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  1. The case for biannual Windows 10 feature updates Windows 10 turned five years old this week, and after going through each feature update for the OS, I got to thinking about how Windows as a service has evolved over the years. When the OS first shipped, we didn't even know what the next update would be called; some speculated Windows 10.1. It was a couple of years before Microsoft decided on its biannual spring/fall schedule, and that was so it would align with Office 365 ProPlus. There have been 10 versions of Windows 10, and a number of them have been problematic, some more than others. However, version 1809 was the biggest disaster of them all, and it inspired some significant changes to the process. Starting with version 1903, users were no longer forced to take automatic feature updates, and then version 1909 arrived in the form of a cumulative update with no notable features. That extremely condensed version of history brings us to today. Windows 10 20H2 is set to arrive in the same way as 19H2 did, as a cumulative update. And while we expected 21H1 to be a full feature update, it turns out that that might not be the case. To be clear, Microsoft has never committed to a major feature update in the spring and a minor one in the fall. It's just what happened in 2019. What I was originally told was that Windows 10X was set to RTM this fall, so that's why regular Windows 10 is getting a minor update again. But now, Windows 10X is delayed until next spring, leaving 21H1 in question. One thing that I've absolutely heard is that 21H1 will certainly not be the major feature update that we were expecting. I don't know if we'll still get a minor 19H2-style update, but ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley is hearing that 21H1 won't happen at all, as Microsoft is shifting to an annual release schedule. I'm here to say that Microsoft shouldn't do it, and that it should stick to feature updates twice a year. Give us one major update in the spring and one in the fall. It's fine, really. I understand the argument. The idea is that Microsoft has fumbled so many of its 10 versions of Windows 10 that it just can't handle pushing out two feature updates a year. I don't think that's the case, and here's why. The second update is the good update First of all, between the two updates a year that we get, Microsoft is killing off the good one. Let's be clear about that. 19H2 can barely be considered a feature update, but the fact is that it was a good feature update. In fact, if you went directly from 1809 to 1909, and were planning on going from 1909 to 20H2, you're in pretty good shape in terms of stability. Think about it. If Microsoft pushes out a bad update in the spring - something that's going to happen from time-to-time - the fall update fixes it. That spring update gets serviced for six months, Microsoft throws in a couple of minor goodies, and that becomes the fall update. Bad feature updates are going to happen from time to time, and keep in mind that for consumers, these updates are supported for only 18 months. That means that you're not going to be able to skip feature updates like you can now. In fact, if Microsoft kept things the way they are now, where you have to opt into feature updates and they're only installed when your version is nearing the end of support, these annual updates would end up coming through automatically anyway. To be clear, this is only if the current system stayed in place, and the only thing that changed is that Microsoft only made one feature update a year. I have no reason to believe that support lifecycles wouldn't be extended. The facts that remain, however, is that bad updates will happen from time to time, and that Microsoft would be killing off the update that fixes them. You can't guarantee a good spring update, as demonstrated by the May 2020 Update Windows 10 version 2004 is not a good update. When it launched, it had a bunch of known issues, and even now, over two months later, a whole bunch of PCs are blocked from getting it. This wouldn't be so crazy, if it wasn't for how hard Microsoft tried to make it good. Microsoft began testing Windows 10 20H1 with Insiders on February 14, 2019, 15 months before it was released. No other update has been publicly tested for that long. That's not all though, because the RTM build, 19041, was released to Insiders on December 10, 2019. After that, it was serviced for another five months before being publicly released. No one could have guessed that there would be so many issues. Servicing 20H1 for five months seemed like a good idea. Many updates are rough on day one until they've been serviced for a few months. So, why not just service them for a few months before shipping it? It didn't work. On day one, you'd be hard-pressed to find a PC that even got offered the update. Between when Insiders started testing 20H1 and when it was released, two Windows 10 feature updates were released: versions 1903 and 1909. But 1909 was barely a feature update. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single new feature that was in it, and there was certainly nothing major in it. Version 1909 is a pretty simple idea. It's a refined version of version 1903 but with a different lifecycle, and a longer lifecycle for business customers. I also opined that version 1909 was something that users should opt into. With the way things work now, Microsoft automatically updates users to the latest update only if your version is nearing the end of its 18-month life, so you'd end up on an annual cycle anyway. If you opted into version 1909, you should be on the more stable H2 update path every year. But given how simple and minor version 1909 was, are we to believe that had version 1909 not happened at all, that version 2004 would somehow be better? I really don't think that it would. The point that I'm getting at is that that second feature update of the year, the more stable one, does a lot more good than harm, and Microsoft should keep it around. The case for biannual Windows 10 feature updates
  2. Microsoft integrates Android apps into Windows 10 with new Your Phone update Android apps are getting tighter integration in Windows Microsoft is now allowing Windows 10 users to run Android apps side by side with Windows applications on a PC. It’s part of a new feature in Your Phone, and it builds upon the mirroring that Microsoft’s Your Phone app already provides. You can now access a list of Android apps in Microsoft’s Your Phone app and launch these mobile apps accordingly. These will run in a separate window outside of the Your Phone app, mirrored from your phone. This new Android app support also allows Windows 10 users to multitask with other Windows apps with alt+tab support, and you’ll even be able to pin these Android apps to the Windows 10 taskbar or Start menu. The ability to launch apps directly from Your Phone means you no longer have to search around on a mirrored experience of your phone, you can simply pin your favorite Android apps to the taskbar and run them as if they’re regular Windows apps. Android apps running on a Windows 10 PC. One big part of this new Your Phone experience is being able to run multiple Android apps side by side, something that Microsoft announced with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 launch earlier today. Windows 10 users won’t be able to access this particular feature until “later this year” on the Galaxy Note 20, and Microsoft says it’s also working with Samsung to bring this to other devices. Not all Android apps will work seamlessly with this new Your Phone feature, though. Microsoft warns that some may block the ability to cast to other screens, producing a black screen instead. Some apps and games will also not respond to a keyboard or mouse, and others may play audio from your phone. If you’re interested in trying out the new Your Phone apps feature, you’ll need a Samsung device. Microsoft has a list of all supported Android devices, but it’s literally only Samsung handsets right now. Microsoft integrates Android apps into Windows 10 with new Your Phone update
  3. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 20185 to the Dev channel - here's what's new Today, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview build 20185 to the Dev channel, as is typical for Wednesdays. As usual, there's nothing new and exciting in the build. It's just a few minor changes, such as better DNS configuration in Settings, and ADMX Backed Policies in MDM. Here's the full changelog: Improving DNS configuration in Settings We’re making a few changes to the Network section in Settings: Making DNS settings more easily accessible: Editing your DNS server assignment is now a top-level option when you go into your network’s properties page. Encrypted DNS controls in the Settings app: Encrypted DNS (DNS over HTTPS, or DoH) can help increase privacy and security while browsing the web. You can now configure DoH directly in the Settings app to more easily take advantage of this feature: For ethernet connections: Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Status. Click Properties, then select Edit IP assignment or Edit DNS server assignment and it will be available in the popup For Wi-Fi connections: Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi. Click the adapter properties link, then select Edit IP assignment or Edit DNS server assignment and it will be available in the popup. Currently you will not see the encryption options if you go to the individual network’s property page You can add any IP address listed here to unlock the DoH dropdown and choose to use encryption. Once encryption is enabled, you can confirm it’s working by looking at the applied DNS servers in the network properties and see them labeled as “(Encrypted)” servers. If you want to try a custom DoH server we don’t recognize yet, you can configure an IP address to be recognized as a DoH server by using the netsh command documented here at the end of the blog post. As always, appreciate your feedback! New ADMX Backed Policies for MDM Starting with Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20175, we have enabled 647 new MDM policies across 56 ADMX files to enable commercial customers to configure policies that are also supported through Group Policies. Contains ADMX based Policies such as App Compat, Event Forwarding, Servicing and Task Scheduler. These new policies can be configured using Intune custom profile. Intune UX is planned to be available later this year. ADMX file name: AddRemovePrograms.admx AppCompat.admx AuditSettings.admx CipherSuiteOrder.admx COM.admx Cpls.admx CtrlAltDel.admx DigitalLocker.admx DnsClient.admx DWM.admx EncryptFilesonMove.admx EventForwarding.admx FileServerVSSProvider.admx FileSys.admx FolderRedirection.admx Help.admx HelpAndSupport.admx kdc.admx LanmanServer.admx LinkLayerTopologyDiscovery.admx MMC.admx MMCSnapins.admx MSAPolicy.admx nca.admx NCSI.admx Netlogon.admx OfflineFiles.admx PeerToPeerCaching.admx PerformanceDiagnostics.admx PreviousVersions.admx QOS.admx Reliability.admx Scripts.admx sdiageng.admx Securitycenter.admx Servicing.admx Setup.admx SharedFolders.admx Sharing.admx Shell-CommandPrompt-RegEditTools.admx Smartcard.admx Snmp.admx TaskScheduler.admxtcpip.admx Thumbnails.admx TPM.admx UserExperienceVirtualization.admx W32Time.admx WinCal.admx WindowsAnytimeUpgrade.admx WindowsConnectNow.admx WindowsMediaDRM.admx WindowsMediaPlayer.admx WindowsMessenger.admx WinInit.admx As usual, the build comes from the Iron development branch, although it's not actually a preview of 21H1. It's similar to how the 195xx builds were from the Manganese branch, but they weren't 20H2. 