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  • Born: Here’s why the free upgrade from Win7 to Win10 still works

    Posted on November 30th, 2019 at 07:37 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    It’s one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry: You can still upgrade from a licensed copy of Win7 to Win10 for free.

    The how is easy: Almost everyone can upgrade using the Media Creation Tool. If you’re asked for a product key, use the one that came with your copy of Win7 (or 8.1). There are detailed instructions on Microsoft’s Answers Forum.

    But the why remains a tantalizing unknown. Günter Born has found a possible answer, in a Reddit post from a self-proclaimed Microsoft employee. Short version: The cutoff date was a marketing ploy that was easily bypassed anyway.

    Fascinating stuff.

  • Patch Lady – cleaning up the installer folder

    Posted on November 28th, 2019 at 23:20 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    First off I hope everyone in the United States had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.  I cooked and cleaned up the kitchen and now I’m working on cleaning up a too full c drive.  In using TreeSize to see what was causing the hogging, I realized I had 30 gigs in the Windows Installer folder.

    After reviewing several recommendations, the one that I’ve seen recommended in several places is PatchCleaner.

    Now if only Windows could do this itself….

    It’s not recommended to delete the folder, and even this gives me a bit of pause, but I do have a backup of my computer, which one should always have when doing such things.

    What other tools do you use to clean up your hard drives?

  • Autologon is NOT being removed in Windows 10 2004

    Posted on November 28th, 2019 at 09:16 joep517 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    The erstwhile Martin Brinkmann reports that some users have noticed the automatic sign-in capability is missing from the latest Windows 10 2004 test build (19033). There is an explanation. If you have Windows Hello configured the option is not present. See No, Microsoft is not removing AutoLogin from Windows 10 version 2004 for more details.

  • Patch Lady – how do you handle drivers?

    Posted on November 20th, 2019 at 23:52 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I spotted this post the other day.  And the big big takeaway of the article is that a key issue with feature updates is driver updates.

    As we’ve discussed extensively in blogs, keeping device firmware up to date is becoming increasingly important. Our Windows tablets support firmware updates through Windows Update, so they’re taken care of by the configuration above.

    Once upon a time we NEVER updated drivers after a machine was installed.  Now we have to be soooooo proactive in finding updates.  I strongly encourage you to actively seek out the vendor firmware updating tool and ensure that you have that installed.  Another tip I’d recommend is to consider removing any third party antivirus if you are in any way concerned about the feature release process.  I’ve personally found that updating it less disruptive with defender on the system.

  • Thurrott: Frustrating changes to the Win10 version 1909 installation experience

    Posted on November 20th, 2019 at 08:20 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I vividly recall writing around the installation process for Win10 version 1809 in Win10 All-In-One For Dummies. Microsoft did everything it could to convince you to set up your system with a Microsoft Account — and thus permanently brand your machine with your Microsoft i.d.

    I think that stinks. Most people are better off setting up a new PC with a local account (Microsoft calls it an “offline account” and, now, a “limited experience” account). MS setup should make it easy to keep this fundamental bit of snooping at bay.

    But it doesn’t.

    Paul Thurrott has gone through the maze with a fresh installation of the latest version of Windows 10, version 1909, and come up with some surprising results. Microsoft still plays a cat-and-mouse game with local accounts, but if you set up a machine while offline (thus forcing the installer to step you through setting up a local account), and then plug your machine back into the internet, Microsoft forces you to go through the installation process again.

    Of course, if you’re upgrading a machine to version 1909, you’re spared the indignity. But those of you setting up Win10 on a new computer are going to get pushed and shoved even harder into branding it with your Microsoft Account.

    Tell me again how Google snooping is so much worse than Microsoft snooping….

  • Cortana’s footprint is shrinking

    Posted on November 18th, 2019 at 07:50 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I think there may be two people reading this who will actually care, but Microsoft is pulling Cortana from Android and iOS, as Lawrence Abrams describes on Bleepingcomputer.

    I think MS hasn’t gone far enough. Mehedi Hassan, over at, got it right:

    UPDATE: Günter Born has the original article. Not clear if the US will be among the countries that lose Cortana on iOS and Android.

  • When Windows 10 Feature Updates don’t go smoothly

    Posted on November 15th, 2019 at 21:45 Kirsty Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Last weekend, I decided to bite the bullet and update a Win10-1803 Pro machine to Win10-1809, using Windows Update. I’d taken a system image backup, and as it wasn’t my production machine, I wasn’t too worried.

    This machine is under a year old, a purchase necessary when a hardware failure put paid to my trusty Win7 Pro laptop. It allows me to work more than I can manage at my desktop, and does most of the hard yards online, especially here.

    Windows Update installed 1809 x64 2019-10B – this was before Woody changed MS-Defcon from 4 to 2. It took 20 minutes to Prepare to Install, and nearly 2 hours to download, and several hours to install.

    Needless to say, it didn’t go to plan… The first indication of a problem was after several hours of installing, when a blue screen appeared bearing the words “Stopcode” and “Bad Pool Header”. It restarted, still on 1803, pending install. It continued installing. Eventually it restarted, and I was able to see KB 4521862 and KB 4519338 had installed – along with a bunch of drivers being updated, when the Pro settings were not to download drivers from Windows. I also noticed I hadn’t had to reset the Metered Connection settings to allow the update to download!

