News, tips, advice, support for Windows, Office, PCs & more. Tech help. No bull. We're community supported by donations from our Plus Members, and proud of it
Home icon Home icon Home icon Email icon RSS icon

Blog Archives

  • Microsoft declares that you can now safely install Win10 version 1903 on Surface Book 2 machines

    Posted on October 12th, 2019 at 08:54 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Took ’em about six months, but Microsoft has finally given the go-ahead to install Win10 version 1903 on Surface Book 2 PCs. I talked about the “dGPU may occasionally disappear from device manager on Surface Book 2 with dGPU” bug in the July 22 AskWoody Plus Newsletter (accessible to everyone).

    The upgrade block which has been in effect since May was officially removed yesterday.

    The impetus? A firmware update for the Surface Book 2, also released yesterday. I’ll have a full rundown of the latest firmware releases on Monday. Suffice it to say that many people are steamed — and rightfully so — about the way MS has been steering its customers into uncharted waters.

    At any rate, if you paid $3,000 for a Surface Book 2 with a separate GPU, you’re now free to install Microsoft’s latest, greatest version of Windows.

    Just in time for the release next month of “Windows 10 November 2019 Update (19H2)” — better known as Win10 1909.

    I’ll have more about the 1909 release next week. Current obsession: What exactly do we know about the rollout?  If you think previous Win10 releases were unnecessarily cumbersome and hard to understand, boy howdy, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

  • The inside story on Win10 rollouts – the machine learning engine that throttles

    Posted on September 26th, 2019 at 16:06 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    By Conrad_von_Soest,_’Brillenapostel’_(1403).jpg, Public Domain

    If you don’t mind graphs without axis labels, you might find this post from Microsoft interesting.

    Regular Microsoft updates to your Windows 10 PC help ensure that it’s kept secure from possible threats and empowered with the latest features for peak performance and productivity. Because of the wonderful diversity of hardware, devices and applications available to Windows customers, each PC’s update experience may be slightly different. To ensure that all PCs have a seamless update experience—regardless of their differences—we use a combination of testing, close partner engagement, feedback, diagnostic data, and real-life insights to manage quality.

    To help with the complexity of the aspects we need to evaluate, we are increasing our investments in machine learning (ML) technologies. Machine learning helps us detect potential issues more quickly and helps us decide the best time to update each PC once a new version of Windows is available.

    Compare and contrast to, say, the Win7 rollout experience. MS tests and tests and tests, then throws the gate open for anybody to manually install. If something goes kablooey (as it frequently did), the ‘Softies would scramble like crazy to fix things up. If you were smart, you waited for Service Pack 1.

    Back then, MS didn’t presume to have enough “intelligence” to push new operating systems onto customers.

    Times change, eh?

    Or do I sound like an old man yelling at the kids to get off his lawn?

  • Microsoft claims “more than 900 million devices” running Win10

    Posted on September 24th, 2019 at 14:07 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    That’s what the official By the Numbers site says. That number includes Xboxs, HoloLenses, and refrigerators — but doesn’t include virtual machines.

    Paul Thurrott has an interesting thought on the subject. He says that Win10 hit 800 million devices in March, and 825 million in May. The increase since then is about 16.7 million new devices per month.

    While Win7 ruled the roost, MS crowed about gaining about 20 million new Win7 users a month — and that number was consistent (whether the counting was or not) for many years.

  • Changes to the volume licensing Software Assurance program

    Posted on September 16th, 2019 at 15:18 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Looks like there are some significant changes:

    What’s changing with the Problem Resolution Support benefit?

    We’re adjusting support eligibility criteria and changing support allocations beginning in February 2021 to replace incident-based support with as-needed support and credit toward Unified Support. Software Assurance customers will no longer earn a limited number of support incidents based on spend, agreement type, and product(s) but instead will get as-needed support with a Software Assurance spend of $250,000 or more annually. The Software Assurance support provides business hours support with a 24-hour response time goal.

    What’s changing with the Planning Services benefit? 

    Beginning in February 2020, we’re retiring the Planning Services benefit in Software Assurance. We’re consolidating our programmatic deployment planning assistance to a single approach, and Microsoft FastTrack is our primary implementation support offer. You can use FastTrack for Azure, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365 engagements.

    Cloud services will be retired from Planning Services eligibility in February 2020 in favor of FastTrack deployments. Planning Services will be fully retired on January 1, 2022.

    What’s changing with training vouchers?

    We’re retiring the Software Assurance training voucher benefit starting in February 2020, and training days will no longer be used to convert to planning services days. You can still use training vouchers until January 2022, with the exception of Azure training, which will be removed from the course catalog in February 2020. Training vouchers will be fully retired on January 1, 2022.

