Sunday, October 18, 2015

GWX Control Panel 1.4 Beta Test

Hi, if you've never used GWX Control Panel before, I recommend you head on over to the announcement page where you can get the current stable public release. The version described in this post has some experimental (and not fully documented) features specifically intended to help Win7/Win8 users who are still having Windows 10-related problems that previous versions of GWX Control Panel were unable to fix.

WELCOME, BETA TESTERS

NOTE: The beta test for version 1.4 is now complete, and (as of October 20, 2015) GWX Control Panel 1.4 has become the current official version which you can get from our downloads page. Updated documentation is now at the original announcement page.

After a lot of testing and experimentation, I think I may have something to fix the "reschedule or upgrade now" problem and other lingering issues that my first few versions of GWX Control Panel weren't designed to cover. I need your help to confirm that it works, though, because I have not reliably been able to force my own test computers into some of the same states that some of you have reported.

There are three major new changes:
  • GWX Control Panel now casts a much wider net when searching for traces of unwanted Windows 10-related settings on your PC, and as a result the "Are Windows Update OS upgrades enabled" field is more likely to report Yes when you first run the program.
  • Likewise, the Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update feature is much more comprehensive in neutralizing those Windows 10 settings.
  • Finally, there is a new Clear Windows Update Cache feature, which is kind of a nuclear option for dealing with Windows Update problems.

I NEED YOUR FEEDBACK

I'm not going to go fully public with this version until I know that the new features both do what they're supposed to and don't have unexpected side-effects. If you try this version out, it would be extremely helpful if you could report back with some specific pieces of information:
  1. What specific symptoms were you having before running the Beta version of GWX Control Panel?
  2. Did the updated Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update feature fix your problem?
  3. If not, did the Clear Windows Update Cache feature fix your problem?
  4. Did either of the new features have any unexpected side-effects on your computer?
  5. If so, what were these side-effects, and were you able to reverse/fix them? (Also, sorry!)
Please post your answers in the comments if you decide to give the beta version a shot.

INSTRUCTIONS

For your safety and my peace of mind, please try to follow these steps as closely as possible. The final instructions/requirements won't be as detailed/exhaustive once I go public with this release.
  1. Before you start open up the System control panel in Windows and go to the System Protection tab. Click the Create button to create a new system restore point. Give it a descriptive name like "Before GWX Control Panel" and then click Create. This will make a backup of your current system state and registry settings in case anything unexpected happens later. (Again, I don't have reason to believe you're going to need it; it is only a precaution.)
  2. Download the beta version of GWX Control Panel here. NOTE: If the link doesn't work, it probably means the beta period has expired. In that case, check the announcement page to see if there is a new official release.
  3. Launch the new version of GWX Control Panel.

  4. Check the "Are Windows Update OS upgrades enabled?" field.

    If the field says "Yes": Click Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update, and then click Yes if you are asked if you want to restart Windows. (Restarting now might save you a step later, and also help us figure out which of the new GWX Control Panel features are most effective.)

    If the field says "No": Skip to step 6 below.
     
  5. If you used the "Disable Operating System Upgrades" feature and restarted Windows in the previous step, please check now to see whether you are still having the Windows 10-related symptoms that prompted you to try out GWX Control Panel in the first place.

    If your problem appears to be fixed: Yay! Please let me know in the comments!

    If you are still experiencing the problem: Darn! Continue to the next step.
     
  6. Back in GWX Control Panel, click Clear Windows Update Cache (see User Guide for details). (Note: There is no mention of this feature in the user guide yet.)

    If a message box appears saying, "You might have some Windows Updates waiting for a system restart in order to complete": Please see step 7 to decide how to respond.

    If you don't see the message box: Proceed to step 8.

  7. If GWX Control Panel discovered pending updates when you attempt to clear the update cache, what you do next depends on what you've already done during this test:

    If you already restarted Windows after using the "Disable Operating System Upgrades" feature in step 4: This warning is a false alarm. Just click Yes to proceed.

