Windows Enterprise Desktop

August 26, 2016  11:06 AM

(New) RAPR v0.8 on GitHub

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I first discovered DriverStore Explorer aka RAPR.exe in 2011, when I posted an item entitled “Check Out DriverStore Explorer” to this blog. In the past few days, I’ve learned that this free open source project has moved from CodePlex to GitHub. Also, a new version is now available for download. That’s right, you can find RAPR v0.8 on GitHub if you’d care to try out the latest version. It’s pretty current with a July 19, 2016, date.

The New Look of RAPR v0.8

The GUI for the latest RAPR version is extensively reworked, as the following side-by-side screencap shows. The new version is to the left, with the old version to the right. Instead of showing the Driver Class as a column value, the new GUI uses that data to organize drivers into groups. Indeed, it breaks up the display of driver entries with entries for class names. This was my favorite way to organize things in the older version (v0.5) also. The new version drops the Driver Signer data column and the name of the DriverStore .inf file. (In the Windows DriverStore folder, this takes the form oem<n> or oem<nn>.inf, eg. oem1.inf or oem11.inf.) Now, the program displays the real .inf name of the actual driver itself (eg. apcups.inf or iaahcic.inf).

RAPR v0.8 left, v0.5 right

The new RAPR v0.8 version appears to the left, the old v0.5 version to the right.
[Click image to see full-size version]

Maybe it’s just a case of future shock, but after using the old v0.5 version for so long, the new v0.8 version is a little jarring. For one thing you can’t reorganize the display by column name in the new version as you could in the old. For another, the visual breakup of the entries by Driver Class, and the elimination of the grid lines, changes the feel of the tool appreciably. But it still does what it always did: identifying and aiding removal of obsolete or duplicate Windows drivers. I guess I’ll get used to it, and keep on plugging along. You might also consider doing likewise.

August 24, 2016  10:46 AM

Admin Toolbox: SG TCP Optimizer

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel is a broadband networking resource online that offers numerous free software tools and utilities. Their SG TCP Optimizer program asks you to input your download speed, then tweaks a raft of TCP settings for your network interfaces in response. The result is usually a slight to moderate speed improvement, with a smoother, faster ramp-up to high levels of interface performance.

Grabbing and Using SG TCP Optimizer

You can download this utility from the SG TCP Optimizer home page. You must right-click the program file, TCPOptimizer.exe then select “Run as administrator” so it can make changes with appropriate privileges. If you choose, you can manage hundreds of TCP settings one at a time, with the benefit of massive documentation. There is also a collection of tweaking articles, an Optimizer FAQ, and a range of user forums available for technical info and aid. But the easiest way to use the program is simply to select the “Optimal” radio button at the lower right of the program window. SG TCP Optimizer does an excellent job of picking the right tweaks for you quickly and automatically.

SG TCP Optimizer main program window

Making good use of SG TCP Optimizer is as simple as clicking the Optimal radio button.

I tried it out on half-a-dozen systems, and found the utility generally delivered a slight performance improvement for my GbE wired network interfaces (in the range of 1-2%). These already benefit from the putative 300 Mbps service I get from Time Warner (which actually tests out at around 350 Mpbs using the TW Speed Test). It did somewhat better with my 802.11n and 802.11ac wireless interfaces (5-15%) because they operate in a range from 50-100 Mbps and are subject to more jitter and variability.

For those who may be concerned about firing off an optimizer willy-nilly, it’s probably worth observing that the Apply Changes window in the program includes checkboxes to backup settings and to create a change log. (To restore a backup click File, Restore backed up settings in the program. Use the log file to peruse a record of all individual settings changes, and the OS response to each one.)

Other SpeedGuide.Net Tools

The site offers a range of other free tools, including a TCP/IP Analyzer, a security scanner, a speed test, an IP address locator, a collection of common IP tools (such as ping, traceroute, whois, and so forth), and more. I’m going to have to check these out, too, and see how they work. There may be some resulting follow-up, if the other tools are as good as SG TCP Optimizer seems to be.

August 22, 2016  1:37 PM

Possible Fix for Win10 AU Webcam Fail

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Owing to a technology change in the Anniversary Update to Windows 10, webcams on many PCs have since failed to work properly. To be more specific, various kinds of webcam software including programs from Logitech, Skype (and Skype for Business), and others, won’t show outgoing video. Worse, these programs hang up within a minute or two after startup for no reported reason. My family ran into this very thing last weekend when we tried a video chat via Skype with family members in Germany. Winhelponline offers several news links for those interested in more background. (, Fooling Around, Graves on SOHO Technology). This news attributes a change in video encodings supported as causing the Win10 AU webcam fail.