    I don’t use Software Assurance, but I have a sneaky suspicion that folks who do won’t be overly happy with these changes.

  • Patch Lady – seen on a movie screen

    Posted on September 13th, 2019 at 11:10 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Speaking of old software still in use, last night when I was at the movie theater (watching Downton Abbey  loved the movie), the preview/preshow was playing when suddenly it froze.  And then the screen showed this error screen.  Which we geeks think is a vintage Windows 95 desktop.

    Given that movie theaters get movies digitally these days, its possible that this preshow screen is connected to the Internet.  Slightly freaky.


  • This month’s Win7 and 8.1 “security only” patches install and activate telemetry systems

    Posted on September 12th, 2019 at 10:31 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Back in July, we discovered that the Win7 security-only patch was installing and activating telemetry (read: snooping) subsystems.

    The August security-only patches didn’t include telemetry, and many of us breathed a sigh of relief.

    Now it looks like the September security-only patches have telemetry once again — and not just for Win7.

    Details in Computerworld Woody on Windows.

  • Born: “Recently, Microsoft has been plaguing its Windows 10 users and subscribers to the Windows Insider program.”

    Posted on September 1st, 2019 at 12:06 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Excellent essay from Günter Born.

    If you’re beta testing Windows, you know he’s right on.

    Following the motto: Every day a new confusion, different names are used for Windows 10, the rings in the Insider program are shaken up, and there are A / B tests where few people get new features.

    The Insider program’s a mess. There are far, far too many people in the program for it to be a software beta test bed. Rather, it’s a marketing beta, grown wildly out of hand.

    I’m not optimistic.

  • Win10 version 1909 (“19H2”) now has three current beta versions

    Posted on August 27th, 2019 at 10:48 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Never let it be said that the Windows Insider rings are well defined.

    Microsoft’s putting the finishing touches on the next new version (“feature update”) for Win10 version 1903. Except it isn’t being distributed as a new version. It’s being distributed as a plain-vanilla monthly patch (“quality update”).

    I tend to think of the next version of Win10 as Win10 1903 Service Pack 1. But you’ll probably end up calling it Win10 version 1909.

    Here’s where you need a decoder ring.

    The Windows Release Preview ring has been used, historically, for all sorts of things. Recently, it’s been used to test updates to Win10 version 1903 prior to officially rolling them out. (It’s also been photobombed by an odd update, build 18947, which was quickly pulled.) On August 21, Microsoft released a new test version of Win10 1903, build 18362.325, into the Release Preview ring. Presumably, 18362.325 includes fixes for the VB/VBA/VBScript bugs introduced on Patch Tuesday in 18362.295.

    Starting yesterday, a subset of those in the Release Preview ring (about 10%, according to Dona Sarkar), were given the keys to the executive washroom. If you’re in the Release Preview ring and you’re one of the chosen few, you’ll see a link to update to “Windows 10, version 1909.”

    Click on that link and you’ll be able to test Win10 build 18363.327. That’s the first Win10 1909 update allowed out of the Redmond barn.

    Note the monkey business with the build numbers — Win10 version 1903 is build 18362.blahblahblah. Win10 version 1909 (nee “19H2”) is build 18363.mumblemumble.

    Sarkar says “to designate 19H2 as a feature update, we are revising the baseline build number by one full build” in the Windows Obfuscation Numbering Scheme. But note that:

    Insiders in the Release Preview ring who get 19H2 Build 18363.327 today will not see all the 19H2 features the Slow ring currently has as not all the features have been incorporated into the build yet.

    But wait a sec. There isn’t a single beta version of 1909 in the Slow Ring. There are two. I call them the bifurcating betas. That means, right now, there are not one, not two, but three different beta test versions of Win10 1909 — builds 18362.10014, 18362.10015, and 18363.327.

    The official announcement ends with this bit of wisdom:

    Because of the differences between the way the 19H2 updates are packaged between the Slow and Release Preview rings, Insiders in the Slow ring will not be able to switch to the Release Preview ring and get updates yet. Insiders who are thinking of switching rings should stay put for now. We will communicate to Insiders when it is ok to make the switch.

    See what I mean about a decoder ring?

    Thx @EP

    UPDATE: Paul Thurrott has posted an article on his paywall site that says there are “a minimum of” four versions of 1909 (“19H2”) floating around. I’ve seen three, but haven’t seen the fourth — and doubt that it exists. Three. Four. Whatever. It’s still way too many.