Microsoft Introduces Surface Book 2

If you thought Surface was just a passing fancy, think again…

Surface-Book-2-696x429

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Microsoft Signature PC’s. They are, in my opinion, the best Windows experience that you can buy. They don’t have any extra crap on them that would take away from or distract you from your computing purpose. It’s one of the reasons why I really like Microsoft Surface PC’s as well.

Over the past five or so years, I’ve had an original Surface Pro, a Surface Pro 3 and a Surface Book. The combination of the devices features – like the touch screens and pens – have made the Surface line one that I find very valuable, especially in a corporate setting. The Surface Pro and the Surface Book are both perfect for Microsoft OneNote and for a number of different business applications, including custom sales and invoicing apps as well as process and business flow.

Recently, Microsoft released an update to their Surface Book line, and this update, is squarely aimed at not only the creative professional, but the enterprise as well. The Surface Book 2 now comes in both its original 13 inch size, but also a new, 15 inch version. The new size, paired with Intel’s eight generation Core i processor and better graphics hardware also enables Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Headsets.

Like its earlier iterations, the Surface Book 2 has put the bulk of its processing power in the tablet. The keyboard houses both the extra battery and the new Nvidia graphics cards. The 13″ version has an optional Nvidia GeForce 1050 and the 15″ gets a GeForce 1060 by default. Both are mainstream gaming graphics cards and a big step up from what the Surface Book was previously equipped with.

The following are basic specs for both versions of the Surface Book 2.

 

 

Surface Book 2 – 13″ Surface Book 2 15″
Processor Intel 8th-gen Core i5 (dual-core) or i7 (quad-core) U-series processors Intel 8th-gen Core i7 U-series processors
Display 13.5-inch 3,000×2,000-pixel display 15-inch 3,240×2,160-pixel display
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU

(Core i7 version only)

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU
USB Ports 2x USB-A 3.1 ports

1x USB-C 3.1 port

2x USB-A 3.1 ports

1x USB-C 3.1 port

Card Reader SDXC card reader SDXC card reader
RAM 8GB or 16GB RAM 16GB RAM
Storage 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD storage 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD storage
Intel 8th-gen Core i5 (dual-core) or i7 (quad-core) U-series processors Intel 8th-gen Core i7 U-series processors

When it comes to augmented reality, both of these convertibles are in good shape to perform well. Both work well with Microsoft’s Pen and the Fall Creators Update version of Windows 10. You can, for example, create a file in Microsoft’s Paint 3D and then drop it into a real word situation, capturing everything with the device’s 8MP, rear-facing camera. The only problem that you’re going to have here, when trying to hook into AR headsets is the lack of an HDMI port, though you shouldn’t have any real concerns with performance of the box or its graphics adapters. According to recent test results, both versions of the Surface Book 2 can be taken seriously as gaming machines, which is kinda cool.

Microsoft is also releasing a new mouse, called the Surface Precision Mouse. It’s got a more traditional design than either the original Surface Mouse or the Surface Arc Mouse. It also includes a set of programmable left side buttons; and supports both wired USB and wireless Bluetooth connectivity. As of this writing, pricing for these devices has not been released, though you should expect them to fall somewhere between $50 and $80 USD.

Microsoft is putting the Surface Book 2 directly against the new Apple MacBook Pro. According to Microsoft, the Surface Book 2 is a much better performer. There may be some truth to this, as the Apple MacBook Pros are still using previous generation Core Intel processor. Pricing for the new Microsoft Surface Book2 starts at $1499 USD for the 13 inch version and $2499 for the 15″ version.

In my opinion, pricing for the Surface Book line has always been a bit on the high side. As I previously stated, Microsoft is clearly targeting the Surface Book 2 at Apple’s MacBook Pro. The problem that I have with this pricing strategy is that the MacBook Pro is a clearly well established, top performing machine with a long history of top notch components and high price tags.

Microsoft doesn’t have any of these precedent, with any version of the Surface Book. The device has had what I would consider to be a mediocre performance history, especially with all of the issues that were first encountered with the original Surface Book and its ROM problems.

This update is also mostly what I would call an evolutionary update rather than any update of note. Surface Book with Performance Base, released earlier this year, put a better graphics card in the keyboard along with the extra battery. It also bumped the price up quite a bit.

The Surface Book 2 offers a new processor and a new graphics card; but the fact that it also offers a new 15″ screen size takes this device to a completely new level, in my opinion. It clearly brings the Surface Book up into a better class of computing device, and may actually make the larger price tag, a bit more reasonable. To be honest, we’re going to have to wait and see on that one, though. The a5″ version is new. It’s a completely different device than the 13″ version, with different components and different drivers; and Microsoft has always had an issue with drivers and components when it comes to Windows, regardless of version. So this clearly falls in the wait and see category…

Is Surface Book 2 something that you’re interested in? Will it be a convertible that you pursue or keep your eye on as a potential work tool? I’d love to hear what you plan to do. Why don’t you give me your thoughts in the Discussion area below?

