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  • App synonyms in Cortana search feature in Windows 10 that will make you smile!

    Posted on May 23rd, 2017 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    Ever wondered why the search feature in Windows 10 list the results as it does? Today I found a really interesting text file that shed more light on how some search results are listed.

    One of my favorite tools in Windows is “Resource Monitor“. I use it all the time, basically every day to figure out what is going on in Windows, most of the times at the disk activity tab and watching what is going on (if things are installing, if something is being downloaded or what log files things are written to etc).

    What I found today made me laugh and smile for quite some time. I found a text file containing app synonyms, and in there lies some explanation to why and how the search feature in Windows 10 lists search results as it does when searching for applications, apps and settings.

    The funny thing is that it lists all common misspelling of some common applications. For instance, did you know that you can do a search for “exell” and it will display “Excel 2016” in the search results? You can also type “npo” to find “Notepad“, or type “c prompt” that will list “command prompt”, or “exx” that will find “Internet Explorer” or if you search for “ie” and it will list “Edge”.

    The file where all these synonyms are gathered is named appssynonyms.txt and is located in C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Packages\ Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\ ConstraintIndex\Input_{3fe4e30f-3de5-44d2-b081-e763cc324698}

    This is just hilarious, and it made my day 😊 Now I know another reason why Microsoft need to collect whatever the user types (when telemetry is set to “full”); To gather more misspellings and intel for this synonyms list.

    Note: Also see settingssynonyms.txt in the same directory as the one above, where all aliases for finding control panels and settings are listed!

  • Roaming Outlook email signatures with UE-V

    Posted on September 24th, 2013 By Andreas Stenhall + 1 comment

    Today I held a presentation at the Swedish System Center User Group client day on topic Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) and its integration in ConfigMgr 2012 R2. Great to see such interest in UE-V! Afterwards, the most common question I got was “Does UE-V roam email signatures for Outlook?”. Well, the answer is yes, but there is a big “BUT”!

    UPDATE May 14th 2014: UE-V 2.1 (currently in beta) include a template fix for this for Swedish and Dutch but still there might be issues for other localized versions of Office. If you are still on UE-V 1.0 or 2.0 you find a UE-V template for roaming the Signature for Swedish Office at TechNet Gallery.

    UE-V does roam the email signature but you have to manually set the signature as default in Outlook options > Mail > Signatures when logging into another machine or after reinstalling your own machine. And, there is an issue if you are using a localized version of Office. First an example of how the Outlook email signature is actually roamed when switching to another machine, but note that you must choose to make the email signature “active” on the other machine.


    So this is in Office 2010 on a Windows 7 machine. Note that I have set this email signature to be active for new messages. 1980110714567


    And after logging onto a Windows 8.1 machine, the email signature did roam with me, but I as a user must make the email signature active by selecting it in the drop down list for new and/or replied or forwarded messages.

    Problems with the default templates for localized Office versions

    If you are running a localized version of Office you must manually update the UE-V templates to accomodate for localized folder names. The rule as specified for roaming the Outlook email signature in the UE-V template file MicrosoftOffice2010Win32.xml defines the following:

    <File>
    <Root>
    <EnvironmentVariable>APPDATA</EnvironmentVariable>
    </Root>
    <Path Recursive="true">Microsoft\Signatures</Path>
    </File>

    This will save and roam all files (email signatures) in the users %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Signatures folder. The problem is that on a machine with a localized Office version, the email signature folder located in C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft is not called “signatures” but instead localized to “signaturer” (as I am running a Swedish installation of Office).

    If you  have followed UE-V best practices and put your template files in a network share pointing that out using the UE-V GPO settings, you can just go ahead and edit the template file in the network location replacing “Signatures” with “Signaturer” in my example and the UE-V agents in your environment will by default pick up the new settings within 24 hours.

    This behavior is the default for both UE-V 1.0 (with SP1) as well as the coming UE-V 2.0 (which is now in beta). Note that changes might occur before UE-V 2.0 is released.

    UPDATE September 25th 2013: Microsoft has posted a KB article which explains more about why the mail signature is not set as default/active when roaming, see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2889499/en-us.

  • Busting a myth: AppLocker do not magically allow standard users to install applications or updates

    Posted on May 10th, 2012 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    The one most common misconception around AppLocker is the fact that it could be used to allow standard users to install stuff that in any normal case would require administrator privileges. This is absolutely 100% incorrect.

    What AppLocker does is set a number of rules on what can be run and executed on a machine. It is important to note that if you allow something to run or be executed via AppLocker rules the user will still need the appropriate privileges if the setup or application itself require administrative privileges at some point in time such as when doing automatic updating for instance.

