Configuration Manager OSD Fails with Error 80070002

When working in my lab environment to build a deadly Operating System Deployment Task Sequence, I did the usual thing of creating reference image task sequences and building reference images. After doing this I fired off the real deployment task sequence to test some PC deployments and I was running CMTrace within Windows PE to monitor the logs and the progress.

I noticed in the testing that the Windows 7 images I had created worked just fine but my Windows 8.1 images kept failing at the Apply Operating System step. The package would be downloaded okay from the Distribution Point but would hang for quite some time after downloading it and fail to start applying the image to the disk. The error code in the smsts.log was 80070002 and the message for the code was The system cannot find the file specified. (Error: 80070002; Source: Windows).

Given that the build and capture task sequences had completed without problems, I knew that it must have been something added or changed between the original source media and the reference image task sequence and the most likely culprit is the Install Software Updates steps in the build and capture task sequence.

I started searching online to see if anyone had produced a list of known bad updates as having to identify manually which of the 92 updates being applied during the reference image creation process would be a pain. Luckily, Microsoft have a support article for just this at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2894518. After reviewing the articles referenced on this page, it turned out that one of these updates was approved in one of my Software Update Groups and downloaded to one of my Deployment Packages. I unapproved and deleted the update and refreshed the package on the Distribution Points to flush it out.

My Windows 8.1 build and capture task sequences are running again as I type, fingers crossed this time working in the main deployment after capture.

UPDATE: Confirmed that removing the KBs referenced in the support article resolved the issue and here’s a screenshot just for proof. I will have loads of posts coming soon how this task sequence is built including sample files.

Windows 8.1 OSD Deployment

Windows XP End of Support

Yesterday was crunch day for many people out there still running Windows XP as Microsoft support for the aged operating system ended. Yesterday was significant being Patch Tuesday, the usual monthly release cycle of Windows Updates across the Microsoft operating system and product lines but for Windows XP, this is supposedly the last.

Some customers have already paid up multi-million pound deals to continue getting support for Windows XP beyond this date such as the UK government which agreed a £5.5 million deal with Microsoft to continue to receive support (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/microsoft/10741243/Government-pays-Microsoft-5.5m-to-extend-Windows-XP-support.html) but this only gives them an extra 12 months before the support ends once more. I think that people have left the Windows XP support issue to so late in the day to even give thought to that it’s costing them sums of money like this is a huge shame and a missed opportunity.

I work in IT and I’m a big evangelist for the latest and greatest from Microsoft so I’ve got a hugely biased view on the Windows XP support issue but this isn’t something that Microsoft have pulled out of the bag without notice. Microsoft have been warning people for quite some time that XP support would end and for an operating system first released in 2001, it’s had a fantastic run of 13 years but times have to move on as holding onto the past only hinders you long term.

You can see for yourself when Microsoft will be retiring support for applications and operating systems and the transition between phases of the support lifecycle at the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Index at http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifeselectindex.

Windows 7

Windows 7 is a great mainstay operating system and for 99% of applications currently running on Windows XP, you won’t have an issue so moving to Windows 7 not only keeps you in support but it will improve the effectiveness of your employees due to improvements and usability gains in Windows 7 over XP, not to mention the ability to support a fuller and richer set of hardware features and capabilities: 64-bit anyone? Windows 7 has extended support available until January 2020 which gives you another 6 years before you need to worry about the problem. Windows 7 has a pretty similar look and feel to Windows XP which means the operating system isn’t a culture shock to them.

Windows 8

Windows 8 has improved a lot since it’s initial release with Windows 8.1 and most recently with the Windows 8.1 Update 1, not that I personally had a problem with it prior to these update releases but we know that others did for certain. Sure, there are going to be application compatibility issues with applications coming forwards from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 but that’s to be expected really when you try and make a 13 year technology jump in one hit but unless applications are making specific calls into hooks in the operating system there still shouldn’t be any major issues aside from perhaps browser?

The user interface and experience is going to be daunting for some people sure but Microsoft are aiming to quash this with more and more updates to Windows 8.1 to improve keyboard and mouse control for classical desktop users and actually, the majority of people will love it once they become accustomed to it.

I moved by mum over to Windows 8 and later Windows 8.1 sometime last year. She works for a government sector group in the UK and is one of these stuck on Windows XP and Office 2003 people by day. She took to Windows 8.1 like a duck to water and loves it and that’s on a conventional laptop, not even a touch screen device to really get the most out of it.