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Top 10 Features of Microsoft’s Fall Creators Update

The latest bits are now available. Download ’em if you want ’em!

http://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-10-fall-creators-update-should-you-upgrade-now/

Microsoft's Fall Creators Update

During the middle of October, Microsoft released the fourth feature update to Windows 10, the Fall Creators Update. This new version is listed as version 1709 . The final build number is 16299. I’ve pulled together a quick list of some of the new features that might be of use to everyone. I’ve also got some personal impressions of the new update, as it has already installed on my Surface Book, and I’ve been using it almost daily for the past couple of weeks.

New Features
Here are some of the newest, more compelling features of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Depending on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, these may or may not matter to you.

Action Center
You’re going to see a HUGE revamp of the Action Center in the Fall Creators Update. You’ll see new organization, improved notification hierarch and separation and a new, enhanced integration with Cortana. The Action Center is probably one of the most noticeable and used features of Windows 10, and this improvement is going to be very noticeable, if not in your face, as soon as the OS boots.

Mixed Reality Headsets
With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is finally and completely throwing its hat into the mixed reality ring. Besides Microsoft’s own Halolens, other third party providers are also prepping six degrees of freedom (6DOF) powered headsets, manufacturers like Dell, Acer, ASUS and HP are also launching mixed reality headsets this month. Some of these manufacturers are also expected to release Mixed Reality certified PC’s, too.

Mixed Reality Viewer
Coupled with its Mixed Reality headset initiative, those that can’t or don’t want to shell out the shekels for a mixed reality headset will still be able to take advantage of mixed reality via Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Viewer. Any device with a compatible web can will be able to climb in and experience mixed reality with the Fall Creators Update. Users of this app will also be able to use the new and included tools like 3D Paint to create their own elements, too.

Story Remix
The Windows 10 Photos app has gone through a complete revamp in the Fall Creators Update. Story Remix is an evolutionary update to Photos that implements machine learning and mixed reality to automatically create cool highlight reels of your digital content. You can include stills and videos as well as edit your own soundtrack. On top of that, you’ll be able to include 3D mixed reality objects and animations in your creations directly from Microsoft’s 3D database.

(These are) My People
My People was originally supposed to be part of the Creators Update, but didn’t make the cut. My People assumes that your digital life revolves around a small group of contacts and makes the contact cards for those chosen few available directly from the taskbar.

Ransomware Protection
With Controlled Folder Access, you can insure that you don’t fall victim to ransomware and other malware designed to keep you from accessing your files. When enabled through Windows Defender, unauthorized access to specific folders will be prevented. Protected folders include Documents, Pictures, Movies and Desktop; and can’t be removed. You may also manually specify other protected folders and can whitelist individual apps that are allowed to access those locations.

Phone and PC Integration
With Windows Phone officially dying, Microsoft is making phone and PC integration a major part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. After you’ve linked your phone to your Windows account, you can push web pages and even files back and forth to your phone and computer. Windows 10 will also notify you of, and allow you to respond to, text messages and to see missed calls on your PC. Cortana also has a new, “I’ve got more for you” section that displays apps, documents and websites you were recently working with on your other devices, allowing you to pick up where you left off. Unfortunately, the list of supported applications is limited as of this Windows 10 version’s initial release.

OneDrive Files on Demand
As I noted back in June of 2017, Microsoft’s replacement for Windows 8 Placeholders is Files on Demand.

With Files on Demand, you’ll be able to see what files are available in the cloud and which ones are stored locally. You can select which individual files or folders will be available only online or which ones can be edited while offline.

If an app tries to download a file that’s only stored in the Cloud, you’ll see a Windows 10 popup notification display. The popup will show you details of the file being downloaded and give you the opportunity to download the file or block the app from accessing OneDrive completely.

Enhanced Linux Support
If you’re a Linux user and rely on the Bash shell support in Windows to do what you do, you’re going to like the changes in the Fall Creators Update. Now, Linux support in Windows has been expanded to support additional Linux distributions, including SUSE and Fedora. All three distributions are available in the Windows Store. You also will no longer be required to enable and configure Developer Mode to use Bash anymore.

Additional Update Options
One of the biggest problems with Windows 10 was the way updates to the operating system have been delivered since its original release. Settings now includes Delivery Optimization Advanced Options. These give you granular control over how Windows 10 handles and delivers updates to you. These advanced options allow you to tell the OS to limit how much of your network bandwidth is used to download new updates. A new Activity Monitor also shows you how much data has been pulled down specifically for Windows Updates per month, and to see where it went.

Personal Findings and Impressions
I’ve been using the Fall Creators Update since its release on 2017-10-17. Unlike the original Creators Update that took absolutely FOREVER to be received by most Windows 10 users, the Fall Creators Update made an almost immediate appearance to many users. If you had a Microsoft Signature PC, you likely got notification that your PC could download the update immediately. I know that’s what happened to me with my Surface Book.

However, since the update installed, my experience has been anything but stellar.

In fact, I’ve had to reset my PC at least 3 times in less than two weeks due to some app and utility incompatibilities. I’m also not completely done with all that mess, as I’m still trying to figure out where some of my issues are coming from.