MS promises to fix these issues with an update as soon as it can. My best guess is that this will likely appear in the September cumulative update. In the meantime, Windows maven and Windows 10 Field Guide author Rafael Rivera offers a pair of registry hacks to work around this problem. Each hack requires accessing a single registry key and adding a new DWORD name, value pair to its attributes.

The complete registry key strings in question are

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows Media Foundation\Platform
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Media Foundation\Platform

The same value needs to be created in each key. The first one is for 32-bit applications, the second is for their 64-bit counterparts. It’s named EnableFrameServerMode, and its DWORD value should be set to 0 (zero).

What’s Causing Win10 AU Webcam Fail?

The cause of this issue comes from Microsoft’s apparent decision to drop support for MJPEG and H264 video encoding standards for YUY2. Thus, following application of the AU, applications that do not yet support YUY2 quit working. This tweak restores support for those other formats, and should hopefully return such programs to normal operation. It’s a relatively benign registry change so there’s no reason not to try it and see.

Beware the Usual Registry Edit Warning!!

Editing the registry improperly can render any Windows system inoperable. That’s why it’s a great idea to precede these propose registry hacks with creating a new restore point. If the registry edits go south, apply that restore point and you’ll be back in business.

But Wait! There’s More: Free Win10 eBook…

As of this morning, is giving away a free ebook version of The Windows 10 Bible, by Rob Tidrow, Jim Boyce, and Jeffrey R. Shapiro. This 888 page guide to Windows 10 is available as a free download from Wiley through for anyone and everyone willing to cough up registration information in exchange for access. Find the details at “Grab this ‘Windows 10 Bible’ eBook valued at $32.99 — for free.”

August 19, 2016  11:23 AM

Windows Self-Healing Tool in Test

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

[Notes added 8/20/2016: Do NOT USE! See concluding note at end of post.] Thanks to an intrepid poster to the Microsoft Community forums, a link to an experimental Windows Self-Healing Tool is now available. Apparently, MS Support offers this tool to individuals who’ve experienced widely-reported freezing issues that follow in the wake of applying the recent Anniversary Update to Windows 10. But the tool is described as still in test, and “not yet released as part of the new System Update.” I’ve downloaded it and tried it out myself. But because none of my systems is subject to post-AU freezes, I can’t say if or how well it works to fix them. I can say, however, that the tool does no [apparent] harm to healthy test systems. That said, it does require some minor clean-ups to restore them to fully normal operation.

Windows Self-Healing Tool opening screen

The tool is named WindowsSelfHealingTool.exe, and runs from File Explorer.

The Windows Self-Healing Tool in Action

From looking at how the tool describes itself and behaves during execution, I’ll make some educated guesses about what it does to address freezing issues with Windows 10. First, a look at the outputs from progress tracking screens recites its actions:

Repair system components and detect corrupt files:
Resync System Date and Time
Reset System Settings
Reinstall System Applications

Repair system corruption
Restore Component Store Health
Restore System Health
Repair System Corruption
System Restart

Update system
Windows Update
Final Reboot

Tool Completion

From what I see, the tool combines Windows system maintenance commands and activities to restore system health and function. In section one, it resets system date and time to make sure update and other system services work properly. It also appears to reset Windows 10 to default settings and to replace key applications such as File Explorer. In section two, it probably makes use of DISM and the System File Checker. The former serves to repair the WinSxS component store and the latter to detect and replace corrupt or damaged system files. In section three, it appears to attempt Windows Update repair (stop then restart key services, check update capability). Then it applies any outstanding updates. The final reboot returns control of the system to the user.

All in all, the tool works through a standard but helpful sequence of system checks and repairs. Thus, if the Windows Self-Healing Tool makes it into production, it could become a useful item in any admin’s toolbox for Windows.

[Note added 8/20/2016: Ed Bott raises serious concerns about this tool on ZDNet in a story entitled “Unauthorized, mislabeled Microsoft support tool leaks; could cause more trouble than it cures” that pretty much tells his entire story on the Self-healing Tool. Except for those desperate to fix freezing issues and willing to perform a clean reinstall in its wake, it doesn’t look like this tool is worth considering, let alone using. See his story for details. Thanks, Ed, for reaching out to me with a link.]