21H1, if it arrives at all, will be a small, cumulative update-style update. You can grab today's build via Windows Update, as always. If you're not on the Dev channel yet, you can enroll through the Windows Insider Program tab in Settings. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 20185 to the Dev channel - here's what's new
  4. Windows 10 Apps-killer app Bloatbox introduces handy scripts support We reviewed the Windows 10 application Bloatbox earlier this month and found it to be an excellent app for Windows 10 administrators who like to remove some or even most of the included applications the operating system ships with. The program is open source and created by the developer of the retired Debotnet application and its successor Spydish. It displays the list of supported non-system apps in a sidebar by default. You may display system apps as well that it supports, and move all apps that you want removed to the processing list. While we liked the program in general, we noted that it lacked restoration options and that some of the interface elements could be confusing. The new Bloatbox 0.14.0 takes care of the first issue. The program supports scripts now that you can integrate in the application. While that is mostly of interest for advanced users, all users may download a package of scripts and integrate it into the application with just a few clicks. Here is what you need to do: Download the latest version of the script package from this page. Extract the contents of the archive to the Bloatbox directory (including the folder named scripts). Restart Bloatbox or start it with elevated rights. Click on the three dots at the top of the middle column to get a list of available actions. These are, at the time of writing: Block Telemetry Disable unwanted services. Disable Windows Defender. Reinstall all built-in apps. Remove default apps only. Remove OneDrive. Unpin Startmenu tiles. The fourth option brings all built-in apps that you may have removed earlier back by installing them again on the system. The menu items are descriptive but they lack further information, e.g. which services are unwanted and will be disabled by the script when you run it? Bloatbox displays additional information when you select an item and displays a confirmation prompt. All scripts are PowerShell scripts, and the best option when it comes to finding out what they do is to open the script in a plain text editor. You find them all in the scripts folder, and all include comments at the top that detail what the script does. An option to check out the script from within the application would be useful as it would speed up the process. Closing Words The new version of Bloatbox improves the program by adding an option to it to restore previously removed applications. Users may find some of the other options useful as well, but programs like the developer's own Spydish are probably better suited for that. Windows 10 Apps-killer app Bloatbox introduces handy scripts support
  5. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 19041.423 with a bunch of notable fixes Today, Microsoft is releasing a new cumulative update for Windows 10 version 2004, and as with all mid-stream updates, it's optional. That means that if you go and check for updates, it will show up in the 'Optional updates' section, and you'll have to opt into installing it if you want it. It will not be installed automatically. The update is KB4568831, and it brings the build number to 19041.423. It's also available for those running Windows 10 version 20H2 on the Beta channel, but the build number will be 19042.423. It contains a number of notable fixes too. For example, there are some ARM64 and cellular fixes, so once this update is bundled into the 2004 installation images, it should fix the block for Microsoft's own Surface Pro X. It should also fix Nvidia issues for the Surface Book 3. Here's the list of highlights: Updates an issue with pasting mixed content of images and text from Microsoft Word into Internet Explorer. Updates an issue that might cause the Magnifier to stop working in Microsoft Excel in certain scenarios. As a result, Microsoft Excel might also stop working. Updates an issue that might display 4K high dynamic range (HDR) content darker than expected when you configure certain non-HDR systems for HDR Streaming. Updates an issue that causes the Settings page to close unexpectedly, which prevents default applications from being set up properly. Updates an issue that prevents some applications from printing to network printers. Updates an issue that might prevent internet connectivity on some cellular modems after upgrading to Windows 10, version 2004. Updates an issue that prevents family safety features, such as time limits and activity reporting, from working on ARM64 devices. Here's the full list of fixes: Addresses an issue that prevents you from using sharing functionality in Microsoft Office. This occurs when Conditional Access is enabled. Addresses an issue that occurs when a third-party application loads hidden tabs into Internet Options. Addresses an issue in Microsoft Edge IE mode that occurs when you open multiple documents from a SharePoint site. Addresses an issue in Microsoft Edge IE mode that occurs when you browse using anchor links. Addresses an issue with pasting mixed content of images and text from Microsoft Word into Internet Explorer. Addresses an issue that might cause Microsoft browsers to incorrectly bypass proxy servers. Addresses an issue in the Windows Push Notification (WNS) service that prevents you from selecting a virtual private network (VPN) interface to make outbound connections. As a result, you lose connectivity with the WNS service when forced tunneling is used. Addresses an issue that might cause the Magnifier to stop working in Microsoft Excel in certain scenarios. As a result, Microsoft Excel might also stop working. Addresses an issue that prevents you from installing some .msi apps. This occurs when a device is managed by a Group Policy that redirects the AppData folder to a network folder. Addresses an issue that might display 4K high dynamic range (HDR) content darker than expected when you configure certain non-HDR systems for HDR Streaming. Addresses an issue that causes new child windows to flicker and appear as white squares on server devices that are configured for stark visual contrast. Addresses an issue that causes the Settings page to close unexpectedly, which prevents default applications from being set up properly. Addresses an issue that causes all open Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps to close unexpectedly. This occurs when their installer calls the Restart Manager to restart File Explorer (explorer.exe). Addresses an issue that prevents Windows 8.1 apps from projecting to a secondary display when those apps use the StartProjectingAsync API. Addresses an issue that prevents family safety features, such as time limits and activity reporting, from working on ARM64 devices. Addresses an issue with File Explorer’s preview of .msg files when Microsoft Outlook 64-bit is installed. Addresses an issue that causes a KERNEL_SECURITY_CHECK_FAILURE (139) stop error when Windows resumes from Sleep and turns on certain Bluetooth headsets. Addresses an issue that might prevent certain display driver reset utilities from properly reinstalling the same driver on the system. Addresses a reliability issue in WDF01000.sys. Addresses an issue that causes memory leaks when an application calls the CryptCATAdminCalcHashFromFileHandle() function. The leaked memory is reclaimed when the application closes. Improves support for non-ASCII file paths for Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) Auto Incident Response (IR). Addresses an issue that prevents some machines from automatically going into Sleep mode under certain circumstances because of Microsoft Defender ATP Auto IR. Addresses an issue that prevents some machines from running Microsoft Defender ATP Threat & Vulnerability Management successfully. Addresses an issue that prevents Microsoft Defender ATP from applying file exclusions in some cases, which leads to application compatibility issues. Addresses an issue in Microsoft Defender ATP that prevents some machines from reporting the installed applications to Threat & Vulnerability Management. Addresses an issue that causes automatic investigations to fail in Microsoft Defender ATP. Improves Microsoft Defender ATP's ability to identify malicious code injection activities. Addresses an issue that prevents some applications from printing to network printers. Addresses an issue that might cause a printer to be a hidden device in Device Manager after a restart. Addresses an issue that might cause the Print Management console to display script errors when you enable the Extended View option. Addresses an issue that causes printing to fail in certain scenarios. Addresses an issue that might prevent a Windows 10 device from reaching the internet when using a wireless wide area network (WWAN) LTE modem. However, the Network Connectivity Status Indicator (NCSI) in the notification area might still indicate that you are connected to the internet. Addresses an issue that might prevent internet connectivity on some cellular modems after upgrading to Windows 10, version 2004. Addresses an issue that causes telephony applications to lose the first four digits. Addresses an issue with in-memory parity bitmaps that can cause data integrity issues on Parity Storage Spaces. Addresses an issue that prevents the creation of a storage pool using Manage Storage Spaces in Control panel. Addresses an issue that might cause the Microsoft Remote Assistance process (msra.exe) to stop working when a user is receiving assistance during a computer session. The error is 0xc0000005 or 0xc0000409. There's also one known issue: Symptom Workaround When using some apps, such as Microsoft Excel, users of the Microsoft Input Method Editor (IME) for Chinese and Japanese might receive an error, or the app might stop responding or close when attempting to drag using the mouse. For more information and workaround steps, please see KB4564002. As always, you can manually download and install the update, or you can opt into it via Windows Update. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 19041.423 with a bunch of notable fixes
