Windows Enterprise Desktop


January 24, 2019  12:22 PM

Win10 1809 Update Unknown Device Works

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Device drivers, Troubleshooting, Windows 10

Given the flak that Win10 1809 is catching lately, I wanted to share some good news in the wake of a recent clean install. Normally, when Device Manager (DevMgr) includes the Other Devices category, one or more Unknown device entries follow. This means that Windows has enumerated devices and found one or more items it doesn’t recognize. If it doesn’t recognize them, it can’t find drivers for them either. But I learned yesterday, to my great and pleasant surprise, there is some potential for relief. That’s why I say Win10 1809 update Unknown device works — at least, sometimes.

Win10 1809 Update Unknown Device Works.unkdev

Other devices is the DevMgr category under which problem or unrecognized devices often appear. Here’s a slew of them.

Why Say: Win10 1809 Update Unknown Device Works

For any device entry in DevMgr, right-clicking produces a pop-up menu. The first option in that menu list reads “Update driver.” Here’s a screencap:

Win10 1809 Update Unknown Device Works.popup

I’ve done this countless times in older Windows versions (8.1 and earlier) and in older Win10 iterations (1803 and back). I don’t remember Windows *ever* being able to update a driver that showed up under the “Other devices” heading with an “Unknown device” label. Yesterday I encountered two such entries on a test machine. Thus, imagine my surprise and delight when right-clicking, selecting Update driver, and getting the first driver properly installed (and moved into System devices). The second one worked two, because both were related: Intel(R) Serial IO UART Host Controller – 9C63 and – 9C64.

Apparently MS has added some logic in the update driver mechanisms to check the Hardware ID values. Thus, it could use that data to identify and find the necessary drivers even when initial device enumeration fails for whatever reason. This probably won’t work for ALL unknown Win10 devices. But I find myself eagerly awaiting my next such discovery to see if updating an Unknown device works as nicely next time around. Here’s hoping!

January 23, 2019  11:03 AM

Driver Setting Explains Venue Pro Restart Fail

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Device drivers, Troubleshooting, Windows 10

Over the past 2-3 years, I’ve experienced an intermittent and vexing issue with one of my Insider Pro test machines. It’s a Dell Venue Pro 11, model 7130 (i5-4210Y CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Lite-On M.2 SATA SSD). At certain points in time, this PC has repeated suffered from Restart issues. Let me explain: if I choose Restart from the power menu, or the command line, the machine shuts down. But it stays shut down. And I have to disconnect the battery and/or AC so a cold boot occurs, before the PC will start up after pressing the Power button. At long last, I’ve determined that a driver setting explains Venue Pro restart fail. The culprit, it turns out, is an Intel Management Engine (IME) setting. . .

Driver Setting Explains Venue Pro Restart Fail.ime-power

On all PCs, this setting is checked by default. But on some laptops, including this one, it causes sleep, restart, and hibernation issues.

When Driver Setting Explains Venue Pro Restart Fail, the Fix is Simple

All that’s needed to address this problem is to uncheck the setting. Sure, the device may consume more power. But on those laptops (or hybrid tablets in this case) that experience restart and other problems related to sleep and hibernation, it seems to fix what ails them. It sure worked on this PC.

I didn’t really get to the bottom of this until I recently clean-installed Insider Preview build 18317 on the Venue Pro 11. Magically, the restart problem disappeared. The cause didn’t come clear until the problem returned after I visited the Dell Drivers & Support webpage and updated the drivers that the Windows Installer used with the latest and greatest from that source. Presto! My Restart failure re-appeared. One of those drivers had to be at fault, so I started removing them one at a time. In retrospect,  I now understand that each time a new IME driver got installed, the default was reset and my problems resumed. Thus, I’ve got a new item for that machine’s post-IME-update checklist! Funny how some things that seem really complex turn out to be fairly simple when better understood.

When I removed the IME driver, Restart resumed working. Thanks to some  insightful input from my Win10.Guru partner, Kari Finn, the solution was then clear. In a TenForums.com thread about earlier Insider Preview releases, he gets right to the heart of this matter. Indeed, after re-installing the IME driver, and making this setting change, Restart kept working properly. Problem solved!