  • HOW TO: Solve blue screens of death and freeze problems with Windows 7

    Posted on November 16th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    So participating in the TechNet forums as well as my own forum there seems to be a significant amount of people having problems with Windows 7 going blue screening and freezing on them. Here is a list of troubleshooting:

    • Faulty memory module. Blue screens if not caused by software are likely to be caused by bad memory. It is not unusual that a machine works perfect with Windows XP and then starts behaving badly when upgraded to Windows 7 due to changes in memory management. Use built in Windows Memory Diagnostics (on your Windows 7 machines press F8 before Windows starts to load and choose “Windows Memory Diagnostics”) to troubleshoot the memory modules.
    • Driver. Bad drivers are without doubt the most common cause for blue screens. Therefore update your drivers either by going to Windows Update or the hardware manufacturer’s web site. If no Windows 7 driver exists for the hardware go with the Windows Vista driver as good as all Vista drivers work with Windows 7.
    • BIOS. When having problems with hardware in any way and particularly blue screens I would strongly recommend a BIOS upgrade as that many times improve stability and compatibility. Also resetting the BIOS settings to the default is always a good idea.
    • Bad hard drive. Bad hard drives are sometimes causing blue screens. I recommend using Hitachi’s Drive Fitness Test, which can scan any brand of hard drives for errors. This tool can be found at http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm

    Remember that you can always find out the reason for the blue screen by analyzing the memory dump file which is generated when the system crashes. Read the guide for analyzing the dump files yourself.

    GUIDE: Troubleshooting and analyzing blue screens of death

  • HOW TO: Troubleshoot slow logons

    Posted on October 3rd, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    One fairly common problem with Windows client is slow logons and this kind of problem is one of the most difficult to troubleshoot. Microsoft recently posted a two part guide on how to troubleshoot slow logons. Some really good reading!

    Read more: So you have a slow logon…? (Part 1) (Part2)

  • When to troubleshoot blue screen crashes

    Posted on July 27th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    The other day I got an email from a blog reader which contained the information of a successful analyze of a memory dump file which is generated when an infamous blue screen of death occur. The reader wanted me to give him the solution or point him in the direction of a solution. This got me into thinking. When is it worth putting time on doing blue screen analyzes?

    The content of the crash dump is maybe not that relevant after all. What is more important is how often and when the blue screen of death occurs. If the crash occurred just once or very seldom and randomly I would say that it might not be worth finding out exactly what caused the crash. Keep in mind that a blue screen could indicate a hardware failure, although driver problems are the most common cause for crashes.

    However if the crashes occur often or at when doing specific tasks you have all the reasons in the world to get to the bottom of the problem. In these cases I recommend following the guide for troubleshooting blue screen crashes.

    An interesting thing to note about blue screens that start occurring after for instance upgrading the OS from Windows XP to Windows Vista or Windows 7 is that the new memory management in the later operating systems might reveal problems in the memory modules that did not show when using Windows XP.

    Finally, whenever having problem with blue screens of death I would recommend upgrading the machine BIOS. Often there are compatibility and stability fixes which solves problems with hardware which might be causing you the problems you are experiencing.

  • General quick fix for Windows Update problems

    Posted on July 5th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    Most problems with Windows Update can be solved by the simply renaming the folder SoftwareDistribution from the Windows directory. To be able to do so you are required to stop the service Automatic Updates (if you’re on Windows XP or Server 2003 or earlier) or the Windows Update service if you are on Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 and later.

    The SoftwareDistribution folder is automatically recreated when you start the service again. Bear in mind that you will lose the update history when performing this trick, something you can get back of course if you change the name of the SoftwareDistribution folder instead of just deleting it.

    Also keep in mind that deleting the SoftwareDistribution folder is for fixing problems with searching for updates or contacting a WSUS server for instance, you will not solve problems installing various hotfixes or updates using this method. To troubleshoot problems related to Windows Update or Automatic Updates look in the WindowsUpdate.log located in the root of thew Windows directory for clues. For problametic hotfix installations see the hotfix log file.

  • Hyper-V gadget for Windows Vista and Windows 7

    Posted on April 23rd, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    If you are using Hyper-V there is no way you won’t be using the Hyper-V gadget that is available and has been available for a long time for Windows Vista and now also Windows 7. The gadget lists all your virtual machines  and easily let you start, stop, shut down or save the virtual machines.

    Download the Hyper-V gadget

  • Create your own federated search providers in Windows 7

    Posted on April 6th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    In Windows 7 you can create and add your own federated search providers for use in Windows Explorer. A while ago I published a step-by-step guide on how you can build federated search for a SharePoint site or for your favorite web site. The article is available in its full (in Swedish) at tipsomvista.se.

  • Help improve app compatibility in Windows 7

    Posted on April 5th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    Microsoft is working more active than ever to improve application compatibility in Windows 7. Recently two Swedes announced Microsoft’s willingness to help improve application compatibility in general but also for non-English applications.

    First Jesper Holmberg, working with localization at Microsoft in Redmond, announced the face that Microsoft actively wants applications in non-English languages to test with Windows 7. Second Danwei Tran, a new IT evangelist at Microsoft Sweden, offered everybody to send emails to a specific address to report compatibility issues with applications. Microsoft will then contact the developers to see how they can resolve the problems, to everybody’s benefit.

    These two actions will of course make compatibility for Windows 7 superb, but never to forget, compatibility for Windows Vista will improve as well as a direct result of these actions.

    Just a final note, Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 got released yesterday, more about this later on.