Author: Andreas Stenhall

Vista slowness problem gets solution pre-SP1

Microsoft has just released a Knowledge Base article about the fact that Windows Vista systems using Folder Redirection are experiencing slowness’s of about 30 seconds when you do not have a connection to the network, i.e. are at home, traveling etc. The support article state that the system may be unresponsive when opening Windows Explorer and other applications. This problem has been haunting many users, including myself and it is nice to see a solution, although it should have been published a long time ago. Waiting for Service Pack 1 I strongly recommend this to anyone using Folder redirection and having laptop computers running Windows Vista.

A Windows Vista-based computer is frequently unresponsive for 30 seconds if the Documents folder is redirected to a shared folder, and the folder is made available offline

Slipstream the “new” Windows Update components

More than half a year ago Microsoft silently released updated Windows Update components. No official notice was made about this silent release until now, when Microsoft finally published a Knowledge Base article about it, providing download links. But hey, wait! The downloads have been available since the new components were released in mid August. That is because the new Windows Update components are automatically downloaded via Windows Update, and all files that are downloaded via Windows Update are specified with download paths in WindowsUpdate.log. You can always find the download links directly in the WindowsUpdate.log (located in %WINDIR%) if you look at what the file name requested is and then adding it to the base download path.

The benefits of downloading the new Windows Update components from here is that you can integrate the CAB files directly into the Windows Vista install.wim image. Here are the links to the Windows Update Components CAB files (please note that you need to integrate/slipstream all three files for each platform):

  • Windows Update Component ActiveX, x86 or x64.
  • Windows Update Component Aux, x86 or x64.
  • Windows Update Component Core, x86 or x64.

More information and download links for the EXE installers for Windows Vista and Windows XP can be found in the Microsoft Support KB article KB946928.

Microsoft vs Microsoftee opinions!

More than half a year ago I wrote about the Start menu in Windows, which was published as a short news article on the Swedish  TechWorld web site (a part of the International Data Group). A couple of days ago I got a notice from a blog reader that I am being accused, along with 8-9 million other totally innocent people referred to as “The Swedes”, for mistaking the words coming from blogger Raymond Chen from the Old New thing blog for Microsoft’s opinion. I do apologize for not mentioning Raymond by name in the article. I should of course have done that as he is the author of the article and the blog post I am referring to. But as I understand Raymond’s point, the fact that the original article is published within Microsoft’s web pages i.e. TechNet Magazine and MSDN cannot be anything else than (in)directly approved by Microsoft and therefore be considered as “Microsoft’s opinion”.

How to disable Vista UAC for certain applications only

As a follow up to my previous posts about application compatibility this support article from Microsoft came right to my attention. It is a step-by-step guide on how to make disable User Account Control prompts for certain applications only, without turning off UAC. The guide is called How to disable the User Account Control Prompt for certain applications, do not miss it!

The solution to 0xC004F013: Remove KB941649

Since the first build of Service Pack 1 beta was released I have had major problems installing it on our Vista Enterprise corporate image, with hotfixes, security update and drivers integrated. The problem has been that we have to install Service Pack 1 two times, the first time it will always fail with the error code 0xC004F013 but the second time SP1 would always install without any indication of error. Very annoying as SP1 takes some time to install and as we will be rolling out Vista in the organization it is totally unacceptable to have to install SP1 twice. And who knows what other side effects there might be?

Microsoft and I did some research and I first thought that a patch that is only available for order from Microsoft Support was the cause of the problem. After rebuilding the image without that patch the SP1 installation would still fail with 0xC004F013. Today, back at work after Christmas, I managed to figure out by reading the log files produced from package manager (pkmgr.exe) that KB941946 is the hotfix that causes this SP1 installation problem. And to be accurate it’s version 2 of the patch.

It would be very interesting to learn if anyone else who has a Vista image with patch KB941649-V2 integrated get this error 0xC004F0143 as well when installing Service Pack 1. The problem itself does not lie in SP1 and that is why it has been important to actually and finally get to the bottom of this!