Internet Explorer

One of the biggest hang ups for Windows XP that I see is Internet Explorer. As sad as I find it both as an IT Pro and someone who tries to write code for websites, people still use Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8 because some enterprise applications were designed for the ways that they uniquely rendered pages and moving upwards to Internet Explorer 11 seems like an unsurpassable mountain.  Old versions of Internet Explorer not only potentially harm the user experience because of limited or no support for modern Internet standards but also for security because the older browsers can be more susceptible to attacks through exploits which are often protected against either in more modern software or even at a hardware level thanks to improvements in technologies like Intel Data Execution Protection (DEP).

I’m aware of one organisation who is deploying Google Chrome to allow them to use a new HTML5 web application instead of upgrading from Internet Explorer 8.

Enterprise Mode in Internet Explorer 11 with the Windows 8.1 Update 1 release is designed to try and deal with this by allowing Internet Explorer to render pages in a manner consistent with older versions of Internet Explorer and we can control all of these settings as an administrator with Group Policy.

Group Policy Enterprise Mode

Office 2003

Yes, some people do still use. There are so many features, improvements and optimizations in every version of Office since 2003 that people working with Office 2003 must feel like they are being left out to pasture. I think if I had to go back to working with Windows XP and Office 2003 that a part of me would actually die. It’s even just the little things that make all the difference like Flash Fill in Excel 2013, one of my personal favourites.

If anyone has ever send you an Office 2003 format document such as a .doc and you are using Office 2010 for example, open that file, and save a copy of it as a .docx and check the file size difference. The XML file formats are so much smaller that if you were to convert all of a businesses existing documents to the XML formats, I’m pretty confident that you could reduce your storage growth expenditure for the forthcoming financial year paying for a large part of your Windows operating system upgrade project.

Upgrade Easily

Moving to later versions of Windows need not be as hard as some people fear either. System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) for example can be used with User State Migration Toolkit (USMT) to migrate a machine, applications and all of the users data and settings from a Windows XP machine to a Windows 7 machine using an automated task sequence process requiring no user input. You could even deliver it as a self-service offering for end-users to upgrade when its convenient to them.

Moving off Windows XP could even be the driver you need to review your technology approach and spur you to start looking at other options like VDI or tablet devices?

Try It You Might Like It

I guess what I’m getting at is that I work in IT, I deal with enterprises all day long and I understand the challenge but I still don’t quite understand how some people have managed to hang on to Windows XP for quite so long especially with the rise of the millennial in the workplace. These new workers are becoming more demanding of enterprise IT to provide technology experiences not only with more synergy to experiences they are used to in the home but also with the adoption of BYOD. Yes, BYOD adoption rates are questionable in both volumes according to who your source is and what exactly do you define as BYOD but there is no denying it is happens to varying extents.

I believe that there are a lot of organisations out there who have a perceived Windows XP problem because that’s what they think is the case through fear and uncertainty (FUD) spread through the media about new versions of Windows but I ask have you actually tried Windows 7 or Windows 8.1? Have you actually built out a device with the operating system and tested all of your applications? What is the cost to replace one or two applications that don’t upgrade quite right or the cost to revamp a web interface with a web developer for a couple of weeks verses paying large sums of money for special support arrangements for Windows XP with Microsoft, something which doesn’t actually help you solve the problem but only prolongs it’s effects upon you?

Build 2014 Day 1 News

Before I get into the meat, I need to point out that I wasn’t at Build. This post is based on information from the live blogs, news and tweets taken from those at the event.

If you are a Microsoft fan, this was a really big week for you. The Build conference always gets all the new toys (as do the attendees to pay back their ticket prices).

Last week Office for iPad was announced and released which was amazing for the Apple community but yesterday, Microsoft really rolled it’s sleeves up and delivered the goods for Windows and Microsoft users. The new features, updates and announcements are wide sweeping and as the updates and products are released, more will no doubt be learnt.

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update

Let’s get the biggest one out of the way first. The Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1 will officially be launched on April 8th worldwide. I’ve been lucky enough to be running this update for about three weeks now since the .msu files accidently leaked onto the Windows Update Catalogue and my desktop and Surface are already running it. On the Surface, the impact is minimal but on the desktop with a mouse, it makes a big difference and it feels much nicer.