    If you have not yet restarted Windows since beginning this test: Click No, and then click Yes when the program asks if you'd like to restart Windows now. After Windows starts again, re-launch GWX Control Panel and use the Clear Windows Update Cache feature once more. If it STILL says you have updates waiting for a system restart, then this is actually a false alarm, and you can click Yes to proceed.
     
  8. Now check your system to see if the Windows 10-related problems you were having have been resolved.

    Does the problem appear to be fixed? Great! Please let me know what steps you took to get to this point.

    Are you still experiencing your original issues? Uh-oh! If people are still having the same problems after using these new features, I will probably need to collect some logs if I ever hope to truly fix this stuff. If it seems necessary, I will add a new feature to the beta version that can save important (but anonymous) system details to a text file that you can mail me. It might take me a few days to implement that feature. But I'll keep this post up-to-date until the tests are complete. Also, please try to answer all the questions from the "I need your feedback" section above; this will really help speed my way to a resolution.

    Are you experiencing new problems that you weren't having before? The answer is pretty much the same as above. Please answer the "I need your feedback" questions and hold tight for a future update with logging capabilities. Also, see the next section about Known Issues for tips.
Thanks in advance for any info you can provide!

KNOWN ISSUES AND TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS

Here's where I'll post my own observations and fixes, workarounds, as well as anything I learn from beta testers.

WINDOWS UPDATE SHOWS A RED X AFTER CLEARING UPDATE CACHE

This scared me when I first saw it, but it's actually okay! On Windows 7 the first time you open the Windows Update control panel after using GWX Control Panel's Clear Windows Update Cache feature, this is what you'll see:

While startling, the big X in Windows Update for Windows 7 is not cause for concern.
This is actually just how the Windows 7 version of Windows Update looks the first time you ever run it on a PC, and clearing the update cache returns it to that clean state. Once you use Check for updates at least once, the control panel will return to its normal appearance:


For what it's worth, after clearing the cache on Windows 8, the Windows Update control panel looks like this the first time you run it (not quite as alarming):


WINDOWS UPDATE REPORTS A PROBLEM CHECKING FOR UPDATES

I've tested the new features on eight different computers so far, and on one Windows 8 system, I saw the following screen after clicking Check for updates for the first time after clearing the Windows Update cache.
I experienced the "Windows could not search for new updates" problem on one test PC, but was quickly able to fix it.
I resolved this problem by clearing the cache once more, restarting Windows, and then checking for updates again after all Windows services had started.

Note that since I encountered that problem, I have added new code specifically intended to avoid the Code 8024A000 error displayed above, so you probably won't encounter the same thing (and the beta version currently posted has this fix as well). If you do encounter this issue though, just try what I did: re-clear, restart, re-check. (And let me know!)

On another Windows 8 computer, I experienced this error one time, although there's a chance it was unrelated to GWX Control Panel:
I got an error code 8024001F after trying to check for updates when my network card was having problems.
I don't know what that error code is supposed to indicate, but I think the real problem was that my laptop had lost its Wi-Fi connection. After I restarted Windows, the Wi-Fi connection returned and Windows Updates worked normally. Please tell me if you see similar behavior though! It might mean I should enforce a restart after clearing the update cache.

39 comments:

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

Thank you very much for trying!

After i installed this. I got the window that said. Check for Windows updates. At first i thought it restored my PC back to the day when i didn't get that update. But when i clicked to hide one update before clicking to install my 5 updates i got the " Upgrade to Windows 10 APPl" I stop it fast. So none of my updates got installed. So my problem isn't solved yet. I'm very puzzled on how i may do my updates without that Win 10 creeping in on me,

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

Edit: I just noticed that in my start button i got that brown icon that means you have updates to do. But in my list of Updates installed it says "Canceled".

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Lucy - I'm not sure I completely understand what you're seeing. Is it that Windows Update is selecting the optional "Upgrade to Windows 10" update when you try to install your updates (like this picture here)? If so, are you not able to deselect and hide that update? Or is something else occurring? Is there any way you can provide a screenshot of the exact thing you're seeing? (Or can you point me anywhere on the web where someone else is having the same problem?)