  6. Microsoft previews new enterprise-only telemetry option for Windows 10 The company has launched a preview of a new enterprise-focused option that blocks Windows' telemetry from reaching Microsoft's servers. Rob Schultz Microsoft last week launched a preview of a new enterprise-only option that blocks Windows' telemetry from reaching Redmond's servers. The option wasn't given an official label in the July 23 announcement, but at the sign-up site was defined as "The Data Processor Service for Windows Enterprise" – a mouthful even for Microsoft, known for interminable titling. Marisa Rogers, the privacy officer responsible for Windows and Microsoft's browsers, pointed out that enterprises and other organizations – universities, for the most part – now have two choices when it comes to what their PCs report to Redmond. "Enterprise customers had two options in managing their Windows 10 diagnostic data: 1) allow Microsoft to be the controller of that data ... or 2) turn off diagnostic data flows altogether." The second option – now named "Diagnostic Data Off," but formerly marked with the vague "Security" – is only available to users of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education, the most expensive of the various SKUs (stock-keeping units). Other settings for telemetry collection – Microsoft prefers "diagnostic data" for some reason – have been culled from three to just two: "Required Diagnostic Data" and "Optional Diagnostic Data," the latter of which harvests more information and more kinds of information than the former. Since early 2019, the default has been Required Diagnostic Data, previously titled known as the "Basic" setting. Keep the data The new telemetry setting will let enterprises continue to collect data from their PCs but that data will not be passed on to Microsoft for analysis. "Under this approach, Microsoft will act as a data processor, processing Windows diagnostic data on behalf of the controller (emphasis in original)," wrote Rogers. "Processor" – as well as "controller" – are terms used by the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the data protection and privacy law and ensuing regulations applicable in the European Union. (Microsoft defines the terms, and others related to GDPR, online.) It was unclear whether Microsoft, as the processor, would have access to the data or could use it in some fashion. One clue that it might not was in the preview sign-up form, which asked the customer to acknowledge that "for devices enrolled into this public preview program, you will not have access to features like Desktop Analytics and Update Compliance." Desktop Analytics, a collection of cloud-based services that offer information and guidance on the update readiness of end-point systems, has been one of the benefits Microsoft has claimed emanate from Windows' telemetric data collection. Rogers argued that the in-preview telemetry setting would let enterprises handle their own "compliance obligations," apparently another reference to GDPR, and its rules and regulations, which may, for example, require data to be exported and submitted for auditing. It's possible, of course, that Microsoft has created this option as much to get out from under the hassle and headache of acting as controller as to give enterprises more control of their own data. Microsoft previews new enterprise-only telemetry option for Windows 10
  7. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 20180 to the Dev channel - here's what's new It's Wednesday, and that means that it's time for a new Windows Insider Preview in the Dev channel. Today's build is number 20180, and there really isn't much that's new. It's a bit surprising, because at this point, there isn't a whole lot coming in the Dev branch at all. Just last week, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 20H2 build, which brought over a whole bunch of features that were previously exclusive to the Dev channel. These include the refreshed Start Menu, Alt-Tab for Edge browser tabs, and more. As for today's news, there are a few notes. For example, Microsoft finally confirmed that a new SDK will arrive alongside each new Dev channel build. It's been happening for a while, but it's official now. Also, those features that were announced for the Dev channel and promoted to the Beta channel are now available for everyone in the Dev channel. If that sounds confusing, that's fine; this was done by the same company that promised no more A/B testing, and then did exactly that. There are some changes, improvements, and known issues in build 20180. Here's what got changed and improved: Based on feedback, we’re changing the tablet posture logic for 2-in-1 devices to now only apply when using a single screen. Based on feedback we’re updating the new folder icon in the Start menu’s All app’s list to be a little smaller so it better aligns with the size of the other icons. We’ve updated the search box in the Default Apps settings pages to improve performance. Here's the list of fixes: We fixed an issue in the last flight where Magnifier wasn’t following the curser in the previous build when the zoom was higher than 100%. We fixed an issue where Task Manager wasn’t showing the Publisher name for UWP apps. We fixed an issue when using the Pinyin IME where tapping “/” on the keyboard wouldn’t produce the right character when using full width mode. We fixed a couple issues that could result in crashes when using Alt+Tab to switch to browser tabs. Finally, here's what's still broken: We’re working on a fix for an issue where some Microsoft Store games protected with Easy Anti-Cheat may fail to launch. We’re looking into reports of the update process hanging for extended periods of time when attempting to install a new build. We’re working on a fix for an issue where the min/max/close buttons are stuck in their original positions after resizing a UWP app. If you move the app window the position should update. We’re investigating reports that the new taskbar experience described above isn’t working for some pinned sites. We’re working on a fix for an issue where sometimes the “close all windows” action in the taskbar doesn’t close not all of the open tabs We’re working on a fix to enable live preview for pinned site tabs. We’re working on enabling the new taskbar experience for existing pinned sites. In the meantime, you can unpin the site from the taskbar, remove it from the edge://apps page, and then re-pin the site. We’re working on a fix for an issue where pinned sites don’t show all open tabs for a domain. In the meantime, you can fix this by pinning the site’s homepage rather than a specific page (e.g. pin microsoft.com rather than microsoft.com/windows). We’re working on a fix for an issue where Alt + Tabbing to a browser tab sometimes moves the previously active browser tab to the front of the Alt + Tab list as well. Opening a WSL 1 distribution can result in the error: ‘The I/O operation has been aborted because of either a thread exit or an application request’. Please check out this Github issuefor the latest updates. As always, you can grab today's build by heading to Settings -> Update & security -> Windows Update. If you're not on the Dev channel yet, you can enroll through the Windows Insider Program tab. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 20180 to the Dev channel - here's what's new
  8. Here's how Microsoft may slow down to only one Windows 10 upgrade a year If Microsoft dumps its major/minor release cadence for Windows 10, opting for a lone feature update every year, the result could be chaotic for some users. Microsoft / IDG If Microsoft decides to release just one Windows 10 feature upgrade annually, some customers — notably consumers and small businesses running unmanaged Windows 10 Pro PCs — will be forced into more work than they'd banked on. According to Microsoft-watcher Mary Jo Foley, who writes for ZDNet, the Redmond, Wash. developer "may end up releasing just one feature update per year for Windows 10 starting in 2021 to free up more engineers to be able to focus on both Windows 10X and Windows 10." Windows 10X will be a variant of the extant Windows 10, a spin-off of sorts, one that will, at least initially, run web and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps only, sport a more streamlined UI and execute apps within containers — virtual machine-like creations that separate app workspaces from the operating system. Windows 10X appears to be Microsoft's latest effort to craft a lighter-weight OS, one designed with mobile devices foremost in mind, to compete with, say, Google's Chrome OS and Apple's iPadOS. With Windows 10X in the mix, Foley's sources told her, Microsoft may release that next spring and forego the usual Windows 10 first-half feature upgrade. That pattern would continue, she said, with annual Windows 10X refreshes as yyH1 (22H1, 23H1 and so on) and Windows 10's as yyH2 (21H2, 22H2, and the like). Computerworld has urged Microsoft to slow the pace of Windows 10 upgrades from the current