Windows Enterprise Desktop


February 27, 2018  7:14 PM

Win7 Still Activates Win10 2/27/18

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
activation, Windows 10

I’m working my way through a box of failed laptops right now. My sister sent them to me over the holidays, so I could make necessary repairs, where feasible. Right now, I’m batting one for three, but hopeful that I might make progress on the other two soon. I just upgraded one of them from Windows 7 to 10. It’s an HP Pavilion Dv6 with a quad-core mobile CPU, 8 GB RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. This is the machine that tells me that Win7 still activates Win10 as of 2/27/18.

How I Know Win7 Still Activates Win10, Even Today

How do I know this? I just used the Win7 key from that laptop’s COA sticker to activate Windows 10. Just for grins, I tried a few old Windows 7 keys I have laying around from older test machines. Same result: they worked, too. For some odd reason, this pleases me no end!

I’m now in the process of rebuilding the runtime environment on the HP to put it somewhat back to rights. I’ve already run Ninite to install Chrome, Firefox, 7-Zip, CCleaner, IrfanView, Java, and various other odds’n’ends. I’ve just added 8GadgetPack to bring my beloved gadgets back, and will probably tinker with it a bit more before I pack it back up to send it back to my sister. So far, while the Dv6 does run pretty warm, it seems to be working just fine. Not bad, for an 8-year-old PC, if somewhat underpowered by today’s standards. I’m going to open it up and blow the innards out with compressed air, in hopes of bringing those temps down somewhat. It’s also going to get as thorough a wipe down/clean-up as I can give it, too.

What About the Other Machines?

One of them is a 2010-vintage MacBook Air, for which I have a “Genius Bar” appointment on Thursday afternoon. I can’t really say much about it one way or another, because I haven’t messed with any Macs since I sent this one to my niece for her birthday 4 years ago. Here’s hoping that those geniuses live up to their appelations when I come calling at the Apple Store in a couple of days. We’ll see.

The other PC is a 2010-vintage Dell XPS 12. I haven’t been able to make it run an OS or boot into WinPE or the Win10 installer (any installer). I just got an error message that says it can’t recognize the power brick, so I’m starting to imagine we’ve got juice problems. I’ve tried WinPE, WinRE, the Win10 installer, Kyhi’s rescue disk, and the Macrium rescue media, and have never gotten past the spinning balls. I’ve ordered a new power brick (for a whopping $27, I can afford that experiment) and am hopeful that when I plug it in, it might do something helpful or useful. Again: we’ll see!

I’ll keep noodling away at this stuff until I convince myself it’s not worth the effort, or I get things working. That’s the way the family IT service generally goes, here at Chez Tittel. If any of you fellow nerds have some tips for me to make the XPS 12 work, post your comments here. I’m definitely in need of some inspiration or suggestions. Whaddya got?

February 25, 2018  1:32 PM

Win10 Upgrade Repair Install Tips

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

Last Friday afternoon, I went ahead and did what’s called an “upgrade repair install” (URI) on my production desktop PC. For historical reasons I’m running the current production of Windows 10 Enterprise, x64, EN-us (US English). Recently, the machine has been acting up a bit, primarily with issues related to the Windows UI. I’ve noticed interesting and odd behaviors on the tool/notification bar, some flakiness in IE, Edge, Chrome and Firefox, and more. Nevertheless, file checks with SFC and integrity checks with DISM turned up clean. Under those circumstances, says conventional wisdom, this system is a prime candidate for a URI. Now that I’ve just finished one, I’m pleased to share some Win10 Upgrade Repair Install tips. And, just for the record, a URI simply involves using the upgrade facility built into the Windows 10 installer to re-install (upgrade) the same OS on top of itself. This replaces older, possibly corrupted OS files with brand spanking new ones while leaving applications and user files alone and untouched.

Setting the Stage for Win10 Upgrade Repair Install Tips

There are several conditions one must meet before an upgrade repair install can do its thing. First, a URI won’t work unless the target Windows 10 image still runs well enough to launch setup.exe. (That’s the Windows 10 program that oversees and coordinates OS installation). Second, you must use an installer for the same version of Windows in need of repair. That’s version, so that means a 1703 image for the Creator’s Update version, 1709 for the Fall Creator’s Update, and ultimately 1803 (if the rumors are correct) for the upcoming spring update. In my case this was 1709, which I grabbed using the excellent Windows ISO Downloader from HeiDoc.net. Also, please note that the base language (EN-us in my case) and bittedness (64-bit in my case) must also match.

