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Home of my tech rants, free programs, and a story or two…

Windows 10… an unmitigated disaster

Recently Windows 10 has been plagued by a series of not just one but several Windows Updates that have had to be pulled from distribution because of, as Microsoft puts it… “unforeseen issues”. Unforeseen? Yeah… only because you fired your whole entire software QA team!!! Now had you, Microsoft, actually kept your internal software testing team instead of “dog fooding” it to their own users they would have caught the issues before they even came to light.

This has been an ongoing issue, Windows Updates causing issues that range from minor glitches to BSODs. This time, Windows 10 version 1803 Build 17134.441 (KB4467682) has been pulled according to this HardOCP front page article. Apparently the update is causing BSODs on get this… THEIR OWN DAMN HARDWARE!!! The update is causing issues with their older, yet still supported, Surface Book 2 lineup of products.

Come on Microsoft… you’re really taking the art of failing to an all new horrible level.

Windows 10 Diagnostic Data

OK so I did some deep diving into the app Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer that’s part of the new Windows 10 Fast Ring Build that was released recently and to be honest, it was an eye-opening experience.

If I am using the app correctly (and I most likely am) there is a toggle that will show you what is being collected and sent based upon the diagnostic level you have chosen (Basic vs Full). After seeing some of the data that’s being sent to Microsoft I would suggest that everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE changes their diagnostic mode to Basic. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200… CHANGE IT TO BASIC RIGHT NOW!!! I’m not even kidding here!

Now onto why. Oh man, yeah… this is a doozy even by my standards. So I opened Microsoft Edge and went to my web site, closed Microsoft Edge, and then launched the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer app and did a search for a String in the data containing my domain name. Much to my horror, it was there!!! And worst of all, it was being sent to Microsoft as part of a sampling group. Microsoft even told me that my system was part of the sample group. Now I don’t know if this system is part of the sample group because I am running a Fast Ring build. No, I don’t use this system for every day usage; it’s only a VM for testing purposes.

With all of that said, I then toggled the mode to Basic meaning it would show only the data that your system is sending if your system was set to Basic mode and sure enough, the most damning of data was not included in the data set. Let me repeat that… in Basic mode the most damning of data was NOT included in the data set. Below are links to the two data sets.

Basic Mode Data
Full Mode Data

As you can see between the Basic Mode and the Full Mode that the Full Diagnostic Mode collects and sends a hell of a lot more data than Basic Diagnostic Mode. I have uploaded both files for people to see exactly what is being collected and sent to Microsoft.

Let’s just put it this way… if you have any want for privacy, even a little bit, Full Diagnostic Mode is DEFINITELY something you want to avoid like the plague!

Microsoft, please get back to what made Windows successful…

If you have been paying attention to what Microsoft has been doing lately you’d notice that Microsoft has been pushing this whole “Universal Windows Platform” initiative. The idea is that if you write a program as a Universal Windows Platform app your app will be able to run on mobile devices (phones and tablets), PCs (desktops and notebooks), and the XBOX. But lately that whole initiative by Microsoft has failed in the market.

The first of many nails in the coffin of UWP is the news that Quantum Break, a game that was written to be a UWP app and a Windows 10 exclusive, will be transitioned from being a UWP app to a game that can be run on many more devices than just Windows 10 devices. Why? Well, the developer cited issues with DirectX 12 bugs in which the game had issues running on certain graphics cards and that they had far more experience writing games in DirectX 11.

The second of many nails in the coffin is that developers just aren’t writing any apps for UWP. Sure, you can find apps in the Windows Store but if you ask me the apps you can find on it are garbage, pure garbage. I don’t understand how many of the apps that are on the Windows Store even made it to the store to begin with, they’re just that horrible. They lack many of the user interface elements that I’ve come to expect from desktop programs. I don’t know if it’s because UWP apps are so limited when it comes to designing program user interfaces but outside a few apps I’ve come across (like NetFlix), most apps are pure garbage. Most look like they fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. And lets not forget that most apps you can find are so buggy that even a can of RAID won’t help you.