Also (and sorry for all the questions), did you use both the "Disable Operating System Upgrades" and "Clear Windows Update Cache" buttons in the new version of the program?

I will work in the coming days on adding some logging capability to the program that can capture some important settings, but for now any extra detail you're able to provide will help. Thanks!

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

Yes that is what I'M Seeing when i go to do my Window updates. ( The picture you shown) When i click to hidden it. I follow to to update the white screen comes up to download windows 10 screen. ( When i hidden it) I'M not sure how to do screen pictures,

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

I did this a second time and i clicked " Disable operating system upgrades" & "Clear Windows update cache"

Restart my computer. I got the check for updates for your computer. 2 Checking for updates. Took a few mintes. Then i got download and install updates for your computer. 5. I got 5 Importand updates are available, & 1 optional update for Skyp. ( I hidden)that. Seen no windows upgrade to windows 10 Pro, I un checked the update for IE. So this time it worked i was able to get my updates installed. So i think maybe users shouldn't DO updates for IE?

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Lucy - Wow, that is so weird. That's one of the problems I have been able to both reproduce and fix, and I don't have any guesses as to why you would keep experiencing it- especially if you used both the "Disable OS Upgrades" and the "Clear Windows Update Cache" features in the beta GWX Control Panel. I'm going to add a feature that will capture some settings that might give me a clue to what's going on there, but it will take a few days.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Lucy (again) - You were writing your last comment when I was writing mine. Hmm, there was an Internet Explorer update waiting for you? That is REALLY interesting. That gives me something else to look into. Thanks so much for your feedback- and fingers crossed the fix "sticks" this time!

Mark Lang said...

Did you get my comment I posted last evening? Worked for me without clearing cache. Not sure why the comment is not here now.

Mark Lang said...

Here is comment again. I had the same problem as Lucy, except that I never saw an upgrade to win 10 offered as an update within windows update. I would get a nag screen for win 10 when I opened windows updates. I had to click through to show all updates. When I selected some updates and tried to install, however, it took me back to the win 10 nag screen. After a few times, I think I pressed the button there because it was the only choice. When it said it was downloading Win 10 setup files, I canceled. That may have been what got me stuck.

The earlier version of GWX Control Panel restored my windows update icon in the tray (missing for about 2 months). It also got rid of the win 10 nag screen with windows updates. However, every time I selected any updates to install, it started downloading win 10 setup files again. There was no win 10 item among the updates to check as Lucy had, and no other indication or warning that would happen. It just happened.

I ran the new GWX Control Panel. This time it said yes to the question about OS updates enabled in Windows update. I checked to disable OS upgrades. I was asked to reboot, and did. Now when I went to windows updates (still no win 10 upgrade listed) I was able to select 4 updates and it then installed them normally. I followed as it noted installing each of the updates. So everything seems to be working fine. I never tried the clear windows update cache option.

I just had one minor temporary issue. When my computer rebooted after disabling OS upgrades, I got an error that the server part of my APC UPS software could not be started. I think I got this when I ran the earlier version of GWX CP, also. However, this was fine the next time I rebooted.

Again, many thanks. This will be a life saver for many.

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

@ Ultimate Outsider!

Yes, It is very interesting That it worked this time. ( I sure hope it sticks to). Yes i was given an Internet Explorer update. I Just un checked it. I use fire Fox anyways. And it didn't show show Windows 10 upgrade. So that is why i was thinking that. Could that be the reason it didn't show up.

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

I never got that Win 10 Nag screen on My Desk Top. I still have the GWX Win 10 Icon in my task bar tho.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Lucy - Are you saying the "Disable 'Get Windows 10' App" feature didn't remove the GWX icon? Clicking that button should immediately and permanently make it disappear. (You will probably have to re-disable it after performing some Windows Updates, though, because Microsoft pushed some things that clobber old settings- not just the ones my program touches.) But if you're using that feature and it's not making the icon disappear I'd like to know.