I used Rufus to build a bootable USB Flash Drive (UFD) installer for this Windows 10 version. But that wasn’t strictly necessary. I could’ve simply mounted the ISO file instead, and run setup.exe from that mounted virtual CD drive. This time, I accessed setup.exe from the root of the bootable UFD and off things went without too much muss or fuss. Just for the record it took me 5 minutes to download the Windows Enterprise ISO, and another 8 minutes or so to build the UFD for that ISO using Rufus. Finally, I was ready to start the URI process for real.

Win10 Upgrade Repair Install Tips

Once you get past the preliminaries, you can keep working while the installer does its thing in the background. When the progress meter gets to 30% or thereabouts, that’s when to expect that first reboot to occur.

Doing the URI Thing

It took another 37 minutes to get through the whole Windows 10 URI process, up to the first boot into the newly upgraded OS. (At this point, Windows says “We’re getting a few things ready” as it applies updates and makes last-minute adjustments.) After another 4 minutes, the first boot into the new environment completed, giving me complete control over Windows 10. Total time not including download and RUFUS setup was 41 minutes; add those other items in for a total of 54 minutes, or just under an hour.

I’d like to assert that my situation represents the high side of a continuum of times to perform a URI.

First, it’s well-known that if you run the URI with the target PC disconnected from the Internet, the URI completes much faster. While the URI was underway, it took 11-12 minutes to download updates.

Second, it’s also well-known and widely recommended that one disconnect all peripherals from the target PC except for the boot drive, a mouse and keyboard during the install. This ups the odds of a successful upgrade greatly. It also speeds the install time somewhat (fewer extraneous devices and their drivers to deal with during installation). I didn’t do that, because I’d already successfully done a URI on the same hardware last year.

Third, my production PC has somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 applications installed. Time for an upgrade is directly proportional to the amount of “other stuff” that the installer must accommodate when building a new Windows image and its supporting registry and configuration data. I’ve seen URIs on less heavily-burdened machines, with no Internet access, and all extraneous peripherals removed complete in 15 minutes or thereabouts.

Reaping the Benefits of a URI

Since the URI completed on my PC last Friday afternoon, it’s been much better behaved and more stable. I’ve noticed none of the toolbar or web browser weirdness I’d been dealing with beforehand. Certain applications — most notably Nitro Pro 11, Corel Paintshop Pro 2018, and Snagit Editor 2018 — now launch and run much more quickly than they had been prior to the URI. Ditto for system startup and shutdown, too.

The real benefit of a URI is that, for a modest investment of time (half an hour to an hour), IT pros can restore balky, misbehaving, or even semi-broken Windows 10 installs to normal, stable working behavior. I’ve experienced its ability to address minor (but vexing) UI and performance issues. I’ve also read (mostly at TenForums.com, where I spend 1+ hours a day answering such user and member questions as I can) that it fixes Bluetooth and USB device issues, network access problems, difficulties accessing and downloading Windows Update, and more. A URI is no panacea for all Windows 10 ills. But as general cures and tune-ups go, it ain’t at all bad, either!


February 21, 2018  3:07 PM

Win10 Safe Mode Breakout Technique

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
CMD, command prompt, Safe Mode, Windows 10

There’s been a rash of issues lately with Windows 10 updates and Insider Preview upgrades. Some of these have left PCs with boot problems. I read about a particularly interesting case in point on TenForums this morning. Its title “Caught in safe mode” tell us the author wants to break out of a vicious cycle. It seems that his or her attempted repairs have left the PC in a state where it lacks a mouse and keyboard. All the user can do is reboot. This provides no relief at all (because there’s no mouse or keyboard when the next reboot completes). Ouch! No wonder a Win10 Safe Mode breakout technique is needed.