When I think of a desktop program I think of a user interface with a proper menu interface. You know what I mean… File, Edit, etc. or even the ribbon. The apps you can find on the Windows Store lack those kinds of things, they instead have a “hamburger menu”. Really? A “hamburger menu”? If you ask me, a “hamburger menu” has no place at all on a desktop.

I bet you are asking why I said that. Well, it comes down to what is known as design language. When users look at a desktop program they expect a desktop program to look and feel a certain way. A proper menu system and multi-window user interface has been something that users have used for more than twenty years, we expect this from desktop programs. This design is tried and true, it works; there’s no reason to change it. And then all of a sudden UWP comes along and with it comes the idea that you should make your program run on different platforms. I don’t have a problem with programs being able to run on different platforms but what I do have a problem with is when you try to shoehorn a program that was obviously written and designed to run on a phone onto a desktop, that does not work with me. To reiterate, I expect desktop programs to look and feel a certain way, I don’t expect a “hamburger menu”. The “hamburger menu” belongs on a phone, not a desktop.

The third of many nails in the coffin is that writing UWP apps is very limiting due to the way that UWP apps are sandboxed when running on the system. This restricts what developers can do in their programs. You can’t interact with system components, you can’t load outside libraries, you’re limited to using a specific set of APIs, etc. This of course limits what a UWP app can do and when it comes to games, it’s even more limiting. Gamers expect to be able to MOD or modify games, add levels, etc. You can’t do that with UWP apps because, as you might have guessed, they’re sandboxed. You, as the user, can’t even browse the folder location of where UWP apps are stored on your system; if you try Windows Explorer will give you a big nasty “Access denied” error message.

The fourth of many nails in the coffin is that the majority of the world is still running Windows 7 so as a developer you would be an absolute fool if you wrote your program or game as a Windows 10 exclusive. That would eliminate nearly 75% of the market and that would be like shooting yourself in the foot… with an RPG.

We know that the Windows 10 Mobile platform has failed and with it the Universal Windows Platform. There’s really no reason why developers should write apps for the Windows Store when the Windows 10 Mobile platform is in such horrible conditions. Windows 10 Mobile has less than 1% of the market with 99% of the mobile market being controlled by Apple and Android. This won’t change. Microsoft can throw all of the marketing and money it wants at the problem but it’s just not going to change, the two platforms (Apple and Android) are far too entrenched in the mobile market and the minds of people buying phones to make an ounce of difference.

With all of that being said, listen up Microsoft… forget UWP. Just chuck it onto the trash heap of failure. You’re never going to have the power you once had to take control away from Apple and Android in the market so stop it already, to keep trying is a waste of money. Leave the mobile market up to Apple and Android, they were there first and they control the market and nothing’s going to change that. Sure, go ahead, make your various apps for iOS and Android but that’s it. Stop trying to chase a pipe dream.

For the love of God and all that is holy, get back to what made you successful… the desktop. You are king of the desktop market, you control such a gigantic portion of the desktop market that nobody else can touch you. But recently with your whole UWP push along with Windows 8.x and Windows 10 you have been annoying the very users that gave you the crown and throne of the desktop market. What Microsoft needs to do and they need to do it quickly is to do a complete 180 on their computing strategy and get back to what made them successful for decades, the desktop. The desktop is king, it will always be king. Don’t let the industry pundits tell you otherwise, the desktop will always be king. When I need to do real work, I sit down at my desktop with a keyboard and mouse. When businesses need to do real work, workers sit down at a desktop with a keyboard and mouse. Why? Because when it comes to real work there’s no comparison, the desktop is king.

Long live the desktop.

Windows OS Support

As of right now, all of the programs that I make available on this web site and any future programs will continue to support older versions of Windows including versions of Windows going back to Vista. Windows XP support will be phased out starting with System Restore Point Creator. The amount of people using Windows XP is dwindling fast so at this point I feel that keeping support for Windows XP is an undue burden on me to continue.

