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ISSUE 20.45.F • 2023-11-06 • Text Alerts!Gift Certificates
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Susan Bradley

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In this issue

WINDOWS: My hot annoyances

Additional articles in the PLUS issue

WINDOWS: Learning to program PowerShell with AI

APPLE NEWS: M3 powers new MacBook Pros and iMac

FREEWARE SPOTLIGHT: WhyNotWin11 — Seriously, why not Windows 11?


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My hot annoyances

Susan Bradley

By Susan Bradley Comment about this article

Technology newsletters like ours often cover the annoying things about a new operating system.

Taking potshots at such things is easy. They are new, they are different, and you didn’t have to deal with them before. But what about the aggravations in the operating systems we’ve been using for years? Or what if the vendors have rolled out new features and they are vexing, too? How do we deal with them?

Here are some of my favorite (?) peeves.

Windows 10 ‘Suggestions’

Lately, Microsoft has been introducing new irritants to an operating system that is supposed to be stable, quiet, boring, and hurtling toward its end of life.

“Suggestions” is my newest annoying feature. I’ve seen it not only on unmanaged computers (those that look only to Windows Update) but also my on office’s Windows 10 machines. In effect, it advertises new features as they are added in Windows updates. Despite Microsoft’s saying that Windows 10 would have no further feature updates, some have shown up anyway. So you’ll get the “ad.”

Fortunately, you can control this. Go to Settings | System | Notifications & actions. You’ll find a list of options, as shown in Figure 1.

Notifications & actions
Figure 1. Notifications & actions options

The last item on the list allows you to turn off the pesky Suggestions feature. But two items above it is a second control, equally annoying; you might want to disable that one as well.

If you are looking for Group Policy or Intune to control this, look no further than the setting User Configuration | Administrative Templates | Start Menu and Taskbar. In the right-hand pane, double-click the Hide the notifications area policy. Select the Enabled radio button and click OK. This will disable all notifications, including those from “Suggested.”

To do this via the Registry, open Registry Editor and navigate to the following registry key:


In the right-hand pane, double-click the Enabled key. Change the value to 0 and click OK. This will disable notifications from the “Suggested” category, which to me is the most annoying category right now.

Dark mode

Full disclosure: I don’t get dark mode. I don’t like dark mode. The zeal of others for dark mode escapes me.

During the day, I practically live in Excel spreadsheets. Excel’s dark mode presents a dark background with bright white lines, which I find extremely difficult to see. That said, there are those in my office who do prefer dark mode, although they are more inclined to like it in Windows 11 than Windows 10. My take on that is that the transition to dark mode happened during the last decade, approximately during the reign of Windows 10. Thus configuring it for Windows 10 was wonky. Microsoft’s UI designers clearly realized dark mode was becoming desirable by many, so Windows 11 has a more refined and polished look.

Frankly, if you are a dark mode denizen, think more seriously about Windows 11. I can’t say I’ll use it, but at least its dark mode is better than Win10.


Whenever I move from Windows 10 to 11, I am convinced that no one at Microsoft ever prints anything to a physical printer. Nor does anyone who builds websites. Setting up printing on either Windows 10 or 11 is always a lengthy experience, even in a firm setting, where printers can be more easily configured and deployed via Group Policy.

For example, many drivers for printers that support double-sided printing have their default set that way. In my environment, single-sided printing is important, so I must always be on the lookout for such stray settings.

Websites require special handling in order to print pages correctly, either by having a built-in printing mechanism or by writing the CSS with media queries so that only content will be printed — and not every single element on a page. If a website does not offer controls, such as a print button somewhere on the page, your best bet is often to copy and paste the content to Word or Notepad and print it from there.

Migrating printers

In a business environment where workstations are regularly upgraded or replaced, getting printers configured can be a chore. Deployment is typically easier if you can use various tools ranging from Group Policy to Intune.

In a home setting, you may have some helpful tools that are native to the operating system, or you can at least download them. I find it ironic that, at the same time Microsoft is loudly urging us to migrate from Windows 10 to Windows 11, it has removed the Printer Migration Tool (PrintBrmUi.exe) from Windows 10 Home editions. This tool helps you move the printer settings from one Windows PC to another. It is still shipped in the Professional edition — once again reinforcing my recommendation to use the Pro edition, even in personal settings.

To see whether the Printer Migration Tool is installed on your PC, press the Windows key and enter PrintBrmUi.exe. If you find it, you’ll be able to run it as an administrator. If not, Windows search will suggest places from which you can download and install the program. Once it’s running, use the program to scan your printer settings to create an export file. On the new computer, have PrintBrmUi.exe use the same file to import the settings. You can also find the app at

You may still need to download or reinstall the printer driver for certain more complex multifunction printers, but at least you won’t have to rebuild the basic printer information from scratch, This can be especially useful when you’ve configured functions such as scanning and FAX.