Readying the Win10 Safe Mode Breakout Technique

To begin, because boot isn’t currently working, an alternate boot source is needed. A Windows 10 bootable installer, or a rescue or recovery disk of some kind, meet this need nicely. Normally, this will be a USB flash drive (UFD) that includes a bootable version of the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) or the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE). For the following examples, I used a Windows 10 installer for 1709. Aka the Fall Creator’s Update (FCU) I grabbed it using the Media Creation Tool. You could use a recovery disk (which Win10 will build), or something like Kyhi’s Rescue Disk instead, if you like.

Next, you need to boot your PC from that alternate source. This usually requires changing the boot order, to over-ride the normal selection and force the PC to boot from the repair or rescue media. That means accessing the BIOS or UEFI at boot-up. In turn, this often involves striking a Function key (F12 on many of my PCs and laptops), then choosing the UFD as the boot source to get repairs underway.

Running the Win10 Safe Mode Breakout Technique

After that, you’ll want to get into the Command Prompt interface on the repair or rescue disk you just booted into. (If you’re not clear on how to do this: I just blogged on this Monday in “Bootrec Fixes Win10 Boot Problems.” Get those details there.) Once you get into the command window, type the bcdedit command there. You should see something like this appear in response:

Win10 Safe Mode Breakout Technique

Running BCDEdit with no arguments shows you the Boot Configuration Data for the OS you’re running and the one you’re repairing.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

The second block of text is where the key info resides. You want to check the identifier value at the top of that block. In the foregoing example, it reads {default}. The general syntax for your next command is:

bcdedit /deletevalue {identifier} safeboot

Because the identifier in this case is {default} the literal command here (and for many other readers of this blog post who will find that same identifier in their command prompt windows after running the first command) is:

bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot

That’s all there is to it. Of course if your identifier is different, you should use that one instead. But hey! You’ve just deleted the setting that turns on safeboot the next time the PC boots. That’s why the next boot should occur normally. Of course, you will have to exit the command prompt window, and then turn off your PC (or reboot) to get back into a more normal mode of operation. From there, you should be able to start fixing anything else that needs your attention…


February 19, 2018  1:33 PM

Bootrec Fixes Win10 Boot Problems

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
command prompt, Windows 10

For those who regularly install, upgrade, update or repair Windows 10 installations, the occasional boot problem is inevitable. When such things occur, don’t panic. Turn to your trusty repair kit instead. And fortunately, the basic Win10 install media — and the vast majority of bootable repair, recovery and rescue media — includes command line access as part and parcel of WinRE. That’s the Windows Recovery Environment fully expanded, which looks like the following screenshot when booted into. Accessing that (or similar) environments provides access to the command line, and is where Bootrec fixes Win10 boot problems.

Bootrec Fixes Win10 Boot Problems

You need to get to the Troubleshoot options to start dealing with boot-up issues or problems in Win10.
[Click image for full-sized view]

Bootrec Fixes Win10 Boot Problems

Hang in there: the command prompt appears beneath the “Advanced options” item here.
[Click image for full-sized view]

Bootrec Fixes Win10 Boot Problems

Both Startup Repair and the Command Prompt offer potential relief.
[Click image for full-sized view]

Getting to Where Bootrec Fixes Win10 Boot Problems

Once you see the options that read “Startup Repair” and “Command Prompt” you’ve now got tools at your immediate disposal. There’s nothing wrong with clicking “Startup Repair,” but it’s important to understand it doesn’t always work. When you next attempt to boot Windows (it runs automatically), your error may repeat. If that happens, step through the same sequence again, but choose “Command Prompt” instead. That’s where you’ll make direct acquaintance with the bootrec command. (It’s covered in great detail in the Microsoft support article “Use Bootrec.exe in the Windows RE to troubleshoot startup issues“.)

Bootrec.exe supports the following options (listed here in alphabetical order):

/Fixboot: writes a new boot sector to the system partition using a boot sector compatible with Windows 10. Use this option when a boot sector has been replaced with a non-Win10 boot sector (as when dual- or multi-booting older Windows versions or non-Windows OSes), or when the boot sector is damaged or missing

/FixMbr: writes a Windows 10-compatible Master Boot Record (MBR) to the system partition. Does not overwrite an existing partition table. Use this to fix MBR corruption, or to remove nonstandard code from the MBR.

