Windows 10 DPI scaling and window positioning issues on laptops

If you’re using a Windows 10 laptop at anything other than the default scaling factor for your display, you may encounter an issue where closing the lid causes your window positions and sizes to be forgotten. I discovered this on my MacBook Pro Retina, which I run at 100% scaling (the default is 200%). This may also apply on Windows 8.1, but I haven’t tried it on this hardware.

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft introduced a new model of handling DPI scaling, that allowed different monitors to have different scaling factors. This is useful for situations where you’re running multiple displays of vastly different density, as it’ll make applications appear roughly the same size on all monitors.

However, at least in Windows 10, there’s a problem with this. Windows detects displays when they’re attached, and determines a proper default DPI and applies it. Once that is done, it applies your preferred scaling factor to the display. The problem with this is that closing the lid on a laptop effectively detaches the display, and opening it back up causes redetection. There’ll be no problem if you’re happy with the default scaling factor, but if you’re running a non-default scaling factor, this can cause huge problems. Apps can get stuck in the old scaling factor, windows will be rearranged, and windows will be resized. A workaround for this problem (if you don’t need different DPI for each monitor) is to disable Windows 8.1 DPI scaling, which on 8.1 could have been done by checking the “Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays” checkbox. That checkbox, however, is no longer available in Windows 10, but the registry key that it changed is still available, at HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\Win8DpiScaling. Change it from 0 to 1, reboot, and now all displays should have the same DPI, and closing your lid won’t change your window layout.

Obviously, there’s an underlying bug in display detection that Microsoft needs to fix (as the feature that I’ve disabled actually is a useful one). However, for my case, where I’m happy with all displays running at the same scaling factor, the old way of multi-monitor scaling (as used in Windows 98 (the first version with official multi-monitor support) through 8.0) works perfectly fine.

Quick guide on upgrading a WinBook TW700 to Windows 10

It’s rather tricky to get Windows 10 onto a WinBook TW700, between WIMBoot’s inefficiency, the inability to delete things from the preload, and the limited storage available on a TW700, so I thought I’d write this quick guide on how to get the device updated. These instructions should work on any WIMBoot device – or, for that matter, any Windows 8.1 Update (and possibly earlier versions of Windows, I’m not sure if Win10 will run from 8.0 or 8.1 pre-Update) device that’s short on space. Please note that your profile and apps will NOT be migrated – I’d use User State Migration Tool, from Windows 10’s Assessment and Deployment Kit, to save profiles, and then restore them after you have the device reloaded. I’ve not used USMT in quite a few years, though.

Following this procedure will result in the loss of all data and applications on the device, and I will not be held responsible for data loss as a result. You are responsible for ensuring that you can get everything restored.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two USB thumb drives of 8 GiB or larger capacity (one of these may not be necessary)
  • A MicroSD card or a third USB thumb drive of 8 GiB or larger capacity
  • A USB hub, keyboard, and mouse (shouldn’t be necessary, but it’s useful in case something goes wrong)

Here’s the procedure that I followed in a nutshell:

  1. Create a USB recovery drive and put it in a safe place. This will allow you to go back to the factory preload at any time. This is a good practice even if you plan on staying on Windows 8.1.
  2. Reset your PC (Microsoft directions, go to “Remove everything and reinstall Windows”). This is necessary to get free space back.
  3. When the Out-of-Box Experience comes up, connect to a wireless network, but do not log in using a Microsoft account (you don’t want any OneDrive data downloaded), and disable Windows Update (you do not want updates taking up the storage space you just freed).
  4. Use the Media Creation Tool on another Windows machine to create a install USB drive for Windows 10 Home 32-bit English (US), then connect that USB drive to the tablet and run setup.exe on it. You may not need to do this, it may be possible to use the Media Creation Tool’s ability to update the computer it’s running on, but I played it safe.
  5. The Windows 10 installer will mention that you need more space to install. Either use a USB hub to connect another thumb drive, or insert a MicroSD card, and select that drive in the installer.
  6. I personally chose to change the settings that would have migrated my profile and apps, and chose to only install the OS. This one’s up to you, though.
  7. Proceed to wait a while, while Windows 10 is installed. There may be a few points where the device freezes during boot, just shut the device off by holding the power button down, then release the power button, wait 5 seconds, and press it again, it will proceed normally.
  8. Go through the Out-of-Box Experience and adjust settings to your liking. Once this is complete, the device may be sluggish for a while, as it’s performing a lot of background tasks (updates, driver installations, and the like). Let it complete these before continuing.
  9. Delete your previous version of Windows. Why keep it around, when it’s just the preload missing the software that came with it, and you’ve got a thumb drive with the USB recovery drive?
  10. Somewhere along the way, a driver update will have happened, and Windows will have decided to run at 125% zoom. If you like this, leave it alone. If you don’t, go to Settings, System, Display, and change the size of text, apps, and other items to 100%. Do note that Modern UI apps are rendered smaller than in Windows 8 (and currently don’t appear to respect the system scaling setting), and Universal apps tend to have smaller UI elements than Modern UI apps did in Windows 8. However, Win32 apps are rendered the same at 100% as in Windows 8. This one’s up to personal preference, really.