I opened the .exe file with NotePad++ and found the PowerShell script material to which Ed Bott refers in his ZDNet article. I include it here to show that it’s just a bunch of Windows commands embedded together, as I had speculated:

Close tool5All operations completed, you can close the tool now.
Closing…>Internet connection is required for date time synchronization.Verify internet connectionVerify connection4Internet connection is required for getting updates.Verifying… Verifying internet connection…,I confirm that my current date and time is: {0:g}Resync System Date and TimeSynchronizing…+Confirm the start of scan and fix procedure(Operation failed. Tool can not continue.Restart NowFinal Reboot1Update complete. Your machine requires a restart.!Operation completed with warnings%{0} operation completed with warningsrThis may take several minutes. Ensure your device is plugged in and connected to the internet during this process. (this may take some time)License confirmationConfirm scan and fixReinstall System ApplicationsReinstalling…Install updatesWindows UpdateI have read and accepted License AgreementInstalling updates…1Repair system components and detect corrupt filesRepair system corruptionRepair System CorruptionRepairing…Reset System SettingsResetting settings…3Scanning complete. Your machine requires a restart.?Latest windows uppdates installed. Please restart your machine.# System will restart in {0} secondsSystem RestartYour machine will now restartRestarting now…Restore Component Store HealthRestoring…Restore System HealthRestoring…Proceed to scan and fix1I confirm that my current date and time is: {0:g}Scanning…Tool completionFinishing work…
Update systemTest chargerVerify charger connectionNYour device needs to be pluged in to power source before continuing with fixesChecking for charger…Verify system versionScan and fix corrupt filesЖ# Reinstall System apps
Get-appxpackage -packageType bundle |% {add-appxpackage -register -disabledevelopmentmode ($_.installlocation + “\appxmetadata\appxbundlemanifest.xml”)} | Out-Default; Clear-Host;
$bundlefamilies = (get-appxpackage -packagetype Bundle).packagefamilyname
get-appxpackage -packagetype main |? {-not ($bundlefamilies -contains $_.packagefamilyname)} |% {add-appxpackage -register -disabledevelopmentmode ($_.installlocation + “\appxmanifest.xml”)} | Out-Default; Clear-Host;

# Resetting Winsock
& netsh winsock reset
& netsh advfirewall reset
& ipconfig /flushdns
& netsh winhttp reset proxy

# Starting the Windows Update services
Start-Service BITS
Start-Service wuauserv
Start-Service usosvc
Start-Service cryptsvc
Start-Service appidsvc

# Reauthorize
wuauclt.exe /resetauthorization /detectnow

# Clear the store cache and update apps

& wsreset.exe
Start-Sleep -Seconds 3
Stop-Process -processname WinStore.Mobile

schtasks /run /tn “\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\Automatic App Update” | Out-Null%#Run system file checker
SFC -scannowМ# Stop Windows Update Components
Stop-Service -Force BITS
Stop-Service -Force -NoWait wuauserv
Stop-Service -Force usosvc
Stop-Service -Force appidsvc
Stop-Service -Force CryptSvc

# Delete the qmgr*.dat files
Remove-Item -Recurse “$env:ALLUSERSPROFILE\Microsoft\Network\Downloader\*”

# Removing SoftwareDistribution
Remove-Item -recurse “$env:SystemRoot\winsxs\pending.xml”
CMD /C “rd /s /q $env:SystemRoot\SoftwareDistribution”
CMD /C “rd /s /q $env:SYSTEMRoot\system32\Catroot2”
Remove-Item -recurse “$env:SYSTEMROOT\WindowsUpdate.log”

# Reset the BITS service and the Windows Update service to the default

# Reregister the BITS files and the Windows Update files
Set-Location “$env:WINDIR\system32”
& regsvr32.exe /s atl.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s urlmon.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s mshtml.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s shdocvw.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s browseui.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s jscript.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s vbscript.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s scrrun.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s msxml.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s msxml3.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s msxml6.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s actxprxy.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s softpub.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wintrust.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s dssenh.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s rsaenh.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s gpkcsp.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s sccbase.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s slbcsp.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s cryptdlg.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s oleaut32.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s ole32.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s shell32.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s initpki.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wuapi.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wuaueng.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wuaueng1.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wucltui.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wups.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wups2.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wuweb.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s qmgr.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s qmgrprxy.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wucltux.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s muweb.dll
& regsvr32.exe /s wuwebv.dll