If you are a TechNet or an MSDN subscriber, the good news is that you can already download the updates. The updates are available for download as either a standalone update to apply to an existing Windows installation or as a complete Windows installation media with the update slipstreamed in. The update is in essence, a service pack too meaning that it includes all of the previously released updates for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 and includes the optional updates most people never bother to install and even some which Microsoft didn’t release previously, those which fall under the bug fixes and performance improvements category.

Windows 8.1 Update MSDN

For those of you who don’t know already, the update is aimed at improving Windows 8.1 functionality for desktop users with options to pin full screen immersive Apps to the taskbar, minimize and close Apps with a fly out title bar that appears when you hover at the top of an App. Additionally, there are now Power and Search buttons on the Start screen to save people who aren’t familiar with Windows 8.1 from trying to find the Charm bar.

The update also includes the new Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer which is aimed at improving compatibility with Internet Explorer 11 and existing Line of Business applications, most of which will have been designed around existing versions of Internet Explorer like 6, 7 and 8. There is also an update for the server SKU to Active Directory for users with Office 365 to allow users to sign in to Remote Desktop Services sessions using their Office 365 email address.

Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 Future Update Preview

Insight into a future update for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 were shown yesterday at Build including a demo of a hybrid Start Menu to further help desktop users. This hybrid looks on face value feels like the classic Start Menu but has an additional column on the right allowing you to pin Live Tiles to it and have the tiles update like they do on the normal Start Screen in Windows 8.1.

Personally, I like the Start Screen but I can see this is going to be a real winner for enterprise customers who are either still relying on Windows XP looking to get out of the support retirement hole they are currently in or for customers on Windows 7 looking to upgrade but aren’t quite convinced on the interface of Windows 8.1 right now.

This future update demo also showed how in the future, we will be able to have immersive Apps running in windowed mode further adding to the look and feel more comfortable for enterprises to deploy.

 Windows Phone 8.1

The Windows Phone 8.1 update has been much the talk of the blogosphere since early information about it started to leak. The main talking point is the Cortana digital voice assistant which is Microsoft’s answer to Siri. Sadly, the demo didn’t go particularly well for Joe Belfiore on stage but the premise is really there. In my current mindset, I can’t really see me finding huge value in Cortana but I will wait until I get my hands on it in two months when the update is released to tell for sure. Regardless of my thoughts, Cortana has a myriad of features allowing to you to interact with and control not only native operating system functions but also with third-party apps, something will Belfiore demonstrated on stage.

Aside from Cortana, there is now going to be support for VPN and S/MIME digitally signed email in Windows Phone 8.1. I will certainly be trying out the VPN capability back to my home as I’m interested to see if I can use the VPN tunnel as the default gateway which will then allow me to avail of my OpenDNS DNS protections at home on the move and mobile. Other improvements include the much asked for Action Center which will be the notification hub for Windows Phone, the ability to switch mid-call between GSM voice and Skype to enable video calling, similar to that of FaceTime and also improved controls for enabling and disabling phone features such as WiFi, Bluetooth, Flight Mode and the volume controls. There is also a new developer API to allow apps to customise the lock screen is ways we haven’t been able to do previously.

With respect to the VPN and S/MIME support, I will be interested to see and hear if Windows Intune gets an update to allow administrators to deploy these features over the air (OTA) and then have the settings enforced on the device so that the user of the handset can’t override or disable the VPN or email signing.

I’m a huge Windows Phone fan and I’ve been using it since day dot. The evolution of the platform has been exciting to be a part of and I’m really looking forward to this Windows Phone 8.1 update.

New Lumia’s

Stephen Elop came out on stage to present some new Lumia handsets, some of which may be available to buy with Windows Phone 8.1 before the update is available to existing devices which is interesting to note. The new Lumia 930 is the update to the phone I have right now, the Lumia 925.

The Lumia 930 looks amazing and is a GSM take on the Lumia Icon currently available on Verizon in the US. To say I’m pretty upset that I’ve got another 18 months on my mobile contract with Vodafone before I can look at another Lumia as a free handset upgrade is an understatement. I may have to sell one of my children so that I can get a Lumia 930 SIM free.

A couple of other Lumia’s were shown however these are low end devices aimed more at the developing markets than the hyper-consumer US and EU markets where the 930 sits.

Universal Apps

This one is absolutely massive, if the developer community pull together and work on it properly. The premise is simple. A single app which you can purchase from the store would be available across Windows Phone, Windows 8.1 supporting both Touch and Desktop modes and Xbox One.