/RebuildBcd: Scans all disks for installations compatible with Windows 10 (and earlier Windows versions). Lets you select installation you may wish to add the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store. Use this option to completely rebuild and replace an existing BCD store. See the MS support article for details on addressing the “Bootmgr Is Missing” error message that you may sometimes encounter.

/ScanOs: Scans all disks for installations compatible with Windows 10 (and earlier Windows versions back to Vista). Use this option to show Windows installations that the boot manager menu omits or skips over (and to check for a valid Windows installation on the system disk).

[Note: This NeoSmart article offers additional bootrec information and insights, especially for Windows 10: “bootrec — Guide for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10.” Be sure to check it out, if you’d like more information on this great command and its options. Their troubleshooting section is especially informative.]

 

 


February 16, 2018  10:52 AM

Do Try Microsoft Teams

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Office 365, Windows 10

If you’re an Office 365 subscriber with a company email address enrolled, you owe it to yourself (and your company or organization) to give Microsoft Teams a try. It’s the new “teamwork hub” for the Office 365 environment. It’s likely to replace Skype for Business in the next year or two, too. To that, I say “Hooray!” because my experience in working with Microsoft Teams over the past couple of months has been entirely positive. So please, do try Microsoft Teams at your earliest convenience!

Do Try Microsoft Teams

There are so many reasons why MS Teams beats Skype for Office, I’m having trouble remembering them all!
[Click image for full-sized view]

Why I Say: Do Try Microsoft Teams

The short and sweet of it is that MS Teams beats Skype for Business three ways from Sunday. Here is what Kari (my Win10.guru partner) and I agree are its most beneficial and superior attributes:

  • Easier to collaborate with others online, especially for sharing documents and working on them simultaneously, in parallel.
  • No issues (none!) with transferring files or posting screenshots/image in the chat window.
  • More intuitive UI that is easier to learn, understand, and use.
  • Starts — and runs — much faster, and is more reliable in every way. Even running over a VPN from Germany to Texas, works quickly and well.
  • Terrific integration with the rest of Office, especially Outlook. Automatically logs, then emails chat sessions to Outlook via “regular mail.” No need to dig into Conversation History in Outlook to see old chats.
  • Excellent screen sharing, with the ability to jump around various session members’ screens. Also easy to grant, take, and surrender control of screens for remote access. Personally, I like it better than RDP/Remote Desktop Connection.
  • Outstanding meeting capabilities, with full Outlook calendar, invite and management capabilities. Also supports HD video, VoIP call-in/out, and a variety of audio conferencing options (including dial-in or computer headset-based sound).

And we haven’t even explored the advanced VoIP/phone management capabilities it delivers quite yet. If you like (or regularly use) Skype for Business, you’ll LOVE Microsoft Teams. If you don’t like (or use) Skype for Business, you’ll probably still like Microsoft Teams anyway. Give it a try! Learn more at the Microsoft Teams home page.


February 14, 2018  12:32 PM

Update 7-ZIP to 18.01 NOW

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

You might not think that a compression tool like 7-Zip could pose security problems for Windows. If so, you’d be wrong. I just  learned — courtesy of a January 31 post from Woody Leonhard — that older versions of the program are vulnerable. Vulnerable as in having been issued CVE-2017-17969 for buffer overflow attack potential. This leaves PCs open to denial of service attacks (not so good) or the ability to “potentially execute arbitrary code via a crafted ZIP archive” (BAD). That’s why you want to jump up to Igor Pavlov’s 7-Zip page, grab a new copy, and install it right away. As the blog post title proclaims, you should “Update 7-zip to 18.01 NOW!!”

Update 7-ZIP to 18.01 NOW

You want to get to version 18.01 (released Jan 18, 2018) or higher, ASAP!!

More About Update 7-ZIP to 18.01 NOW

This comes with one gotcha. Courtesy of its tight integration with File Explorer (7-Zip installs multiple shell extensions by default) you’ll have to reboot PCs once the update has been applied. OTOH, because there still aren’t any known exploits (none that I can find, anyway), you could wait until your next code refresh if you wanted to take a chance. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, though: I just upgraded all my copies of 7-Zip. Woody seems plenty insistent that you wanted to do this on January 30, when he issued his warning. It sure hasn’t gotten any safer in the meantime, either.

