Monday, March 28, 2016

GWX Control Panel Release Notes and Version History

To keep the official GWX Control Panel user guide short and to-the-point, I'm now maintaining all release notes for the program in this post. As always, you can download the program at the Ultimate Outsider Downloads page.


Here are the differences between all released versions of GWX Control Panel:

Date: April 1, 2016
Installer MD5 checksum: FEA83EAC98858081B092B4A32B451357
Installer SHA-1 checksum: BF30804BD847D8D20B18517C9003AF235AB9919A
Stand-alone MD5 checksum: C6EA8429C22C53BC7A738FFEC4831429
Stand-alone SHA-1 checksum: FF89E1F50BDF778293E9CBBC91BF76AA5FA85143
  • Removed a misleading alert that was appearing on some computers with "clean" Windows installs that had not yet encountered Windows 10 symptoms. This was a dialog box I had added while I was testing a fix I had implemented in version but ended up not needing. The alert was harmless, but wasn't supposed to appear in the final release, so now it's gone.

Date: March 30, 2016
Installer MD5 checksum: 681341EBA9DDC3A11E94F7FCB05EF5BE
Installer SHA-1 checksum: 70C73E91C3BC038A19F347C4E69E9FAC13E3DB50
Stand-alone MD5 checksum: 18113E1AB4B350B1FDB35A3B5BA6D19F
Stand-alone SHA-1 checksum: 599306998D16A5C954271E8377602BA22199B26E
  • Fixes issues that can occur if third-party tools or scripts break permissions on some Windows 10-related registry keys.
  • Now checks for the "Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates" setting of Windows Update, since this can leave you vulnerable to some known Windows 10 update patches.
  • Added the ability to enable/disable the "recommended updates" setting in the Change Windows Update Settings dialog.

Date: March 28, 2016
Installer MD5 checksum: 89D8EE023742E9727D363D15BDCB2080
Installer SHA-1 checksum: E470925FA09BF262AE641C22CC1AF57318064277
Stand-alone MD5 checksum: B5C2D94CAC4197868A31484A3AB94DB3
Stand-alone SHA-1 checksum: 5BBB5C4C7972B7A8C2D1CD6215221B1E3D28CAA9
  • You can now block the Microsoft Get Windows 10 icon app even if it isn't currently installed. Previous versions of the program disabled the "Disable Get Windows 10 App" button if the app couldn't be found. But now you can preemptively disable it in the event that the KB3035583 patch gets installed on your PC subsequent to running GWX Control Panel. The text changes to "Prevent Get Windows 10 app" in this case.
  • For users of the GWX Control Panel installer (versus stand-alone), the Check for Updates feature now checks with to see if a new version is available and downloads/installs the new version at user's request. Stand-alone users will still just have a button that takes you to the Downloads page. (I don't know a reliable/elegant way to upgrade a stand-alone copy, while upgrading is easy with the installer.) Note: For about a half hour there was a version posted that didn't give any "You're already running the most recent version" indication if that turns out to be the case. That was confusing, and I fixed it immediately. So basically if you check for updates and nothing seems to happen, it might mean you're running the version that was up temporarily, and you might have to do a manual download. Sorry!
  • Note: The Enable/Disable Monitor Mode and Display the User Guide buttons have moved. (Making room for an upcoming feature.)
  • Fixed some unexpected behavior that could occur if a user chose not to allow GWX Control Panel admin rights if required to perform an action.
  • Some optimizations in all recursive file operations (hopefully improving performance and success rate of massive delete operations).
  • No longer displays "Change Windows Update Preferences" dialog on computers where users have not yet configured their Windows Update settings; instructs them to set up Windows Update first instead.
  • Improved internal performance of diagnostic logging.
  • Program no longer crashes when run on Windows Vista. (Note: GWX Control Panel serves no purpose on Vista; Microsoft does not target that OS for Windows 10 upgrades. I just didn't want my program crashing when Vista users tried to run it.)
  • To eliminate some odd timing issues caused by users having Monitor Mode enabled for both All Users and Current User at the same time, the installer now makes sure that only "All Users" is enabled. (This only applies to upgrades, and only where Monitor Mode was already enabled.)
  • For debugging purposes, installer now saves a log file in the install directory, named install_log.txt.
  • The installer is now based on NSIS 2.5, which has some security improvements over previous versions.
  • LOTS of under-the-hood refactoring and optimizations in preparation for some future plans.

