More on Tablet Mode

I got a bit sidetracked the other day…

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So, I’ve been doing a lot of work with windows 10 over the past few weeks. I’ve got Build 9926 installed on just about every Windows machine in the house. I’ve got it on a Surface Pro 1, Surface Pro 3 and a Dell Latitude 10 ST2.

When I started talking about Tablet Mode the other day, it really sorta morphed into a bit on installing it on the ST2, which had its own challenges. I never really got to what tablet mode really is or does on a Windows Pro tablet.

From what I can see right now… not much.

My thought was a bit-more iPad-esque. Believe it or not, I really wanted to see a bit more of a ModernUI approach on a pure tablet device. I mean, that IS what Microsoft was originally shooting for when they released Windows RT and Surface RT. The desktop pretty much hidden, full screen Modern apps, etc.

Yeah, you don’t get any of that…not even when you invoke Continuum (Tablet Mode) either automatically (by removing the keyboard) or manually (by tapping the Tablet Mode button in the Notification Center).

What you do get is a darker display (?? Really?), a static task bar and view back to the desktop and a full screen sized Start Menu when you tap the Start Button. The device is supposed to run all apps in full screen mode; and it does. All Modern apps are supposed to run full screen and without any min/max or close buttons; and they do.

All of which seem a bit useless; and a bit confusing. Microsoft is still mixing their UI’s. This is just more desktop focused and not tablet focused. Fancy that… a tablet, running in tablet mode that is full of desktop UI components. I am SO confused.

I like EVERYONE else under the sun complained bitterly when Windows 8 was released. The whole mix-n-match desktop and tablet OS hybrid drove me nuts, too. However, I can see where a tablet mode might work, and work well if it totally switched interfaces and could be turned on and off by the user where and when needed, and/or activated automatically when the device was separated from its detachable keyboard.

Microsoft needs to pay attention to something like this, because this is what Tablet Mode really should be. Switch the device – in full tablet form factor – into a tablet interface. It’s clear that’s what user’s want… You don’t have to look any further than Apple’s own iPad to see that. Many iPad owners are also Mac owners (and vice-versa) and are happy bopping back and forth between the two now that Convergence is in place under iOS 8 and Yosemite.

I’ve pushed this idea through the Windows Feedback app, with an invite to talk about this; and we’ll see what Microsoft does. I’m not holding my breath or anything; but if they’re looking to find about a bit more about the vision I have for this, then I’m willing to sit down and talk if they are.

What do you think?

Are you a Windows Insider? Are you running Windows 10? Have you ever run

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Windows 10 – How Future Updates May Work

A small blip may have given us an idea how seamless updates will work in released versions of Windows 10…

As I said earlier this month, I’m an update nut, especially when it comes to beta and prerelease software. You learn to check early and often for updates, as some of the errors you encounter, can be ugly. When you’re a beta tester, rolling back often means blowing your box and rebuilding it, even when you’re just testing an app and not a beta OS, like Windows 10.

“[Beta testing] is like a box of chocolates,” Forest. “You never know what you’re gonna get…”

Case in point for today… I pulled out my Surface Pro 3 (which is now running as well as can be expected after issues with Build 9926 have been resolved), and went to Windows update and checked for updates. I encountered three updates:

1. Security Update for Internet Explorer Flash Player for Windows Technical Preview for x64-based Systems (KB3035034)
2. Update for Windows Technical Preview for x64-based Systems (KB3035129)
3. Definition Update for Windows Defender KB2267602 (Definition 1.191.3553.0)

I started the download for those and then bopped over to Advanced Settings and looked in on the options for installing new preview builds. We haven’t had one for post TP2, yet, and I wasn’t certain if there would be changes to the delivery mechanism. There were whisperings of potential changes, especially after folks installed item number 2. Update for Windows Technical Preview for x64-based Systems (KB3035129), above. The white space under the update ring drop down got filled with a branch drop down.

Screenshot (4)

I didn’t have that drop down yet, so I went back to the Windows Update screen and let the update finish, install and reboot my Surface Pro 3.

Twenty years of using and testing Windows has taught me that you always, alwAYS, ALWAYS run Windows Update until it tells you there aren’t any more updates to install. So, after installing those three updates, I went back and checked for updates again.

What I found, can be seen in the screen shots below

Screenshot (1)

It’s a normal update screen. This is exactly what I would expect to see…

Screenshot (2)

Wait, WHAT?!? A new build in the FBL_AWESOME branch?? Why thank you, Microsoft. I don’t mind if I do! (note the build number 9932)

Screenshot (3)

…and it crapped out. Well, crap.

