my SDXC drive?”

Where Is My SDXC Drive.before

Before the upgrade, SDXC worked fine; after the upgrade, its was invisible in Explorer and inaccessible in Disk Management.

Where is my SDXC drive, and how do I get it back?

Looks like we’ve got a specific issue here on my Surface Pro 3 (SP3). My other Release Preview laptop, a Lenovo X220 Tablet, also upgraded to 18362.53, sees its SDXC card just fine. I rolled back to the preceding version 17763.404 on the SP3, and presto! Now it sees and accesses its SDXC media correctly, too. Sigh.

I’ve reported this to the Feedback Hub as “1903 knocks out SDXC card.” If you’ve got a Surface Pro 3 with an SDXC card installed that’s running 1903, you might want to check to see if you have the same problem, too. If so, please upvote that thread.

Demonstrating the Value of Release Preview

This is just the kind of thing that a Release Preview is supposed to flush out of the woodwork. And with the actual, full-blown public release still perhaps as many as seven weeks out, MS has time to find and fix what testers report. Though it’s vexing to lose access to a device, it’s better that people who volunteer to test the software prior to public release do it, instead of the unwashed masses. Most of us testers expect a few rough spots to show themselves, and know how to report and deal with them. I have a feeling this is just one glitch among many that will be found and fixed before the end of May comes around. Relax! The system is working as intended. To me, that’s actually reassuring.


April 10, 2019  4:26 PM

Samsung Consumer Drivers OEM Friendly

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Device drivers, NVME Related, Windows 10

Last Friday, a couple of Lenovo loaner laptops showed up at my office. Both include 8th Generation (formerly, Coffee Lake) CPUs and Samsung OEM NVMe SSDs. As I was perusing the TenForums threads yesterday, I noticed a new version of the Samsung NVMe drivers. But my drive’s model number is MZVLB1T0HALR. It doesn’t appear in the list of supported drives on the Samsung site, either (see screencap below). That raised this very interesting question: are Samsung consumer drivers OEM friendly? I decided to find out.

Samsung Consumer Drivers OEM Friendly.webinfo

Lots of familiar product names here, but they’re all consumer/retail products. Will they work for my OEM products, too?
[Click image for full-sized view; Source.]

The drives named on the preceding snip from the Samsung SSD downloads page are NVMe 970 Pro, 970 EVO, 970 EVO Plus, 960 Pro, 960 EVO and 950 Pro. My OEM NMVe SSDs are best described as “recent vintage, but none of the preceding.” This adds a certain air of mystery, or perhaps confusion, to finding out if they’ll work on those new Lenovo laptops I’ve recently been loaned.

Finding Out if Samsung Consumer Drivers OEM Friendly

Given that on both machines, I was monkeying with device drivers for their boot/system disks, I decided to take some precautions. Fortunately they turned out to be unnecessary. But here’s what I did to prepare for possible trouble, up to and including a non-bootable system:

1. I made an image backup on an external USB drive using Macrium Reflect (MR).
2. I used MR to create “Rescue Media” for each PC (a standalone bootable WinPE runtime that can read and restore MR backups).
3. I made sure I could boot to the Rescue Media on each machine, and was able to “see” the image backup device in its MR runtime.
3. I installed the new driver on my first loaner (X1 Carbon Extreme), crossed my fingers, and rebooted.

If the machine had failed to boot, I would have resorted to the Rescue Media and used it to put things back the way they were before I started messing with them. Fortunately for me (and for others who may have laptops with newish Samsung OEM drives) it worked like a champ. Here’s what I see in DevMgr on the X380 (the X1 Carbon has two NVMe drives, so it has two driver entries instead of just one as shown here):

Samsung Consumer Drivers OEM Friendly.devmgr

I was mighty relieved when the X1 Carbon rebooted successfully.

Alas because there are so many (and poorly documented) Samsung NVMe SSDs out there, you can’t know if this driver will work for you unless you try. And if you do, you’d better take precautions beforehand, just like I did. That way, if you get bitten, you will still be able to restore your PC to working condition. Note also, the 950 Pro released in September 2015 (equivalent OEM model SM951). I wouldn’t try installing this driver on anything older than that, either, if I were you. ‘Nuff said!


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