major-minor, twice-a-year (which translates to about 1.25 annually) to a simpler, single refresh every 12 months. Whether the company does so because Windows 10X is running interference or simply as another sop to customer "feedback," a.k.a. complaints, doesn't matter. What does matter is how Microsoft gets customers from one tempo to another. Warning: Chaos ahead on the Windows update highway Reducing the frequency of Windows 10 feature upgrades will result in the same thing that happens when traffic is suddenly shunted from, say, two lanes to just one: Confusion, with chaos layered overtop. But with Windows 10, it's not so much the fact that the pace is being halved from twice to once a year, but that each feature upgrade under the two-a-year system has been adopted by different sets of customers. The fall upgrade, yyH2 — or under the old labeling regime, yy09 — has been the preference of organizations and businesses running Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education since Microsoft extended support for each upgrade to 30 months for those SKUs (stock-keeping units). It's not surprising that Microsoft — in Foley's telling — will continue to refresh Windows 10 each fall, as these are its most important customers, its revenue bread-and-butter customers. They won't have to change anything they're doing. Others, however, who have been grabbing all upgrades or gotten stuck on the spring update, will have to change their habits. That would be those running Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro (the latter, when unmanaged by IT), whom Microsoft allows just 18 months of support. People stuck on the spring upgrade will be the most affected by Microsoft slowing release tempo to once a year, and that in the fall. Here's why. In 2019, Microsoft upended how it delivers feature upgrades to Home and unmanaged Pro systems. Previously, the company had force-fed those machines every upgrade, even decided when a PC received the refresh. But in April of that year, Microsoft announced the "Download and install now" (DaIN) option, which let customers manually trigger the upgrade at the time of their choosing. Microsoft only interceded if users ignored DaIN and then only as the version's support neared expiration. Approximately four months before that end-of-support date, Microsoft would begin forcibly upgrading to the most-current version. For several reasons, including the timing of that decision as well as the earlier debacle over Windows 10 1809, a majority of users ended up on Windows 10 1903, what Microsoft also called "Windows 10 May 2019 Update." And because Microsoft's forced upgrades happen only at the end of a version's support lifetime, all who disregarded DaIN received just one feature update a year. Once on, say, the spring upgrade, the mechanics of DaIN insured that they stayed there. What third-party data that is available backs this. According to analytics vendor AdDuplex, nearly 6 out of every 10 Windows 10 users (58%) have been on a spring upgrade the past six months. The vast bulk of those ran Windows 10 1903. In June, Windows 10 1903 accounted for 46% of all Windows 10, with the newest spring upgrade, Windows 10 2004, a.k.a. "Windows 10 May 2020 Update," in for another 7%. (Also in the mix, about 3% running the outdated, no-longer-supported Windows 10 1803.) In a world where Microsoft continued to release two upgrades a year, most of those now on Windows 1903 — which exits support in early December — would migrate to Windows 10 2004 this year. Next year, they would move to Windows 10 21H1 (the new nomenclature Microsoft's selected for naming versions, using yyH1 to designate the upgrade issued in the first half of the year and yyH2 to label the upgrade of the second half). From 21H1, they would have shifted to 22H1, then to 23H1, and so on. But as Figure 1 illustrates, scaling back to just one Windows 10 feature upgrade a year — and that as 21H2 because 22H1 became the roll-out of Windows 10X — will be a problem: Windows 10 21H1 won't exist. IDG/Gregg Keizer If Windows 10's upgrade schedule changes to once annually, some users are going to be unprepared. Note the 21H1 update: It may be the initial release of Windows 10X, making 21H2 the sole Windows 10 refresh for next year. What then, will those who earlier this year (2020) were on 1903/19H1 and by year's end on 2004/20H1, do? Microsoft won't be able to migrate them to Windows 10 21H1 next year (2021) simply because 21H1 won't be there. IDG/Gregg Keizer Without the next year's 21H1 upgrade — that's been dropped, remember — and not enough time to get onto 21H2, what are users, or Microsoft, to do? Nor will there be enough of an overlap of 20H1 and 21H2 for an upgrade. The two months — October and November of 2021 — would simply not allow the usually cautious migration Microsoft prefers. So, what's Microsoft to do? No spring, forward to fall Microsoft's job will be to get those now on a spring upgrade to a fall version, any fall version. At the moment, users running Windows 10 1903 (19H1 in the new labeling) are being served this year's spring upgrade, Windows 10 2004 (20H1). "We are increasing the number of devices selected to update automatically to Windows 10, version 2004, that are approaching end of service," Microsoft stated here. Because 1903's support ends Dec. 8, that switch from 1903 to 2004 will continue for the next four months and change. So far, so good. But once on 2004, where will users go? Microsoft could force them from 2004 to this fall's 20H2. (If Microsoft's dual naming conventions don't make you loony, you're a much more stable genius than those of us here at Computerworld.) There will be a significant minority who do that in any case, just as there have been large portions of the pool who have flipped from, say, Windows 1903 to last fall's 1909. AdDuplex, for example, pegged June's 1909 share at approximately 37%, or about 9 percentage points under 1903's. Sometime in 2021 — January, for instance — Microsoft could notify Windows Home and unmanaged Windows Pro users that it would move them earlier than usual, and not to Windows 10 21H1 but to 20H2 instead. It could give a three-month's warning before it began forcibly upgrading 2004/20H1 to 20H2 starting in April 2021, and take four months — through July — to move everyone to 20H2. (That version exits support Dec. 14, 2021.) From that point, Microsoft would transition users from 20H2 to 21H2 during late 2021 and early 2022, then 21H2 to 22H2 12 months later. Figure 3 shows this in action. IDG/Gregg Keizer It looks chaotic — and maybe it would be — but Microsoft could forcibly move users from the latest spring feature upgrade to the fall's. More support, please Microsoft has an easier way to push Home and unmanaged Pro PCs onto a fall feature upgrade. By extending the support lifecycle of Windows 10 20H1 by, for example, just six months — from 18 to 24 months total — Microsoft can simplify the shift. Support extension wouldn't be new for Microsoft; it's done so numerous times. The most recent was earlier this year, when Redmond added six months to Windows 10 1809 so that the version will exit support Nov. 10 rather than the original May 12. Microsoft cited the just-getting-started coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the extension. Figure 4 shows how adding six months of support to Windows 10 20H1, a.k.a. 2004, will let users now stuck on spring upgrades pivot to the fall upgrades. IDG/Gregg Keizer By adding six months to 20H1's support lifetime, Microsoft could move users to 21H2, the year's only Windows 10 feature upgrade. Under Computerworld's scenario, a Microsoft announcement of 20H1's support extension would be as good as a shout that the company will soon halve feature upgrade releases. However, it's unlikely that would happen before Microsoft revealed that Windows 10X would ship next spring. Why? Because Windows 10 20H1 wouldn't be retired until May 10, 2022, if Microsoft gave it six more months of support. Here's how Microsoft may slow down to only one Windows 10 upgrade a year
  9. The Windows 10 'End-of-Service' myth Microsoft publishes an “End of Service” date for each version of Windows 10. While you might think you can hold onto your version of Win10 until that date, Microsoft starts pushing you onto the next version four months early. That takes a big bite out of the promised 18-month lifespan. Microsoft / IDG Windows 10 version 1809 Home and Pro hit "End of Service" on Nov. 10. But users on version 1809 have been reporting for more than a month that they’re getting pushed onto Win10 version 2004. This is a hard push – there’s no “Download and install” invitation (see screenshot below). You wake up one morning, your version 1809 machine takes forever to get started, and surprise! it wakes up running Win10 version 2004. Microsoft It isn’t a bug. Microsoft has said that it intends to roll out Win10 version 2004 this way. Here’s the official notification on the Windows Release Information Status page: We are now starting a new phase in our rollout. Using the machine learning-based (ML-based) training we have done so far, we are increasing the number of devices selected to update automatically to Windows 10, version 2004 that are approaching end of service. We will continue to train our machine learning through all phases to intelligently rollout new versions of Windows 10 and deliver a smooth update experience. I’ll refrain from making a snide comment about the efficacy of Microsoft’s “ML-based” rollout routines. It may seem a bit draconian that Microsoft is pushing 1809 customers onto 2004 while 1809’s still officially in support for another four months. But that’s the way it’s been for the past several versions. “End of Service” means that Microsoft stops issuing security patches, not that you can continue to use the product until the cutoff date. If you think you’re getting 18 months of support for a new version of Windows, it doesn’t work out that way. The patches will continue – but your machine will likely get pushed after 14 months. The 1809 push is particularly frustrating because it comes on the back of Microsoft extending the End of Support date. We were told back in April: Microsoft has been deeply engaged with customers around the world who are impacted by the current public health situation. As a member of the global community, we want to contribute to reducing the stress our customers face right now. To that end, we have delayed the scheduled end of support and servicing dates for the following products to help people and organizations focus their attention on retaining business continuity… Windows 10, version 1809... The final security update for this version will be released on November 10, 2020, instead of May 12, 2020. So Microsoft determined that the global public health situation was dire enough in April to extend 1809 support by six months – then started turning the 2004 screws four months early. We all know how the global public health situation has improved. Looking back on the recommendations I made in April – Five steps Microsoft should take RIGHT NOW to help us through the pandemic – the few steps that were taken have been largely walked back, although Microsoft has started beta testing non-security updates. Have you been pushed? Join us on AskWoody. The Windows 10 'End-of-Service' myth
