Tag Archives: Windows 8

Windows 8.1 RTM on Surface Pro

Today I installed Windows 8.1 RTM on my Surface Pro, and so far I’m pretty happy. I decided to list what I believe to be some pros and cons to consider when updating your Windows 8 system:

Pros:

  • Mail app has improved significantly. Ability to easily select more than one message by either long-pressing or right-clicking, or by checking the checkboxes next to each item. Also appearance is closer to Outlook.com’s look and feel.
    Windows Mail
  • Setup prompted me to either keep my files only, or nothing (Sounds like an OS upgrade to me). I chose to keep my files, and it stored them in the usual Windows.old folder. However, all of my configurations and customizations remained! Awesome!
  • RT applications all installed with one click!
  • My WiFi connections and credentials were all remembered, I didn’t have to re-enter any passwords or search for SSIDs. Another huge plus IMHO.
  • IE bookmarks, auto-fill, remembered passwords, favorites, etc. were all remembered and flowed right through once I signed on with my Microsoft account.
  • Total time from begin to end to completely update the Surface Pro was approximately 15 minutes, including reboots

Cons:

  • Had to reinstall all of my x64 applications. Unfortunately for me, since the Surface Pro is my dev machine that’s quite a few applications. To me this is more of an OS upgrade than a Service Pack style update.
  • Still having to right-click and choose “Run As Administrator” every time I launch certain applications. Would be nice to have an “Always Run As Administrator” option
    UPDATE: This isn’t a limitation in Windows 8, this was my own lack of knowledge. To set an application (in this case Visual Studio 2013) to always run as administrator do the following (click the images to enlarge):

    1. Right-click on the Start screen tile and choose Open File Location
      Screenshot (3)
    2. Right-click on the program you want to alter and choose Properties
      Screenshot (4)
    3. Click the Advanced button at the bottom
      Screenshot (5)
    4. Make sure the Run As Administrator box is checked and click OK
      Screenshot (6)

    The application will now run as administrator whenever clicked from the Start screen!

So far more pros than cons, I’m pretty satisfied. I’ll post more here as I use the Surface more. Feel free to comment and add your pros/cons.

Update (09/11/2013 06:25 MT): It appears that if you’re running 8.1 Preview on the machine, it treats it like an OS upgrade, but if you’re running Windows 8 it’s treated like a SP update. Mark Brown noted that his Surface Pro running Windows 8 kept all of his x64 applications and just applied 8.1. Nice! Thanks for the feedback!

Eric Oszakiewski

Eric Oszakiewski is a professional software developer based in Scottsdale, AZ with over 36 years of IT experience, and 19 years Native American Gaming experience. He is currently working as a Sr .Net/SharePoint Development Lead for General Motors, and also as a consultant.

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Surface RT Metro apps won’t launch

Just the other day I applied the most recent mandatory firmware update to my Surface RT, and let it restart. I thought nothing of it until this morning when I tried launching my usual morning apps (Bible, check metrics on my apps, etc), and they wouldn’t launch. The only apps that would launch were Desktop, IE and my app I developed that’s already in the store. My initial thought was to run Refresh, but it wouldn’t launch since it’s part of the whole Metro-thing.

I checked the Event Log->Windows Logs->Application, and there was an error event for every Metro-style app tile I tapped previously, and the errors were always Event 5973 “ failed because of an issue with its license. Please try again later” (Paraphrased). If there was a way to refresh, since System Restore isn’t an option in Windows RT, I was pretty confident that would solve the problem.

I worked with Surface Support, and they showed me another way to get to a maintenance screen to refresh the device. I’m documenting it here for future reference in case I forget.

With the device powered on and all users logged off, hold down the shift key and tap the power button (keep holding down the shift key even after you tap the power button). The screen will blink then return to the lock screen/login screen. With the shift key still held down, tap the Power icon on the screen and choose Restart…still holding down the shift key. The screen will turn blue and several options will appear in tile format. Now you can let go of the shift key. Tap Troubleshooting, and you can choose to refresh the device here. Note that refreshing the device will require you to log onto BitLocker on a separate PC using your Microsoft Account when prompted. The device will eventually prompt you to go to a website and enter the key from the website. It’s a large sequence of 6 digit numbers to authenticate your session. Once entered it will proceed with refreshing.

When the refresh was done, the device was functioning as normal, and none of my files or settings were affected. Apps had to re-install, but they re-installed automatically. Big thanks to Surface Support for their prompt attention and assistance!

