August 31st, 2019 by Mike Fulton
Categories: Microsoft, Windows

Microsoft has released build 18970.1005 of Windows 10. This what they call a features update, as opposed to a “bug fix and security patch” update.

The two big changes here are an updated UI for tablet devices, and a change to the Windows Reset feature that allows you to download Windows files instead of using a local recovery partition on your hard drive.

These are worthwhile updates, but they’re not really something many people will get too excited about. And that got me thinking…

We haven’t really heard much about what’s coming after Windows 10. What and when is the next big version of Windows?

Several major versions of Windows ago, Microsoft was doing press previews of new features they were working on. This was a year or two before the new version in question was released, and when it did come out, many of hose new features were nowhere to be found. I presume they either couldn’t get them working like they wanted, or else they simply decided they weren’t the great idea that they first seemed to be.

Here Are Things Microsoft Needs To Fix, And New Fefatures They Need to Add

Cleanup Desktop Clutter — The problem of desktop clutter goes back to the earliest days of the GUI. If you let users put unlimited numbers of icons anywhere they want on the desktop, that’s exactly what they’ll do.

I’m not saying users shouldn’t be allowed to do that soft of thing, but it’d be nice if there were better tools for dealing with it when it gets out of hand.

When I was a System Admin, I couldn’t help noticing how messy and cluttered some people’s desktops were. A few here and there were neat and clean but they were far outnumbered by the cluttered ones.

Aside from the aesthetic question, the main problem here is that the mess makes it hard to find specific items. It’s like playing a less fun version of Where’s Waldo.

Microsoft needs to come up with a way of organizing t his mess, even if it’s a temporary while-you–look-at-it fix.

My approach would be something like, Control-Click on an icon and it fades out or hides all other types of file. Like if you Control-Clicked on a PDF file, it would fade out all other file types like JPEG, TTXT, XLSX, etc. Hit the ESC key and the files unhide or fade back in.

File System Metadata

One thing Mac users have enjoyed pretty m much forever is the ability to use file system metadata. The Finder allows them to add custom notes to each file, assign files to categories and so forth. The Mac implementation of this idea is fairly simple but eyry, very useful.

This sort of thing is decades overdue for Windows users and let’s take things a step or five further than what the Mac does, just so you can say you didn’t copy it, if for no other reason.

  • Add notes to each file or folder
  • Assign each file or folder to one or more categories
  • Assign tags to each file or folder
  • Search by any of these

Last but not least, these things need to work regardless of the underlying file system (i.e. NT FS, FAT32, EXFAT, etc.) and the metadata has to move with the file regardless of what tool might be used to move or copy a file.

I didn’t say it was going to be easy.

Improved Start Menu Editor

It took a fair amount of trial and error but I really like the Start Menu as it currently stands. But it’s a pain in the ass to customize so many users don’t even bother. Microsoft needs to come up with a better option. This should include:

  • Method(s) to select multiple items – shift click, control-click, rubber band selection
  • Resize all items in current selection
  • Option to Rename A Start Menu item

Finish Moving Stuff To The Settings Panel

Once upon a time we had the Control Panel: a unified place to access various settings and system options. This worked pretty well but it wasn’t always as user friendly as one might like, so Microsoft came up with the Settings window starting in Windows 8. This was essentially the same basic idea of the Control Panel but redone using the UI conventions of Windows 8. However, not everything in the Control Panel was to be found in the Settings panel. In fact in many cases the Settings Panel simply had links or buttons that led to the original Control Panel items. Over time, the Settings Panel has been updated so that the original Control Panel items are used less and less, but plenty of them are still there.

Microsoft needs to finish this migration.

Update The Damn Command Prompt Already!

The Command Prompt, s text-based command line shell, isn’t going away any time soon, and that’s good as it’s a useful tool. However, the Command Prompt is essentially unchanged in the last 40 (holy freakin’ crap!!!!!!!) years. That’s not so good. T here are several minor updates that are long overdue.

Better Editing — You can mark a block and cut or copy it, but it’s a pain in the ass. This needs to work better.

Change Font Options — You can change font settings, but it’s limited nd again, a pain in the ass.

Tear Down The Text/GUI wall — A text-based command shell can still have some GUI mixed in. Fixing the editing functions would be a step towards this, but there’s more t hat can be done.

