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.


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'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.


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!


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


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):


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.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fixing Native Instruments Product Thumbnails in Komplete Kontrol and Maschine

After several days of installing and patching all my music software on my new DAW PC, I noticed something strange in Maschine 2 and Komplete Kontrol: the thumbnail graphics for a number of my Native Instruments products were missing! Rebuilding the Maschine and Komplete Kontrol databases didn't fix the problem for me, so I took a different approach...


Here are some examples of what I was seeing:

Maschine displayed generic artwork on both the product thumbnails in the browser and individual product panels.
Likewise, Komplete Kontrol sometimes showed generic icons and product panels inside the browser.

Both Maschine and Komplete Kontrol give you the ability to rebuild your product database (Preferences > Library > Rescan in both applications), but for whatever reason that wasn't working for me. (And even if it did work, rescanning can take a long time depending on how fast your computer and storage media are.) Thinking I'm probably not the only person who will ever encounter this situation, I decided to add a new wizard to UltimatePluginTool.


To fix this problem, you will need version 1.0 or later of UltimatePluginTool. (You can get the latest version at our downloads page.) Please note that UltimatePluginTool is a Windows application only. I am not a Mac user or developer.

  1. Before you start, it's a good idea to run Service Center and make sure all your products are up to date.
  2. I don't know if this step is necessary, but it's probably a good idea to make sure to quit Maschine or Komplete Kontrol if they're already open.
  3. Launch UltimatePluginTool and select the new option, "Fix Native Instruments thumbnails in Maschine and Komplete Kontrol," then click Next.

  4. The Fix Product Thumbnails screen will appear, and after a few seconds it should present a list of all applicable Native Instruments products you have installed, as well as whether their thumbnails appear to be installed ("Present") or not found ("Missing"). You can sort the list either by Product Name or Thumbnail Status. (Note: Only products that include their own product artwork appear in this screen. Maschine and Komplete Kontrol have built-in artwork for a number of popular Native Instruments products already.)

  5. Click Fix Thumbnails. UltimatePluginTool will attempt to restore the thumbnail icons to all your installed products, and will update the Thumbnail Status column of each product when it's finished. The text field at the top of the window will indicate if any errors were detected.
    After a successful run.
  6. Re-launch Maschine and/or Komplete Kontrol and enjoy the results!


Here's what my Maschine and Komplete Kontrol looked like after I ran the new Fix Product Thumbnails wizard on my DAW PC:
All icons and artwork restored in Maschine.

Also in Komplete Kontrol.

Support UltimatePluginTool

I develop and maintain free software on my own time. I don't charge a fee because I want everyone to have equal access to my programs- but if something I wrote helped you and you'd like to express your thanks in a concrete way, you can send a donation of any amount via PayPal. Support from my visitors covers my hosting and licensing costs, and gives me incentive to keep putting out cool new utilities.

If you wish to help out, you can enter a donation amount below and then click on the Donate button. You do not need a PayPal account in order to donate! Just click the "Don't have a PayPal account" option on the page that comes up after you click the Donate button. The donation amount is in U.S. Dollars (USD).

Amount: $

Note: You might receive a personal "thank you" from me in response, but I won't sign you up for any mailing lists and you won't hear from me again unless you contact me first. Thanks for your consideration!