I’ve been working with one of the developers of one of the 3rd party utilities that I’ve been using, and his insight into what is going on and why it is happening has been more than enlightening.

The issue that I’ve got has to do with – I think – incomplete compatibility with my 3rd party virus scanner of choice, Webroot Secure Anywhere. The problem I have is with the creation, deletion and recreation of temporary application files used by the utility. It appears that Webroot Secure Anywhere is removing all permissions from files in a specific folder. This folder needs to be deleted as part of the app’s normal operation. Unfortunately, Webroot is stripping all permissions from the folder without quarantining it, making the app non-functional.

I think the issue has to do with the rate at which folders are created and deleted by my utility that is causing the issue.

At this point, I have a choice. I can forego the use of my utility and install Webroot Secure Anywhere, or I can use my utility and trust Windows Defender to protect my computer. While my utility isn’t mission critical, it IS something that I want to use and keep on using. I also do not trust Defender enough to keep my PC…

And so here I sit.

I am currently trying to figure out exactly what to do. I have contacted Both the developer of the utility that I’m using and Webroot. The utility developer I’ve heard from. In fact, we’ve had a rather prolonged and protracted conversation about this issue. He actually has a few users with the same problem. They are also using Webroot Secure Anywhere.

I have heard nothing in reply to my inquiry with Webroot. Nothing at all; but I’m not surprised that my problem is related to a virus scanner. These apps over and above all others are known to cause issues with OS upgrades and other basic OS functions.

Have you downloaded the Fall Creators Update? Are you using it yet? If so, have you bumped into any issues or problems? I’d love to hear your impressions of the Update, as my experience thus far has been mixed.

Why don’t you meet me I the Discussion area below and give me your thoughts and impressions on Microsoft’s latest update to Windows 10.

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Microsoft releases firmware updates for Surface Book and Pro 4

Its been a long time coming for Surface Book and Pro 4 owners…

When the Microsoft’s Surface Book was originally introduce, most of the pundits in the industry, me included, declared it a total non-starter. It had a boat load of issues, and none of them were getting resolved quickly. I had declared that the Book was a disaster, and that I wouldn’t consider getting one any time soon. Its funny how things can change; but it wasn’t right away; and wasn’t without a number of firmware and system/ driver updates that didn’t come anywhere NEAR the mark.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4Thankfully, Microsoft finally DID figure it out; and they were able to get past some of the bigger problems plaguing the ground breaking ultrabook line. Keeping with a series of updates that, in recent releases have made the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 better than ever, Microsoft released a series of system based, firmware and driver updates for both the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book. This is a key update for the Surface Book, however, as it hasn’t had the regular updates that the Pro 4 has had. It hasn’t had any updates released for it in nearly six months.

Here’s what’s new for the Surface Book:

Windows Update History Name Device Manager Name
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) AVStream Camera 2500 – System – 3.0.0.0 Intel(R) AVStream Camera 2500 – Sound, video and GC
30.15063.10999.4731 Improves camera stability.
Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft Camera Front – System – 3.0.0.0 Microsoft Camera Front – System device
30.15063.10999.4731 Improves camera stability.
Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft Camera IR Front – System – 3.0.0.0 Microsoft Camera IR Front – System device
30.15063.10999.4731 Improves camera stability.
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) Control Logic – System – 3.0.0.0 Intel(R) Control Logic – System device
30.15063.10999.4731 Improves camera stability.
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) CSI2 Host Controller – System – 3.0.0.0 Intel(R) CSI2 Host Controller – System device
30.15063.10999.4731 Improves camera stability.
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) Imaging Signal Processor 2500 – System – 3.0.0.0 Intel(R) Imaging Signal Processor 2500 – System device
30.15063.10999.4731 Improves camera stability.
Intel Corporation driver update for Microsoft Camera Rear – System – 3.0.0.0 Microsoft Camera Rear – System device
30.15063.10999.4731 Improves camera stability.
Surface – System – 1.0.85.1 Surface Camera Windows Hello – System device
1.0.85.1 Improves camera stability.

 

Here’s what’s been updated for the Surface Pro 4:

Windows Update History Name Device Manager Name
Surface driver update for Surface Embedded Controller Firmware – System – 3.0.0.0 Surface Embedded Controller Firmware – Firmware
103.1791.258.0 Improves device reliability.
Surface driver update for Surface Integration – System – 3.0.0.0 Surface Integration – System device
1.0.170.0 Improves device reliability.

All of the updates are available via Windows Update on any Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 running Windows 10. However, the Surface Pro 4 update can be downloaded here. The Surface Book update can be downloaded here.

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Microsoft Ends Groove Music Pass

If you really have to have music from Microsoft, they suggest Spotify…

In a week when it seems nearly everything is coming to an end except how people are arguing gun control and NFL protests, comes additional news out of Redmond that Microsoft’s music offering, Groove Music Pass, is being shut down. Microsoft is killing the service and offering customers “a seamless transition to Spotify.” Microsoft will also remove all music from its Windows Store as well.