Date: January 24, 2016
Installer MD5 checksum: C6312B051E84600B6166B3FCC1FF2B4B
Installer SHA-1 checksum: 4874B9A791CA1A3EC2927104B89D75D518CE2A47
Stand-alone MD5 checksum: 3CBAA23AB6ED2824DC5D8BE8B6AFBCE9
Stand-alone SHA-1 checksum: 519465821FF83471685E7D64D2B8E20B53969C76
  • Fixed a confusing user interface issue where on some computers, clicking "Disable Get Windows 10 App" or "Prevent Windows 10 Upgrades" didn't refresh the dialog, making it look like the buttons didn't work (when in fact they were working).
  • Added thread-safe error logging (included in Save Diagnostic Info reports) for better troubleshooting.
  • Fixed an erroneous "Monitor Mode is not currently running" message in Save Diagnostic Info reports.
  • Screen now refreshes more accurately depending on current state of monitor mode. (It didn't always notice when a running instance shut down.)
  • Improved logic around Monitor Mode detection of Windows Update switching into "install updates automatically" mode. (Intended behavior is to only trigger a warning if user preferences change from a non-automatic setting to automatic installs.)

Date: January 18, 2016
Installer MD5 checksum: 643DADD1DA7E670BED94D78E8F0C3501
Installer SHA-1 checksum: 4AE3FD5E84E56C50E8520783F48653E342E8FEE0
Stand-alone MD5 checksum: 599F929F42F77CE37B3875FEB10F2F0D
Stand-alone SHA-1 checksum: 8456306EDE6A1BEA712E1A8B7774CD6CA4B5358C
  • Monitor Mode now has new "Change Monitor Mode preferences" menu option where you can select what kind of events you'd like to be notified about.
  • All buttons and dynamic text fields in the program have tooltips that appear when you float the mouse over them, for extended information.
  • Added a new information field and detection logic for "non-critical" Windows 10 settings. Previous versions of GWX Control Panel monitored these settings, but bundled most of them under "Windows 10 Upgrades." Now, the "Windows 10 Upgrades" logic is only tied to settings and features known to directly affect visible Windows 10 upgrade behavior.
  • Added new Enable/Disable Non-critical Windows 10 Settings button so users can change those settings at will without affecting the computers "Windows 10 Upgrades" status.
  • Added "Click to" to the names of all buttons to make it clear that the button text represents actions, not status. The upper "information" area is where to look for your computer's current status.
  • The Status and settings summary now includes more detailed information, including occasional steps on how to resolve certain issues.
  • Monitor Mode now waits 30 seconds before generating any alerts if it starts up when a user logs into Windows. This should resolve some "false alarm" alerts that happened because other applications and system services were still starting up, and were accidentally identified as having changed configuration status. Monitor Mode instances launched directly from GWX Control Panel do instant alerting if new settings are detected.
  • Software Protection service status now included in diagnostic logs. (GWX Control Panel doesn't currently interact with this service, but since it's required for Windows Update to work, this info can help in troubleshooting.)
  • Diagnostic logs now include specific alert information as alerts are generated and resolved. This info is included in both Monitor Mode and "normal mode" reports.
  • Fixed a silly glitch with the Change Windows Update Settings feature that disabled the wrong button in the UI while settings were being applied.
  • Now detects whether Monitor Mode is set up to use a different version of the program from the currently running process. This should help troubleshoot problems that stand-alone users encounter when they have multiple copies of the program on their system.

