• Introducing Microsoft PC Manager

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    #2596319

    WINDOWS By Ed Tittel Not many people know about the Microsoft PC Manager application, despite its being available in English since October 2022. One r
    [See the full post at: Introducing Microsoft PC Manager]

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    • #2596321
      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2596349

      The Newsletter item says “As usual, you’ll need to check the box to accept Microsoft’s terms.”

      And underneath an image of an installer window it says –

      “Figure 1. Faint though it may be, be sure to check the box to accept Microsoft’s terms. Otherwise, the program won’t install.”

      How about suggesting that people read the terms so they know what they are agreeing to before installing this beta software?  IMHO, that would be well advised.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2596506

        Dear EricB:

        Never meant to suggest that readers should blindly agree to anything. Thanks for pointing that out. I was explaining mechanics, not legal jeopardy or torts. Again: thanks!

        –Ed–

        3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2596483

      Thanks, Ed, for a good review.

      FWIW, would this utility be a good place to add a focus on device drivers?

      There recently seems to be a proliferation of third-party “driver updater” programs.

      Susan strongly advises AGAINST using them because some do hide malware.

      I’ve had a mixed experience with DriverEasy [dot] com .  Even though it does run on Windows 7, there is the need to add SHA-2 Code Signing Support.

      (We’re still running Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on PCs re-purposed as backup storage servers.)

      AVG also offers a similar utility now.

      Alternatively, if you believe Windows Update is good enough for driver maintenance, please advise.

      Thanks again!

    • #2596507

      Nothing seems to stir Windows users’ passions more than how best to update device drivers. Corollary to this is use of tools to deal with same. Personally, I am a fan of the safe fork for Snappy Driver installer, but many experts believe if you don’t want the drivers from MS, you should get them only from their makers.

      Hope you find an approach that works for you and your PCs.

      Best wishes & thanks for asking,

      –Ed–

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2596510

        Many thanks, Ed.

        I may be regarded as some kind of “lone nut” for trying to keep motherboards running as long as possible.

        You might be surprised to learn the manufacturing dates for some of our backup storage servers!

        Honestly, motherboard longevity is a perfect test for the scientific method.

        Windows 7 is the best we could achieve, because the CPUs have LGA775 Prescott cores which do NOT support “PrefetchW”.

        As such, Windows 10 will  NOT install on those PCs:  we tried!

        Another gripe is our HP scanner:  HP never upgraded that scanner’s drivers for Windows 7 et seq., so that PC must remain at Windows XP for the duration now.

        Honestly, I get a little peeved whenever I’m told to stop adding toxins to solid-waste dumps, at the same time I’m criticized for trying to keep old PC hardware running AOK.

        p.s.  I’ll take a look at “Snappy Driver” .

         

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    • #2596525

      this “Snappy Driver” ?

      https://sdi-tool.org/

       

      What is “safe fork”, please?  Sounds like a run-time option.

       

      Also, the “Search” link points here:

      https://driverpack.io/en/catalog

      I’d be most curious about this, too.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2596529

        Rich with CyberCPU Tech gives a nice, succinct verbal presentation, plus a very short on-screen demo.

        His verbal presentation explains why the on-screen demo is very short.

        Don’t miss the caveats at the very end, because they may be extremely important to your particular system(s):

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSP8uIcF43Q

        From his presentation, it seems very wise to update only one driver at a time;  then, with that incremental approach, identifying a buggy driver update should be much easier to isolate.

        • #2596530

          If it’s possible to do this with that software, this may be the SAFEST step-wise procedure:

          (1)  run program to identify old and/or missing drivers

          (2)  install one driver in most need of update -or- first-time installation

          (3)  re-boot here to test the new driver

          (4)  if new problems occur, try to revert to the previous version of that driver

          (5)  if new problems do NOT occur, go to (1) and repeat until all drivers are updated.

    • #2596533

      I have been using PC Manager for a few months. It’s very much a work in progress. Some functions work all the time. Some work occasionally. Deep Cleanup still won’t clean gigabytes of Windows Update files, for example. Thanks for the background on the program.

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      • #2596534

        cleaning gigabytes of Windows Update files should be a User Option e.g. either delete completely, or “move” to high-capacity backup storage

        when trying the DriverEasy software, we deciphered its file management scheme and wrote a short BATCH program to copy all downloaded drivers to a high-capacity HDD

        that made it EZ to delete the source files that had been downloaded to our C: system partition;  and, if we did decide to install an updated driver, we did so using the copy(s) stored on that high-capacity HDD + by launching Windows Device Manager

        the only difficulty that arose with our BATCH program was the need to maintain a text file that mapped drivers to the coded folder names that DriverEasy generates randomly e.g.: here’s a short list of such coded folder names:

        033sir1c.gov
        1r0aptex.ojf
        4hogrmvd.vda
        5wmxx1ma.mbt
        dfu0obw3.fkk
        Drivers.data
        e0ighwgs.hcc
        gvsh0ckl.bwu
        hxggpsg4.xuq

        Even if we neglected to maintain that text file, searching a top-level folder for a .sys file stored below it was also easy, using the DIR and ATTRIB commands.