I feel strongly enough about this, in fact, that I just opened Secunia PSI to check 7-zip status therein. Sure enough, it shows the older 16.0 version of 7-Zip as “Up-to-date.” By extension that means they think it’s still safe. I’m writing them an e-mail now to inform them otherwise. I’ll also be observing that I kind of expect to hear about this kind of stuff from them via their software, rather than the other way ’round. Wonder if that’ll spur a reaction. If it doesn’t I’m going to have to find a replacement for Secunia PSI. Sigh.

Update 7-ZIP to 18.01 NOW

I thought the whole reason I use Secunia PSI is to have it warn me about stuff like this?


February 12, 2018  5:54 PM

No Win10 Means No Office 2019

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Office 365, Windows 10

There’s an interesting development on the Windows landscape. It’s also perhaps a “killer reason” for Win10 upgrades. Here ’tis: MS has confirmed that Office 2019 will only be available on devices running Windows 10. Ouch! Those using older Windows versions can’t upgrade. This info appears in a blog post innocuously entitled “Changes to Office and Windows servicing and support.”

Now here’s a blog post that punches way beyond its title’s apparent significance.

Here’s how MS dropped this bomb , and delivered its “No Win10 means no Office 2019” message:

Effective January 14, 2020, [Office 365] ProPlus will no longer be supported on the following versions of Windows. This will ensure that both Office and Windows receive regular, coordinated updates to provide the most secure environment with the latest capabilities.

  • Any Windows 10 LTSC release
  • Windows Server 2016 and older
  • Windows 8.1 and older

That leaves only Windows 10 standing. Not even the oldest versions, witnessed by exclusion of the LTSB, now known as the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) is included. All I can say in response is “Wow!”

If No Win10 Means No Office 2019, Then What?

Obviously, this means that companies that want to stick with Office 365 or standalone installs are going to have to upgrade their PCs to Windows 10. According to the afore-linked blog post, the next Office release will ship in H2 2019, with previews of the new apps and  servers (which include Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business) appearing sometime in Q2 2018. Furthermore, here’s the second salvo in MS’s bombing run (emphasis mine):

The Office 2019 client apps will be released with Click-to-Run installation technology only. We will not provide MSI as a deployment methodology for Office 2019 clients. We will continue to provide MSI for Office Server products.

Again: “Wow!” Things are changing big-time in the world of MS software and subscriptions. Methinks the vision of “Windows/Apps as a service” takes another giant leap forward, too. My Win10.guru partner, Kari the Finn, insists that MS will steer its customers of all scales and sizes to Azure AD as well. That makes for a Windows/Office/Azure AD trifecta which, coupled with AutoPilot and InTune, recasts the MS landscapre entirely. I  agree. All this stuff lines up far too nicely to be a simple coincidence.

Life in the MS world has just gotten a lot more interesting. Just how interesting remains to be seen. Stay tuned!

PS: Make of this recent MS announcement naming former MS public face of  “Windows as a Service” Michael Niehaus to principal program manager on the “modern deployment team” what you like. Notice his emphasis on InTune and AutoPilot in the article. I think it simply proves my point, don’t you?


February 11, 2018  2:05 PM

KB4058258 Install Fail Fix

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

Lots of Win10 users are reporting issues when trying to install the Spectre follow-up Windows Update item, KB4058258. Many of those who’ve installed KB4056892 have reported issues when trying to add its replacement, KB4058258. A kind of “recipe” has emerged, for those who want to apply this KB4058258 install fail fix. I’ll recite same in the next section of this blog post, and continue with some explanation and analysis.

How to Apply KB4058258 Install Fail Fix

This is a three step process that requires uninstalling the original update, cleaning up Windows using DISM, then manually installing the follow-up item, KB4058258. Here’s how:

  1. Open Control Panel, select Programs and Features, click View installed updates. Right-click on the entry for KB4056892, then select “Uninstall” from the resulting pop-up menu. When the uninstall process is complete, reboot your PC. Some users report seeing two different KB4056892 entries in this list. If you do too, you must uninstall both of them (and can wait to reboot until the second uninstall is finished).
  2. Open an administrative Command prompt or PowerShell session, and enter this specific deployment image servicing and management (DISM) command:
    DISM /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup
  3. Grab the KB4056892 download for your Win10 version from the Microsoft Catalog, and install it manually. Reboot one more time.