Eric Oszakiewski

Eric Oszakiewski is a professional software developer based in Scottsdale, AZ with over 36 years of IT experience, and 19 years Native American Gaming experience. He is currently working as a Sr .Net/SharePoint Development Lead for General Motors, and also as a consultant.

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Windows 8 Enterprise error code: 0x800F0906 “Windows couldn’t connect to the Internet to download necessary files”

I fought with this one for nearly 8 hours today, attempting to install SSMS from SQL 2012.  This requires that the .Net Framework 3.5 and 2.0 be activated in Windows Features.  Sure, there’s a checkbox that you “should” be able to check and everything works fine.  Well, not for me.  I check it, click OK, it tells me it needs to download files from Windows Update, I say OK, and it throws this error.

Basic troubleshooting courtesy of Google says to make sure Windows Firewall is not blocking the connection, which in my case it wasn’t.  Next, make sure you can get to Windows Update in general, which I could.  Finally, it said to contact your IT administration…..which doesn’t help me because I *am* IT Administration (seriously?)

The solution (at least for me)?  Elevated Command Line!  Earlier I had to also activate my copy of Windows 8 Enterprise via command line thanks to a similar error.  I found this solution in an MS Support article, but here’s the general idea:

  • Run gpedit.msc, and look in Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System.
  • Locate the “Specify settings for optional component installation and component repair ” and open it up.
  • Select “Enabled” at the top, and at the bottom, check the box next to “Contact Windows Update directly to download repair content instead of Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)“.
  • Click Apply, then OK.
  • Then run gpupdate /force at command line.

Next, make sure your Windows 8 install media is loaded in your CD/DVD drive, flash drive, wherever, open an elevated command line and type the following:

Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3 /All /Source:<drive>:sourcessxs /LimitAccess

Where <drive> is the drive letter of your Windows 8 media.  It took a few minutes, but worked like a champ!  Now the .Net Framework 3.5 feature was enabled without any errors.

Hope this helps!

Eric Oszakiewski

Eric Oszakiewski is a professional software developer based in Scottsdale, AZ with over 36 years of IT experience, and 19 years Native American Gaming experience. He is currently working as a Sr .Net/SharePoint Development Lead for General Motors, and also as a consultant.

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Creating a VHD for multi-boot in Windows 7

Been doing this so much lately with all of the flavors of Windows 8, I figured I’d write this down for my own benefit, but also for anyone who’s interested in doing the same.

  1. Create a new VHD
    1. Go to Start, right-click on Computer and choose Manage
    2. Under Storage in the left pane, single-click Disk Management
    3. In the Actions pane on the right, click More Actions, then choose Create VHD
    4. Specify the location you want to store your VHD file (ex: c:VHDsvhdname.vhd).  Select the virtual hard disk size (I typically do 20GB and Fixed, but it’s up to you) and click Ok.
    5. The VHD will be created, this can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
    6. Once finished, you need to initialize the disk.  Right-click on the newly created Disk in the pane below the volumes list (click the left side of the disk, not the white area on the right) and choose Initialize Disk.
    7. Make sure MBR is selected and click OK.
    8. You should now have a VHD, ready for installation of your favorite OS.
  2. Prepare your bootable OS
    1. Download and install the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool.  This is a free tool courtesy of Microsoft, and is very handy (IMHO) for creating bootable flash drives for OS installation.
    2. Once installed, run the tool.  In step 1, browse to the location of the ISO file for your OS you want to install on the newly created VHD.
    3. Choose the media type you want the bootable drive created on.  For me, this is a blank flash drive, minimum 8GB.  At this point, the drive should be connected.
    4. Make sure your drive is selected in the drop down list.  If you forgot to connect it, connect it now and click Refresh.  Click Begin Copying.
    5. In step 4, the drive will be formatted, the OS will be installed on the drive, and it will be configured to be bootable.
    6. You should now have a bootable media with your desired OS on it.
  3. Install your OS on your VHD
    1. Plug in your flash drive and restart your machine.  Make sure your machine’s BIOS is set to read flash drives on boot, and also that any VM settings are enabled.
    2. Follow the on-screen instructions for installation of your OS.
    3. When you get to the point where it wants to know which partition to install the OS on to, press SHIFT+F10 to open the command prompt.
    4. Type DISKPART and hit enter
    5. At the DISKPART> prompt, type select vdisk file=<path to vhd file> and hit enter.  NOTE: drive letters may have been rearranged during this install process.  You may need to do some searching around at the various drive letters to find your VHD file, to make sure you have the correct drive letter and path above.
    6. At the DISKPART> prompt, type attach vdisk and hit enter
    7. Close the command prompt window
    8. At the list of available partitions, click Refresh, and make sure your VHD file appears in the list.  If it doesn’t, repeat steps C-F and make sure there are no errors when attaching the VHD to the install session.
    9. Select the VHD partition and proceed with installation.  Ignore any warnings the wizard may tell you about not being able to install on this partition.
    10. A BCD entry will be created for you, and set to default upon completion.
  4. Changing boot order/default boot settings after installation
    1. Before making any changes to the Boot Control, back it up by typing bcdedit /export <filename> and hit enter.  Don’t use spaces in the filename unless you enclose them in double-quotes.
    2. In your default OS (prior to installing the new OS above), open a command prompt and type bcdedit /enum and hit enter.
    3. To set a specific VHD or partition volume as default, locate the identifier GUID and select it by right-clicking and choose Mark, then select the entire GUID (including curly braces {}) and hit enter.
    4. Back at the prompt, type bcdedit /default {GUID} and hit enter, replace {GUID} with the guid you copied and pasted.  To paste, right click and choose Paste.
    5. To change the default selection timeout, so it’s faster or slower, type bcdedit /timeout x, where x = the number of seconds before it selects the default.  To make it bypass this screen, set the timeout value to 0.
    6. To change the description (name as it appears in the list), type bcdedit /set description <whatever you want it to say> and hit enter.