Microsoft is trying to be positive about this development, offering the following spin, according to Microsoft GM Jerry Johnson,

“We’re excited to announce that we’re expanding our partnership with Spotify to bring the world’s largest music streaming service to our Groove Music Pass customers. Groove Music Pass customers can easily move all their curated playlists and collections directly into Spotify.”

On 2017-12-31, Microsoft will shut down Groove Music Pass completely. At that time, anyone with any time lift on their subscription, will get a prorated refund, directly from Microsoft.

Groove Music Pass

Music is also being removed from the Windows Store. However, Microsoft has indicated they will continue to sell movies, TV shows and ebooks. The Groove Music app will still be offered as part of Windows 10, but users won’t be able to stream or otherwise access subscription based content with the app. Instead the app will play music on your hard drive, or will stream music you have stored on Microsoft OneDrive.

Groove Music Pass has always felt like a me-too effort out of Microsoft. The service never really had an identity of its own and the service always felt forced in my opinion. Microsoft never really got behind the service, and never really did anything to make it stand out in a market that seems dominated by Apple and other streaming services, including Spotify.

The only problem with streaming services like Spotify, is that you can’t upload your own music to the service. You get the Spotify catalog and that’s it. Some have indicated that it might be nice if Spotify could play music from a file sync service like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, but as far as I can tell, that isn’t in the cards.

Microsoft and music have always had issues. For some reason, they just haven’t had anyone on their team that had any kind of real vision for the service, or the Store, or really anything to do with Music at all. Its unfortunate. They’ve nearly always had their feet wet when it comes to music; but all they seem to have gotten is soggy socks.

They’ve had one giant miscue after another with ALL kinds of content when it comes to ecosystem based content. Just ask any (former) Zune owner. They’ll tell you how big of a cluster bump this has been in the Microsoft camp.

Its certainly NOT been pretty.

Did you have a Groove Music Pass? Did you even know Microsoft HAD music in their Windows Store? Is this something that you think the world will miss, or will Spotify struly, uh… hit the spot?

Let me know your thoughts! Give me your take on this development in the Discussion area below. I’d love to hear from you, especially if you had a Groove Music Pass, or if you think the loss of the service will create a hole that needs to be filled with some other MS based service.

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Microzon Introduces Digital Assistant Corlexa

Or is that Amasoft introduces digital assistant Altana..? I’m confused, man…

In a very surprising move, Microsoft and Amazon have agreed to a partnership where their digital assistants, Cortana and Alexa respective, will begin sharing information by the end of this calendar year, 2018. This will enable each digital assistant to leverage the unique abilities of the other in an unprecedented collaboration and data sharing initiative between the two Seattle, Washing based computing giants.

The partnership was announced on 2017-08-30. The effort began last year and began by a joint statement by both Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to the New York Times. Both CEO’s have indicated that they would also be willing to welcome both Siri and Google’s Digital Assistant to join the effort, but doubt was expressed on whether Apple and Google would be interested in joining the partnership.

Both Bezos and Nadella are touting the partnership as a precisely matched pairing that will complement the different data sets and service specialties that each assistant provides. According to Jeff Bezos, “[both Siri and Alexa have] strengths [that] will complement each other and provide customers with a richer, and even more helpful experience.”

Satya Nadella agreed, saying, “Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”

The beginning of the program will require users of one to specifically “open” the other – “Alexa open Cortana and…” or “Cortana open Alexa and…”. You can use either to set a reminder or read email, or use Alexa via Cortana to control smart home devices or other activity.

It’s clear that both Microsoft and Amazon are looking for a deeper, more seamless integration, long term. The idea is that both know what the other can do, and knows the magic words to relay back and forth behind the curtain to make it all happen. All the user will need to do is ask…

The big thing you’re going to have to watch here is your privacy and the amount of metadata that will likely have to fly across the internet in order to give any contextual meaning to your overall experience. Both Alex and Cortana are going to share what they know about you – your contacts and their information (so you can call or text so and so a message…), your calendar, your action items, etc. Both Alexa and Cortana will also have to share your web surfing, video streaming, music playing, etc., habits and be able to know your audio and video likes and dislikes so that it can work its magic without making a mistake.

If you have home automation equipment (light bulbs, thermostats, sprinkler systems, door bells, etc.) hanging off your home network, your comings and goings, utility usage and consumptions, etc. will also be shared and trafficked across the internet.

I am certain that digital assistants that can share this pooled information will be amazing; but you have to wonder… how much is convenience worth? Is my privacy worth giving up for these features?

Only YOU can answer those questions…

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Top Creator’s Update Issues and How to Fix Them

Here are the top problems with Microsoft’s Creator’s Update and the way to resolve them all…

The Creators Update is the latest update to Microsoft’s Windows 10. It’s the start of what Redmond says will be a biannual update to their desktop operating system. The Creators Update was released in April of 2017. The next update, the Fall Creators Update is scheduled to be released in September of 2017.

The new strategy behind Windows 10 is to release two major feature updates per year. Over the past few months, I’ve been doing a bit of research on the Creators Update; and it introduced a number of new features. With the implementation of new features and functionality, there are likely to be problems and issues. Some are easy to resolve. Others, take a bit more doing to resolve.