Whether you need to pay for access to each platform separately is up to the application developer to decide but the fact that in the future, we could see Apps that we all use and love working in harmony across all of our devices is what you can clearly see Microsoft have been working towards.

With the power of ‘the cloud’ the App developers can allow the synchronisation of content and settings between all of these devices so that the user experience is consistent. Tweaks in Visual Studio are going to allow developers to provide modified interfaces per device so that the experience suits the form factor of your device best too.

Universal Apps is something which iOS specifically has struggled with across iPad and iPhone so if Microsoft and the developer community can make this work right, I think this is going to be a massive boost for the Microsoft eco-system and hopefully should see a lot more Apps being written for the platforms because developers can get the biggest bang for their buck (exposure and revenue vs. time spent coding) by having the App available across a wide range of devices.

Office for Touch

Many people, including myself, took to Twitter to have a bit of a moan about the fact that Office for iPad was released last week and that is looks great. The problem of course is that we still don’t have a dedicated touch version of Office for Windows to really take advantage of devices like the Surface. Microsoft answered these to demo a preview version of Office for Touch which isn’t even at the beta stage yet. For a set of Apps which aren’t even at the beta stage yet, it looked impressive so the finished product should hopefully blow us all away. The interfaces were clean and reminiscent of the interface shown last week with Office for iPad.

Judging by how good the preview version of the Apps looked, I’ve got my fingers crossed for an Autumn (Fall) release but nothing was said or committed with regard to shipping of this product. Either way, it can’t come soon enough as although the Touch Mode in Office 2013 is okay, all it really does is space out the icons some to make it easier for me to fat finger the icons and a fully touch oriented version of Office for Windows would make the experience on devices like the Surface a real leader.

Conclusion

There is a lot in the pipeline for Windows and Microsoft. New products, company reorganisations and announcements, this is going to be an exciting year to be a fan of and a worker in the Microsoft space. All I can say on the subject is Prepare for Titan Fall.

Roaming Profiles and Windows 8.1 SkyDrive App

When I updated my PC sometime ago from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, I encountered an issue where the SkyDrive app and all of the operating system SkyDrive integration ceased to work. It took me quite some time to get to the bottom of it, but the issue stems from the fact that I use a roaming profile, stored on my Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2 server to allow me to get a consistent experience across my home devices.

The cause of the issue was a multiple factor one but it stems from the fact that the SkyDrive app in Windows 8.1 makes assumptions about the current configuration of your PC rather than provisioning everything properly. If you’ve got issues with the SkyDrive app or integration, check the following steps and hopefully this will resolve your issues too.

Force Close the SkyDrive App

Before doing anything else, we need to force the SkyDrive app to close. Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. In the running application list in Task Manager, if SkyDrive is shown, right-click it and select the End Task option to forcibly close it completely.

Updating Group Policy

If you are using group policy to control your roaming profiles then this is the first place to check. I have been making useof the Exclude directories in roaming profile User Policy setting to prevent large folders which I’m happy to remain only on my primary computer from roaming onto my other secondary devices.

Group Policy Exclude Directories in Roaming Profile

I use this policy setting to exclude the Downloads, Music, Videos and Pictures directories from roaming into the profile. The reason for this is that I also do not use Folder Redirection for these folders. As the folders are not redirected, Windows will try to by default include them in the roaming profile and with ~30GB of family pictures, that would make for one seriously large profile. Specify multiple folders in this setting by separating them with a semi-colon. I’ve also added the legacy Windows XP folder names here for backward compatibility.

When you use the SkyDrive app in Windows 8.1, it creates a folder in your profile called SkyDrive. This folder will by default attempt to become part of your roaming profile which we obviously don’t want to happen. I’ve also added the folder Dropbox to this exclusion in the event that anyone else in my household tries to use Dropbox and to save their profile from the pain.

My Exclude directories in roaming profile setting is now “Downloads;My Music;Music;My Pictures;Pictures;My Videos;Videos;Dropbox;Skydrive” but your values for this may well vary.

Delete Old SkyDrive Folders from the Profile

When the SkyDrive app has a rough time of it, it creates additional directories. The primary directory is called SkyDrive but failed attempts to sync end up in directories named SkyDrive (x).old where X denotes an ever incrementing number. I had about 50 of these. Delete the SkyDrive directory and any SkyDrive (x).old directories.