That’s it, enjoy your new VHD!

Eric Oszakiewski

Eric Oszakiewski is a professional software developer based in Scottsdale, AZ with over 36 years of IT experience, and 19 years Native American Gaming experience. He is currently working as a Sr .Net/SharePoint Development Lead for General Motors, and also as a consultant.

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Windows 8 Developer Preview

Following the //build/ conference in Anaheim, I downloaded a copy of Windows 8 developer preview (32 bit) to put on my Dell Mini 12, 1 GHz Atom processor, 1GB RAM, 40GB SSD drive.

A little history…I ended up having to put Windows 7 starter edition on it because it was running so horribly.  It came with Windows XP SP3, I installed Windows 7 Ultimate and it killed the performance.  I later changed it to Windows 7 Starter, and performance improved slightly, but applications were still taking forever to load.

I took a screenshot of Task Manager before upgrading:

As you can see, there was only 18% of the physical memory truly free….awful.  No wonder why everything crawls!  I tried running the installer from boot, and when choosing Upgrade, I had to run the installer from within Windows 7.  I chose this to see if it would preserve settings, profile info, etc.  During the Preparation process, it asked me if I wanted to preserve User Accounts or Do Nothing.  I chose User Accounts.  The Compatibility Checker was a lot nicer, it says “Let’s see if you have to do anything first” while checking.  The checker discovered that it needs 16GB of free space to run the upgrade.  With an existing OS on the drive and it only being 40GB, there’s no way I’m going to free up 16GB, so it’s a clean install for this machine.

So, the clean install worked well, it kept the previous OS in the typical .old path (which I had to later remove, because it was taking up over 12GB of space on my tiny HD).  After initial caching of services, properties, settings, etc., it does in fact boot in roughly 8 seconds!

Here’s the Task Manager screenshot after upgrading to Windows 8 Developer Preview:

MUCH better!  54% total memory free, and just look at the processor usage…awesome!

So far I’m pretty impressed.  I need to learn how to close running applications from the actual application, but otherwise it’s pretty intuitive.  I set up Picture Password for my authentication, everything seems to be running fairly quickly.  Now I just need to start writing some apps and deploying them here to see how it works and how I can leverage the new UI.

Overall, very cool, looking forward to running this on a tablet.  My laptop doesn’t have a touchscreen, and I know I’m losing a lot of functionality of this OS as a result.

Update: Metro-Style apps aren’t meant to be closed, they stay suspended in the UI, but don’t consume resources.  Nice touch, but in my humble opinion users are going to have a hard time with this going forward.

Eric Oszakiewski

Eric Oszakiewski is a professional software developer based in Scottsdale, AZ with over 36 years of IT experience, and 19 years Native American Gaming experience. He is currently working as a Sr .Net/SharePoint Development Lead for General Motors, and also as a consultant.

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