Date: December 30, 2015
Installer MD5 checksum: 0E2FB32DC43F3C210E13A156B3CB385C
Installer SHA-1 checksum: 4958C9FFBC692CE657EB89484FD54F2E40A02D98
Stand-alone MD5 checksum: 338E4AD4E15C34C9D12023CE709E7131
Stand-alone SHA-1 checksum: 25BF97EE01A44963B4C2029FB98D64997C0BF53B
  • New "Delete Windows 10 Programs" feature deletes program files known to be related to the Windows 10 upgrade and their related scheduled tasks. Right now this only covers files from the KB3035583 patch, but future versions will include other files as more problematic programs are discovered. Important: These programs are the main reason people were seeing their Windows 10 Upgrades settings getting reset in the 1.6 version of GWX Control Panel monitor mode. This new feature is the best way to prevent those reversions; simply removing the Get Windows 10 icon from your notification area is not enough to stop Microsoft from continually reverting your settings.
  • Now detects whether Windows Update is configured to automatically install updates (the "automatically install Windows Updates" field in the information section), because automatically installing new updates leaves you vulnerable to Windows 10 upgrades. Beginning with version, Monitor Mode will only trigger an alert if it detects that Windows Update switches from one of the safer settings to "automatically install." It won't trigger an alert if you already had Windows Update configured for automatic updates.
  • (Version New, more horizontal window layout makes it possible for users running Windows at extremely low screen resolutions to see all GWX Control Panel controls.
  • Added new "Change Windows Update Settings" feature where you can set your Windows Update preferences in the event that GWX Control Panel detects that you are in automatically install mode.
  • Slightly reduced CPU and resource utilization (it was already pretty good before, but now it's even better).
  • Renamed "Disable OS Upgrades in Windows Update" feature to "Prevent Automatic Windows 10 Upgrades" because the old name confused some users.
  • Improved responsiveness and reliability of "Prevent Automatic Windows 10 Upgrades" feature.
  • Now additionally detects 32-bit version of MS "Get Windows 10" app on 64-bit Windows.
  • Tightened up Windows 10 detection logic; no longer triggers alerts in one case that's been determined to be safe. Added at least one new detection scenario.
  • Save Diagnostic Info report now includes human-readable details on exactly what traces of Windows 10 were found. Indicates parent subkey and registry value of detected (or missing) settings.
  • Some other additional details in diagnostic info, like whether current user is administrator and running status of some critical services.
  • No longer prompts for restarts after Prevent/Allow Automatic Windows 10 Upgrades. (The improved reliability of the new logic should make restarts unnecessary.)
  • Enable/Disable Monitor Mode feature now defaults to enabling Monitor Mode for all users instead of just the current user account. Per-user enable/disable is still available from a system menu option (see version 1.7 user guide for details). This new behavior is due to the very confusing way that Windows handles program credentials when users with Standard and Child accounts have to elevate to admin privileges when performing certain actions. The troubleshooting guide should include some background on this as well.
  • End User License Agreement now appears as a child of the main program dialog, preventing the situation where it appears behind other open windows but users have no idea since the old EULA dialog didn't have an icon in the taskbar.
  • Installer: Added shortcut to GWX Control Panel uninstaller in the GWX Control Panel folder of the Start menu.
  • Installer: Start menu and desktop shortcuts are now created for all users on the computer instead of just the profile of the user who installed it.
  • Installer: Added more logic to kill existing GWX CP processes during install/uninstall. NOTE: This doesn't work across multiple currently logged-in user accounts. Please log out all other user accounts before installing/uninstalling to ensure the program files can safely be installed/removed. Also, ideally you should run the installer from an administrator account, not an elevated Standard or Child account.
Issues fixed in version
  • If you used GWX Control Panel's Monitor Mode and you use the installer to upgrade from an earlier version of the program, the installer didn't automatically restart Monitor Mode after the upgrade is complete. The installer now restores Monitor Mode if you had it enabled previously. GWX Control Panel will also now start Monitor Mode if it detects that you have it enabled but for some reason it isn't running.
  • The new buttons and information fields in version made the program too tall to fit on very low resolution screens. The minimum screen size I tested with internally was 1360x768, but many netbooks have 800x600 screens, which can't display the whole GWX Control Panel program window. Version has been re-arranged so that it doesn't take up so much vertical space.
  • If you already had your Windows Update settings configured to "automatically install updates" this would trigger an alert in Monitor Mode the first time it ran, even if you WANT to have Windows Updates at that setting. The real purpose of this alert is to let you know if Microsoft changes your Windows Update settings without your consent. Version will now only trigger an alert if it detects that Windows Update changed from one of the other three options to "automatically install," which might indicate that a Windows Update patch reverted your Windows Update preferences.