When all these gyrations are complete, the Win10 version should be current (as I write this post, that’s 16299.214) as shown here:

Many users with this issue report getting stuck at lower build numbers
(e.g. 16299.15, 16299.125, or 16299.192).

How the Fix Works

It seems that some of the changes that KB4056892 makes prevent the follow-up item, KB4058258, from installing. By manually uninstalling the initial item (KB4056892), we undo those changes to make way for the next item to install unimpeded. Running the DISM command sweeps away all traces of that earlier update (or updates plural, for those who find two KB4056892 items in their update histories) from the WinSxS binary store. Then, manually installing the follow up item KB4056892 makes sure that Windows 10 gets caught up to the proper cumulative build index, without having to wait for WU to deliver and install it for you. Voila! Done!

[Note: thanks to those intrepid Windows investigators and troubleshooters at TenForums. I learned about this fix from the thread entitled “Error 0x80073715 in KB4058258.” Special kudos to members Ben Hastings and winactive in getting this nailed down.]


February 7, 2018  2:14 PM

Windows 10 Gets S Modes

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Deployment, Windows 10, Windows Store

When Microsoft Announced Windows 10 S last year, the general response was a resounding “Huh?” Windows 10 S restricts users to apps from the Microsoft Store. In fact, that’s what the “S” in Windows 10 S stands for. The idea is  a more secure and streamlined Windows 10 experience. Thus, Windows 10 S gives companies (or service organizations) tighter limits on and controls over Windows desktops. Windows 10 S was an OEM product only, available only on computers with that OS pre-installed. Yesterday, Paul Thurrott posted a pair of articles that explained upcoming changes to Windows 10 S. Simply put, these stories reveal that Windows 10 S is going away as a standalone product, as Windows 10 gets S modes for a variety of products instead.

What Windows 10 Gets S Modes Really Means…

In one of the stories, Thurrott talks about a “New Windows 10 Consumer SKU Roadmap…” Users can upgrade for free from Windows 10 S to a full-blown version now. Not any more, moving forward. MS envisions 5 “Consumer SKUs” for Windows 10 S. (Enterprise does not appear, but may get S modes of its own anyway. The following list and pricing info comes verbatim from Thurrott’s article):

  • Entry: Intel Atom/Celeron/Pentium ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤ 32GB SSD AND ≤ 14.1” screen size (NB), ≤ 11.6” (2in1, Tablet), ≥ 17” AiO
  • Value: Intel Atom/Celeron/Pentium ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤64GB SSD & ≤ 14.1” screen size (EM ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤64GB SSD or ≤ 500GB HDD)
  • Core: Cannot be used on devices that meet the Core+ and Advanced SKU Hardware Specifications
  • Core +: High end CPU and >4 GB RAM (All Form Factors) ≥8 GB RAM & ≥1080p screen resolution (NB, 2in1, AiO) >8 GB RAM & ≥2TB HDD or SSD storage (Desktop)
  • Advanced: Intel Core i9 (any configuration) OR Core i7 ≥ 6 Cores (any RAM) OR AMD Threadripper(any configuration) OR Intel Core i7 >16GB (any Cores) or AMD FX/ Ryzen7 >16GB (any Cores) OR ≥ 4K screen resolution (any processor, includes 4K UHD-3840 resolution

Pricing for the SKUs is as follows: Advanced ($101), Core + ($86.66), Core ($65.45), Value ($45), and Entry ($25). Also, Windows 10 S is dead, it’s now Windows 10 S mode and the baseline SKU will be going away but each version will have an S mode.

Furthermore, Thurrott reports this new regime will kick in on April 2nd. New pricing for Home advanced takes effect on May 1st. Finally, he indicates that MS will charge users $49 to upgrade from Pro S to the corresponding full version of Windows 10. (This ends the free upgrade for Windows 10 S so far.)

How Has Windows 10 S Fared So Far?