Check the SkyDrive UserFolder Registry Key

SkyDrive App Registry Settings

The SkyDrive app uses a registry key to determine the folder in use for syncing and this value needs to be correct otherwise nothing will ever sync. Open regedit and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftSkyDrive. Here you will find a REG_SZ string value called UserFolder. The path here should match the folder path to your user profile. You can cross check this either by browsing the %SystemDrive%Users path or to the %UserProfile% path.

Set the SkyDrive App Attribute in the Registry

This, the final part is actually the most pivotal. The SkyDrive app requires the presence of a registry key to function but the team at Microsoft who made the app didn’t think that someone might be logging onto the PC with a profile built from a previous version of Windows and therefore the required key wouldn’t exist. Ideally the app should check and if this key doesn’t exist, it should create it itself.

Open regedit and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerCLSID{8E74D236-7F35-4720-B138-1FED0B85EA75}ShellFolder. In this key, right-click in the main area and select New followed by DWORD (32-bit) Value.

SkyDrive App Shell Folder Registry

Name the DWORD value Attributes and set it’s value to 0 (zero).

Launch the SkyDrive App

Once you’ve done all the above, launch the SkyDrive app from the Start screen in Windows 8.1. If you have a lot of files in SkyDrive, you will need to be pretty patient and even if you only have a handful of files, still don’t be too impatient as the app is essentially provisioning for the first time now. After a short delay, you should see all your files and folders appear. Using Windows Explorer at the desktop, you will also now see your SkyDrive files start to sync into the %UserProfile%SkyDrive folder.

SkyDrive App Syncing

KMS Activating Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2

With each new release of Windows client and server operating systems nowadays, comes an update required to allow your on premise KMS host to activate those new operating system servers and clients using volume license activation.

After the general availability on Windows 8.1 Enterprise client and Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft released the update for KMS host for Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 and 2012 to allow these down level operating systems to activate the latest and greatest.

You can get the download for the update from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2885698. Installation of the update requires a KMS Host restart and you will need to obtain a new KMS Host key from your Microsoft Volume License Center account. Instructions for applying the new key with slmgr.vbs is given on the link above.

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 use the KMS Client key by default after installation so you shouldn’t need to change anything to get your clients activated, but in case you need them, the KMS Client keys for all operating systems supporting KMS are available from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867.aspx.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials Folder Redirection on Windows 8.1

As all good IT Pros have done, I’ve upgraded my home client computers from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. You have upgraded your machines to Windows 8.1 right?

As I frequently proclaim and preach on here, I run Windows Server 2012 Essentials on my home network, acting as my DNS Server, DHCP Server in addition to the out of the box features that you can get from Windows Server 2012 Essentials like roaming profiles, folder redirection, automated computer backups and network file sharing (all of which I use).

When I was building out a test environment this week to practice how I might migrate from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials without the benefit of a second server with 19TB of available storage to hand (how many homes do have 19TB of storage let alone a spare 19TB) I was experiencing an issue.

As part of my testing, I built a Windows 8.1 Pro virtual machine to simulate a desktop or laptop client computer. I built a Windows Server 2012 Essentials server as a second virtual machine on which I recreated my group policy settings and a mock up of my Storage Pool and Storage Spaces on my production server. After installing the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Connector on the Windows 8.1 client and logging in for the first time as a user configured to use roaming profile and folder redirection, I noticed that the roaming profile was working but the folder redirection was not.

I spent a while pouring through event logs on the client wondering why folder redirection wasn’t working, looking at GPMC (Group Policy Management Console) wondering if I’d done something silly like moved a link on a GPO preventing it from working until the penny dropped. Windows Server 2012 Essentials applies a WMI Filter named SBS Group Policy WMI Filter to the SBS Group Policy Folder Redirection GPO which is created when you implement Group Policy via the Server Dashboard.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials Original WMI Filter

This WMI Filter is setup as SELECT * FROM Win32_OperatingSystem WHERE (Version LIKE “6.1%” or Version LIKE “6.2%”) AND ProductType = “1”. For those who are now also dropping the penny or those who can’t make head nor tail of a WMI Filter, Windows 8.1 increments the operating system version number from 6.2 (Windows 8) to 6.3 (Windows 8.1), therefore the GPO isn’t applying to any of the Windows 8.1 machines on my network because this filter limits the scope of the Group Policy Object to explicitly Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems.

The solution to making this work is pretty simple in that we just need to update the WMI Filter so that it includes Windows 8.1 as we know that basic features like roaming profiles and folder redirection are going to work so I’m not worried about something breaking here.