CMD /C Dism /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup /resetbase

|Out-Default |Clear-HostA# Restore default power schemes
powercfg -restoredefaultschemes

CMD /C Dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

[String data?]If the problem still persists, please
click hereNot supported Windows version9This tool is not compatible with your version of Windows.qThis may take several minutes. Please ensure the device is charged and connected to internet during this process.
Learn morepThis utility will help find and might fix potential software issues. This tool will perform the following steps:DSuccess! Your machine is up to date with all latest Windows updates.GBefore you proceed, please check, if you are connected to the internet.%You are not connected to the Internet;You can run this tool on windows version 8.0 or higher only(Welcome to the Windows Self-Healing Tool

August 18, 2016  11:00 AM

Office is Everywhere

Margaret Jones Margaret Jones Profile: Margaret Jones

There are more versions and types of Office than ever before, which means companies of all sizes have some decisions to make when they migrate to a new version of Microsoft’s productivity suite.

The Office of local desktop fame is not the only option anymore. There’s also the cloud-based Office 365 that companies can subscribe to, and different Office 365 versions match or surpass the feature set that comes with Office 2016. The Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications that users interact with in Office 365 versions look just like their Office 2016 counterparts, so user training or comfort doesn’t need to be a factor when businesses decide between Office 2016 and Office 365.

Another key change to the Office setup is that shops can choose between the desktop and mobile versions of the suite. All these versions bring up an important question: how to decide which one is the best fit.

In choosing between Office 2016 and Office 365, companies should consider that the cloud-based option lets users access and save data how and when they want to, which could be a productivity boon in companies without strict compliance regulations. Monthly Office 365 costs are also predictable and easy to budget. But on the other hand, Office 2016 versions just have the upfront licensing cost. One benefit of the Office 365 business versions is that companies can switch between them to add storage or features whenever they want, whereas Office 2016 on the desktop is static.

Businesses can run the desktop version on desktops and the mobile one on mobile devices if they want, but the mobile version actually works well on desktops too. Instead of doing both, companies can run the mobile version of Office on all of users’ devices, which can decrease management headaches and simplify deployment. Mobile versions of Office do have a less-robust feature set, however.

One thing companies can worry less about in Office 2016 is security. Microsoft added email and file encryption, as well as multi-factor authentication. The new Office security features won’t allay every security concern, but they can certainly help.

Are you ready to pick an Office version? Get all the details on features and functions in this our new three-part guide, Everything You Need to Know About Office 2016 and Office 365.

August 17, 2016  10:22 AM

Anniversary Update Display Scaling Changes

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Build 1607 for Windows 10 released earlier this month introduces some interesting changes. I seldom jump exclusively on a Microsoft blog post for blog fodder, but today is an exception. This August 16 item comes from the MS Enterprise Platforms Support Ask the Core Team blog. It deals with Anniversary Update display scaling changes. In fact, this post offers a detailed and thorough description of issues involved in display scaling. It also explains how the Anniversary Update addresses some of them. The post is entitled “Display Scaling changes for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.” Its author is James Burrage (Senior Support Escalation Engineer, MSFT), and it’s worth reading from stem to stern.

High Points: Anniversary Update Display Scaling Changes

To begin, Burrage links to an earlier post to the same blog entitled “Display Scaling in Windows 10.” It sets the stage and explains the background against which this post works. Thus, it too, is worth reading.

Burrage’s opening problem statement reads (quoted verbatim):

  1. Blurry text and UI components.
  2. Applications sized incorrectly (too big or too small)
  3. Applications are sized correctly and are not blurry, but have other layout issues …

Anniversary Update display scaling

Burrage provides a nice illustration to depict the foregoing issues.

He explains such issues are likely when the display scale factor on a Windows PC changes while a user is logged in. A typical case is when an application moves from a “main display” to another display with a different scale factor. I’ve seen this happen myself. I see it when my Surface Pro 3 is docked, and I switch from the high-res built-in screen to a lower-res external monitor. The stretching and blurriness issues match my experience exactly.

Burrage explains that application development models have, until recently, treated display factors as unchanging constants. That is, once they’re acquired as an application gets up and running, the assumption is that they won’t change. Alas, that is not the way the world in which we now live and work actually behaves. And while it may not be a problem for new applications that build in necessary intelligence (or draw on it from readily available APIs), it is an issue for legacy applications not designed that way.