Date: November 24, 2015
Installer MD5 checksum: 243B8266A11747CD9605F33FB12D45B2
Installer SHA-1 checksum: FAFC81D0379F759927A9046D85BA9F9888E1B275
Stand-alone MD5 checksum: D25D0085AE1520F5255485B03CF91397
Stand-alone SHA-1 checksum: D3DAE116A383EBAF13BFA5B435217AA9212D87ED
  • Monitor Mode. This optional feature actively monitors your computer and notifies you if it detects any known evidence of Windows 10 activity. 
  • Worry-free installer. This is the first version available with a traditional setup program: It creates shortcuts in your Start menu and on your desktop for easy access to GWX Control Panel and documentation. It will allow for safe upgrading to future versions of GWX Control Panel without leaving duplicate copies of the program laying around with different filenames like you might sometimes experience with the stand-alone version. And finally, it provides a standard uninstaller routine, available in the Programs and Features control panel. (If you don't use installers, GWX Control Panel is still also available as a stand-alone download.)
  • Check for Updates. The built-in Check for updates feature tells you what version of GWX Control Panel you're currently running and takes you to the Ultimate Outsider Downloads page where you can download the latest version if a newer one is available.
  • Save Diagnostic Info. This new feature saves a text file to your desktop that contains your current Windows 10-related settings and error messages encountered during the current GWX Control Panel instance. The text file includes info on where to send the file if you encounter unexpected problems with GWX Control Panel.
  • More comprehensive protection. The Disable/Enable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update feature now covers a slightly wider range of settings related to Windows 10 upgrades
  • Restart Monitor Mode command available in the system menu, for launching Monitor Mode after previously exiting it manually.
  • Reset Control Panel Window Position command in Monitor Mode pop-up menu fixes problems with GWX Control Panel being hidden or in an unreachable location on the desktop.

Date: November 1, 2015
MD5 checksum: 5A3AD8242727E09AAEE45647474C1059
SHA-1 checksum: 8041E202B94FE70D5A32F710DC1A2357EC6134B2
  • Now detects the hidden $Windows.~WS folder associated with the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, in addition to the more common $Windows.~BT folder that was already detected in previous versions.
  • New Delete Windows 10 Download Folders feature now deletes both detected hidden download folders, preventing users from having to run scripts or manually override file security and ownership settings.
  • Program now only requests administrator privileges when they're actually required, and only once per session, instead of always asking for permissions at program startup. Note: This is a hard feature to test because of the thousands of user security/permissions possibilities out in the wild; please let me know if you experience unexpected behavior when attempting to perform operations.
  • New /norestart command line switch to assist support staff who operate GWX Control Panel via remote assistance tools. (More elsewhere in this post.)
  • Clear Windows Update Cache feature now displays a list of temporary effects that clearing the cache will have on Windows Update.
  • Decoupled download folder size checking from rest of the informational stats to speed up the first screen refresh with current status.
  • Removed the Close 'Get Windows 10' App button because it confused some users and was somewhat redundant, since the Disable/Enable 'Get Windows 10' App feature implicitly exits or launches the GWX app as needed.

Date: October 18, 2015
MD5 checksum: 959F1627A304DAE42305AA4D4D23B770
SHA-1 checksum: E58E0B2AD672793BCBD35D74E35EA4A2E371EA18
Changes: Greatly expanded checks and fixes for Windows 10 upgrade hijacking the Windows Update control panel. Added new Clear Windows Update Cache feature for fixing extra stubborn Windows Update issues.

Date: September 12, 2015
MD5 checksum: 68E547DB5559E823CE4CF7A03650FF47
SHA-1 checksum: 782AEA51E6CD6DF1350FB69D389DB308D24DF681
Changes: Additional detection to determine if Windows is configured to allow OS upgrades via Windows Update. Now locates and reports the total size of the hidden Windows 10 download folder (usually C:\$Windows.~BT) and gives you the ability to open the folder in Windows Explorer.
Note: I've noticed that lots of people are still downloading the original download linke with a different filename (must be from direct links instead of people finding my downloads page), so I have replaced the version 1.0 EXE file on the server with a renamed copy of version 1.3 of GWX Control Panel. It is the same program now, with the same checksums, just with a different filename.