His illustration of the fix is quite instructive, so I’ll end my post with a copy of it here:

Driver Setting Explains Venue Pro Restart Fail.kari-imefix


January 22, 2019  12:25 PM

Kari Script Builds Win10 Bootable Install UFD

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Clean install, Windows 10, Windows Upgrades

UFD is, of course, a USB Flash Drive, preferred media for Windows OSes nowadays given their size and frequency of change. Alas, I’ve been struggling with recent Insider Preview releases on a test machine lately. It’s my Dell Venue Pro 11 7130. Build 18305 is as far as it will go. In fact, upgrades failed on 18309, 18312 and 18317. None of the usual techniques get me past a WDF_VIOLATION GSOD error. That occurs predictably, about 86% into the post-GUI install. That’s the phase with the spinning balls and the “Working on updates” status message. When something like this happens, the upgrade of last resort is a fresh, clean Win10 install. And that’s where Kari’s script that builds a Win10 bootable install UFD comes in supremely handy.

Win10 Bootable Install UFD.script

At its conclusion, the script shows info for the newly-created, bootable Win10 UFD. Works like a champ, too!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What About the Script That Builds Win10 Bootable Install UFD?

Everything you need to know is covered in Part 1 of Kari’s excellent tutorial at TenForums.com. It’s entitled “PowerShell Scripting: Create USB Install Media for Windows 10.” It completely automates the process that builds Win10 bootable install UFD. You must supply a USB flash drive to receive the boot/install files, and mount an ISO image from which those files come. The script does everything else for you automatically. I just used it, and it does the job nicely.

A clean install of Insider Preview on the Dell Venue Pro 11 succeeded. Of course, that means I now get the exquisite torture of rebuilding a Win10 system from scratch. If experience is any guide, that’s half a day’s work or more. Given my schedule this week, that’ll happen as a background task over several days. But at least, I’m again current with the Insider Preview release level. Nice, too, that when the “repair of last resort” is used, it still works like it oughter. That’s a big relief!


January 18, 2019  4:41 PM

Windows 10 1809 versus 1901

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

Man, I have to chuckle. Just a little. Seems that MS has finally, finally let go of the latest Windows 10 upgrade through “normal channels.” That release, of course, is named 1809. As I understand it, this decodes to September (the ninth month of) 2018. Look at what’s on the MS Windows 10 Update History page, as of 1/16/2019. That’s why I titled this post: Windows 10 1809 versus 1901.

Windows 10 1809 versus 1901.info

Notice that only on 1/16/2019 did 1809 become generally available. You can ask for it (manual download). Or, you can wait for MS to decide you qualify for “the best update experience.”

Why Say Windows 10 1809 versus 1901, Anyway?

Poor Microsoft. They’ve really been through it with the two semi-annual 2018 upgrades. 1803 had file loss potential and other issues. 1809 has been beset with one gotcha after another. It’s been 108 days since the end of September, which means it’s really been 106 days since MS made its first, quickly withdrawn 1809 release on October 2. By my calculator, an average month has 30.4 days (365/12), so that means it’s been almost three-and-a-half months from the initial botched release to real GA status. (GA means “general availability” and it’s an older MS buzzword to denote when an OS is ready for general consumption.)

Note further, that MS is still restricting access to this latest 1809 version based on telemetry info. That means it’s gently steering those away who might otherwise get it through Windows Update until they’re a bit more sure that the upgrade will complete successfully. Why, oh why, one wonders did this attitude not prevail from the get-go?


January 16, 2019  6:31 PM

Windows 7 Inside Last Extended Support Year

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
windows 10 upgrade, Windows 7

Monday was the 14th of January. When the next year comes and goes, that’s the end for Windows 7. That puts Windows 7 inside last extended support year, as this snippet from the Windows lifecycle fact sheet shows. Of course, if history is any guide, a certain cadre of desperate organizations will decide to pay MS for ongoing support thereafter. That’s what happened when Windows XP finally hit the same expiration date. And who was among the biggest buyers of said support? Uncle Sam, that’s who (especially for some military systems).

