Woody Leonhard's no-bull news, tips and help for Windows and Office
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  • Win10 beta build 15002 brings real improvement

    Posted on January 10th, 2017 at 09:55 woody 26 comments

    It looks like we’re going to have “metered connections” for both Wi-Fi and Ethernet – which makes it a lead-pipe cinch to throttle forced updates.

    Fingers duly crossed.

    Combine that with the new privacy guidelines just released by Terry Myerson, and the two biggest objections to Windows 10 might – might – be a thing of the past.

    Maybe.

    Is it possible that Microsoft is listening?

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • New Win10 beta build ships

    Posted on January 9th, 2017 at 12:22 woody 14 comments

    I’m installing build 15002 right now.

    Full write-up in InfoWorld in the morning. Any interesting observations most welcome!

    I’m particularly interested in seeing if the new Settings app’s “Delay Upgrades” setting is any different from the old (version 1607) GPedit setting.

    Lots of new stuff in the official announcement.

    I really like this one:

    Based on your feedback, we’ve added the “Set as metered connection” option to the Ethernet (LAN) connections in Settings > Network & Internet > Ethernet. Just like mobile broadband and Wi-Fi connections, this option helps you to restrict background data usage from some applications and gives you more control over how data is used over the Ethernet connection.

  • Win10, Server 2016 KMS servers start rejecting Win7 client activation

    Posted on January 9th, 2017 at 06:31 woody 9 comments

    From ch100:

    It appears that Windows 2016 and Windows 10 when configured as KMS hosts, after a while reject the activation of Windows 7 KMS clients, considering them non-genuine. I don’t know the cause, but it appears to affect machines which were offline for about 2 weeks or longer, which should not happen. This became obvious after the Christmas & New Year’s break when many people took extended leave. Maybe it happens within Microsoft too, although I am expecting that their employees are not allowed to use Windows 7 any longer. 😉

    There is a manual fix for the affected machines by rearming the system (KMS activation does not have a limited number of rearming operations, as the counter is reset each time one such activation takes place). But there is no guarantee that it will not happen again.

    The solution proposed by Microsoft is to use older OS as KMS hosts until there will be a fix available. This may be related to the known crashes of the Windows 2016 Server role Volume Activation Services.

    https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/98d40290-8dc3-4abe-89d0-36cf8c2971e0/windows-10-enterprise-kms-host-renders-windows-7-enterprise-kms-clients-not-genuine-?forum=win10itprosecurity

    And Microsoft’s workaround (from the same thread):

    blogs.technet.microsoft.com/askpfeplat/2016/10/24/kms-activation-for-windows-server-2016/

    “The recommendation at this point is to leave your existing KMS system alone. Whether it is running on Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2012 R2, continue to service the machine via security and quality updates. Allow your KMS system to activate down-level operating systems and Office installs (Windows 7, Windows Server 2008/2008 R2, and Office 2010). Utilize Active Directory Based Activation (ADBA) for all new clients (Windows 8, 8.1, Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, Windows 10, Office 2013, and Office 2016).”

     

  • Does “killing” Cortana really kill Cortana?

    Posted on December 19th, 2016 at 20:25 woody 135 comments

    PKCano has been conducting some interesting experiments. Here are her results to date:

    PRE-TEST #1: I did what appeared to be a clean install. Since we are interested in disabling Cortana, I decided to do whatever the UI had to offer in that direction: Custom install turning off all the offered settings and choosing “Not now” at the “Meet Cortana” screen. Parallels Tools installed on the reboot. This gave me Build 14393.0. Cortana was not off by default as when I initially upgraded from 1511 back at the beginning of Aug.

    Cortana “O” appeared by default in the search box.

    cortana-01

    Cortana did not present a choice to use or not use in the search box popup menu. The notebook was present.

    cortana-02

    There were many choices in the search box settings menu.

    cortana-03

    cortana-04

    Cortana was a choice in the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-05

    There were two entries in the Task Manager that showed activity when I typed, “Cortana” and “Cortana Background Task Host.” DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” were NOT present under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search. DWORD “AllowCortana” was NOT present under HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows Search. The keys “Windows Search” and “Search” were NOT present under HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.

    cortana-06

    PRE-TEST #2: Cumulative Update KB3176495 –> Build 14393.51. Things basically looked the same, maybe a couple more options in the search box popup menu.