What Can Developers Do About Anniversary Update Display Scaling?

Burrage explains how Windows developers tackled this issue  to update “the Windows File Explorer application to dynamically handle a display-scale-factor change.” It makes for fascinating reading, and illuminates the group’s learning process. Many developers seeking to update their own applications accordingly will face similar issues.

He explains how new code in the AU handles this for “parts of a typical desktop application window that the application itself does not draw…” This includes titles, captions, system menus, scrollbars, and more. It is called the non-client area (NCA) , now handled through a new EnableNonClientDpiScaling API. He also explains how mixed-mode DPI scaling lets developers focus scaling efforts where they matter most. That API is called SetThreadDpiAwarenessContext. He also talks about Office, the Windows Presentation Framework (WPF), and some other issues that AU did NOT address. These include desktop icon scaling, common control scaling and WinForms, plus log-out/log-in following display factors changes.

This is a nice piece of work. Again, for those interested in Windows UI issues (or who develop Windows apps) this is must-read stuff. If you want to understand changes to Anniversary Update display scaling, this is just the thing!

[Note: thanks very much to leader Shawn Brink, whose News Forum post this morning took my feet down the information path that let to this blog item. Keep up the great work, Shawn: we appreciate it!]

August 15, 2016  1:44 PM

Win10 Storage Diagnostics (StorDiag.exe)

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

It’s not often that new administrative tools for Windows come along, nor do they typically arrive in stealth. After reading about a “new” command line utility named StorDiag.exe on this morning, I dug in to find out when and how it popped up. According to Google, the earliest mention is an August 5 blog post from Mark Berry entitled “StorDiag Errors after Windows 10 Upgrade.” This post explores a class of events related to the Windows Storage Class PnP event log. In fact, StorDiag.exe captures such events in a file named “Microsoft-Windows-Storage-ClassPnp.evtx” when run. And like the original poster, I may also have issues with embedded SD card circuitry. Very interesting!


Help info for Stordiag.exe shows only a few switches and options.

Here’s more on those arguments:

– collectEtw: collects a 30-second long event log for each storage device. Uses Event Tracing for Windows (ETW).
– checkFSconsistency: runs chkdsk and fsutil tools against all registered storage devices
– out <PATH>: writes a raft of files to the directory specified after this argument (by default, files appear in %windir%:\Users\<user-account>\AppData\Local\Temp)

What does StorDiag.exe Do, What Files Does It Create?

This utility creates a whole slew of files in a target or default directory. Here’s a description with some numbers:

  • LocalMetaData: a folder with 15 files, each related to event files it creates.
  • ChkDsk<Drive-Letter>.txt: ChkDsk output for all recognized drives. For my system that means ChkDskC.txt through ChkDskR.txt. Letters N through O map to flash drives not present on the system (15 files)
  • CDROM.reg, DiskDrive.reg, FileSystem.reg, HDC.reg, SCSIadapter.reg, VolMgr.reg, VolSnap.reg. Volume.reg: compilations of registry entries. These cover optical storage, disk drives, file systems, plus storage controllers and SCSI adapters present on the system, and entries for Windows 10 Volumes, its Volume Manager, and the Volume Snapshot facility (8 files)
  • Microsoft-Windows-<event-class>.evtx: A collection of 15 event trace files, all viewable in Event Monitor. They feature internal labels: DataIntegrityScan-Admin, DataIntegrityScan-CrashRecovery, DisakDiagnostic, Ntfs, Partition, Storage-ATAP, Storage-ClassPnp, StorageManagement-Operational, StorageSpaces-Driver-Diagnostic, StorageSpaces-Driver-Operational, StorageSpaces-SpaceManager-Operational, Storage-Storport, Volume, VolumeSnapshot-Driver, and System. They cover most aspects of Windows system and storage performance plus data and crash integrity.
  • PSLogs.txt: a complete summary log of all actions from the latest StorDiag.exe run with pointers to files created plus data, device, and object snapshots
  • Volume <Drive-Letter> Corruption.txt: FSutil output for all recognized drives; for my system that means Volume C Corruption.txt through  Volume R Corruption.txt. (15 files, 53 files total)

StorDiag.Exe: Interesting Output, But What Does It Tell Us?