Windows 7 Inside Last Extended Support Year.factsheet

Not bad for an OS that made its debut on 2/22/2011. Nevertheless, the end (of extended support) draws near!
[Click image to see full-sized view.]

Put Windows 7 Inside Last Extended Support Year, Then What?

Good question. This certainly puts the heat on efforts to migrate from Windows 7. But I find myself wondering how seriously some businesses take this deadline. I’ve visited certain small retail outlets, medical businesses, even some shipping and freight companies, and more, in the past quarter. All are still running Windows 7. When I ask them if they plan to upgrade soon, answers vary from “IT’s working on it” to “Who knows?” This could be a serious business opportunity for IT shops with outside sales staff who can wander around town. When they find a shop running Windows 7, they can show them the lifecycle fact sheet. Or this blog post. Hopefully, it might spur some action.

MS provides custom support beyond the extended support date only under contract, customer by customer. If memory serves, such contracts are neither cheap nor terribly easy to set up or administer. Though the Feds and the military can think about such things, it’s outside the budget and grasp for most smaller organizations. Some of those small business owners might be interested in hearing about that, too. Time’s a wastin’!

 


January 15, 2019  10:46 AM

CU KB4480116 Hiccup Offers Easy Fix

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Those of you who follow my blog regularly will note that I posted zilch last week. That’s because I was busy, busy, busy with a legal report turned in on Friday, 1/11. That doesn’t mean zilch happened with Windows 10 last week, though. It just means I was too busy to report it. In fact, I got (briefly) stung by a minor gotcha from the Patch Tuesday update that emerged on Tuesday, January 8. After rebooting from the cumulative update it included, I found my production PC unable to access the Start Menu or any UWP apps. I could click icons or see menu items via Search, but nothing would run. A quick check with SFC and DISM /Scanhealth turned up no system pathology. So I simply rebooted one more time and Presto! those problems vanished. And that, dear readers, is why I say that CU KB4480116 hiccup offers easy fix.

CU KB4480116 Hiccup Offers Easy Fix.history

Here’s what WU left on my 1809 machines last Tuesday. Pretty sure the base CU is what caused the hiccup.

Performing CU KB4480116 Hiccup Offers Easy Fix

In a way, this situation reminds me of one of the foundations of Windows troubleshooting. We used to do that by running the so-called “three fingered salute” (CTRL-ALT-DEL) in the Windows 3.x days. “If all else fails,” ran an old saying in those days, “reboot Windows!” It worked sometimes, even often back then. It worked this time, too. So if you find yourself troubleshooting mysterious, post update issues with more modern Windows versions, remember that some of the old, tried and true fixes still work today, too — at least sometimes!

 


January 7, 2019  10:25 AM

Potential 1809 Admin Lockout Discovered

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

Here’s an interesting and new possible gotcha for Windows 10 1809, courtesy of Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks.net. It’s not inevitable, merely possible. The gotcha depends on two conditions to manifest. Condition 1: the built-in Administrator account is enabled (it’s disabled by default in Windows 10). Condition 2 is it’s the only account with admin level access a PC upgrading from 1803 to 1809. Should both conditions hold true, users of affected PCs would be devoid of admin-level access on those machines. That’s why I assert that a potential 1809 admin lockout discovered could pose problems for some PCs.

Potential 1809 Admin Lockout Discovered.nihoreport

For those who read Japanese, the original report from the Network & AD Support team in that language may make sense.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Avoiding the Potential 1809 Admin Lockout Discovered

The easiest way to steer clear of this gotcha is to make sure to disable the built-in Admin account on 1803 PCs before upgrading them to 1809. Of course  the PC needs at least one other account with Administrator privileges. This prevents the problem from occurring altogether. According to Brinkmann’s article: “MS reveals that it is working on a solution for the issue.” In the meantime, they recommend avoiding upgrades on PCs where the built-in admin account is the only elevated account defined or available.