    After it finished its update, it wasn’t working properly. It looked fairly normal, but restarting started problems – none of the visible desktop items actually worked – not the Start button, any of the TaskBar icons, or anything other than the Ctrl>Alt>Del routine.

    I tried Sign Out. It took ages. It caused a loop of: Hi; We’re getting everything ready for you; This might take several minutes – don’t turn off your PC (that part remained until it got to Hi again); Leave everything to us; Windows stays up to date to help protect you in an online world; Making sure your apps are good to go; It’s taking a bit longer than expected, but we’ll get there as fast as we can. This loop took 5 minutes to restart, again, and again, and again.

    It had been over 12 hours since the process started at this point. As I had to do my day job, I just left it chugging away in the background while I got on with earning an income. Over 5 hours later, it finally came up for air – a desktop, but still not functioning.

    Along the way, I saw various errors:
    Error 0x80072EE7
    The gpsvc service failed the sign-in – access is denied
    windows\system32\config\systemprofile\desktop is unavailable

    To add to my woes, it wanted to restart itself again, where it re-entered the 5+ hour loop. I still had work to get done, so I just let it be. No stopcodes this time, but still it didn’t work.

    I couldn’t access safe mode, even with Recovery Tool USB access. Start Up Repair “couldn’t fix [the] PC”. Using the Recovery Tool, I was able to access the Command Prompt, where SFC /SCANNOW reported “Not enough memory resources are available to process this command” the first time, and then, after it went through 100%, “Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation”. Attempting to use Restore Points was another failure – they were listed, but “unavailable”.

    At this time, I decided it was time to try to restore the system image. Again, the gpsvc error. Apparently there had been some issue prior to the update attempt? I had to put it aside for a few days, until I got time to address it properly. By this stage, I was heading for an ISO file on a USB stick. This laptop now needs to be reset from the ground up, going back over all the metered connection, deferred updates, Customer Experience, Start Menu apps settings etc. etc. etc. – and I’m sure there’ll be something important I forget!

    Having got the ISO installed, I was able to run SFC / SCANNOW and DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth. All 100% clear, thank goodness.

    There are only 5-6 programs to reinstall. If this had been a production machine, I’d have dozens of programs to have to reinstall. It’s still going to take another day or two until I get it back to normal, as I have other things I need to prioritize. If I’m a bit cranky this weekend, you now know why!

    I’m really lucky I have a wealth of knowledge, support and expertise here at my disposal. A normal home user would have ended up paying for professional technical support, and if it had been my production machine, would have resulted in a loss of chargeable hours. I’m counting my blessings!

  • Carboni: Jittery mouse when controlling Win10 version 1903 via RDP? There’s a solution.

    Posted on October 29th, 2019 at 09:41 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    From Noel Carboni:

    Have you seen a jittery mouse or black screen when controlling a Windows 10 v1903 or newer system via RDP?  I’ve discovered a workaround.

    When I upgraded my office computer to Windows 10 v1903 it created a new problem.  When I used my company’s VPN and RDP to control it remotely, the mouse would stutter or jitter.  RDPing into my office system is something I had been doing quite effectively and seamlessly when it was running Win 10 v1809, without any hint of such a problem.  The only thing that changed coincident with the introduction of the problem was the office system’s OS version.

    Based on observation, with Win 10 v1903, whenever a new graphic is loaded into the mouse cursor (e.g., the arrow changes to a finger or spinner or whatever) the cursor pointer is moved back to the position it was in where the change was requested by the controlled system.  This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, while it does not leave the system completely unusable, when you move the mouse anything but excruciatingly slowly it makes it just plain irritating to use.

    A bunch of web searches later, culminating in a visit to the VMware workstation forum, I learned that Microsoft has enabled (and made default) the use of a second driver model on the system being controlled:  The WDDM model.  Up to now RDP has run off the XDDM display driver model, which is apparently better optimized for an interface that takes a noticeable amount of time to update a mouse cursor given mouse position input.  Remote connections take milliseconds, if not tens or hundreds of milliseconds.  Therein lies the problem.

    For some folks trying to make use of this combination of software and OS versions, the problem can be even worse:  They just get a black screen.  Do a search for “Windows 10 WDDM RDP” on Google and you’ll see that a fair number of folks are having RDP problems.

    The good news:  It turns out Microsoft thought ahead (as they often do) and provided a new policy for configuring the controlled system to use the older, tried and proven XDDM model.  If you have Windows 10 Pro, run gpedit.msc and navigate to the following:

    Local Computer Policy
    Computer Configuration
    Administrative Templates
    Windows Components
    Remote Desktop Services
    Remote Desktop Session Host
    Remote Session Environment

    Set the Use WDDM graphics display driver for Remote Desktop Connections policy to Disabled

    This will clear up jittery mouse and black screen problems and make a remote Windows v1903 (or Server 2016) or newer system a pleasure to use via RDP again.

    UPDATE: Interesting. There’s a post on the Microsoft Answers forum from KevinMarchant that complains about the “high CPU after disconnecting” problem on Win10 1903. That post is now marked “*** PROBLEM RESOLVED BY KB4522355 RELEASED OCTOBER 24TH 2019. ***”

    Any chance that the latest optional, non-security update actually fixes the mouse jitters, too?

    The KB article says:

    Addresses an issue with high CPU usage in Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe) when you disconnect from a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) session.