Explanations for update failures

One of my biggest annoyances with Windows 10 — and pretty much every previous version of Windows — is the lack of clear indicators of what went wrong when an update fails. From the lack of clarity in the event log to the confusing CBS log to the error codes that are never quite obvious, we have been led to the current sad state of affairs: we don’t actually learn the reason, we simply do a repair install over the top and call it a day.

Especially in a business setting, either the computer is redeployed or reimaged, or a repair install is done over the top. If it’s a server, we will just spin up a new instance. Often because of the concern over virtual-machine patching, businesses will not patch the parent but instead will patch the virtual instances underneath. Even in a stand-alone or home setting, I urge people to do a repair install over the top to fix update issues. It’s just not worth your time to try to figure out what the root cause is, or to attempt using DISM to repair the issue. A repair install over the top does not impact your data and will repair the operating system. With a few exceptions, this is the best way to fix an ailing computer.

But Microsoft, you should do better. The logs and the error messages should be clearer so that ordinary mortals can understand them.

Rebooting when you want to

Most of us have noticed that the power button can show a little orange dot meaning an update is waiting to be installed, especially when a notification pops up telling you that said update will be installed during off-hours and rebooted.

Microsoft may think this is a great idea, but updates that get installed like this do not give us enough time to vet them. If something about an update does not comport with a particular PC, it could easily lead to unusual side effects that may be hard to analyze. In a very recent example, a pending reboot impacted someone’s cellular connection, which would not connect until the device rebooted.

My basic recommendation is to strictly control this in Settings. Go to Update & Security | Windows Update | Change active hours and set your own time frame. I do not rely upon the option Automatically adjust active hours for this device based on activity.

Applications and passwords

It’s not just Windows. Most of the time, iPhones and iPads update just fine and keep me logged in to an application, but sometimes updates require that I log back in. This can be a function of how an application vendor sets up the credentials process and how it stores passwords for reuse. Fortunately, Apple has a secure method to keep passwords saved on its devices. You can use the iCloud keychain to securely store passwords. When the application requests the username and password, you can click on the entry boxes, and it will fill in the necessary information. Though I do not recommend saving passwords in browsers on Windows, I have never seen a successful attack on the iCloud keychain.

So for this annoyance, I have come up with a solution to my problem — I use Apple devices.

Printers on other platforms

If it’s fun to print on the Windows platform, it’s just as much fun (if not more so) to attempt to print on Apple and Linux systems. Even though basic printing works with modern printers — which may have drivers specifically for the Apple — the older the printer, the more likely it is that you won’t be able to find a driver that will provide all the features and functions. Thus if you plan to migrate from Windows to any other platform, be sure your budget includes buying a new printer. Newer printers will also support printing directly from iPhones or iPads, a nice bonus. Don’t try to keep that older printer, the one that worked with your older Windows platform, if you are moving toward a different operating system. You will lose hair (or make what’s left turn gray) if you attempt to use older printers in newer environments.

Hardly exhaustive

So those are some of my major gripes about from the various platforms I use. What about you? Do you have something that irritates you, too? Share with everyone in the forum!

Talk Bubbles Join the conversation! Your questions, comments, and feedback
about this topic are always welcome in our forums!

Susan Bradley is the publisher of the AskWoody newsletters.


Here are the other stories in this week’s Plus Newsletter


Lance Whitney

Learning to program PowerShell with AI

By Bruce Kriebel

The media has been ablaze with headlines shouting that AI will put programmers out of jobs.

Less discussed is how AI can help professional and even novice programmers learn a new language. An excellent case for this is Windows PowerShell.

PowerShell is, well, powerful. It’s a great tool for writing scripts, especially special-purpose or time-saving scripts that solve tiny problems in a way that allows customization so that you get the exact result you desired. But PowerShell is very different from the command-line language handed down from the earliest days of MS-DOS. That makes learning it daunting.


Will Fastie

M3 powers new MacBook Pros and iMac

By Will Fastie

Apple is infamous for making nebulous comparisons, but this time it has gone too far.

Apple’s dark (Halloween) event a week ago was mildly disappointing. The company finally got around to announcing its previously expected M3 family of silicon and refreshed the MacBook Pro series as a result.

The problem is that it wasn’t all that exciting. With a few exceptions, these were moves the company had to make, even though they will not generate the same sort of excitement as previous M1 and M2 announcements.


Deanna McElveen

WhyNotWin11 — Seriously, why not Windows 11?

By Deanna McElveen

It’s been over two years since Windows 11 was released, and Microsoft still won’t tell you why your computer won’t run it.

Well, maybe that’s not quite fair. Microsoft will give you reasons, if you take the time to install its PC Health Check app. Of course, you’ll need to go through Settings to get to it, agree to Microsoft’s usual onerous terms of use, and then get an app that will tell you a few reasons why Windows 11 thinks your hardware is beneath its standards. (Not all, but some.)

I’ve got something better for you.

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