  10. Windows 10 Calculator app now supports dark theme in graphing mode In March last year, Microsoft announced that it is working on new graphing features for Windows Calculator app. This year, Microsoft started the roll-out of the graphing mode feature in Windows Calculator app to Windows 10 and 10 S PCs. Recently, Microsoft updated the Windows 10 Calculator app to version 10.2005.23.0. This update brings dark theme support to graphing mode. Please note that by default the graph will be white, whether or not you’re using Calculator in dark theme. If you’d like the graph to be dark too, select the “Graph Options” button in the corner of the graph, and the choose “Match app theme” under Graph theme. With the new graphing mode feature in Windows 10 Calculator app, Users can enter an equation so that it can be viewed on the graph. Users can enter multiple equations so that they can compare plots against each other and see the interactions between the lines. Users can edit equations so that they can see how changes affect the plot and correct mistakes. Users can change the graph viewing window so that they can see different parts of the plot at different levels of detail. Users can change line visual options so that they can clearly differentiate between multiple plots. Users can export graphs so that they can share it with others or incorporate into Office/Teams. Users can easily manipulate secondary variables in equations so that they can quickly understand how changes to equations affect the graph. Users can see traceable key graph features (KGF) as nodes/dots on the equations, and summon other KGFs in a list so that they can better understand the important features of a given function. Users can trace plots so that they can better understand the relationship between variables in the equation on the graph. Source: Microsoft Windows 10 Calculator app now supports dark theme in graphing mode
  11. Opening and closing your laptop could be enough to crash Windows 10 Take note, owners of Windows 10 laptops Microsoft is working to remedy a strange issue that causes Desktop Windows Manager (DWM) to fail when a user repeatedly opens and closes their laptop. The problem reportedly affects laptops running any version of Windows 10 and configured to operate at 4K resolution, whether via an external monitor or the device display itself. According to a recent Microsoft Support entry, the DWM crash is caused by a bug in the Microsoft DirectX Video Memory Management component and has nothing to do with a hardware issue. Windows 10 crash First introduced with Windows Vista, Desktop Windows Manager dictates how any given application displays pixels on the screen. “When desktop composition is enabled, individual windows no longer draw directly to the screen or primary display device as they did in previous versions of Windows,” explains documentation on the Microsoft website. “Instead, their drawing is redirected to off-screen surfaces in video memory, which are then rendered into a desktop image and presented on the display.” Simply put, the Windows 10 feature is responsible for enabling visual effects tied to desktop activities and supporting high resolution display, including 4K. According to members of various online forums, DWM crashes can have a range of different effects, ranging from the minor to the debilitating. Some users found their desktop icons had been rearranged and resized, others were unable to activate Windows Aero themes (which support 3D window switching, taskbar previews and transparency), while the unluckiest were served a black screen, fixable only with a restart. As demonstrated by two scenarios set out by Microsoft, the problem is only triggered if a number of specific criteria are met. Scenario 1: You plug an HDMI monitor into a laptop computer that is running Windows 10 The monitor is configured to operate at 4K resolution You repeatedly play a 4K H264 video in Movies & TV on the computer In Control Panel, you open the Advanced settings screen of the Power Options item, and then you set the Lid close action as Do nothing While the 4K video is playing back, you repeatedly close and open the computer lid Scenario 2: You connect two 4K monitors to a Thunderbolt 3 docking station You connect a laptop that has a 4K solution monitor to the docking station, and then you configure a triple 4K display configuration in either "clone" or "extend" mode You repeatedly undock and redock the laptop The company is currently working to deliver a patch for the DirectX issue, but has not specified when that might arrive. Opening and closing your laptop could be enough to crash Windows 10
  12. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 19042.421 with a ton of new features Today, Microsoft released Windows 10 Insider Preview build 19042.421 to the Beta channel. Unlike most cumulative updates for the Beta channel, this one actually contains a bunch of new features. In fact, many expected that 20H2 wouldn't have many new features at all, since it's going to be delivered in a similar way that 19H2 was delivered. One key new feature is the new tiles in the Start Menu, which debuted in the Dev channel. They're meant to be theme-aware, and they should all show a more uniform color. Another new feature is the ability to Alt+Tab between not only your open apps, but your tabs in Microsoft's Edge browser. There's that, and there's actually a bunch more. Here's the full list of changes: Theme-aware tiles in Start We are freshening up the Start menu with a more streamlined design that removes the solid color backplates behind the logos in the apps list and applies a uniform, partially transparent background to the tiles. This design creates a beautiful stage for your apps, especially the Fluent Design icons for Office and Microsoft Edge, as well as the redesigned icons for built-in apps like Calculator, Mail, and Calendar that we started rolling out earlier this year. This refined Start design looks great in both dark and light theme, but if you’re looking for a splash of color, first make sure to turn on Windows dark theme and then toggle “Show accent color on the following surfaces” for “Start, taskbar, and action center” under Settings > Personalization > Color to elegantly apply your accent color to the Start frame and tiles. ALT + TAB between apps and sites Are you a multitasker? With this build, your tabs open in Microsoft Edge will start appearing in Alt + TAB, not just the active one in each browser window. We’re making this change so you can quickly get back to whatever you were doing—wherever you were doing it. If you’d prefer fewer tabs or the classic Alt + TAB experience, we’ve added some settings for you under Settings > System > Multitasking. You can configure Alt + Tab to only show your last three or five tabs or choose to turn this feature off completely. This feature requires a Canary or Dev build of Microsoft Edge (version 83.0.475.0 or higher). Improving pinned sites in Microsoft Edge We have another new feature we’ve been working on to make you more efficient when browsing the web: quick access to tabs for your pinned sites. Clicking a pinned site on the Taskbar will now show you all of the open tabs for that site across any of your Microsoft Edge windows, just like you’d expect for any app with multiple open windows. This feature requires Microsoft Edge Insider Build 85.0.561.0 or higher (Canary or Dev Channel). NOTE: Since this is an early preview, existing sites on your Taskbar will not experience this new behavior until you remove and re-pin them. A more personalized Taskbar for new users We want to help customers get the most out of their PCs from day one, and that starts with offering a cleaner, more personalized, out-of-box experience to give you the content you want and less clutter. This provides us with a flexible, cloud-driven infrastructure to test customer reception of default Taskbar content and tailor these layouts based on user and device signal. We will evaluate the performance of individual default properties, monitoring diagnostic data and user feedback to assess an audience’s reception. Using this information, we will tune default layouts to minimize clutter and perceptions of bloatware. Please note that this experience is limited to new account creation or first logon scenarios. We will not use Programmable Taskbar to alter the Taskbar layout on existing accounts. Improving the notification experience We are making some changes to improve the notifications experience in Windows 10. First, know where your toast is coming from by checking out the app logo at the top. Done with the notification? Select the X on the top right corner to quickly dismiss and move on with your life. And second, we are turning off the Focus Assist notification and summary toast by default, so we will no longer let users know that Focus Assist has been turned on through an automatic rule via a notification. This can be changed back to the previous behavior via Settings. Making Settings even better We’re continuing to work on bringing capabilities from Control Panel forward into Settings. As part of this ongoing effort, we are migrating information found in Control Panel’s System page into the Settings About page under Settings > System > About. Links that would open the System page in Control Panel will now direct you to About in Settings. We are also bringing new improvements like making your device information copyable