That’s all there is to it. (Well, there may need to be a Bluetooth driver update, I haven’t checked that fully yet…) There’s still some glitches in Win10 (the on-screen keyboard only really works the way it did before when in a Universal app – Modern UI apps at 100% don’t quite behave right, and Win32 apps don’t move out of the way at all), but generally, things should work. And, it’s faster, lower RAM usage, and lower disk usage than before (Win10 has a much better compression mechanism).

WinBook TW700 first impressions, survival guide

So, Micro Center is selling Windows 8.1 tablets for $60. No, really. That includes a Windows license, a quad core Atom (that’s right, this isn’t even RT), an IPS display, and a friggin’ Office 365 Personal license (even with rights to install on a desktop or laptop)! Now, it does only have 1 GiB RAM, and worse, only 16 GiB of eMMC, so there were corners cut. However, even with those limitations, the price really does seem a bit too good to be true.

Then again, it’s only $60, and Micro Center does take returns (and there are plenty of open box units for $48, although I strongly suggest avoiding those for a couple of reasons), so… I ultimately couldn’t resist (if nothing else, it’ll be a decent device for running the excellent VCDS Volkswagen diagnostic tool by Ross-Tech), and I’m typing this post on it. Continue reading

Why Apple is evil: Their business model is contagious

This isn’t news either, but I’m posting it anyway.

Many have made the argument that it’s OK if Apple makes a walled garden, because there’s always other choices.

The problem is when Apple’s walled garden is wildly successful, competing platforms may switch to a walled garden model. And, Microsoft, which is quite often accused of copying Apple at every opportunity, well, they’re copying Apple on this one.

Windows Phone 7 will be a walled garden, too. Sure, there’s some Windows Mobile 6.5 devices out there, and they’ll continue past Windows Phone 7’s release, but let’s face it – 6.5 is crap.

And, AT&T’s first Android device, the Motorola Backflip, requires some hacking to get apps from outside of the Android Market installed. Granted, they didn’t do a good job of securing it, but they did try.

Arguably, this is more of a “why Microsoft and AT&T evil,” but this points out why Apple’s walled garden is dangerous for everyone, even if you’re not an Apple customer.

Source: Engadget

Zombie OSes – OSes that aren’t dead, but they aren’t the most alive, either

I’m probably going to piss a few people off with this, but it’s something that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and I wanted to get it posted somewhere. This might not even make much sense. 😉 Also, please note that I’m not knocking your favorite OS when I classify it as a zombie OS.

So, what is a zombie OS? A zombie OS is an OS that “should have” died, but has been kept alive and at least somewhat up to date by its community. Or, maybe it really did die, but its community has brought it back. (By “should have” died, I don’t mean that the OS deserved to die, just that the situation that it was in meant that it would have died if it weren’t for the community.) Either way, it’s now “undead,” if you will.

Most zombie OSes are now considered hobby OSes – OSes that most people play with for fun, and then reboot into a more mainstream OS (or switch to a more mainstream computer) for daily work. That said, there are often many die-hard users that use such an OS as their primary OS. At one time, most of these OSes were commercially sold, but their developer has abandoned the OS, or has gone out of business. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a new owner commercially selling it to the hobby market – in fact, in many cases, that is the case.

Why use a zombie OS? Quite a few reasons. For starters, nostalgia – you may have used the OS before, you liked it, so why not play around with it nowadays? That happens with a lot of dead OSes, too – OSes that have truly been abandoned, and the community around it exists solely to have fun with stuff they used years ago. Alternately, maybe you’ve always been using it, it fits your needs the best, or it has some features that you really like, so why stop now? Or, maybe you’re interested in using alternatives to the mainstream OSes, and as zombie OSes were usually well supported in their past, there’s usually more support available for them than for OSes that began as hobby OSes.

So, what is there to know about them? Continue reading

Scary thought of the day: Windows Mobile is the most open smartphone operating system.

You’re probably thinking, “what? How can that be? Android has to be the most open, it’s open source, right?”

And you’d be right… until you get into actual Android devices that are for sale. Other than the Google Dev Phone 1 (which has some other restrictions,) all of the devices are locked down at least somewhat.

There is one exception to my point – in one or two ways, Palm OS is more open than Windows Mobile. However, Palm OS is irrelevant nowadays, but I’ll include it in the comparison anyway. Continue reading