One of the things I’ve always hated about text-based command shells is navigating drives and folders and doing thigs like entering long filenames for something several folder levels deep. I Can’t think of a single reason why one couldn’t have a toolbar button that brings up a GUI for navigating to a drive and folder. Another button could lead to a GUI file selector. None of this would prevent you from typing in things the old-fashioned way but now you’d have options.

History Browser — How about a op-up window that lets you view your command history? Yes, you can already use the up and down arrow keys, but it’s easy to lose track of things with that setup.

Update T he Task Bar

The Task Bar hasn’t changed much in quite awhile but there are some updates I’d like to see.

Sizeable Icons — I wat a slider that goes from teeny tiny to way too feakin’ big.

Icon Stacks — Or maybe you’d call this Icon folders. Basically, the ability to have an icon that leads to other icons. I could have a “Games” icon that leads me to icons for individual games.

I keep seeing posts on Facebook and stories on websites about how Microsoft Windows 10 is getting installed on people’s system without their permission.

Nope. Wrong. Ain’t happening.

You may have heard that Microsoft lost a lawsuit about this, or that they were “fined” $10000 over it.

Nope. Wrong. Didn’t happen.

Yes, there was a lawsuit. Microsoft was sued by a California real estate agent in over this and settled out of court for $10k. They didn’t lose the suit in court, and there was no fine.

The bottom line is, if Windows 10 is getting installed on your system, then it’s absolutely because you gave permission. The problem is that people don’t pay attention and that granting that permission may have already happened long before the upgrade actually happened.

The Windows 10 “Update”

A lot of the controversy here is because before the upgrade actually takes place, Windows shows the user a message, like this:

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If you actually bother to read it, the message is very clear. The Windows 10 upgrade is already scheduled to occur on the date shown. This update is scheduled automatically because of the Windows Update settings on that machine. Settings which you, at some point, had to say “yes” to.

But I Closed The Window Without Clicking Upgrade!

Some people are making the argument that clicking the red “X” at the top right corner should close the window without taking any action.

The problem with that argument is that’s EXACTLY what it does. The upgrade is ALREADY scheduled and simply closing the window doesn’t UNSCHEDULE it. In fact, the window clearly gives you an option to CANCEL the upgrade.

It’s not really Microsoft’s fault if you can’t be bothered to read the message and click the link to cancel if you don’t want to upgrade. The problem really boils down to the fact that some people are just too lazy to read a few lines of text.

The real estate agent who brought forth the lawsuit claimed to “had never heard of Windows 10” so it seems pretty obvious we’re not really dealing with a power user here. In fact, it’s rather hard to take such a claim seriously given the amount of media coverage each new version of Windows sees.

Her complaint was that the upgrade “rendered her computer unusable”. However, that’s as much detail as we get about her computer. There’s been nothing in any version of this story to indicate that there was actually any genuine problem after the upgrade. My guess is that the upgrade went perfectly fine, and that she was simply confused by the different colors and menu choices.

Not Microsoft’s Fault, But They Could Have Done Better

Arguably, Microsoft should have realized that people are lazy and that many wouldn’t read the message. And clearly, this real estate agent isn’t a particularly advanced user. When you combine these things, it’s practically guaranteed that there will be problems.

With that in mind, it’s probably a mistake for Microsoft to install the upgrade without any last-minute “Yes, please do it now” button, and in fact they’ve changed things so that the upgrade is not scheduled to happen automatically. Now the window comes up and gives you the option to upgrade, rather than giving you the chance to cancel an already-scheduled upgrade.

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In an earlier article (Visual Studio Source Control With Git & Visual Studio Online) we discussed how to add an existing Visual Studio to source control using Git, including syncing with a remote Git repository on Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online website.

While perhaps not as common a choice as Dreamweaver or some other tools, one can use Visual Studio to manage non-ASP.NET website projects. One reason you might want to do this is to take advantage of Visual Studio’s built-in source control features. Dreamweaver has some basic source control features as well but relies more on external tools to manage everything. There are advantages and trade-offs either way, so it really kind of comes down to personal preference.

I recently decided to create VS projects to manage some WordPress plugins and themes, and I discovered that the process for getting everything going with Git and Visual Studio Online is a bit different and not as straightforward as one might like.

