Microsoft did something good in Windows 11

I know that I dislike Microsoft because they cheat. But if I’m going to have at least a little bit of integrity, I need to admit it when Microsoft does something good. Yes, they did something good in Windows 11, even if it took them 30+ years to copy the idea.

In Windows 11, you can select a file and right-click on it, and the popup menu lets you copy the path of the file to the clipboard.

If you didn’t know about this, and you start using it, you may be surprised at just how useful this is. I’m not, because I’ve had that functionality all along these last 30 years in WinBatch. For 30 years, I’ve had an easier time of it than you, because I’ve always had right-click clipboard tricks at my fingertips.

And I do have some sympathy for Microsoft taking so long to implement this feature. Microsoft had been caught stealing ideas from software vendors who sold (or wanted to sell) Windows utilities. Wilson WindowWare, the publisher of WinBatch, made Windows better by providing a macro recorder for Windows. It was kind of a sham though, because playing back the same mouse and keystrokes – without the ability to edit the macro – was more teaser to buy a product than helpful.

But if you bought the product, it was magical.

And Microsoft decided (this time) to not stab their partner in the back by implementing the partner’s idea themselves.

I did buy WinBatch. I bought it for my personal use. And in fact, I conviced my employer to buy the compiler, at $500 per year. What that gave me was an unlimited site license to run as many WinBatch scripts as I wanted on every machine in my environment. The compiler embedded the scripts inside a .exe much like the Perl PAR modules do, so you get a Windows .exe that runs your Perl script. The interpreter is embedded, the DLLs are embedded, and the script is embedded, and it all launches from the .exe

At work, I put the runtime DLLs on the public folder of every NetWare server where users log in. I compiled scripts to the small .exe option, and then copied the .exe to the file servers. Well, I didn’t copy them, I had a WinBatch copy them for me. Then I edited the Novell login script to launch the WinBatch exes.

Did I need to take an inventory of every drive letter mapping on a machine? Yes. Could I do that for 2,500 machines and write the results to a shared drive? Yes. Oh, and by the way, how about listing which printers were installed too? This was reasonably competent tech for 2005. WinBatch had a set of Windows Registry search-and-replace calls, so I could launch from a login script a utility that changed registry keys on your machine after we migrated you to a new server.

Anyway, I loved WinBatch, and used it daily. And it came with clipboard tricks: any file, any folder, mulitple files and folders: you could right-click and copy either the name(s) or the full path (including file names) to the Windows clipboard.

So when I saw that Windows 11 added right-click copy path to clipboard I was impressed. Microsoft finally did something good.

Now technically, this feature has been in Windows for a decade or more, but you needed to know to shift+right-click to get the menu option. With Windows 11, they finally just made it available without any weird key combinations. Good job, Microsoft.

Dang it Microsoft: can’t you even follow your own instructions?

This morning, Outlook popped up “Allow this website to configure mailbox@domain server settings?” No, I don’t want to, because it messes things up. The website mentioned is the autodiscover.xml serving web site. The dialog box says “Your account was redirected to this website for settings. You should only allow settings from sources you know and trust”

I click the checkbox “Don’t ask me about this website again”.

Then I click the Cancel button. The other button is “Allow” which is specifically what I don’t want to do, ever again.

That’s the combo: “Don’t ask me about this website again” plus “Don’t allow the change”. That’s what the dialog box prompts for, and that’s what I choose, and the dialog box goes away.

And of course it’s nagging me with the same prompt an hour later. It will continue to nag me for all eternity if I have the fortitude to resist it’s nagging.

I have to wonder if somewhere in the souce code commments, someone had to add above the “Don’t ask me about this website again” checkbox “Just kidding. We don’t record or care if the user doesn’t want to be asked again. Stupid user.”

It was Microsoft who presented the checkbox. I’m just asking them to implement what they presented. But apparently they aren’t competent to do that.

I probably ought to write a WinBatch to wait for that dialog box to pop up, and automatically close it with the options I want. And having thought that, I expect that at some time soon Microsoft will offer to sell me a Windows Copilot skill, for the low low price of $1 per month, to auto-dismiss the nag they implemented. Ain’t Microsoft grand?

At Microsoft, some stupid people are in charge

I got prompt to try out the New Outlook (preview release). Sure, why not? Probably some of our clients are going to upgrade, and it would be good to know ahead of time what they will encounter.

I chose the button to “switch” and got a prompt to import the old settings. Sure, go for it. I got a progress bar as it imported.

I don’t know if Microsoft invented the progress bar; probably it was on the Apple Lisa (and before that, the Xerox Alto). The first one I ever saw was on Windows, though. They are fundamentally a good idea, and a kindness to the user. “We know this is taking a while, so here’s an estimate of how long it’s going to take, with real time updates.”

And they can be tough to do, too. The amount of time it takes to project when a thing is done isn’t necessarily known ahead of time. Just figuring how long something might take could be as long as simply doing the thing. If you have to traverse a list to find out how long the list is, and the amount of time to work on each item in the list is small, you might have been better off just working the list in the first traversal, and not bothering with the progress bar.