So, without any additional hullaballoo, here are the top Windows 10 issues and the best and easiest ways to resolve them.

The Update Doesn’t Download
If you’ve got the Anniversary Update – Version 1607 – then you’re a prime candidate for the Creators Update – Version 1703. However, it doesn’t always get to you when you want it or when you’re ready for it. Sometimes, it just seems like it doesn’t want to come down to your PC. If that’s true, there are a couple different things you can do, however, depending on your PC, you may be intentionally blocked due to a technical problem with your PC that hasn’t been patched yet.

If you can’t get the update, that may be the best thing. However, if you have to have it, you can do the following things:
Download the Windows 10 Update Assistant. It will pull down the Creators Update and upgraded your computer the ISO. There’s an ISO image. You’ll need to be a registered Windows Insider first, but you can still get it.

Windows Update gets Stuck
Similar things have happened to me with other updates. You wait for the update to come down and update your system; but while doing so, the update either stops coming, or it won’t actually update your system no matter how many times you’ve hit “Restart and update.” Unfortunately, Windows Update isn’t the best at what it does. When this happens, you’ll need to open the Command Prompt, with elevated privileges so you can execute some administrator level commands.

To get the Creators Update moving again, follow these steps:
At the command prompt, type,

net stop wuauserv

and hit enter. This will temporarily stop the Windows Update service.
Open up a Windows Explorer Window and navigate to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution. Delete any and all files you find in that folder. Do NOT delete the actual folder itself.
Go back to your Command Prompt. Type,

net start wuauserv

and hit enter. This will restart the Windows Update service on your PC.
Go back to Settings – Windows Update and have it look for updates again. It should find the Creators Update and start downloading it again.

Windows Defender Can’t Update
Nearly everything comes down as a result of Windows Update. This includes updates to Windows Defender and its malware definitions. Unfortunately, sometimes Windows Defender’s updates gets stuck, too. When that happens, you can do one of the following things to get things going again.

Try again.

Sometimes getting Defender updated just requires you to run Windows Update again. Pull the trigger again, and see if the updates come down all the way. If they do, you’re in business. If they don’t, move on to the next step.

1. Reset Windows Update
You can use the steps I noted above to kill Windows Update’s cache. If simply running Windows Update again doesn’t download new malware definitions for today, and you know you haven’t gotten them already, use the steps I noted above to stop Windows Update’s service, delete its cache files, and then restate the service
2. Malware Updates Windows Defender
Alternatively, you can manually download Windows Defender malware definitions from Microsoft here. Once you do, just run the .exe file, follow the prompts, and your Windows Defender is up to date.

Windows won’t Add New Users
Adding new user accounts to a single PC can be a big deal. Sometimes, you just have to share workstations. In some instances, Windows won’t let you add new users to an existing Windows 10 install when they don’t have Microsoft Accounts.

It’s unclear whether this is actually a bug or whether this is all part of Microsoft’s evil plan to take over the world. Any way you slice it, this is an issue, but don’t worry there’s an EASY resolution.

Turn off your internet connection.

If you’re using Wi-Fi, turn the adapter off. If you’re using an Ethernet connection, pull the cable. Either way, the lack of a connection to the internet is what you’re looking for. When Windows 10 can’t communication with the outside world, it will let you add a standard, local account without demanding that it be a Microsoft Account.

Please note that you won’t need to do this every time you want to add a local account. The only time you’ll need to kill your internet connection is if and when Windows 10 Creators Update won’t add the local account while you’re connected to the internet. Again, simply killing the internet connection will turn off Windows 10’s apparent need to be all Microsoft Account connected.

Windows Won’t Shut Down All the Way
Sometimes Microsoft goes out of its way not really NOT help itself. Such is the case with the Creators Update and some of its performance features. In some cases, the OS can’t get out of its own way. On rare occasions, installing the Creators Update may accidentally enable Windows Fast Startup option. Fast Startup puts your PC into a low-level hibernation state instead of actually shutting the PC down.

Fast Startup allows your computer to hibernate instead of actually, fully shutting it down. This can make turning the PC back on a lot faster, as the PC doesn’t have to go through its full startup procedures which may include a full POST.

This “benefit” may create startup problems as well as making it difficult to access your BIOS if you need to make adjustments or changes to boot sequences or other startup options. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix to this – you just need to disable hibernation through elevated permissions via the Command prompt.

To do this, follow these steps:

1. Open the Command Prompt in Administrator Mode
2. Type the following at the prompt –

powercfg /h off

3. This will disable hibernation system wide and should turn off fast startup.

A couple of normal restarts later, and you may be able to reverse this by typing

powercfg /h on

later. If you really need hibernation back, and have found that your PC now shuts down like it’s supposed to, turning this back on should be ok. If you find yourself in the same boat, turn hibernation back off by repeating the above commands.

Location Services won’t Turn Off
Location services are a big part of Windows 10; and they can, if not monitored correctly, use up a great deal of battery power. With early installations of the Creators Update, some users are reporting that the Update is causing Location Services to turn on and remain on, despite the fact that users have turned them “off.” Unfortunately, this is a bug in the OS, and its one that Microsoft is going to have to fix. Don’t worry… they’re get to it, eventually.