and streamlining the security information shown. And don’t worry—if you’re looking for more advanced controls that lived in the System page in Control Panel, you can still get to them from the modern About page if you need them! There will be more improvements coming that will further bring Settings closer to Control Panel. If you rely on settings that only exist in Control Panel today, please file feedback and let us know what those settings are. Improving the tablet experience for 2-in-1 devices Previously, when detaching the keyboard on a 2-in-1 device, a notification toast would appear asking if you wanted to switch into tablet mode. If you selected yes, you would switch into tablet mode. If you chose no, it would give you the new tablet posture experience introduced in the May 2020 Update (or simply the desktop on earlier versions of Windows 10). We are further updating this experience by changing the default, so that this notification toast no longer appears and instead will switch you directly into the new tablet experience, with some improvements for touch. You can change this setting by going to Settings > System > Tablet. Some users may have already seen this change on Surface devices. And to address confusion with some users getting stuck in tablet mode on non-touch devices, we are removing the tablet mode quick action on non-touch devices. In addition, new logic is incorporated to let users boot into the appropriate mode according to the mode they were last in and whether the keyboard is attached or not. Modern Device Management (MDM) improvements The new Local Users and Groups modern device management (MDM) policy allows an administrator to make granular changes to a local group on a managed device, on par with what has been available to devices managed with on-prem Group Policy (GP). This is quite the list of features, and it's probably going to be all that we end up seeing in 20H2. After all, up until today, many would have thought that the only front-facing feature in 20H2 would be that it will ship with the new Edge browser. As always, you can install this new build through Settings. If you're not on the Beta channel yet, you can enroll through the Windows Insider Program tab in Settings. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 19042.421 with a ton of new features
  13. This is the new Windows 10 Modern Disk Management Tool Microsoft has for some years been working to replace the old Windows NT-based Control Panel tools with new Modern equivalents and now the work has reached the Disk Management Tool in Windows 10. Windows 10 Build 20175 includes a new Modern Disk Management Tool, currently hidden, which seems to be nearly ready to get the job done. The tool is currently able to change drive letters, change the size of the drive and otherwise let you repartition it. It is still pretty basic and is still a work in progress, but for many users, it should be able to get the job done. For those on Windows 10 20175, you can find the new tool under Settings > Storage> “Manage Disks and Volumes”. Via WindowsLatest This is the new Windows 10 Modern Disk Management Tool
  14. Windows Update is a bifurcated mess Windows 10 now has two different Windows Update subsystems, running simultaneously, with different rules, conflicting goals and little documentation. Can’t see this week's Previews? You aren’t alone. Franck V. (CC0) This week’s “Preview” patches led to some bizarre, unexplained, and self-contradictory behavior. Here’s what we’ve been able to piece together, based on what actually happened – not on what Microsoft says is supposed to happen. Two general sets of “Preview” patches arrived on Tuesday: Optional, non-security, C/D Week Cumulative Updates for Win10 versions 1809, 1903, 1909, and various Servers, but not Win10 version 2004. Microsoft stopped distributing the C/D Week patches in March because of the “public health situation,” but started pushing them again this week. July 21, 2020 Cumulative Update Previews for .NET Framework 3.5 and 4.8 on various versions of Win10. These are optional, non-security Preview patches released later in the month. Microsoft pushes Previews for .NET patches on Win10 infrequently; this year we’ve only seen two, one of them in January, the other in February. They’re Previews, which means the fixes on offer are still in testing. Normal users shouldn’t go anywhere near them. In the past, the Preview patches (for both Win10 and .NET) have appeared as a jumbled mess in the Win10 updating scheme, leading to a universal cry to avoid clicking “Check for updates.” Not long ago, doing so gave Microsoft carte blanche to install anything and everything in the update queue, including any of these “Preview” test patches lying around. Starting with Win10 version 1903, though, Microsoft changed its wayward ways by adding an important new feature that allows you to Pause Updates. At about the same time, Microsoft implemented (but didn’t bother to document) the Download and install prompt that we now take for granted. The prompt forces you to approve an optional update before it's installed. Microsoft showed off a version of that option in an article last week (see screenshot). Microsoft Don’t expect to see that Download-and-install prompt on your machine any time soon. Microsoft hasn’t even released the “2020-07 Cumulative Update Preview for Windows 10 Version 2004.” The Download-and-install intermediate step is an important one. It keeps normal users from accidentally installing test versions of upcoming patches – the Preview updates. Download and install? Not. With Microsoft’s new-found (and greatly appreciated!) implementation of the “Download and install” block on optional updates, you might expect that the two new Preview patches would appear as Download-and-install options on Win10 version 1909 (and 1809 and 1903) machines. As I explained earlier this week, that didn’t happen. Working on two production Win10 version 1909 machines I found that, much to my surprise, the Win10 Preview and the .NET Preview behave quite differently – and neither triggered the polite "Download and install" prompt. The .NET Preview behaved more-or-less like an old-fashioned Windows patch: On a Win10 version 1909 machine with Pause Updates set, clicking on Resume Updates installed the .NET Preview KB 4562900. That’s behavior consistent with (but different from) the old Check for updates sandbagging – if you Resume Updates, you get the optional, non-security .NET Preview installed whether you want it or not, with no warning. Bam. On a Win10 version 1909 without Pause Updates set, the .NET Preview appears in the wushowhide list. Thus, you can manually block installing the .NET Preview, if you know the tricks. Clicking on Check for updates installs the Preview, just like in the not-so-good old days. The optional, non-security, C/D Week Win10 version 1909 Preview didn’t show up at all on my machines. Try as I might, with Updates Paused or Resumed, clicking Check for updates with wild abandon, I couldn’t get the Win10 Cumulative Update Preview KB 4559004 to install, and couldn’t even get it to show up, with or without a Download and install prompt. That left me scratching my head. The bifurcated Update It turns out that Windows Update isn’t the single, monolithic system that’s advertised in Microsoft’s Download and install announcements. As @abbodi86 points out: .NET, Flash and CPU Microcode updates (including this week's .NET Preview) are handled by the legacy “blast them if they check for updates” Windows Update program Cumulative Updates (including this week’s Win10 Cumulative Update Preview), version changes (“feature updates”) and Chromium-based Edge updates are now handled by the new, polite “Download and install” Windows Update program. It seems that the folks at Microsoft didn’t know about the schizoid behavior, either. In the original Knowledge Base article for the .NET Cumulative Update Preview, under "How to obtain and install the update," Microsoft’s instructions used to say: Go to Settings> Update & Security > Windows Update. In the Optional updates available area, you'll find the link to download and install the update. That would correspond to the new, polite way of doing things. But sometime in the past couple of days, that KB article has been modified to say: To download and install this update, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and then select Check for updates. That's accurate – it’s the old “blast them if they check for updates” approach. There’s no record of when that change was made. The missing optional, non-security, C/D Week Preview On your machine, can you see KB 4559004, the Win10 version 1909 (or 1903) cumulative update Preview? (For Win10 version 1809 customers it’s KB 4559003.) Neither can I, as you can see in the screenshot below. Microsoft The Preview should appear as a Download and install option – at least, that’s what Microsoft’s Chris Morrisey described a week ago: In response to feedback, these validated, production-quality optional releases will be now called "Preview" releases for clarity, and will be offered only for Windows 10 and Windows Server, version 1809 and later.... To simplify update management for IT, these "Preview" releases will be delivered in the "C" week only…for those in the Windows Insider Program or Windows Insider Program for Business, in-development versions of these non-security updates will be released to the Release Preview Channel in the "B" week. Which contradicts almost everything we saw this week. Once again, @abbodi86 came to the rescue, clarifying: You will only see the Win10 Cumulative Update Preview on machines that have joined the Release Preview Channel. As of Friday morning on this “C” week, that means Win10 1809, 1903 and 1909 machines in the Windows Insider Release Preview Channel will get the Preview offer in polite “Download and install” fashion. You won’t see the Preview offered to Win10 version 2004 machines. It isn’t out yet – Morrisey’s comment about “B” week notwithstanding. There’s also some (undocumented) relationship between the TargetReleaseVersion group policy and whether the Preview patch shows up. I talked about Win10 version 2004’s TargetReleaseVersionInfo in June. Apparently the policy now has some effect on versions 1809, 1903 and 1909. Perhaps some day Microsoft will document some of this stuff. But I won’t hold my breath. Windows Update – the user interface, the group policies, the registry settings, and interactions within the spaghetti code – has been an unholy mess for years. With new definitions, new settings, (partially) deprecated settings, conflicting settings, and completely inscrutable – sometimes demonstrably wrong – documentation, it’s a wonder that we get any work done. We keep plugging on AskWoody.com. Windows Update is a bifurcated mess