At this point, I wasn’t sure if it was my wireless connection, the SP3 having Wi-Fi issues again, or something else. I grabbed the error number, 0x080246017, and went over to Google to see what I could see…

And got bubkus…

Google has absolutely NOTHING on this error at all. Nothing. Not even a description of what the error number means. There’s no external information on this error at all. Anywhere. Well, at least not that I could find, and I looked for about 30 minutes. I also kept trying to download the update, just in case the error might be congestion or something else. During this time, I notice the build number incremented from 9932 to 9933. As of this writing, that build number remains 9933.

At that point, I got on Twitter and tried reaching out to my friend, Gabe Aul. As of this writing, I haven’t heard from him.

I also tried reaching out to Paul Thurrott. He was able to help me sort this out.

9932 tweets

According to Paul, builds 9932 and 9933 are internal MS builds and not meant for external consumption. As a software quality professional, I know that daily builds of big project are a common occurrence. I also know that you can get multiple daily builds, in cases where important updates become available. At some point, MS is going to make certain that the Windows Insiders Team stops seeing the notifications of daily builds. It’s a temporary glitch.

However, it is interesting, don’t you think??

No, no… not that the build notification glitch happened, but the glimpse we got at how new, complete builds of Windows may actually be distributed to the public.

If this update method stays true to course, then Updates to the current version will appear as the Windows update files we all know and love. You get updates when you get updates, and it’s unlikely that the version or build number of the OS you’re running will change. When new versions of Windows get released, however, what users will see, is a notification of a new build as a separate update item in Windows update.

THAT, my friends, is VERY Apple-esque.

It’s the same method that Apple uses for their OS updates. Well, sort of. Apple usually waits until they have a “dot-release” of their desktop OS ready to go, and they then release, for example, OS X 10.10.2 or OS X 10.10.X to address a number of issues. Microsoft releases updates all the time; and then historically releases a new “full” version of Windows via a hard copy, DVD. Now, we should see a new build show up as an available update in Windows Update. At least we will if this update method stays with us after Windows 10 is released.

And that’s the big question here… Since Windows 10 Technical Preview is in public beta, the whole shootin’ match is up in the air. Microsoft can, and likely will change a whole bunch of stuff throughout the entire OS as they look at items and move from the historical UI to a more (but not completely) Modern or MetroUI based design. Moving Windows Update out of Control Panel and into Settings is just one example of this type of progress. The new Settings interface may stay the way it is now, with more and more Control Panel content moved in, or it could complete change to something else.

I don’t know if We actually WILL see new builds appear as separate updates from Windows Update, but it DOES give us a brief glimpse of the direction that Microsoft is looking in right now.

What do you think? Is this method of delivering new full builds of Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows 12, etc. the right way to go, or should Microsoft try something different? Should they always make ISO’s available for download as well, or is this new online delivery method, very similar to Apple’s model, good enough? Why don’t you give me your thoughts on the issue in the Discussion Area, below? If you have a different or better idea, I’d love to hear about that too.

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Windows 10 Tablet Mode

It’s a paradigm shift to be sure…

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I’ve been messing around with Windows 10 Technical Preview 2 for a bit now. You can see a bit of my coverage here on Soft32, here where I talk about the new OS’ announcement highlights, and here where I talk about how surprised I was to find out that the latest preview got released about a week early.

Since then, I’ve had a very interesting time installing the OS. As of this writing, the two part article I wrote on how installations went on both a Surface Pro 1 and a Surface Pro 3 went haven’t been published. As I was sitting and thinking about Windows 10, my oldest son (an avid Xbox One fan) and Windows 10’s cool Game DVR, I thought about how he might be able to take advantage of that without a Windows 10 device to use (I use both my Surface Pro devices for work and review purposes and trusting those to a 9-soon-to-be-10 year old isn’t something that I’d recommend to anyone). I then remembered that I have a Dell Latitude 10 ST2 laying around in the home office doing nothing; and thought, “this might be the perfect device for him to use for Xbox One and Game DVR.” It really hasn’t been doing much since my initial review of the device in April of 2012.

The device itself has got low-end components and Windows 8 .x on it was a bit of a bust. I’m hoping Windows 10 with it, “only run what you need” approach to hardware and form factors will run a bit more smoothly than Windows 8 did; but that’s me – forever the optimist.