        Hope this helps.

        • #2596535

          For example, the first coded folder name in that list would be archived here on our high-capacity backup storage:

          M:\drivereasy.com\drivers\033sir1c.gov

          M:\drivereasy.com\drivers.backup\033sir1c.gov

           

          p.s.  I’m very happy that MS decided to leave NTFS intact:

          it’s truly one of THE BEST things ever invented for Windows OS:

          very reliable and very predictable!

           

    • #2596542

      With regards to PC Manager, as a matter of principle I’d rather not mess with Beta on my systems. I’ll stick with the granular features already in the OS – or full featured applications that are tried and true.

      I looked at Snappy Driver in the link above and noticed the language choices were English or Russian. Looking at details in NoScript and uBlock Origin, it seems the site is likely in Russia. Clicking on the “search” link took me to another Russia site.

      There are at least two different versions: Snappy Driver Installer at the link above and Snappy Driver Installer Origin. https://www.snappy-driver-installer.org/

      The video at CyberCPU Tech caused a bunch of problems for some people. Read all the comments. Also note that CyberCPU confused the two different versions. Also, read https://www.ghacks.net/2019/03/30/a-look-at-snappy-drivers-installer-origin-update-windows-device-drivers/

      I wouldn’t trust the sdi-tool.org one at all. The one at snappy-driver-installer.org may be the “safer” one but even that site mentions the downloadable driver database from the fellow running the sdi-tool fork.

      Using the Origin one to experiment on a test system or on older, unsupported hardware? Maybe. Playing Russian Roulette with my main computers? Nope.

      Win10 Pro x64 22H2, Win10 Home 22H2, Linux Mint + a cat with 'tortitude'.

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      • #2596545

        All excellent points!  especially “Russian Roulette” (NOT my favorite game).

        It seems that many of these third-party “driver updaters” have turned up often with very serious problems, like the ones you mention.

        I mentioned it originally because this is the kind of feature that could be added to Microsoft PC Manager, e.g. perhaps by optionally enabling “Administrator Mode” like Command Prompt.

        Windows Update has been having so many inter-related problems, imho MS should add features to PC Manager that at least allow the User to:

        (1) display a complete list of all installed drivers and all missing drivers

        (2) indicate whether each installed driver is the latest, or not

        (3) select an option to download the latest driver

        (4)  optionally LOCK a preferred driver, to block all future updates

        After (3) above, an Administrator should already know how to update a driver using the features already available in Device Manager.

        The latter approach would completely separate driver management from everything else that Windows Update attempts to do on a routine basis.

        Also, a flag could trigger PC Manager to inform the Administrator that certain drivers need to be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website e.g. GPU drivers.

        Since AI is all the rage at present;  I can’t think of a better application for AI than one that allows Administrators to achieve a complete set of the very latest AND signed drivers.

    • #2596692

      I gave “Snappy Driver” the good ol’ college try yesterday.

      Extracting just one set of files, for just one device driver, was very NON-intuitive (I’m being kind here).

      I was very unhappy to see that software download 500MB of files I did NOT really need.

      Compared to the modern User Interface (“UI”) of third-party software like AVG Driver Updater, the latter leaves Snappy Driver in the distant dust.

      Please feel free to laugh at this next observation:

      By tracking down “Hardware Ids”, I confirmed that one missing driver was needed for MIDI devices, and another missing driver was needed for an obsolete parallel printer port.

      Neither device is needed on our backup storage server.

      Once I realized the latter, it was a good ol’ “piece o’ cake” to DISABLE those integrated devices in the motherboard BIOS.

      After that, Windows Device Manager no longer detected those “missing drivers”.

      Occam’s Razor!

      Maybe MS should simply acquire the best of the best of these driver updaters, and start supporting their acquisition with in-house expertise.

      It seems reasonable, imho, to separate Windows Updates from Driver Management.

      College of Hard Knocks signing OFF here.

      • #2596752

        FYI:  this review summarizes several third-party solutions:

        “The Best Free Driver Update Software for Windows in 2023”

        https://www.avg.com/en/signal/best-driver-update-software

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        • #2596782

          “Free”?

          Guess whose $40 per computer per year program they recommend?

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2596804

            I’ve been shopping around, and the prices at Walmart for 3 devices / 2 years are much lower:

            https://www.walmart.com/ip/AVG-Driver-Updater-2-Year-3-PC-Windows/325381745

            $29.95 / 3  ~= $5 per device-year

             

            I also did CHAT with AVG’s “Tech Support” but they were unable to answer my question i.e.:

            can drivers be updated during the trial period withOUT paying a full license?

             

            At the moment, Device Manager on our 3 x Win7 PCs is happy:  no missing or defective drivers, although some are clearly aging.

            So, as long as our Win7 backup storage servers function correctly, I really have no great marginal need for AVG Driver Updater.

             

            p.s. What I really do NOT understand is this:

            Plug-and-Play was originally designed to facilitate compatibility with a huge variety of H/W.

            Doesn’t PnP already have the foundation required to do robust driver management?

            All these third-party competitors would never have been needed, if MS had developed robust driver management as a core internal OS feature.