  15. Windows 10 Telemetry: new control option for Enterprise customers launches Microsoft announced the public preview of a new Telemetry controlling option for Enterprise customers on July 23, 2020. Telemetry date, Microsoft prefers the term diagnostic data due to the negative connotation of the term Telemetry, has been a controversial aspect of the Windows 10 operating system since its launch. Microsoft decided to enforce the collection of Telemetry data on non-Enterprise systems and give Enterprise customers the choice to disable Telemetry. While there are ways to deal with the collection of data on Windows 10 systems, see our overview of privacy tools for Windows for example, it is likely that most Windows 10 systems transmit data to Microsoft on a regular basis. Diagnostic data is used to measure and improve the stability and reliability of the Windows 10 operating system according to Microsoft, for instance by noticing and reacting to issues as quickly as possible. The company introduced an option in 2018 to view the collected data on the device it was collected on. Microsoft notes that Enterprise customers had two options in regards to the collection of diagnostic data up until now: admins could disable the collecting entirely, or allow Microsoft to act as the controller of the data. The third option that Microsoft launched as a public preview this week makes the Enterprise customer the controller of the data. Microsoft states that customers stay in control of the data but will still benefit from the gathering and making available of data to Microsoft. Microsoft's role changes from the controller of the data to that of a data processor. Enterprise customers may "use familiar tools to manage, export, or delete data to help them meet their compliance obligations". The example that Microsoft gives in the announcement has customers respond to user requests using the Microsoft Azure portal to delete or export diagnostic data. Administrators can add or remove Windows devices using group policy or mobile device management, according to Microsoft. Enterprise customers find a link to a signup page in the announcement if they are interested in the preview. The service is available for Windows Enterprise customers and compatible with devices running Windows 10 version 1809 or newer. Home users won't benefit from the new option, and it seems unlikely that Microsoft will change its stance towards the collection of diagnostic data on home systems anytime soon. Windows 10 Telemetry: new control option for Enterprise customers launches
  16. Windows 10 version 2004 may show "no Internet" even though there is Internet access Microsoft's latest feature update for Windows 10, Windows 10 version 2004, has had its fair share of issues already. The situation has not been as bad as before -- Windows 10 version 1809 still has the crown when it comes to user-impacting issues -- but it is not far behind in regards to bugs. Most users are probable better off installing only the second feature update of the year; the first feature update has matured since then and the second feature update is just a smaller update that should not introduce as many issues. Microsoft confirmed another issue that is affecting some devices running Windows 10 version 2004. A report on the Technet forum highlights that the Internet connectivity indicator may not work properly. The network indicator shows the "no Internet" icon on affected systems even though there is Internet connectivity. In other words: programs may access the Internet as usual despite Windows reporting that there is no Internet connection. Customers are reporting "no internet" access in the Network Connectivity Status Indicator (NCSI) on Windows 10 2004 devices on devices that in fact can ping internet resources or browse web sites with internet browsers. The issue has not been added to the official list of known issues here. It is unclear why Microsoft is confirming issues in "other places" but not adding the confirmed issues to the list of known issues on the official documentation page. The issue is under investigation currently according to Microsoft. It is probably not of the highest priority considering that it is a visible bug only that does not affect use of the system (once users realize that Internet connectivity is available). The company's Windows 10 operating system was plagued with another Internet connectivity issue just months ago. Back then, Windows 10's network indicator icon would show "limited" or "no connectivity" on devices that use proxy or virtual private network connections. The issue back then did limit Internet connectivity of affected devices, though. Tip: if you want to know how Windows finds out the status of a device's Internet connectivity, check out this informational guide. Windows 10 version 2004 may show "no Internet" even though there is Internet access
  17. Some AMD PCs are still blocked from receiving today's Windows 10 Insider build 20175 Microsoft released Windows 10 build 20175 to the Dev channel earlier today. The release today is significant for a lot of users that were stuck with build 20161 – especially those running the builds on computers with AMD processors – as that build expires on July 31 and users are being served warning about the impending expiration. However, while the expiration date in build 20170 was changed to January 31, 2020, that update was blocked for AMD PCs due to a known bug. While today’s build should be rolling to those AMD PCs that were blocked from receiving the update, finally ridding them of the expiration warnings, users are reporting that the Insider builds have still not begun showing up on Windows Update. The company has acknowledged the issue and has stated that it is working to resolve the problem with AMD PCs not receiving today’s release “like they should”. To be clear, an expired build does not mean that the OS becomes unusable. However, the warning pop-ups could get annoying with time. If you do want to get rid of the warnings by clean installing today’s build, you can do so by downloading the latest ISO images for build 20175 that was released today. This was not possible before today because there were no ISOs released for builds after 20161. Additionally, the ISOs also help clean install build 20175 for those that switched to the Beta channel. However, considering that the company has already fixed the blocking bug in today’s release, the wait should not be long before the update is unblocked for all devices. If the fix warrants another build release, the company could also roll out a minor update with a remedy for the block. Regardless, the article will be updated with further communication from the firm, if it is provided. Some AMD PCs are still blocked from receiving today's Windows 10 Insider build 20175
  18. Microsoft brings multi-tasking improvements to Edge and Windows 10 As more and more work takes place in web browsers, there is an increasing demand for tabs to operate just like apps. In the latest dev versions of Windows 10 and Edge Microsoft has added the ability for tabs to show up in the Alt+Tab pop-up and Taskbar Preview. Browser tabs in Alt + Tab In the latest version of Windows 10, Microsoft has updated Alt + Tab to show your browser tabs to show up right alongside your apps. This makes switching between open tabs as seamless as switching between open windows. Of course, many people have 20-30 tabs open and would hate for all their tabs to show up in Alt+Tab. While this will be a default, a visit to Settings > System > Multitasking will allow Windows users to switch off this feature. Quickly access tabs for your pinned sites via the Taskbar With today’s update, pinned sites will now appear as running on the Taskbar and you can click on the icon to see all of your open tabs of that site across any of your Microsoft Edge windows. This makes it easy to quickly find and switch to a tab for a specific site without having to search through all your open tabs and browser windows. Try pinning a site you visit frequently by going to Settings and More (…) > More tools > Pin to taskbar. Getting started These features are currently rolling out to a subset of Insiders. To start using these new features, you’ll need: Microsoft Edge Insider Build 85.0.561.0 or higher (Canary or Dev Channel) Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20175 or higher (Dev Channel) Once you’re up-to-date, simply choose your preferred Alt + Tab setting under Settings > System > Multitasking or pin your favourite site to the taskbar by going to Microsoft Edge and selecting Settings and More (…) > More tools > Pin to taskbar. For this initial preview release, you’ll need to remove and re-pin existing sites on your Taskbar (including removing them from the edge://apps page). Microsoft brings multi-tasking improvements to Edge and Windows 10