In short, there are reams and reams of potentially interesting and useful stuff to be gleaned from the many files this utility spawns (11.3 MB worth, in the case of my production desktop). Thus, I’m hoping an enterprising Windows toolsmith builds a console to pluck the wheat from the chaff produced. It took me the better part of an hour to chew through those 50-odd files, with only a handful of errors and warnings worth further investigation. So while the StorDiag.exe utility is interesting and brings lots of potentially valuable information together, I’m not yet prepared to say that it’s also incredibly useful. Hopefully, we’ll see the aftermarket help out with this…

August 12, 2016  1:40 PM

TechNet Article: Win10 Deployment Tools Updated

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Deployment tools, Windows 10, Windows Deployment Services

Although plenty of third-party options are available, Microsoft offers a pretty complete set of deployment tools for Windows 10. Given a recent update to its coverage and links, the TechNet Article: Win10 Deployment Tools demands a fresh read.  There’s a lot of new stuff to ponder here aimed at Windows 10. It should be quite interesting for those involved in or planning Windows 10 deployments.

TechNet Article: Win10 Deployment Tools

This recent TechNet article lays out new Win10 deployment topics.

“New and Improved” TechNet Article: Win10 Deployment Tools

Topics covered in this article include the following, most with recently updated pointers or links

By my reckoning, half of this content is either brand-new or substantially revised. Hopefully, that explains why I recommend revisiting what IT pros may think they already know. I tried to chase this newer stuff down with TechNet and MS website searches, and found links provided here fresher and more relevant than those search results.

August 10, 2016  10:53 AM

In Windows 10 Fix-Its MIA

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Anybody who’s been around Windows for a while will recognize the icon for Micosoft Fix It items. AFAIK, it’s the company’s equivalent to Mr. Goodwrench. It shows a faceless person wearing overalls holding a great big open-ended socket wrench. But alas in Windows 10 Fix-Its MIA is the best way to describe their status. So I did a little poking around and found something very interesting.

Windows 10 Fix-Its MIA

Though Mr. Fix-It may lack facial features, he often brings relief to Windows users.

Why are Windows 10 Fix-Its MIA?

It seems that Microsoft is not going to support fix-it tools for Windows 10. As the company says in a support note entitled “Use a fix-it tool with Windows 10

Fix-it tools aren’t around anymore in Windows 10. Instead, use a troubleshooter to help solve problems with your PC.

Here’s what I’m guessing this means, reading between the lines. Given the rapid update cadence for Windows 10, MS doesn’t believe it needs to build separate troubleshooting tools any more. Instead (I imagine) the company will either tweak existing troubleshooters or add new ones to the OS, possibly as part of its monthly Cumulative Updates. If not then, such things should come for sure as part of its twice-yearly “feature updates.” This new terminology reflects those less-frequent updates — like the recent “Anniversary Update” — that are significant enough to invoke the Windows installer for a full-blown OS upgrade.

On the other hand, it will be interesting to watch future updates and fixes from MS. Could this policy of “no more Fix-it tools” be changed? Maybe, maybe not. Only if a problem whose fix requires an automated tool AND no troubleshooter pops up in response could I see the return of Mr. Fix-It to the scene. Microsoft says “ain’t gonna happen.” We’ll see!

August 8, 2016  10:36 AM

Windows 10 Fresh Start

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update introduces a new clean install option of potential interest to those purchasing a new PC. It provides the ability to create a Windows 10 fresh start. Find it by clicking Settings –> Update & Security –> Recovery. This produces the following display:

Windows 10 fresh start

The “Start Fresh” option replaces the current Windows install with a clean install from a freshly downloaded image.

Who Needs a Windows 10 Fresh Start?

This option is only of interest to those who don’t mind losing any installed applications, settings or preference changes, or other alterations performed post-install. That’s why it’s best for OEM PCs. OEM PCs are likely to include numerous additional software elements, often called “bloatware” or “crapware.” The “fresh start” option blows away the current Windows 10 install and replaces it with a clean Windows-only image. For some, this is better than a factory reset, because a factory reset restores those unwanted additional software elements as well as the OS.

A Windows 10 fresh start runs users through the Windows Media Creation tool. First they build a bootable UFD. Next, that device drives a clean install of Windows 10. Thus, a pristine Windows 10 install replaces the current installation. A Windows.old directory is available afterward, so that admins or power users can dig in to recover any necessary file. But any installed applications that users want must be reinstalled. And that, of course, is why this option is best applied to new OEM PCs immediately following their purchase.

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