In his other story, “Windows 10 S is Dead, Long Live S Mode” Thurrot provides info about 10 S upgrades. He shares MS’s stats on how many users stick with this OS version, how many upgrade, and how quickly. Apparently, 60% of buyers stick with 10 S. Of the 40% who upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, 60% make the switch within 24 hours of purchase. Of those who don’t switch in the first week, 83% stick with the stripped-down OS.

Windows 10 Gets S Modes

As a product, Windows 10 S is ‘here today, gone tomorrow.” As a mode, it’s almost everywhere in Win10 soon.
[Source: Microsoft; here’s a link to the FAQ for the incurably curious.]

Education and Home users will be able to upgrade to Home for free. Pro users must pay the aforementioned $49 to switch. Surprisingly MS indicates that AV/Security apps will be present in S mode. It’s still not clear if this means Defender only, or if third-parties will be allowed to ply their wares in UWP form. Lots of hoopla has already emerged about this possibility because of Microsoft’s prior position that such software isn’t needed on the carefully crafted, tightly controlled S version for Windows 10. We’ll see: this could get interesting!

I’m still of the opinion that Windows 10 S mode is Microsoft’s strategy for fully commoditizing Windows. The stripped down version seriously supports automated image construction, deployment, maintenance, and management. Look for it to descend from the cloud onto (many, but not all) desktops everywhere. Or maybe not. We’ll have to see about that, too.

[Shout-out to fellow Windows Insider MVP and TenForums.com Administrator Shawn Brink, whose news post ‘Windows 10 S’ is now ‘Windows 10 Now with S Mode’ brought this story to my attention. Thanks!]


February 6, 2018  8:28 PM

Timely Firmware Update Rescues Surface Pro 3

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I usually post my blogs on Mon-Wed-Fri. This week is a little different. Instead of blogging, writing and working as usual, I’ve been trying to get my Surface Pro 3 up and running. It seems it was belatedly bit by the firmware update for Spectre that MS released on January 5. Starting over the weekend, my machine got into a crash-loop with error code system_service_exception. Subsequent inspection using Nir Sofer’s BlueScreenView informed me that the faulting module was ntoskrnl.exe. Further online research pointed directly at the now-rebuffed firmware update issued in the wake of the Spectre and Meltdown disclosures that kicked off the New Year. Fortunately for me, a timely firmware update rescues Surface Pro 3 rescues my machine, too.

Timely Firmware Update Rescues Surface Pro 3

The Surface Pro 3 has its quirks, but it’s been a good hybrid tablet, all in all.
[Click image to see full-sized view. Source: Microsoft.]

How a Timely Firmware Update Rescues Surface Pro 3

I found myself in a sticky situation. Because the machine kept crashing so constantly, I could neither perform a repair nor a clean install of the affected OS. I was seriously contemplating a trip to the Microsoft Store and a possible repair charge. Then I decided to try the Windows Update MiniTool (WUMT). It’s faster than WU, and can often grab and handle updates when Windows Update itself cannot. Sure enough, it found a new firmware update (dated 1/24, also listed in this Micrososft SP3 download link).

Intel changed its mind about the firmware installs for Spectre and started advising IT pros and end users to avoid them about 10 days ago. Because I’d already updated the SP3, I’d wondered at the time if this might not turn around to bite me. For a while there, I thought I’d gotten away clean. But then, this weekend my party got crashed repeatedly as the SP3 started cratering every 10 to 15 minutes. When I finally saw the firmware update notification this afternoon, I finally saw a ray of sunshine and some promise of relief.

I’ve now gotten the firmware update installed, and am working on updating the OS to Build 17083. I’ll keep at it until I get it working once again. If I hit any other bumps in the road, I’ll update this post with further details. For once, I’m really glad I didn’t have to learn how to roll back the firmware update mistakenly applied to my Surface Pro 3. Who knew that such an update could ride to my rescue?

[Note added 7:07 PM] Turns out I had to perform a clean install of Build 17083 to get the Surface working properly again. The upgrade kept crashing, too. But after a disk wipe and a clean reinstall, I’m back in business. Now, I’m putting the tools and apps in place to make the machine completely mine again. And so it goes, here in WindowsLand…


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