  19. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 20175 to the Dev channel Today, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview build 20175 to the Dev channel. There are a couple of new features in this build, but one notable change is that this one is supported for AMD-powered PCs, whereas build 20170 wasn't. This is notable because anyone on build 20161 or earlier are subject to their build expiring on July 31. In other words, if you have an AMD processor, you'll want to grab this build. As for the new features, one of them is quick access to pinned sites in Edge, so if you click on a pinned site in the taskbar, you'll see previews for all instances of that site across all of your open windows. Another new feature is Eye Contact for the Surface Pro X, something that was touted back in November when the device was introduced. It corrects your gaze so it looks like you're looking into the camera. Finally, you'll be able to reset UWP apps in PowerShell, rather than only being able to do so in Settings. Here's the full changelog: Improving pinned sites in Microsoft Edge Earlier this month, we announced ALT + TAB between apps and sites, the first of our new productivity enhancements coming to Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. Today, we’re announcing another feature we’ve been working on to make you more efficient when browsing the web: quick access to tabs for your pinned sites. Clicking a pinned site on the Taskbar will now show you all of the open tabs for that site across any of your Microsoft Edge windows, just like you’d expect for any app with multiple open windows. Please let us know what you think! This feature is currently rolling out to a subset of Insiders today and requires Microsoft Edge Insider Build 85.0.561.0 or higher (Canary or Dev Channel). NOTE: Since this is an early preview, existing sites on your Taskbar will not experience this new behavior until you remove and re-pin them. For more details on our new multitasking improvements, check out our post on the Microsoft Edge blog. Introducing Reset-AppxPackage For some time now, you’ve been able to reset your UWP apps in Settings – with today’s build we’re now exposing this ability via PowerShell as well. To do this, you’ll need the appx package name, so your use of the command may look like this: >> Get-AppxPackage *calculator* | Reset-AppxPackage The benefit of enabling this via PowerShell is that if needed you will now be able to run the reset commands for certain system components that are not currently listed as available to reset in Settings, for example Start. Please note by nature of this command, if you choose to run it it will reset your experience back to the default experience and you will lose the associated app data. Make a more personal connection with Eye Contact on Surface Pro X Powered by artificial intelligence capabilities of the Microsoft SQ1(TM) processor, Eye Contact helps to adjust your gaze on video calls so you appear to be looking directly in the camera on your Surface Pro X. Windows Insiders can turn this feature on via the Surface app on their Surface Pro X. In the 'other updates' section, there are new icons for Snip & Sketch and Sticky Notes, although those are independent of the build. As always, you can grab today's build via Windows Update. If you're not on the Dev channel yet, you can enroll by going to the Windows Insider Program tab in Settings. Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 20175 to the Dev channel
  20. Microsoft’s designers show us a Windows 10 Start Menu with rounded corners We have heard recently that Microsoft abandoned plans to square off the tabs and menus in the new Edge, saying: … the latest Fluent designs are characterized by rounded corners across objects and controls… Of course, most of Windows 10 has exactly the opposite design – sharp, square corners. It seems, however, this look may be on the way out, going by a mock-up of the Windows 10 Start Menu posted by Microsoft’s Tips site. As can be seen above, the Search box is distinctly rounded, as is the context menu and tiles. It is unclear if we are looking at a screenshot or a mock-up made from scratch, but given Microsoft’s recent comments on Edge’s Fluent Design, it seems likely the days of Windows 10 being square are pretty numbered. via WindowsLatest Microsoft’s designers show us a Windows 10 Start Menu with rounded corners
  21. Microsoft releases an update to fix the Windows 10 blue screen issue involving Thunderbolt docks Some users running Windows 10 version 2004 (Windows 10 May 2020 Update) on their PCs faced blue screen error when plugging or unplugging a Thunderbolt dock. In May, Intel and Microsoft found the incompatibility issues causing this blue screen error. All Windows 10 PCs with at least one Thunderbolt port, Kernel DMA Protection enabled and Windows Hypervisor Platform disabled were affected by this issue. To protect users from blue screen errors, Microsoft stopped the roll-out of Windows 10 Version 2004 to these users. Microsoft has recently released the new KB4565503 update that fixes this Thunderbolt dock blue screen issue. Since the issue is resolved, the safeguard hold has been removed. If you are running a Windows 10 PC with Thunderbolt dock connected, you can now download the Windows 10 version 2004 update (Windows 10 May 2020 Update) through Windows Update. Microsoft releases an update to fix the Windows 10 blue screen issue involving Thunderbolt docks
  22. Windows 10 May 2020 Update has a weird bug that could slow down some games Or cause crashes, and interfere with various apps including browsers (Image credit: Shutterstock) Windows 10 May 2020 Update reportedly has yet another issue, it would seem, with evidence of weird ESENT warnings being found under the hood in the operating system’s Event Viewer. You may well not have heard of ESENT, but it’s a DLL in Windows which is the ESE (or Extensible Storage Engine) runtime. In basic terms, it’s a data storage tech, and part of the OS that helps with desktop searches and indexing your media catalog. As spotted by Windows Latest, the problem with the ‘ESENT 642’ warnings has been observed in several threads on Microsoft’s Answers.com support forum, and also the likes of Reddit and Tenforums, with fears that the glitch could be hampering performance as well as causing crashes, including some reported cases of slowdown in games. This would appear to be an issue dating back to when the May 2020 Update was first launched, pretty much, although Windows Latest said that it has also just found the warnings itself in its own testing. Stuttering in games A few users on Reddit have reported that having experienced the errors, they have also noticed some bad stuttering when they’re playing a game at times. Sonny-97 wrote: “I was stuttering like crazy too when playing R6S, I went from 150fps to 40/50fps, it was causing the OS to stutter also. I just restarted the PC, that seemed to fix it at least for the time being.” Another user noted a problem with Call of Duty: Warzone. Others have observed issues with Windows 10’s Films & TV app, and various crashes, commonly after the PC has resumed from sleep (and when using web browsers, including Firefox and Microsoft Edge). In short, it seems like an odd flaw, with some pretty wide-ranging and unfortunate effects. Some users in some of the older posts we’ve seen reported that the problem did disappear for them eventually of its own accord – one theory is it’s perhaps related to the Windows.old file being removed by the OS, after the rollback period has expired for May 2020 Update. However, this bugbear is apparently still kicking about for some other folks. The only certain cure for the issue seems to be rolling back, and reverting to the previous version of Windows 10 before you installed the May 2020 Update. Obviously that’s far from an ideal solution, but it may be better than sticking with the upgrade if you’re being hit by some of the more annoying side-effects that this flaw seems to be causing. Windows 10 May 2020 Update has a weird bug that could slow down some games
  23. Microsoft testing Preview Pane for Windows 10 Calendar app Microsoft is continuing to tweak the design of the Calendar portion of the Mail and Calendar app on Windows 10. Currently, the company is testing a Preview Pane in the app which would let users see their daily Calendar entries in more detail. Microsoft has also been working on improving the Search feature of the app, with the Preview pane being used to display results, as shown in this video by Alumia. The feature has rolled out to Windows 10 Insiders and will hopefully make it to general users in short order. Via Florian B Microsoft testing Preview Pane for Windows 10 Calendar app
  24. New Windows 10 Search Console experience now rolling out Microsoft is currently rolling out a new Search Console experience to Windows 10 users on version 1809 and above. The new experience offers a new two-column layout which Microsoft says offers easy readability, as well as fast access to Quick Searches, where you can see local weather, top news, and more helpful info. To find other web results or navigate directly to a website, users can still type in the search bar like normal. To see the new console click on the Search icon in the Taskbar or press Windows key + S. The new layout is available in markets that enable Quick Searches, including the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and the UK. In addition, the Windows search bar now supports web search for Dutch-speaking customers in the Netherlands. Users with their Windows region set to Netherlands and their language set to Dutch can now search the web from their search bar without using a browser. Previously the feature was limited to English-speaking users in the region. The update is server-side and no action is needed on your PC. via OnMSFT New Windows 10 Search Console experience now rolling out
  25. Microsoft removes Windows 10 May 2020 Update block for Thunderbolt docks Earlier this week was Patch Tuesday, when Microsoft released updates for all supported versions of Windows. One of the fixes was for an issue that caused some PCs to blue screen when plugging in a Thunderbolt dock with Windows 10 version 2004. If you were using a Thunderbolt dock up until this point, you'll have found that there was a block in place preventing you from upgrading to the May 2020 Update. That block is being released now. If you're still unable to upgrade your PC to the latest version of Windows 10, then you should be able to soon. Of course, that's assuming that your PC isn't being blocked for some other reason, and there are many. Microsoft has a whole list of known issues that are causing compatibility holds. That's actually what recently happened with some Surface devices. Microsoft went and fixed an issue for always on, always connected network drivers, and many assumed that all Surface devices would be unblocked. The firm later had to clarify that you'd only be unblocked if you weren't being blocked by something else. Indeed, Windows 10 version 2004 is not without problems. Many PCs are still blocked from upgrading, and many more haven't even been offered the update. This is after the update spent 15 months in Insider testing, with six months of that being serviced with cumulative updates. Microsoft removes Windows 10 May 2020 Update block for Thunderbolt docks
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