    Registry settings were the same.

    cortana-07

    cortana-08

    GPedit: Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative templets\Windows Components\Search had two settings “Allow Cortana” and “Allow Cortana above lock screen,” both not configured. This is same as before

    cortana-09

    Now for the testing.

     

    TEST #1: GPedit: Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative templates\Windows Components\Search

    I set two settings “Allow Cortana” and “Allow Cortana above lock screen” to “disabled”. Rebooted.

    Cortana “o” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-10

    The Cortana option disappears from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-11

    Cortana disappeared from the search box popup menu.

    Search box settings are greatly reduced.

    cortana-12

    I still have two Cortana entries in the Task Manager but I believe only the “Cortana” one is active when I type, not the “Cortana Background Task Host.”

    cortana-13

    In GPedit I returned the settings to “Not configured.” See this thread:

    https://www.askwoody.com/2016/win10-anniversary-update-bug-turns-into-turn-off-cortana-feature/

     

    TEST #2: Remember, the two DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” under HKCU are not present in this install.

    Under HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows I created the key “Windows Search” (NOTE there is a space between) and the DWORD “AllowCortana” set to 0. Rebooted.

    The Cortana “O” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-14

    Cortana disappeared from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-15

    Cortana disappeared from the search box popup menu.

    The search box settings are reduced to 2.

    cortana-16

    There is Cortana activity in Task Manager.

    cortana-17

    In each case, I am resetting whatever I changed before so I start from scratch.

    Recall that previously (see link to thread above) the key “Windows Search” under HKLM did not initially exist – I had to create it and the DWORD “AllowCortana”.

    Test #3: Under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search the two DWORDs “BingSearchEnabled” and “CanCortanaBeEnabled” were not present in this install. But when Cortana disappeared in the TP and in the early AU, those two DWORDs were present and the DWORD “BingSearchEnabled” was set to 0.

    This time, I had to create those two DWORDs and I set both to 0. Rebooted.

    The Cortana “O” disappeared from the search box.

    cortana-18

    Cortana disappeared from the taskbar context menu.

    cortana-19

    Cortana disappears from the search box popup.

    Search box settings are reduced.

    cortana-20

    There is STILL activity under Cortana in the Task Manager.

    cortana-21

    CONCLUSIONS:

    1. It was the settings under HKCU that caused Cortana to disappear in theTP and the AU initial releases. The other things were not present in those builds, but “BingSearchEnabled” was set to 0 under HKCU.

    1. Enabling the “AllowCortana” in GPedit creates the “Windows Search” key under HKLM and sets the “AllowCortana” DWORD to 1. So basically these two things are equivalent.

    1.  Setting “BingSearchEnabled” (and maybe “CanCortanaBeEnabled”) to 0 underHKCU does the same thing. This may apply the disappearance of Cortana to an individual User as opposed to the entire computer which the GPedit settings probably do.

    1. None of these changes stop the activity of the Cortana processes in Task Manager.

    Want to REALLY squash Cortana?

    Open the Task Manager.

    Open C:\Windows\SystemApps

    Rename the folder “Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy.”

    You have to stop the Cortana process in the Task Manager, b/c it’s using the folder.

    You have to be FAST FAST b/c the process restarts quickly.

    Reboot.

    The Cortana “O” still shows in the search box, but the search box is DEAD – you can’t type anything in it.

    Cortana still shows in the taskbar context menu, but the Cortana icon is also DEAD.

    Install Classic Shell and type in the search box. You get a “Microsoft Windows Search Indexer” process that shows activity.

    Don’t know what other effects this might have, but it does the job of killing the Cortana processes and removing them from the Task Manager apparently.

    cortana-22

     

    cortana-23

     

    cortana-24

    cortana-25

  • Dissecting the Cortana numbers

    Posted on December 14th, 2016 at 12:16 woody 44 comments

    Brad Sams has a great back-of-the-envelope analysis of Cortana’s penetration, on Thurrott.com (premium content). He drew on some obscure references ferreted out by @teroalhonen.