I’m not holding my breath…

The Dell was already running Windows 10 Build 9841. I wasn’t particularly happy with the performance on the device with that build; and after all of the grief I went through trying to get the thing on there, I decided it just wasn’t worth it, and shelved the device. Now that TP2 is here, I thought… why not dust it off and give it another go..?

I probably should have left the dust alone.

The Dell Latitude ST2 is a pure Windows Pro Tablet. This means it doesn’t have a native, detachable keyboard. It will use USB or Bluetooth keyboards, but it doesn’t have anything like the Surface/Surface Pro Touch/ Type Cover; and as I covered this in the review, it’s still an issue. I’m just sayin’…

Upgrading to Build 9926
This was the stupidest upgrade path I’ve seen in a long time. The Dell had Build 9841 on it. When I went to Windows 10’s Update and Recovery section under Settings, it found a new Preview Build and started to download it. Unfortunately, the first attempted errored out and I had to restart the download.

The build downloaded, but I had to wait until the next morning at the office to install it. It completed too late in the evening for me to start the upgrade. I’ve run into too many issues with Windows 10 installs to just let ‘er rip and let it go on its own. I wanted to baby sit it a bit…

So, I brought the device to work, plugged it into the wall and placed it on my desk. I started the device, hooked into the Wi-Fi network here, and brought up Update and Recovery again in Settings. I started the upgrade…

And wound up with build 9879…

Wait. What..??

How the heck did THAT happen? I was expecting Build 9926…

It became obvious to me that in order to get Build 9926, I had to upgrade to build 9879, run Windows Update, get any needed and important update bits for it; and then check for and download the new preview build. After it was installed, I would need to run Windows Update again to make certain I had the needed Technical Preview Update that provided all of the fixes that have been talked about.

So, as I said, I let the outdated preview build install and then tried to run Windows Update, and that’s where I started bumping into problems. While the big issue with SP3 was its graphics driver, the problem with the Dell Latitude 10 ST2 seems to be its Wi-Fi adapter. I always baby ALL of my equipment, so for me to have problems with a device that’s been shelved since October, was pulled out of the box to do this update and hasn’t left the home office in over 2 years really confused me. I’ve had eyes on the device for months.

For some reason, the Wi-Fi adapter on the Dell Latitude 10 ST2 likes to disappear. And when I say disappear, I mean, TOTALLY disappear. There’s no evidence of it in Device Manager. There’s no disabled adapter in the Network and Sharing Center. It’s just GONE…

That *SHOULDN’T* be just the driver. That should be a hardware problem…like “your ‘stuff’ is broke” problem. Which doesn’t make any sense. Currently *IF* the adapter disappears, it does so after a restart or power on. If the adapter were faulty, it would fail while the unit was on, running and using the adapter (if it was found…). I’ve had the device running Build 9926 (yes, I got there, but there’s more to this story, so stay with me…) for well over 3 hours straight, synching some OneDrive content. I haven’t run into an instance of the tablet dropping the adapter yet; and I’ve handled the device and used it a bit…

The adapter is usually lost after a Windows Update completes, which tells me that it’s a software issue, not a hardware issue. It also doesn’t matter how long the device has been running. If you turn it on, and it finds the adapter and you immediately run Windows Update after the boot cycle finishes, the Wi-Fi adapter will disappear after the device restarts.

Yeah… I’m TOTALLY confused on this one.

I can consistently reproduce this issue after performing a Windows Update (there doesn’t have to be any software to download). The Wi-Fi adapter disappears, is totally missing from the machine, and the ONLY way to get the thing back, is to totally remove ALL power from the device and restart it cold.

You may have to go into the Windows 10 boot loader , choose the Windows Rollback, and then choose the option to turn off your PC. If that doesn’t work, then you pull the battery (the Dell Latitude 10 ST2 has a removable battery…) and disconnect the AC power, let it sit for about 15-30 seconds, replace the batter and then restart. (so having that bug where the boot menu appears isn’t always a bad thing…). I’m also consistently able to reproduce the solution to the problem.

There’s a lot going on here with Windows 10. There are still MANY issues with it that clearly show it is NOT ready for prime time in any real sense of the word. If you don’t mind working through these issues, then Windows 10 may be a good option for you. If not, then you may want to wait a bit before you jump on board. Microsoft has a lot to do before Windows 10 is ready for release later this Fall. It needs to get crackin’, though if you ask me. It’s a little silly to having to jump through hoops like this to get the device to work normally.

Have you installed Windows 10 on any of your Windows 7 or Windows 8.x PC’s? Have you bumped into any issues? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion Area below and tell us about them? I’d love to hear your experiences with Windows 10 Build 9926.

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