As I stated before, older versions of Windows including Windows Vista will continue to be supported. If that means I can’t move past utilizing Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0, then so be it. .NET 4.0 is the oldest version of .NET that’s still supported on Windows 10 and Windows Vista. Yes, there’s a lot of things in future versions of .NET that could make my life easier but that would eliminate support for Windows Vista and that’s something I simply don’t want to do.

I need to maintain support for as many versions of Windows as I can. Despite Microsoft’s heavy handed approach to upgrading users to Windows 10, there will always be people who will choose to stay with an older version of Windows and I intend to support these people now and in the future for as long as I can.

Windows 10… Very good Microsoft!

Well, I upgraded all on my computers to Windows 10 and so far it been an excellent experience. Well done, Microsoft, well done; you’ve really pulled through with Windows 10!

The Windows 10 Start Menu

My Windows 10 Start Menu

That above is my Windows 10 Start Menu.

I spent about five minutes customizing it, pinning program icons, and categorizing them under headers on my Start Menu. All of my most used programs and apps, all there, pinned and ready to go.

This new Start Menu is actually more useful than the Windows 7 Start Menu. You couldn’t do the kind of categorizing I did on Windows 7’s Start Menu, hell… you couldn’t pin that many apps to the Windows 7 Start Menu. The Windows 10 Start Menu is infinitely more useful than Windows 7’s Start Menu because everything you need can be right there, ready for your click.

Yes it takes some time to set it up to be the way you want it to be but once it’s set up, it’s excellent!

 

Upgrading to Windows 10 under very adverse conditions…

I installed Windows 10 as an upgrade from Windows 7 on my father’s notebook and it went perfectly. Note, this is a machine that flat-out refused to run Windows 8.x because the notebook has one of those funky dual-GPU setups in which it has an ATi/AMD Radeon GPU and an Intel GPU (yes, I said it was a funky setup).

Under Windows 8.x the ATi/AMD and Intel GPU drivers never meshed right under Windows 8.x which resulted in video card support being well… completely FUBAR.

I said, what the hell… it’s a free upgrade, might as well try it. I did a Macrium Reflect disk image of the system disk just in case Windows 10 resulted in a FUBAR video situation. But, much to my surprise, Windows 10 supports this dual-GPU setup flawlessly.

WELL DONE MICROSOFT! God, I can’t believe I just said that. Let me go wash out my mouth, it tastes bad now.

Windows 10 Build 10166, A “Hail Mary” if I’ve ever seen one

A month ago I talked about how I thought that Windows 10 wasn’t going to be ready by July 29th because of how many bugs still existed in the older Build 10130. I also said that Microsoft would have to pull off a Hail Mary of a miracle to get this thing together for the July 29th release.

Well, with Build 10166 it appears that Microsoft managed to do just that, pull off a Hail Mary of a miracle because Build 10166 is stable, rock-solid stable. I didn’t at all think it was possible but they did it, they actually did it! I even ran 10166 as an every-day use OS for some time before I went back to Windows 8.1 to reserve my free Genuine copy of Windows 10. (To see why I did this, read this post)

A warning to those people thinking about upgrading to Windows 10 Technical Preview…

Those people who have upgraded to Windows 10 Technical Preview WILL NOT be eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 10. Those users will be forced to reformat and reinstall a prior version of Windows (Windows 7 or 8.1) before they can get their free version of Windows 10. Not only that but their prior version of Windows 7 or 8.1 MUST BE A GENUINE license or they WILL NOT be eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 10.

If you want to upgrade from Windows 10 Technical Preview to Windows 10 RTM, you have to ask yourself these three questions…

* Do you want to continue as a Windows Insider and keep getting preview builds after 7/29?
* Or do you want to upgrade your Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 system that has been getting Windows 10 Insider Preview builds to the 7/29 release and stop being an Insider?