In the meantime, if you want to try to work around it, you can do the following.

1. Open Settings.
2. Click Privacy and navigate down to Location
3. Turn the feature off entirely.

This will turn off all location based updates Windows makes, but should resolve the issue and the potential battery drain. You’ll need to pay attention to the updates that Windows Update installs. If any of them update Windows Location Services, try turning Location Services back on to see if the issue is resolved

Gaming Mode Disables Night Light
It’s never fun when one feature implementation interferes with the functioning of another. Unfortunately, as I’ve learned over the years, this is just the way software works sometimes. In cases like these, you have to watch out and be careful.

Unfortunately, there are some instances where Microsoft’s new Gaming Mode can interfere with another new feature, Night Light. Night Light is a blue light filter system that diminishes the amount of blue light your screen emits at night time. The thought here is that if Windows can automatically warm your PC’s display output colors, thereby limiting the amount of blue light it emits, you’re going to sleep better at night. Blue light stimulates your brain and increases brain activity.

Unfortunately, the Creators Update can disable Night Light when game mode is on and you’re playing a game. In cases like these, Night Light gets disabled not only in Game Mode, but also at a system level. There are two ways to resolve this issue.

1. Display Settings
Open your video games’ video settings and switch it from full screen to borderless windowed. This should prevent Night Light from being disabled. You may notice a performance hit here, as everything will be run in a Window instead of in full screen mode. However, this shouldn’t impact FPS rates too badly.
2. Disable Night Light
if using the feature is important to you, you might want to consider going with a third party alternative. Disable Night Light and then install an app like F.lux to manage the warming of your display. Using a third party utility should also resolve any performance hits your PC might take as well.

Windows Game Bar prevents some users from streaming
Gaming updates in Windows 10 Creators Update are a big deal and are a huge addition to the overall OS. I know that the integration of Gaming in Windows 10 makes it a lot easier for my son to play Xbox One games while I still get to use the TV in my living room. He can stream games directly to his gaming desktop from the console, providing the family with a great deal of peace and quiet as no one vies for the TV screen.

In the Creators Update, Microsoft has rolled out a number of new tools, like Game Mode and a new version of the Game Bar, making Windows gaming more accessible and reliable. Microsoft’s streaming service, Beam, will now natively integrate with the Gaming Bar, allowing you to stream any game on your PC.

Unfortunately, and somewhat unsurprisingly, there are issues with streaming in the Creators Update. Beam either fails to broadcast entirely, or prevents certain accounts from streaming at all. Unfortunately, there’s no solution right now; but there are work arounds.

The easiest way around this problem, unfortunately, is the least desirable – set up a new Beam account. If you have a following on Beam, this might not be the best option for you. However, if all you’re really trying to do is stream games to a couple of your buddies, then, this just might be the way to go.

If you need to stick with your existing Beam account, you can always try signing out and signing back in. If that doesn’t work, you can try unlinking it from your Microsoft Account. You can do this through your Beam.pro account page. After you unlink Beam from your Microsoft Account, you’ll need to reinstall the Creators Update by redownloading and running the update on the ISO file.

When the update finishes, you can relink your Beam account and retry your microphone. If it still doesn’t work, you may be better off with another streaming solution like Twitch or Steam’s game streaming until Microsoft has a chance to address the issue.

Game Mode cuts off microphone access for third-party apps
Gaming on Windows 10 provides an improved experience in the Creators Update. Now, you get optimized performance of your system resource usage; or at least your supposed to. There have been reports of some microphones not working in third party apps while Game mode is enabled. When this happens, you might be better off just turning Game Mode off.

To disable Game Mode, open Settings. Under the gaming category, you can toggle Game Mode on or off inside individual games with the Game Bar, accessible when you press Win-G.

Conclusion
Microsoft’s Creators Update is the latest release of its desktop operating system, Windows 10. It brings a great deal to the table. However, it also brings users as many issues and problems as it does beneficial updates.

While the update was originally released in April of 2017, the new bits haven’t reached everyone yet. For example, after I had to wipe my Surface Book, it hasn’t come back down for me. I’m still waiting for it.

The problems and solutions I’ve outlined here are likely the most common problems, and the best solutions available for them. If you’ve bumped into these problems and resolved them, I’d love to hear about it. I’d especially like to know if you’ve resolved your issues using the solutions I’ve outlined above, or if you’ve found a different work around.

If you’ve bumped into additional problems than the ones I’ve outlined, above. I’d like to know what those are too. Have you found a way around those additional issues, or are they still a problem? If you have found a way around them, I’d love for your to share those additional solutions with the rest of the class.

Any way you slice it, kids… I’m in the Discussion area below. You need to give me the latest update on what’s going on with you and with your Windows 10 Creators Update powered PC.