    Microsoft claims 145 million monthly active users. Brad takes the number apart, and shows – quite convincingly – that there’s less here than meets the eye. Just for starters, if you type into the Win10 Search box, bingo, there’s another hit for Cortana.

    Another excellent article from Thurrott Premium.

  • Windows 10 on ARM – what does it mean?

    Posted on December 8th, 2016 at 18:48 woody No comments

    Excellent summary of the situation from Wes Miller, getwired.com.

    This really is one of the most important developments in recent Windows history.

  • Windows coming to Qualcomm “mobile” ARM chips

    Posted on December 8th, 2016 at 02:52 woody 24 comments

    As momentous news goes, this one’s a biggie.

    Qualcomm and Microsoft just announced a joint effort (“Project Evo”) to put Windows 10 on the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Terry Myerson has a similar take.

    Chris Williams at the Register puts it succinctly:

    What the hell is happening? Look out, WinTel, here comes Win, er, WinDragon?

    There’s an excellent overview of the history and placement of the product from Matt Humrick and Brett Howse on AnandTech.

    Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet summarizes:

    Microsoft will bring a natively compiled version of Windows 10 to Qualcomm’s ARM processors next year, plus an x86 emulation layer, designed to run on a new class of Windows 10 mobile PCs.

    Note that there’s no mention of 64-bit programs. Looks like 32-bit (x86) programs will run in an emulation layer, which is always tricky and usually slow. My guess is that only UWP apps will run native. That’s a moving target, given how much UWP is changing from version to version.

    Peter Bright at Ars Technica has some additional details:

    Microsoft also plans to bring the kind of always-on connectivity that’s more familiar to smartphones and desktop PCs. The devices will offer cellular connectivity using a virtual/embedded SIM, with data plans sold directly within the Windows Store. Offering this kind of near-permanent connectivity even in a highly portable device will further blur the lines between a PC and a smartphone, simultaneously offering the portability and power efficiency of a phone, with the application compatibility, peripheral support, and enterprise manageability of a PC.

    Will the effort amount to more than a flash in the pan – or a rehashing of Windows RT? Hard to tell. But it’s certainly going to be interesting. Nobody knows how well it’ll work, how quickly it’ll run (in spite of the demo), and whether Qualcomm can put together enough drivers to make it feasible.

    Look for a barrage of “analysis” this morning, much of which will be regurgitation of the press release.

    UPDATE: The WinHEC keynote speech is up, if you want to see the original introduction.

  • Win10 beta builds on hold for UUP

    Posted on December 3rd, 2016 at 08:40 woody 22 comments

    The last beta build for the next version of Win10 (Creators Update/Redstone 2/version 1703 build 14971) was released on Nov. 17, and it was a real snore.

    What’s taking Microsoft so long to get beta builds out?

    Last night – yeah, Friday night – we found out. Dona Sarkar added this update to the Windows 10 Mobile beta release announcement:

    We are getting ready to start releasing PC builds to Insiders using UUP. To prepare for this, we are going to pause all PC builds for both the Fast and Slow rings starting this evening (Friday 12/2). We will begin flighting the latest builds via UUP starting with our internal rings first then to Insiders based on each ring’s promotion criteria. We’re excited to be able to release builds for PC to Insiders using UUP! Mobile builds are not impacted by this.

    The Unified Update Platform, you may recall, is a technology that reduces the amount of data necessary to install a new version of Win10 — for going from version 1511 to 1607, for example. Microsoft says UUP will reduce the download size by 35%. Frankly, that ain’t a big deal for me – after all, we only upgrade a couple times a year, and beta downloads are a pain anyway – but 35% reduction twice a year may be a big deal for you, and reducing the volume of bits rolling out certainly is a big gain for Microsoft.

    Anyway, Dona says we shouldn’t expect any more beta builds until the UUP framework is in place. No idea when that will happen.

    UPDATE: OK, I’m cynical about UUP (see the comments) but /r/jenmsft says the changes are exciting. You can judge for yourself.