@Mark - Yeah it was really odd. Blogger emailed me your initial comment, but I guess they never actually added it to the post. I've never seen that happen before.

Thanks to both of you!

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

Yes! The "Disable 'Get Windows 10' App" Didn't remove my GWX icon. It's still showing up. Not sure why. It didn't go away with the other GWX control Panel either.

Mark Lang said...

Lucy, You should apply updates to Internet Explorer even if you use Firefox. I also use Firefox. However, IE is integrated into many functions, so you want it to be updated at all times.

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

@ Mark Ok. Yes I know I will try too. If My updates will run normal again!!

Lucy McGillicuddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucy McGillicuddy said...

I opened up the GWX Panel & Restarted my Computer. Then i went and checked my Windows updates. I was able to update the IE update. No Windows 10 Upgrade Pro 10 came up again. * Yay* So i could do updates normal. So now I'M finally up to date with my Window updates. So i think this thing really works. The GW Get windows 10 is still in my task bar tho. Thank you for the help.

Mark Lang said...

Lucy, When you open GWX Control Panel, do all the questions at the top say "no"? If either of the first two about Win 10 app say yes, than select the first option to disable Win 10 app. The icon should go away.

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

Mark, Yes at the top they say No. But yet i still see it.

Ultimate Outsider said...

Lucy, so far you are the only person I've encountered who's experienced this- and it's certainly not something I've been able to reproduce. I'm really stumped at the moment, but will see if I can figure out what's going on later in the week. Glad your updates are working at least!

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

Thank you. I'M glad the updates worked to. I just hope they keep working. I'll keep checking back on your blog for news.

Woody said...

I have a comment from Krissy, over at AskWoody.com. She says:

This solved my problem. I was able to run and install my updates normal. The Windows 10 Pro upgrade didn’t show up in my updates. . The second time i tried it.

Ultimate Outsider said...

Thanks, Woody. I'm probably going to promote this to the public version in the next day or two. Just need to update the user guide. (Still haven't had confirmation from someone stuck in the postpone/upgrade cycle but it does at least seem to be helping the more stubborn Windows Update problems.)

peterhb said...

This Beta (1.4) appears to have solved my problems My updates have now loaded and installed without any interference from Windows 10!!
I had to disable the 'OS upgrade option' which I had previously done in version 1.3 where it hadn't worked.
Thanks for a solution to this problem

Peterb

Ultimate Outsider said...

@peterb - Good to hear; thanks!

Jeroen D. said...

The Beta worked. here's my feedback.

What specific symptoms were you having before running the Beta version of GWX Control Panel?
"Your Upgrade to W10 is ready" in Windows Update & "It's almost time for your upgrade" with countdown pop-up.
All I could do was keep rescheduling.

Did the updated Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update feature fix your problem?
Sure looks like it. Windows Update is back to normal. Can't find any traces of W10.
If the dreaded count-down pop-up does not appear in the next 72h we're home free. Will confirm this later.

If not, did the Clear Windows Update Cache feature fix your problem?
N/A

Did either of the new features have any unexpected side-effects on your computer?
Not as far as I can tell at this moment. Only just ran the Beta

Thanks Josh. Donation on the way. Jeroen D.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Jeroen - I'm excited to hear this. Hoping the upgrade dialog box doesn't return! Let me know what happens!

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

YES! THANK YOU!!

Suzan Ragan said...

Thank you so much for your excellent little program. I have to admit that I am one of the lucky ones. Even though the idea of getting the brand new Windows 10 OS for free was very enticing, I do love my Windows 7 Home. And I'd decided long ago not to upgrade. I also changed my update download settings to "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them". So I have managed to avoid any major problems associated with the upgrade. However, when I suddenly started getting the very annoying GWX icon every time I turned my laptop on, when I thought I had done everything to avoid this type of nuisance, I became not only very annoyed, but also very paranoid & hyper-vigilant about what updates I was having downloaded. Like a number of other people, I've now become obsessive about researching any & all of the downloads, waiting for any signs of problems showing up in online forums, and then hiding the ones that are the least bit Windows 10 related. Then I ran across your program, downloaded it, and found out within seconds if I had unknowingly downloaded any of the offending files(which I didn't, thank the fates!), and with a couple of clicks, the GWX icon had permanently vanished, and I now feel, at least for the time being, that I have control again of my computer. So thanks again. I did make a donation. The help you're providing people out of the goodness of your heart is very special and greatly appreciated.