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Microsoft OneDrive Screws the Pooch

Having OneDrive on a non-NTFS partition is no longer allowed…

Over the past week or so, many, but not all, Microsoft OneDrive users have been dealing with a very confusing and very troubling issue regarding Microsoft OneDrive – If your OneDrive data store is on any other volume other than an NTFS volume, OneDrive will stop synching and display the following error message

OneDrive Error Message

Like many Windows users, during the week of 2017-06-25 through 2017-07-01, everything was fine. My Surface Book and OneDrive were working as expected. With the extended Independence Day holiday here in the States, most users – myself included – were off between 2017-06-30 through 2017-07-04. My first day back to work that week was Wednesday 2017-07-05. I didn’t have my Surface Book out that day, as my day had me pretty much confined to my desk due to my extended holiday break. While my work PC has OneDrive on it, my synched files are on the main drive, and its formatted to NTFS already.

The next day, I was greeted with the error message dialog box shown above. I was totally taken by surprise and really didn’t know what to do. So, I took to Twitter, and asked one of my most reliable contacts, Mary Jo Foley if she knew what was going on. She did, and the news was both good and bad.

OneDrive NTFS

It was nice to know that the issue was known and that someone had tried to start a conversation with Microsoft on it. What I found disturbing, was that Microsoft was – and still is – virtually nonexistent on the thread. They haven’t replied at ALL to any of the users looking for any kind of answers. However, one user – Jeremy Chu – did get an answer to the inquiry he made directly with Microsoft. I’ve reproduced it in its entirety, here:

Hi,

We stopped supporting non-NTFS file systems. This is affecting users with FAT32, Exeats and ReFS file systems. Users can get unblocked by converting the drive to NTFS.

Basically all you have do is, from a command prompt, type:

convert D: /fs:ntfs (if the drive in question is currently d:\)

Or visit – http://odsp.westeurope.cloudapp.azure.com/qq/onedrive-sync-client-pushed-out-a-change-where-we/ to get more insights!!!

Unfortunately, if you were unable to do so, contact our windows support team : https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/contact/menu/

Thanks,
OneDrive Team

It’s nice that Microsoft has finally acknowledged the issue; but it took them over four days to do so; and to be honest, the thread that I’m referencing is the OFFICIAL issue thread, and they haven’t responded there at all.

At all…

As far as many of us are concerned on that thread, their lack of communication was making many think that this is a simple bump in the road; and that at some point, Microsoft would “correct” the problem. With the response that Jeremy got, that’s clearly NOT the case. And it’s very unfortunate.

Now… there are a couple of issues here. I haven’t really jumped on my rant soapbox this month, at least not until now, so please bear with me. I’m going to cover them as quickly as I can.

Terms of Service
There has to be an out for Microsoft in the OneDrive Terms of Service that basically says,

“we provide the service (even if you pay for it); and you’ll use what you’re given, the way we give it to you, or you can go elsewhere.” Or in more legal terms,

“we reserve the right to change the way the service works as we see fit, with or without any notice to you”

And if this is the case, AND you agreed to those terms of service before you started using Microsoft OneDrive, then you have little to no recourse in the matter. In truth, if you didn’t agree to the service’s terms of service, you wouldn’t be in the boat, because you wouldn’t be using it. You can’t use the service without agreeing to its terms, first. Which brings me to my second point…

Communications
Like many users, this likely wouldn’t have been an issue or a problem at all – provided that Microsoft had communicated the change – giving users the opportunity to prepare for the change. There may be some OneDrive users – and I’m thinking specifically of OneDrive for Business users – that may not be able to convert their drives to NTFS for one reason or another

If there had been some kind of notice on this, many would have had the chance to prepare for the change and either convert their drives – via the process outlined by the OneDrive Team, above – or to just blow the old data store and resync everything.

However, without any kind of heads up or official notice from Microsoft that the change was coming, many users were caught off guard… which is problematic. You never want to catch your users off guard. While the service owner can do almost anything they want once they Terms of Service are accepted by a customer, there is an aspect of service interruptions and uptime that needs to be addressed, and unfortunately, the way this initially appeared, despite the error dialog box, above, this appeared as an outage and not as the dropping of support for non-NTFS formatted drives on local data stores.

Bad form, Microsoft. Bad form!

What about other platforms??
The one big thing that I see missing here, is any kind of statement from Microsoft on how this change effects other platforms – like macOS. macOS uses HSF+ and ApFS (Apple File System) and Microsoft hasn’t said anything about how the switch to NFTS will or will not affect Macs and Mac users using OneDrive for Mac.

Then again, they also haven’t said if this has anything to do with Files on Demand or any other feature, either. Though to be honest, it like does have something to do with some OneDrive updates that are scheduled to hit in the Fall Creators Update (FCU).

However, what’s really kind of confusing is whether or not OneDrive’s NTFS requirement also excludes drives formatted with ReFS or Microsoft’s Resilient File System. ReFS is close to NTFS, but apparently doesn’t support one of the big features that OneDrive needs – reparse points. If this is the case, the question that is begged here is whether or not OneDrive will work (or continue to work) with ReFS; or better yet why Microsoft hasn’t updated ReFS to work with OneDrive.