Here’s a quick way to check. Run Manage Accounts in Control Panel, then click “Manage another account.” You’ll see a list of accounts and their privilege levels appear in response. You want to see at least one account that’s not named “Administrator” with Administrator privileges to avoid the possibility of an admin lockout on a PC upgraded from 1803 to 1809. Then, it’s safe to proceed. Safer still, you could temporarily disable the built-in Admin account before upgrading, then re-enable it afterward.

Potential 1809 Admin Lockout Discovered.accounts

For various reasons, my production PC has two Administrator level accounts enabled: my usual login, and an “extra.”


January 2, 2019  6:03 PM

Thurrott Delivers Stinging Win10 Indictment

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Windows 10

I’ve been following Paul Thurrott’s Windows news and commentary for nearly two decades. In fact, I’ve always found him a useful and occasionally entertaining source of insight and information, Windows-wise. With his wrap-up story for 2018, Thurrott delivers stinging Win10 indictment. The title is “Top Windows and PC Stories of 2018.” Do please read it. Be prepared, however, as your eyebrows encroach on your hairline. For a bald guy like me that’s a serious challenge!

Thurrott Delivers Stinging Win10 Indictment.windows

Thurrott’s of Windows might be summarized as “badly broken.”
[Source: Pexels 162630/Royalty-free/No attribution req’d.]

When Thurrott Delivers Stinging Win10 Indictment, What’s Up?

A quick recitation of his subheadings is evocative and illuminating:
1. Windows as a (dis)service (major stumbles on both feature upgrades in 2018: 1803 bad, 1809 worse)
2. Windows demoted in major upheaval at Microsoft (nobody with exclusive Windows responsibility sits on the MS senior leadership team)
3. Microsoft Edge moves to Chromium (the Edge engine is toast because nobody uses it and it’s “full of nonsense”)
4. Windows 10 on ARM users in the Always-Connected PC era (two fails so far owing to lackluster performance, possible 2019 rescue from 835 chipset)
5. Microsoft Embraces Linux with Azure Sphere (MS chooses Linux over Windows because it’s better compartmentalized and runs on lower-end PCs)
6. Microsoft lied about the number of Windows 10 users (MS never hit the 700 million target till late in 2018 because it counted VMs for most of the year)
7. Windows 10 S  fails, and then so does S mode (minimal Windows proves unworkable, though MS keeps trying)
8. Go time: MS finally offers another affordable Surface PC (Thurrott hates it but his sidekick Brad Sams loves it: go figure)
9. PWAs fails to make a difference in 2018 (Progressive Web Apps never take off with only a handful available)
10. Microsoft’s bizzare relationship with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 (MS simply can’t jump onto both of these essential buses)

Tell Us What You REALLY Think

Throughout the story I’m agog at Thurrott’s in-your-face cataloging of Windows woes, warts, and shortcomings. He’s normally something of a cheerleader for Windows stuff, so it blew me away for him to lay things out in such a brutal, matter-of-fact way. I hope he’s trying to goad MS into getting its Windows act together. I hope somebody at Microsoft reads this article, and decides to do something about it. And FWIW, I agree with every single one of his observations, though I may not see them quite so dark and dire. I’m by no means ready to abandon Windows (and I don’t think Mr. Thurrott is, either). But clearly, there’s LOTS of work in need of doing.


January 1, 2019  3:58 PM

Windows Insider MVP Renewed 2019

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Microsoft MVP, Windows 10

Woo hoo! Just got the email today from the Windows Insider team. Seems they accepted my (belated) renewal application for Windows 10/Windows Insider MVP. So I’m in the program for another year, and will be attending the MVP Summit in Redmond and Bellevue in March (3/17-22). I really, really enjoyed last year’s meetings. Thus, I’m looking forward to a happy repeat in about three months. That’s one major reason I’m really tickled that my Windows Insider MVP renewed 2019.

Windows Insider MVP Renewed 2019.reg

The upcoming conference is one of the program’s best benefits. Last year, over 2,100 MVPs of all kinds (and related insiders) attended the conference.

