Category Archives: Windows

FIX: Widgets and Chat Won’t Open on Windows 11

On a recent clean install of Windows 11 on a brand-new machine, I ran into an issue with two core parts of the Windows 11 experience:

  1. Widgets did not open when I clicked on the button: the icon would animate and then restore itself
  2. Chat [from the Taskbar] would sometimes open with a “We ran into an issue” or just ignore the click entirely

There was never an error message or anything in the Event Log calling out the issue – it just didn’t work. Most of the reports online were calling out issues from the pre-release versions but most of it didn’t apply to the released builds of Windows. Additionally, I’ve been running on Windows 11 for a long, long time and have never seen this issue before (and we’re talking ~300 clean installs over a period of 18 months) which left me perplexed. Given how I planned to use this machine, I shrugged and turned off the Widgets and Chat buttons on the taskbar and continued the rest of my installs.

Shortly after I put the PC into its new home, I remoted into the box and said “ah, lemme try Widgets now” and lo! I get an error message:

You need Microsoft Edge WebView2 Runtime

Oh ko! An error string that is searchable? I can work with that. What’s odd is that I know I had WebView2 installed at some point already because it had like nine instances running while Edge was off. I don’t think I disabled it in anyway, so that tells me some other new install must have knocked it off the box.

That said, I found an install point for the WebView2 Runtime here: – after installing the x64 runtime, Widgets and Chat both began to work without issue.

Leaving this as a note to myself as much as sharing it with others.

Setting a Network Connect to Private

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed at home that my network adapters on Windows 10 spontaneously flip to from Private to Public. At first I thought it was a Windows bug but I think it’s related to my router because it seems to happen on a number of machines, all at once. Annoying too because Private has things like network discovery turned on, while Public does not.

Anyway, because of this, I decided that it’s easier to fix this via PowerShell script rather than dink around in the UI. Basically, run this script with Admin privileges (assuming you have one network connection, as you have to call out the “active network”) to set the network to Private:

Set-NetConnectionProfile -Name (Get-NetConnectionProfile -InterfaceAlias Wi-Fi).Name -NetworkCategory Private

Carry on.

Edge with no tabs

I’ve hated tabs before tabs were a thing. Back in “the day” most applications followed a design called the Multi-Document Interface ideal: you had one app window with a lot of document windows within it. If you’ve been around long enough, you will remember the day when apps like Word started opening individual documents with their own Word environment, ushering in the SDI (Single Document Interface) era which was sparked by Mosaic, Netscape, and Internet Explorer.

Then something went wrong. I know OS/2 had tabs. So did Lotus Notes. So does OneNote, which I love, but in all of these cases, they used tabs to logically split functional groups of controls. It wasn’t about keeping documents together. But now it’s 2018 and we have Edge, Chrome, and Firefox all offering tab bars that are auto-populating themselves with content that you can’t [ironically] ALT+Tab or Command+Tab to.

Recently, Edge has changed to that if I forget to hold down the Shift key when I click on a link, it opens in the same window or in a new tab. Rather than trying to remember holding down the key, I thought it would be best to have an Edge extension take care of this for me.

Edge with no tabs is pretty simple: any time Edge opens a new tab, it grabs the URL, opens a new window, and passes the URL to it. Then it cleans up the now abandoned tab. I also put this in the Microsoft Store so installing it is the same as any other extension, but I’ve included a direct link to it to save you time. Also, as with most of my projects these days, it’s an open source thing so you can check out the source as well!

Edge with no tabs 1.0: install | source code

Windows 10: Turn on SMB v1 for clean installs (starting with 1709)

Over the weekend, we got a new desktop in the house and as per usual, I blew away the bloated pre-installed image in favor for a clean install of Windows 10 Pro. Post install, I found 4 drivers that defaulted to the built-in Windows versions; clicking “Update driver” immediately reached out to Windows Update and I had a completed and successful install. Some time after that, Jolene mentioned that “Scan to network folder” from our HP printer wasn’t working and if I could take a look at it.

Six hours later I was ready to smash the desktop and the printer in short order. I considered peeing on the monitor for good measure. This note is to prevent the same problem from happening in the future.

Continue reading Windows 10: Turn on SMB v1 for clean installs (starting with 1709)

RDC, DPI, and You

I recently became the proud owner of a Lenovo Yoga X1. This replaced my generation Lenovo X1 Carbon, which is only being retired because of some wonky video connections on the mini-DP port. Fine box otherwise even after three years.

One of the new features of the Yoga X1 – and there have been a bunch I didn’t even know about, like the Wacom-based pen! – is the extremely high resolution display at 2560×1440. While I love the concept of having so many lines of resolution, the laptop still have a 14″-or so screen, which means you almost have to start messing around with the font size, aka DPI. Being able to change the DPI value has been in Windows for a while, like I think Windows 95 or maybe even Windows 3.1. For decades I’ve left it alone. You see, for DPI to be useful, applications have to support it. In more modern applications – think .NET 2.0 and newer – this Just Works but for older apps it’s one of those things developers were supposed to do but almost never bothered with. Like bidi text or help systems.

With modern boxes with uber-big resolutions, keeping the DPI at 100% is nearly impossible. I’ve run 1920×1080 on a 15″ display with DPI set to 100% but trying to do 2560×1440 on a 14″ display isn’t going to work. The worst part of this is how the DPI changes have been impacting my Remote Desktop Connections.