Did you bump into this problem over the past week or so? Did you have OneDrive synching your data to an SD card or to an older, external drive that was formatted as FAT32? How did you resolve the issue? Did you do what I did and just knuckled under and reformatted the drive and resynchronized? Or did you convert the drive? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and let me know? I’d love to hear from you!

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Surface Book Supplies are Constrained – Part 1

This is not something you want to hear when you’ve got a fatal problem with your Surface Book…

A short while ago, I got a Surface Book. After searching for something to replace my Surface Pro 3, I have, in a sense, come home. During this journey, I have found that the old adage is true; and that you truly do get what you pay for.

So, realizing that a Surface device is really what I wanted, I sold the ASUS Transformer Mini T102HA in late January 2017. About a month later, since there is a Microsoft Store located near the office, I ran over and purchased an entry level Surface Book in mid-February 2017. When I purchased the device, the President’s Day sale was still going on, and the price was $250 cheaper.

On the whole, I’ve been fairly satisfied with the purchase and the model choice. It gets the job done, has all of the Surface features that I’m looking for, and didn’t break the bank.

Yeah… the clouds darken somewhat at this point.

So, I bumped into a problem with my Surface Book and needed to go back to a previous version of Windows. I plugged the Surface Book into its AC adapter and began the Restore Process that I detailed out in a two part columnar series here on Soft32 (Part 1, Part 2). I have done this before, and after you get through the preliminaries in making choices about what you want to keep and what you can live without, it’s really nothing more than letting the machine do its work.

So, I was very surprised after I started the restore and noticed that the device would only boot to its UEFI screen and then wouldn’t go any farther. In the upper right corner of the UEFI screen, you could see an icon that appears to look like a hard drive with some kind of “X” in the middle of it.

As the device was just about three (3) months old, I decided to take a two pronged approach here.

1. Follow the instructions noted on the support page Surface Turns on but Windows won’t Start. This included downloading a recovery image for my Surface Book, and then building and starting my Surface Book with the bootable USB drive that the process created.
2. Make an appointment at the Microsoft Store for service – just in case the above steps didn’t work.

To be very honest, the instructions in step number one, above, haven’t really failed me. Ever… until now.

In one previous case, I had to go to the Microsoft Store and THEY got the recovery image to boot, so when I tried and couldn’t get past the UEFI screen, I thought that they certainly would be able to.

I was wrong.

Even THEY couldn’t get my three month old Surface Book to boot from the USB based recovery image. From what we were able to determine that hard drive icon with the “X” through it indicates a bad drive controller. They declared the device dead in the water, and it qualified for a free replacement, being only 3 months old.

At this point, I was a bit upset, as I was looking at a three month old brick. There was nothing that the Microsoft Store could do to get the device to boot. However, it did qualify for a free replacement, and I thought I would be back up and running shortly.

Unfortunately, they told me, they didn’t have any replacement units available in the store. They also informed me that Microsoft’s Online Store also didn’t have any available. I gave them the whole “deer in the headlights” look. I had a difficult time understanding – there were no Surface Books to be had. From anywhere… I was dumbfounded.

What was worse, the only explanation that I got was that Surface Book supplies were, “constrained.” And that’s all anyone was able to tell me. They had no other information to share.

At this point, my options were few:

1. Leave the store with a non-functional device
This option had me calling the store to determine if they received any stock of the entry level Surface Book that could be set aside as a replacement for my defective unit. They weren’t especially confident that I’d be able to get anything from them any time soon. Again, Surface Book supplies were “constrained” was the only explanation they could give me.
2. Contact Microsoft Complete Advanced Replacement Program
Microsoft Complete provides additional and advanced warranty options for your Microsoft Surface device, should you need them. The service is $249USD and like Apple’s Apple Care, adds an additional 2 years of warranty coverage. They’ll also send you an advanced replacement if you’re a Microsoft Complete customer, should your device need immediate replacement.

There are a couple of problems with these options – because supplies of Surface Book are currently constrained, neither gets me a replacement any time soon. Due to the supply constraint, it’s also not known when a device would become available to replace my defective Surface Book. The Microsoft Complete option would also cost me $1750.00, plus tax ($249 for the privilege of having them charge me – and hold on my credit card, indefinitely – $1500 for a replacement device that they will send to me, again whenever they get one, requiring me to send my defective unit back to them).

After speaking to a manager and not finding any solution, I turned around to leave (effectively choosing option 1…).

I stopped about 5 steps away from the counter and turned back around. There were Surface Books – floor/ demo units – all over the store. Surely they could give me one of those…

NOPE! Those are demo units, and are not part of store inventory. (Awesome…!)

At that point, the manager came back over and I asked her about any other possible avenues. She quietly asked the tech that I was working with if there were any business orders prepped in the back with an appropriate Surface Book unit.

The tech nodded his head, excused himself and went into the back room again. A few moments later, he returned with a replacement unit. The Microsoft Store Manager cannibalized a business order to satisfy a consumer warranty replacement issue.

Shortly after the replacement was finished, I walked back to the office and began setting up my new Surface Book, a happy man.

Come back next time when I wrap everything up and attempt to look into a potential constraint cause, as well.

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