The coolest thing about the 2018 MVP Summit was that over half the attendees came from the Eastern Hemisphere. It’s the first big conference I’ve ever attended in the US that had “natives” in the minority. That made it very cosmopolitan, and way cool.

What Windows Insider MVP Renewed 2019 Really Means

Sure, the program does include benefits. We get free MS subscriptions, access to regular online meetings with MS employees, and inside information from time to time. About that last item: anything hot is under NDA, so please don’t ask me for inside scoop. Sorry: sharing not allowed! But the real and best benefit is access to a savvy, active and knowledgeable community of experts, practitioners, and developers. I get to rub shoulders with most of the TenForums team (the core group that runs the site), plus people like Ed Bott, Rafael Rivera, Greg Carmack, Andre da Costa, Dan Godin, Jason Coombes, Corrine Chorney, Sherry Malik, Richard Hay, Nuno Silva, and a whole bunch more.

There’s also a Yammer set up just for Windows Insider MVPs. I get a daily dose of info and discussion from those colleagues there, too. It often provides an excellent source for info about Windows 10 issues, sometimes with answers or workarounds, too. It’s a great program, and I’m proud and pleased to find myself still in it. Happy New Year, all!


December 31, 2018  11:41 AM

Windows Enterprise Desktop Turns Ten Years Old

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Windows 10, Windows enterprise

I watched a significant anniversary for this blog slip past earlier this year. Depending on how you count, it hit its tenth-year anniversary this year. September 29 and October 1 of 2008, featured the initial announcement and the first post of substance, respectively. The reigning title at inception was “Vista Enterprise Desktop.” When Windows 7 came along, the name changed to follow suit. By the time 8 arrived, TechTarget and I agreed something more enduring would be good. Windows Enterprise Desktop (WED) proved more durable and descriptive. And that’s what it’s been ever since.

The original list of proposed topics, with a little tweaking remains surprisingly relevant even today. If you like, you can find that whole list in Post#1: Welcome to Vista Enterprise Desktop. Here’s an abridged sampling of key elements:

Working with Windows Upgrades
Dealing with failed Microsoft Updates
Managing application compatibility
Setup, configuration, updates, maintenance, and uninstalls for Windows
Windows deployment tools
Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK)
Using the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE)
Working with Sysprep
Desktop virtualization and VMs

Windows Enterprise Desktop Turns Ten Years Old.graphic

A ten year anniversary for a blog that now covers Windows 10 deserves a numeric image, yes?
[Source: Miguel A. Padrinan, Pexels 10161133]

When Windows Enterprise Desktop Turns Ten Years Old, What Does History Say?

To a large degree, these topics still inform and drive the kind of coverage I provide in WED today. Looking back at the WordPress environment in which the blog runs, I see nearly 1,500 posts (1,499 to be exact) of which I wrote 1,427. That works out to roughly 143 posts per year. My contract with TechTarget actually calls for me to provide 12 posts a month at a frequency of three posts per week (144 per year). Given vacations, illness, family situations, and the way life sometimes interferes with work, I’d say this proves I’ve come as close to meeting my commitments as anybody could.

This blog has been pretty popular with TechTarget readers, too. Each of the most visited blog posts (the top 10) averages 6,700 page views. The most popular of them all, at nearly double the average (12,277), dates back to 2011. Surprisingly, it deals with Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). MSE was a precursor to Windows Defender, available as a free add-on to Windows 7. Actually, while those details are stale now, the general advice it offers still describes a good all-around approach to dealing with Windows updates, and the problems they can occasionally cause. Most of the rest of the top 10 posts feature interesting and possibly helpful troubleshooting and problem-solving advice. I’d to think that’s what keeps the readers coming back. Average annual pageviews have been over 200K for the past 7 years, so at least some readers appear to agree.

As WED moves into its second decade, let me wish readers a happy New Year. May you all have a safe and prosperous 2019, with surprises mostly pleasant, and a rising tide to float all boats. I hope you’ll stick with me for another ten years or longer. RIP 2018, here comes 2019!


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