Install The Git Command Line Tools

Once again, since we may have some new people in the audience, before we do anything else, let’s make sure the Git command line tools are installed. Go to the View menu and select the Team Explorer item near the top. This will open the Team Explorer view if it’s not already open. Find that window and click the Home icon from the icons at the top, then click Settings in the next screen.

Once you’re in the Settings screen, near the bottom there should be a section labeled Git, and one of the links underneath it should be Install 3rd Party Tools. Click that and follow the prompts.

How To Git ‘er Done

There are many possible variations on the whole process that will work, but there are also some things that won’t work as you might expect if you have been using source control with ASP.NET web projects or non-web projects. Through trial and error, the method presented here seems to be the easiest and quickest method I’ve found.

You’ll want to start with an empty workspace in Visual Studio, no open project or solution.

This method starts by creating a local repository. Go to the Team Explorer window (select it from the View menu if it’s not already open), then to the Connect section by clicking on the electrical plug icon, or by clicking on the section title underneath the icon bar, which will bring up a menu with choices for the different pages of the source control management.

008

Once you’re on the Connect page, then under Local Git Repositories, click “New” and then select the path where your project will be located. At this point that should be an empty directory.

If you want to use an existing directory with files already in it, move them to a temporary location for now, because Git won’t allow you to create a new repository in a directory that already has files in it. (No, I dunno why. Seems dumb to me too, but I’d imagine there’s some reason that hasn’t yet occured to me.)

Once you have the path selected, click the Create button.

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Now that the Git repository has been created, make sure it’s selected by double-clicking it in the list.

If you had moved the files from the specified directory out to a temporary location, now is the time to move them back. If it’s an empty project so far, then I recommend creating a simple text file named something like {project}.txt (with your project name) so that we can add it to the repository and kickstart things.

Now go to the File menu and choose Open->Website. Specify the same folder where you created the new Git repository. You should get a new solution with a single project/website listed, like this:

002

At this point, you should save your project. Select “Close Solution” from the “File” menu. You’ll get a message asking if you want to save. Save the solution file to the same folder where you created the new Git repository. You’ll probably want to also set the solution filename to “{project}.sln” or something else that makes more sense than “localhost_42341” or whatever other random name was created by Visual Studio.

Saving the solution file to the repository folder is important. If you save to a different folder, then the solution file itself won’t be able to be added to the source control project. That would be bad.

Once the solution has been saved and closed, reopen it. In the Solution Explorer, note the little plus signs next to the filenames. This indicates that the file will be added to source control with the next commit operation. However, since we just added an entire project, there may be files in the list that we didn’t want to include, so we’ll want to review everything and remove anything we don’t want to include.

Go to the Team Explorer window again, and click where it says “Connect”. A popup menu will appear. Select “Changes“.

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At this point you’ll see that the “Included Changes” section includes all of the files in the project directory. However, there may be files that you do not want included in source control for one reason or another. Review the list of files and if you see anything that should not be included, click on it and drag it down to the “Untracked Files” section at the bottom. You can use control-click or shift-click to select multiple items at once before dragging them.

Now we’re ready to make our first commit to the repository. Scroll back to the top of the window and click in the yellow edit box where it says “Enter a commit message”. Enter something relevant like “Initial check-in of project”.

004

Once you’ve entered your message, click the “Commit” button. If all goes properly, you’ll get a message like “Commit eeaa0e65 created locally. Sync to share your changes with the server.

Before we can sync, we need to specify the remote repository with which we’ll be syncing. If you haven’t already created the project on Visual Studio Online, now is the time. Refer to the earlier article (Visual Studio Source Control With Git & Visual Studio Online) if you need information on doing that.

Once you’ve created the remote repository you’ll need the URL. You can get this from the “Code” section of the project on the website:

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Go back to Visual Studio, and click on where it says “Unsynced Commits” at the top of the Team Explorer window. Then enter the URL in the yellow box under “Publish To Remote Repository“.

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Click the “Publish” button and it will start uploading your files from the local repository to the remote server. This may take awhile, depending on how many files there are and your connection speed. Eventually you should get a message telling you that the publish is completed.

Now, when you commit changed files to the local repository, you can sync to the remote server by hitting the “Sync” button after the commit operation finishes.

That’s pretty much it as far as getting everything working with source control is concerned. Have fun!

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