Date: September 10, 2015
MD5 checksum: DC0F180C129E796A6E4D80861E0A5F9E
SHA-1 checksum: C93DF1C606EEAC929E48CA17B61DF117E65BB66F
Changes: Can now restore normal Windows Update behavior if it has entered 'Upgrade to Windows 10' mode.

Date: September 7, 2015
MD5 checksum: D2BC4F41E644CB20A99661CE06709EE1
SHA-1 checksum: BCDB295F36AC2FA72575364F072D147BE6EFEBBE
Changes: Renamed to GWX Control Panel (GWX_control_panel.exe), now has the ability to launch/display GWX icon if app is enabled but not currently running.

Date: August 30, 2015
MD5 checksum: EA1C2A2D8B8C659C852AC08582DE19CC
SHA-1 checksum: 55EFE9A57A9B7323B937BE5C12DC258C908B2DB8
Changes: First released version with a different filename.


Ryan Trunten said...

In future versions, could you maybe consider editing the message about Windows Update settings to still detect everything else like normal? For example, your message about being "safe" if it doesn't detect anything at all... can you make that still show up underneath the message about Windows Update settings? Right now it could still be a little misleading or confusing. You could even still slightly change the message. Some people might still want to know if they're still "safe" if it doesn't find anything else related like the app or folders and everything else like before.

Unknown said...

How do you determine which version you have? There is nothing I could find on the Control Panel that tells you or lets you check.

skopros said...

I just loaded the latest "stand alone" ver. but cannot delete previous stand-alone ver. because error message says "a program is running." solution? latest ver. downloads as "GWX_control_panel.exe (1)..."

skopros said...

i shld hv added that i'm trying to delete after downloading (but not trying to run) sorry.

DiggerP said...


GWX Control Panel launches 2 intances of its exe
One for the Panel, the other for Systray (Notification area)
Check Task Manager to see them under Processes

So in order to delete v1.7.2 , you have to exit both instances..
The Systray one persists after closing the Panel....

DiggerP said...

"Harold Justice said...
How do you determine which version you have? There is nothing I could find on the Control Panel that tells you or lets you check."

April 8, 2016 at 12:38 PM

Hi Harold,
I agree, but a little exploring goes a long way.
Check the last posts in this thread
February 27, 2016 Posts by Matthias and Ultimate Outsider.

I know there is a lot of info in the user manual section. and subsequent pages , but your answer lies under The System Menu
as described in the post by Ultimate Outsider.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@skopros - Yeah, the Monitor Mode situation gets a little hairy when you run the stand-alone version of the program... I'm able to handle upgrades a lot more gracefully with the GWX Control Panel installer.

But basically, if upgrading from one stand-alone version to another, it's best to disable monitor mode first (monitor mode can be enabled/disabled for both current user and "all users"... please see the main user guide post for info on how to enable/disable both modes). Next, just delete the old stand-alone file (it will probably be in your default Downloads folder), and then re-enable stand-alone in the newly downloaded version.

Unknown said...

Today I found one PC rtuined by the last series of MS monthly updates. Restoration by Acronis TRue image got in running again. I am investiagting whether the actions of my wife after a failed startup cause the problem of no longer starting Win7 64, or that MS managed to get a new OS loader in for a forced Win10 update action. Anyway, the OS loader an vital dll's were destroyed and GWX no longer worked (but other programs had the same). UMO: are you aware of any trick MS in pulling in thge restart phase after Win updfates, when GWX is not yet running, but the KB updates are active already?

Will be cont'd for sure, I will backup more frequently as of now

Unknown said...

I installed GWX on 3 different 32 bit netbooks- one running windows 7 starter,
one running windows 7 home premium, one running windows 7 professional.

All 3 of them will no longer accept *any* windows updates. Systems just spin on "checking for updates". Last received were March 28th, on all 3 computers. Running the troubleshooter from MS indicates that the "service registry is missing or corrupt".