Application compatibility in Windows Vista

Windows Vista contains a nice utility called Program Compatibility Assistant which tracks the applications which might have problems with running in Vista. When you start an application which is detected to have problems with Vista you will be presented with a box like the one below, and the necessary compatiblity settings are automatically applied. In some cases the Program Compatibility Assistant solution to a compatibility problem is to set it to run as in Windows XP with Service Pack 2. What the Program Compatibility Assistant do in my example case is to determine that an application need to start with elevated privileges when using User Account Control. Of course this is a problem when the user running the application is just a standard user as he or she cannot start and use the application.

Compatibility Assistant

Regardless of what the Program Compatibility Assistant do the compatibility settings are stored per user and application in the registry. Have a look at this registry key to manually remove or just to have a look at what compatibility settings have been applied on your computer: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers.

The solution to resolve the problem with running certain applications elevated can in many cases is resolved by turning off User Account Control as a last way out, if you have not already disabled it.

Deployment bug found in Vista RTM

Long time no see! I have lots of things to blog about, I just haven’t had the time to do so lately. Last week though I learnt  about a tricky NetBIOS computer naming bug when deploying Vista using Windows Deployment Services (WDS). As you might know  the NetBIOS computer names cannot be longer than 15 characters and when you in Windows Vista (and all previously released Windows versions as well) change the computer name to a name with more than 15 characters you will get a warning message 
that will look something like the screenshot attached to this post.

Computer name change

When using Windows Deployment Services with the new option “Name and approve” the client before pushing out the image to the client, you can as you might have figured name the computer object in Active Directory and then fully automate the  installation process. In the unattended answer file in the computer name section for deploying Vista we have entered %MACHINENAME% to make sure that the computer name is not randomly generated with a name like LH-XY45YHGKL and to make sure 
that we will not get any questions to answer when deploying automatically.

We have a computer naming standard which obviously sometimes makes the computer name more than 15 characters. The bug is when you name a computer longer than 15 characters during Name and approve in the WDS. Then the unattended installation will fail at the specialize pass, without any particular error message, probably because it wants to show the same error message dialogue as when we are in the GUI version of Vista.

Vista SP1 RC installation error 0x80070059 solution

I still do not know the exact cause of why Vista SP1 RC1 kept failing to install on one of my machines, resulting in error code 0x80070059. However I must thank the Microsoftee Darrell Gorter who lead me to the solution, the simple solution I might add. The solution was simply to copy the file winusb.inf from c:\Windows\system32\DriverStore\FileRepository\winusb.inf_0362a280\winusb.inf to c:\Windows\inf. After copying the winusb.inf file there the Vista SP1 RC1 installation completed with no error codes at all!

Special character in Swedish alphabet causes Vista SP1 RC1 bug

One of the Vista installation bugs (error code 0x80070059) I told you about the other day has gotten a somewhat strange explanation. It seems to be a Swedish alphabet bug with sort order/collation of the “V” and “W” characters. I did some research on the Swedish alphabet and found out an interesting thing. In the Swedish alphabet the letter “W” does not like most other languages alphabets sort after “V”. Instead “V” and “W” are equal and all sortings should be made with the second character, meaning “Windows” will sort before “Voice” and not like in the English language where “Voice” would sort before “Windows”. One learn something every day!

First impressions of Vista SP1 Release Candidate

Yesterday evening/night I tried to install the newly released Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Release Candidate on both my work laptop and my main computer at home. The really great parts are that Microsoft added a progress indicator, which after the second restart in an upgrade scenario now indicate at what stage the installation is. There is unfortunately bad news as well, the installation bug I told you about earlier remain. The bug is that every first installation of SP1 installation fail with the error code 0xC004F013, but the second time it always works to install. Another installation issue is that I cannot install SP1 on my main computer, where SP1 installation fail with error code 0x80070059. Let’s see what Microsoft have to say about this!