I want to continue as a Windows Insider!
If you want to continue as a Windows Insider past 7/29 there is nothing you need to do. You’re already opted in and receiving builds in the Fast or Slow ring depending upon your selection. This is prerelease software and is activated with a prerelease key. Each individual build will expire after a time, but you’ll continue to receive new builds so by the time an older prerelease build expires you’ll have received a new one. Since we’re continuing the Windows Insider Program you’ll be able to continue receiving builds and those builds will continue to be activated under the terms of the Windows Insider Program. We provide ISOs for these builds for recovery from any significant problems, but they are still pre-release software. As part of the program we’ll upgrade Insiders to what is for all intents and purposes the same build as what other customers will get on 7/29, but that will be just another build for Insiders, and those who stay in the program will simply get the next build after as well.

I want to opt out of the Windows Insider Program on 7/29.
If you decide to opt-out of the program and upgrade to the 7/29 build you will be subject to exactly the same terms and conditions that govern the offer that was extended to all Genuine Windows 7 and 8.1 customers. This is not a path to attain a license for Windows XP or Windows Vista systems. If your system upgraded from a Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license it will remain activated, but if not, you will be required to roll back to your previous OS version or acquire a new Windows 10 license. If you do not roll back or acquire a new license the build will eventually expire.

The problem with the second scenario is that this only holds true if your machine had a prior version of Windows installed (7 or 8.1) and it was a Genuine License. How will Windows 10 know that you had a Genuine version of Windows 7 or 8.1 installed prior to the installation of Windows 10 Technical Preview? It won’t, therefore you will not have a genuine version of Windows 10 after the RTM upgrade.

Those users will have to go back to a prior version of Windows with a Genuine license of Windows before going to Windows 10 to get a free version of Windows 10.

I don’t know how it’ll work for OEM machines that have a key for a prior version of Windows tattooed on the motherboard in BIOS/UEFI but for those of us who have vanilla home-built machines with no OEM key tattooed on the motherboard, those users will have to go back to a prior version of Windows before going to Windows 10 to get a Genuine version of Windows.

Is Windows 10 ready? Not by a long shot!

From the looks of things with the Windows 10 Technical Preview that if this is what Windows 10 is going to look like, they are going to be in for a lot of trouble. If the release date is really going to be August 31st, 2015 like what Newegg has said it’s going to be, it’s going to be a mess. That’s three months away and there’s still serious issues with Windows 10 code. Correction, two months away.

Why two months? You may ask. Well, you have to remember the release cycle for Windows. In two months Microsoft will release the “gold code” to the OEMs and their distribution partners. That means the OEMs and their partners and other various distribution chain partners will have a month of time to get their products ready before the “official” launch date of August 31st, 2015.

With that being said, Microsoft has exactly two months to get things ready for the “gold code” release and sadly, it doesn’t look at all like Windows 10 is going to be ready for that. There’s still a massive load of bugs that plague Windows 10 and it seems that for every bug they fix they seem to add ten more.

It’s going to take a Hail Mary of a miracle for Microsoft to get things shaped up for the release of Windows 10 based upon what I’ve seen with Build 10130. For being this late into the development process, Microsoft should be simply polishing things up and fixing minor bugs, not the kinds of showstopping bugs that I’ve seen in Build 10130.

If Windows 10 is released the day that Newegg supposedly says that it’s going to be released on, good God almighty, we’re going to be in for a real rough ride. I don’t at all have any kind of faith in Microsoft to pull this thing together. I figure that the first few months after Windows 10’s release it’s going to be hell for their users.

Maybe the Microsoft of yesteryear could pull off a Hail Mary of this importance but not this Microsoft. This is the same Microsoft that has released not one, not two, but several Windows Updates that have broken thousands of computers across the globe.

Their overall code quality, hell, the entire computing industry’s code quality has really gone down the toilet as of late. Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Mozilla, hell, even Apple are all guilty of the same issues with overall code quality as of late. They have all sucked in this quite vital department.