            Seems to me that PnP’s original objectives have been swallowed up in a sea of complexity.

    • #2596899

      FYI:  this review summarizes several third-party solutions:

      “The Best Free Driver Update Software for Windows in 2023”

      https://www.avg.com/en/signal/best-driver-update-software

      None is worth a dime.
      Drivers should be downloaded from hardware manufacturer ( I never download from PC OEM as I don’t trust their ‘hacking’ the original drivers)

      Windows update drivers are blocked

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    • #2596974

      I fully agree with Alex5723. I use driver and app update progs purely to alert me to any updates, then use the manufacturer for acquiring the update

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      • #2597010

        I fully understand your policy:  it’s a good policy.

        Many of our challenges result from trying to keep very old H/W operational.

        When we were upgrading our LAN to 2.5G, several USB dongle manufacturers insisted that their software worked with Windows XP.

        That turned out to be NOT the case.

        So, in that instance, the manufacturer’s download website was misleading at best, and mostly worthless.  When we brought this to their attention, they did nothing.

        On a different occasion, NVIDIA’s website listed the “latest” GPU driver for a low-end graphics card (PNY GeForce GT 730), but it failed to install.  In that instance, we had to try a series of older drivers until we tried one that installed without any errors.

        As such, the driver that does work is obviously “outdated”.

        Sometimes, the “bleeding edge” is worth a drop or two  🙂

        And, yes, Windows OS could and should have a discrete utility that displays a spreadsheet of all devices needing drivers, the corresponding installed drivers (if any) by version numbers, the responsible manufacturer, and some indication that each is the latest or not.

        It could also support an option that resembles “add or remove program”:  this option should delete obsolete driver files in the C: partition that are no longer needed e.g. a newer GPU replaced an obsolete GPU.

        And, I would prefer that such a utility be entirely separate from Windows Update.

        DriverEasy’s design comes very close to such a utility, but it has other problems e.g. it fails without SHA-2 Code Signing Support.

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    • #2597212

      Wow! Lots of traffic on a tangential thread — managing drivers is not really part of what PC Manager does, but it does incite plenty of passion and interest. Thanks for all the great posts. I’ve learned a thing or two. The SDIO version is the one that most experienced Snappy users prefer, AFAIK. Find it at the Glenn Delahoy Snappy Driver Installer Origin site (https://www.snappy-driver-installer.org/).

      On the original topic, MS just released a new version of PC Manager yesterday (October 25). I don’t see that the home page has changed (the new logo clearly says “Beta” in the upper left corner and I don’t see that on the download page right now). I got my upgrade through winget where its ID is Microsoft.PCManager.CN. Thus, the syntax:

      winget upgrade –id Microsoft.PCManager.CN

      Should work.

      Just to make sure I went ahead and downloaded the installer from the home page. It’s the old version (it shows up in winget as 3.1.3.0 whereas the newer version is numbered 3.8.1.0). If you want to try the new one out, use the winget approach instead. To install that version using winget the syntax is:

      winget install –id Microsoft.PCManager.CN

      I’ll also note that the old installer happily overwrote the newer version with nary a warning. Sigh.

      –Ed–

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    • #2597273

      I blogged about this new PCM version over at edtittel.com this morning, along with some perhaps-interesting screen shots of the new logo and UI that have come along for that ride. Find it online at https://www.edtittel.com/blog/pc-manager-beta-version-3-8-1-0-is-out.html.

      HTH,

      –Ed–

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      • #2597274

        … fractured English

        It’s still go plenty of rough edges.

        fractured English:

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        • #2597284

          I’m seeing lots of typos in my own writing:

          I suspect there are 2 reasons:  I wear out keyboards on a regular basis, and when I do correct a typo, my eyes move faster than my fingers.  The latter often results in a new typo to replace the old typo.  LOL!!

          If this is the New Deal, what was the Old Deal?

           

        • #2597289

          Already found & fixed that typo. Thanks for the feedback. My English, I’ll have you know, it not fractured: it’s dead broke! =Ed=

          2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2611692

      PC Manager enables Windows Defender limited periodic scanning.  I am using Norton, which recommends that this feature be disabled.  Although I have done so via “<b>Windows Security</b> > <b>Virus & threat protection</b> > <b>Microsoft Defender Antivirus options</b>”, PC Manager keeps re-enabling this feature.  Is there any was to prevent this from happening?  I do not find any setting option that provides that capability.  I’m wondering if there may be some work-around via a PowerShell script.  However, I have been unsuccessful in locating the installation folder into which the app is installed.  I have seen some postings that imply it is in C:\Program Files\WindowsApps, but when I examine that folder it appears to be empty.  Have you any suggestions as to how to prevent PC Manager from re-enabling periodic scanning?  Thank you.

    • #2611731

      have seen some postings that imply it is in C:\Program Files\WindowsApps

      C:\Program Files\Microsoft PC Manager

      I use Kaspersky which disabled Defender yet I set Defender to scan periodically which it does after boot/restart.

      There is a switch to run a scan. No settings to disable scan.

    • #2635253

      Is there a way to deploy pc manager to all users via group policy or intune?

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