Continue reading RDC, DPI, and You

Windows 8: RSS-based Desktop Theme Fix

One of the things introduced with Windows Vista Ultimate was the notion of having RSS-based themes that would continuously update your background with new images from the Intertubes. They worked on Windows 7 but I noticed an issue when I tried to grab “Aqua Dynamic” from the Themes website: the theme was downloaded fine but the images were always blank. After looking around some sites, I noticed that the images are stored in a AppData directory which I had locally and it had images… but the folder in Windows 8 is hidden and system, which prevents themes from getting images!

Open a command prompt.

If you’ve installed the theme already, you need to get rid of the feed: delete the .feed-ms file that has your theme name in it at C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Feeds

Find the .theme file you want and double click it, which causes a dialog to pop up. Don’t press anything.

Now run: attrib -s -h “C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files”

Now select “Download Attachments” from the Apply Theme popup.

Enjoy the RSS-based goodness.

Windows 8 Tip: Initial List of Tips

It’s a little early for people to have Windows 8 at this point, but it’s been released to MSDN, so it’s fair game… and I’m in my third week of using the bits so I’ve got some tips.

One thing I’ve noticed that I like about Windows 8 is the new Start Menu Screen: it makes sense. Sure it’s different, but to me, it works. Another thing that I’ve only recently realized is that when they hit the Start button in Windows 7 (or Vista or XP) and the Start Menu opens, no matter how small or large the menu is, all of my focus is on that menu and the rest of the screen is wasted. Additionally, it’s a pretty solid customizable tool bar in it’s own right… think of this top level part of the Start Menu as the “most used” applications page… the bottom line is that I like it.

Onto the other tips…

Update: Serena has a similar list and calls out Start8 (which I also use but I have it launch the full Start menu) because it’s useful for remote sessions.
Continue reading Windows 8 Tip: Initial List of Tips

Variations On A Theme – aka GodMode

There’s been a bunch of press lately about the “discovered” GodMode that’s in Windows 7. Basically, this is neither new or God-like. The GodMode name was used by the person that “reported this discovery” but the truth is that the “new feature zOMGBBQPEWPEWPEW!!1” was originally introduced in Windows 95.

Basically, you create a new folder in Windows Explorer, you name it SomeFunName.{ShellFolderGUID-from-Registry} and that new folder will be a “shortcut” to whatever namespace you gave it. In the case of naming a folder GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} you end up with a folder named GodMode that opens to “all tasks” as is defined by that GUID. On my PC, I named the folder All Tasks.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} which named my folder “All Tasks”. Windows 95 used this same technology with fonts in the form of Fonts.{93412589-74D4-4E4E-AD0E-E0CB621440FD}

What is nice about the All Tasks folder for me is that I’m able to make shortcuts to any of the tasks there; I could put “Add or remove programs” on my desktop now… what it’s is either an Easter Egg or a newly hidden feature in Windows 7.

Nice thing about this is that I wanted to post the GUID so I don’t have to go dig it up for new machines!

Props to the Windows Team

I’ll go on record with this comment: Wow… that actually just worked.

Retiring my last Vista box didn’t go as smoothly as I thought it did. Windows 7 installed fine: every device I had in the thing was auto-supported… the machine was built in 2007 with all brand name parts, but even so… there’s usually a rogue driver that’s required on a repave. No, the reason I was up until 2:30 this morning was caused by something completely non-OS related…

One single password.
Continue reading Props to the Windows Team

Windows 7: Allowing Access to C$

After recently installing Windows 7, I found that I was unable to access the “default admin shares” for my local drives, namely \\ME\C$. I was able to see the machine on my local network, so I know that the firewall wasn’t the problem. If I shared out something explicitly, I could see that from other machines as well: File Sharing was turned on. On other networks, I know that I’ve been able to access the C$ share from other machines, so the functionality was still there, but likely just turned off.

From, I found a registry setting that would allow this. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System, add a new DWORD called LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy and set its value to 1 and reboot. Want to revert? Delete the key or set it 0.

I must have done this for Vista as well, but I don’t remember doing it… either way, it works. And this was the “last” box. All of my machines are Windows 7 64-bit including VM’s and Bootcamp partitions. My Lenovo S10 had to settle for the 32-bit version of Windows 7 because Atom didn’t like the x64 version. The only other OS I see daily is from a couple of servers which are Windows 2008 (and awaiting an R2 installation).

And so Vista slips away …as XP, 2000, NT, 98, 95, and 3.11 did before it.

Windows 7: How To Prepare A Thumb Drive

This is mostly for me, so that I don’t have to keep looking up the long winded discussion about why this works – I just need to remember the steps.

    Prep a USB thumb drive for booting

  1. list disk – look for the thumb drive
  2. select disk # – use the # of the thumb drive
  3. clean – wipe all disk information
  4. create partition primary – create a new partition
  5. active – set the partition active
  6. format fs=fat32 quick – quick format for FAT32
  7. assign – give it a drive letter

If you’re looking for the long winded discussions, use the search icon next to the title.

Vista: Registry Shell Namespace Extensions

CodePlex: The Windows Registry Shell Namespace Extension allows Windows Explorer to view and interact with the Windows Registry data via Explorer windows. It demonstrates existing Shell extensibility points like IShellFolder2 and SHCreateShellFolderView and also demonstrates new concepts in Vista including the property system, property schema extensibility, and content indexing via Protocol Handlers. This project is implemented using C++ and ATL.

This is pretty freakin’ cool… I just installed it – even though it’s beta it seems to be working no problem. Even shortcuts and Copy Path work with it…

Not for your casual computer user of course – if you are asking yourself “what’s the Registry” you want not part of this tool!