Figured I'd update to the latest GWX on the Windows 7 home premium box. Now I have *two* GWX icons on the desktop. Still no Windows updates.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@donthuis - I am not aware of anything special like that. Will keep an eye out. Also, be on the lookout for the next version of GWX CP. Some big stuff coming.

@J Bell - Please see the topic about Windows Update at the troubleshooting guide. Also note that Microsoft appears to have been de-prioritizing updates on Windows 7-based PCs. I've noticed that my own Win 7 computers take over 20 minutes sometimes just to check for updates recently, whereas my Win 8.1 systems just take a minute or two. (And GWX CP is running on all of them.)

LT said...

Just tried to update to the latest version, and I got an error:
"Error opening file for writing"
with 3 options Abort - Retry - Ignore
I clicked the Retry and the installation continued and finished....
but I'm not sure if its ok. I tried again - same thing.
So I went back to the previous version, from March.
Did I do something wrong. Would appreciate some pointers.
Have had GWX Control Panel practically since the beginning....
and previously when updating it's sailed through seamlessly.
Also would like to add my thanks for your expertise in writing
such a great programme! LT

Ultimate Outsider said...

@LT - Sounds like the installer couldn't shut down a running instance of the program. Please see the topic labeled "I'M UNABLE TO INSTALL/UPGRADE/UNINSTALL GWX CONTROL PANEL DUE TO AN "ERROR OPENING FILE FOR WRITING" DIALOG" at the Troubleshooting Guide.

LT said...

Thank you for your reply, Josh.... I followed the topic you mentioned, ran as administrator,
exited the programme, did all the suggestions, but unfortunately it not only came up with
the error, but also couldn't open the Control Monitor except from programs(86), and then I
saw 'enabled all users - not running' and I also didn't have the icon in the taskbar, which
was probably because it wasn't running. Anyway I uninstalled it completely with Revo
Uninstaller and reinstalled it......... and rebooted and all is well. Everything is
showing up as it should! Thank you again both for the programme, your time, and your help.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@LT - Glad it's finally working for you!

Superfrog said...

Thanks for your great work, Ultimate Outsider! About the auto-update process of the portable version, you could ask Shane from (Windows Repair etc.) - his software does exactly that successfully -

Unknown said...

Can you please give instructions on how to remove this tool? I have upgraded my computer to Windows 10 and no longer need the tool, but I can't find the program to uninstall it. Thank you.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@George - It's something I know how to do on a technical level, but it's still jumping through lots of hoops (particularly where the Monitor Mode is involved), and just not a priority for me to implement right now. Thank you for the link, though.

@Unknown - Please see the "Removing GWX Control Panel" section of the user guide for uninstall help.

JohnDough said...

It seems a windows nag update managed to slip past GWX Control Panel [ ]

Adrian P said...

There's another Windows 10 related update

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Adrian - Yes, that's the granddaddy of all Windows 10 update patches, the one that delivers the "Get Windows 10" app. Microsoft is not currently pushing that patch, although they may revive it in a future campaign. GWX Control Panel was explicitly designed to combat the files installed by the KB3035583 patch.

Adrian P said...

Ah ok, for some reason I thought GWX would also prevent the patch being installed. OK, so the Windows 10 patches can still get installed, but GWX keeps them from being able to really do anything?

Ultimate Outsider said...

@JohnDough - For over the past month I've been working 12-hour days (seven days a week), including some international business travel... in fact I've only been able to catch up on email and blog stuff the past couple of days because I'm recovering from some emergency surgery (nothing very serious, I'm just temporarily grounded). Anyway, that update did pass me by, but from what I've read, it's not supposed to actually do anything if you've already disabled the Get Windows 10 app. (And checking through my email, I haven't gotten any reports from GWX Control Panel users who saw any new messages about Windows 10.) Did you see any notifications from that update on a computer that had already disabled them? (It's probably too late to do anything about it now that the deadline's passed- I'm just curious.)


Ultimate Outsider said...

@Adrian P - That's right, that's the intended design (install whatever updates you want; GWX Control Panel identifies and neutralizes them). If you're interested in the background (and in the work I've done on a different approach) check out topic #1 at the GWX Control Panel FAQ.