I’ve decided to change my WMI Filter to include operating systems greater than or equal to Windows 7 rather than add another or statement to include Windows 8.1 For me, the WMI Filter now reads SELECT * FROM Win32_OperatingSystem WHERE (Version >= “6.1%”) AND ProductType = “1”.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials New WMI Filter

 

After making the changes and running a gpupdate command on a Windows 8.1 client computer, the group policy magically springs back into life and things start working. Firstly, I’m amazed that I haven’t noticed this being a problem on my home clients which I guess is a testament to my gigabit throughout home network pushing the files directly back to the server rather than caching them locally with Offline Folders first. Secondly, I’m surprised that this hasn’t been updated with a patch or update to Windows Server 2012 Essentials but perhaps this is a cattle prod for customers to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials?

November 2013 Rollup Update for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2

Microsoft have today released KB2887595 which is a 199.7 MB rollup update for Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 RT and Windows Server 2012 R2.

You can see the release notes for the update and the updates included within it at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2887595. The update looks tasty including one update which sounds of interest for users of roaming profiles which addresses incompatibility issues between profiles initially created on earlier versions of Windows (KB 2890783 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2890783).

Although not explicitly mentioned in the notes, it will be interesting to see if the hang issues some people (including myself) have been experiencing with Internet Explorer 11 are resolved?

The Case of the Missing Windows 8.1 Right-Click Shortcuts

When Windows 8.1 first went RTM on TechNet, I downloaded it in a heartbeat and updated my home desktop machine from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 8.1 Pro. A problem that’s been plaguing me since the upgrade but I’ve not had time to look into was that my right-click shortcuts menu (Win+X keyboard shortcut) has been missing. Right-clicking in the bottom left to activate the menu just did nothing. This is what the menu should look like but on my machine it was as if I haven’t even clicked the mouse. Pressing Win+X did nothing either.

Windows 8.1 Start Menu Right-Click

With a little time to look at this today, and with a little help from the community, I found the cause and the resolution.

This shortcut menu is driven by items located in a folder called WinX in your user profile, organised into sub-folders to make up the groups that appear in the menu. When I looked in my user profile for the path %LocalAppData%MicrosoftWindowsWinX, the folder which contains the data for this menu, it wasn’t there. I double and triple checked that I had show hidden files and system files enabled which I did but the folder just didn’t exist which went a long way to explain why I didn’t get the menu.

The solution for me was to break into the default user profile from C:UsersDefault and then navigate the default profile to AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindows and copy the WinX folder into my own profile. Doing this alone doesn’t fix the issue right away though as you need to log out of the machine and in again as this folder appears to be read at login to build the Windows Explorer interface.

To make this easier for people out there, I’ve zipped up the WinX folder default state and uploaded it to my SkyDrive account which you can download from here. Just extract this .zip file into your %LocalAppData%MicrosoftWindows folder if you have this issue also and Bob’s your uncle.

 

Windows 8.1 GA Update and Update Rollup Release

I got home from the second day of my PRINCE2 training today and fired up my desktop PC from sleep and tried to log in to Windows 8.1. My home domain user account was still logged in from the previous night with a locked session so I unlocked it however it hung on the please wait message. After a few minutes, I’d had enough to gave the PC the finger of death and restarted it.

When it booted back up, I saw the Configuring Windows Updates message appear. I’ve got an Intel 520 Series SSD so I normally don’t have to wait at all for things like Windows Updates being that the overall boot time for the PC from a cold start is about 15 seconds. On this occasion though, the PC reboot at least three or four times with the Configuring Windows Updates message each time.

I was worried initially that I’d got myself a bad update download and I was going to be stuck in a reboot update loop (not that I’ve seen this happen for a long time) but eventually the machine came back to the login screen as normal. Once I got logged in, I checked the update history for Windows Update and the PC had prepared and downloaded two major updates last night. The first being Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 General Availability Update Rollup, KB2883200 and the second being Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update Rollup: October 2013, KB2884846.

Looking at the file information in both of these updates, they look like pretty substantial updates which you’re obviously going to want to apply but be patient. With updates of this size and type, you could end up seeing your PC reboot multiple times like I did. Have faith – It’s all working just fine.

If you’re deploying these updates at work or in your enterprise, make sure you’re users know to expect the multiple reboots otherwise your helpdesk team might not like you the next day.