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

I noticed the Get windows 10 Icon isn't in my Taskbar anymore. Maybe running the GWX Panel Helped get rid of it.

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

Thank you Very much! I just downloaded the updated GWX Control stopper. On my computer & my dads. It removed the Windows 10 folder. Took the GET windows 10 Icon out of my dads Task bar!!!

Ultimate Outsider said...

Great to hear, Lucy, thanks!

Lucy McGillicuddy said...

You're Welcome!!!

Anony Mous said...

Josh... The "Delete Windows 10 Download Folders" option refuses to completely remove everything. I watched the progress bar go from 6.4 gig all the way down to 1.3KB and then it stopped. I thought maybe a restart was in order to finish up but that didn't help and the folder (along with numerous sub-folders) is still there. I've ran the program again several times but it won't remove the folders. Any suggestions? Win7 Home Premium(x32) on a Dell Vostro Desktop.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Anony Mous - I have heard from a couple people who did have to try the Delete Download Folders feature a couple times to remove everything (there seems to be an occasional timing issue on some computers), but the only time I've heard of it not being able to delete everything was after someone had already attempted to delete some of the files manually, and their security settings ended up in a state where my program could no longer "see" the files, and thus didn't know it had to delete them. If you haven't done anything like that, I'm not sure what's going on, although in a future version I plan to add some "logging" capability which should help me identify what's happening when people encounter errors...

As for how to fix your immediate problem, the first thing I'd try would be the Disk Cleanup tool built into Windows. Here's a tutorial on how to delete operating system upgrade files with it. I haven't tried it personally, but I'd go this route before attempting any of the manual methods:

Anony Mous said...

Josh... I've used your program on numerous systems and it's always worked flawlessly until this one. A fyi for your info-bank, nothing was previously attempted on this system. The Diagnostic Tracking Service was stopped & disabled first and the two Scheduled Tasks were disabled under Application Experience followed by a restart before running the Control Panel.

What strikes me as odd is I'm able to rename the folder but not delete it. I'd think the same authorities would be required for either but apparently not. The total size is 1.3kb and it's been renamed, so I'm hoping it won't cause any further issues. Running the Control Panel after renaming it shows it's not present. If anything changes I will use the Disk Cleanup feature which I've used before you made this option available.

Thank you so VERY much for sharing this invaluable tool! I may have been one of the first to "donate" only a few hours after I used your first release. I had just spent several hours "detoxing" a system when I read about this tool at Woody's site.

You're second on my list of internet heroes, Woody has occupied first place on my list for many years but you're running an awful tight number two with all this Win-X crap! Keep up the great work Sir, I have a feeling Microsuck will be putting your skills to the test again soon!

Unknown said...

Hi,

I have a question about your statement that:

"As an update, in early October Microsoft issued a patch to the Windows Update system which reset some settings GWX Control Panel looks for, related to OS upgrades."

Are these updates kb3083711 and kb3083710? If not, what are they if you don't mind saying?

The reason I ask is that I use a programmatic tool to remove W10 nagware/crapware/spyware from W7 and W8 systems, and I'd like to add the two updates you mention that secretly tamper with AllowOSUpgrade and/or related registry settings.

FYI, so far I remove KB: 035583 3022345 3068708 3075249 3080149 2990214 3044374 2952664 2976978 3021917 3112336 3112343 3012973

In addition, the only way I've found to keep certain ones of these from coming back automatically for the average PC user is to simply disable updates all together.

thanks.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Unknown - Yes, I believe those are the ones; they were actual Windows Update updates.

Unknown said...

thanks!