Turns out, the “progress bar” in the new Outlook import settings dialog box is not a progress bar at all. It’s a flag wave. It does nothing except to waste your time and try to keep your attention.

Back in the 1990’s, there was a Spanish language television show, the Xuxa Show, which used to employ people to stand in the background and slowly wave flags. That’s all they did. You could tell the flag wavers were bored. They needed to keep the flags (slowly) waving, but they brought nothing to the show except (visual) background noise. It was known that people’s attention can be grabbed by seeing movement. Since the show was aimed at children, the audience was known to have short attention spans. How to increase attention? Wave a flag.

It’s stupid, but it works.

Someone at Microsoft decided that this import settings dialog box should have a flag wave; but wait – we’ll make it even better: we’ll disguise it as a progress bar!

The flag wave kind of an insult to the audience though. You aren’t worth actual content, but we want to keep you staring at the screen, so here’s a waving flag. I also see this in a lot of news type television shows, where the camera slowly slides around or gradually zooms in. It’s like the Ken Burn’s Effect, except they attempt to be so slow that you don’t notice it consciously. When I do notice it, I’m annoyed. It’s a cheap trick and an insult.

So I’m annoyed that someone at Microsoft proposed a flag wave instead of a progress bar, and, they disguised it as a progress bar, and no-one at Microsoft has enough respect for their end users to say “stop it!”

Windows 11 first impression: it is awful

I want to have a shortcut open cmd.exe with a starting folder location. Not difficult at all in Windows 10.

In Windows 10, I could scroll through the Windows menu and find Command Prompt and then click-and-drag to make a shortcut on my desktop. Then I could modify the properties as I want.

Windows 11 doesn’t let you do this. It will launch the command prompt, and it will let you pin it to either the task bar or the start menu – but those shortcuts do not have properties you can modify. Well, one of them did, but starting folder was not a property I could set.

“Well David, how about choosing New Shortcut and following the prompt?” Okay, sure. Right-click the desktop, choose New ==> Shortcut. It asks “What item would you like to create a shortcut for?” You tell me, dimwits. Under Windows 10, I’d copy the existing shortcut and that would be defined for me already. Does your dialog box have a search function in it? No.

Great. I need to crank up a Windows 10 machine so I can find the location on that box, and on the Windows 11 box browse through arcane mysteries of %windir%\system32\

Finally, I’m getting a shortcut started, and now I need to set the starting directory. Windows 11 helpfully removed the Browse button….

I swear, it seems like whomever is in charge of Windows hates their users and are doing shit just so that the next time their annual review comes up, they can say that they did shit. Sure, it was shit that made user’s lives worse, but there isn’t a feedback mechanism for that, now is there? So that didn’t happen.

At least the icon picker still has a Browse button.

Microsoft is playing Catch-22 with me

My SMTP mail server is relatively new, and it took a few weeks, but Microsoft has blocked it’s IP address. The non-delivery report (NDR) says this:

For further assistance, please send mail to postmaster.

Care to guess what gets rejected because I’m on their block list? That’s right: and

For what it is worth, I’m currently getting a 9.8 out of 10 on

Microsoft idiocy again

Work wanted to implement Windows Hello. We got cameras, and it seems like a good idea.

First problem: during setup, it tells me I need to install Microsoft Authenticator, and leads me to the Microsoft App Store. Authenticator is only available for smartphones, and this is a laptop. Y’all couldn’t tell that?

Second problem: I click Logout, and Windows Hello logs me right back in. So, no-one during product testing considered that I might need to log out so I could log in as someone else?

Ah – my mistake was assuming Microsoft does product testing. They don’t need to test; they have 100 million users who will test for them, for free. Of course the hidden cost is that their idiocy is on full display with this scheme.

Back to Windows Hello: instead of logging out, you choose Switch User. Okay, do that. See some software on the box I don’t need. Try to un-install it.

“There are other users logged on to this computer. To properly uninstall this program, switch to and log off each user before you continue.”

Thank you for telling me to perform an impossible operation (logging off) when Windows Hello is installed.


Follow up to “Microsoft is bad at software” – as a matter of fact, Microsoft is REALLY bad at software

In my previous post, one of my complaints was that I had deleted a journal mailbox connector, yet the email kept flowing out the connector to the partner organization.

The problem is that new Exchange Admin Center –> Mail Flows –> Connectors shows you an administration interface that appears to let you administer your connectors. You can create a new connector in the new Exchange Admin Center; but you cannot delete it. Well, the new Exchange Admin Center will show you that it is deleted, but the mail will continue to flow out of your network.

The only way to stop the flow of email out through the connector is to switch to the classic Exchange Admin Center.

Then, when you go in to classic Exchange Admin Center –> Mail Flows –> Connectors you will see that your connector still exists and is pumping out your email.

The particular deliciousness of this failure is that as of the end of last week, classic Exchange Admin Center –> Mail Flows –> Connectors shows only a message that to manage the connectors, you have to switch to new Exchange Admin Center.

Microsoft is bad at software

These past few years at work, we moved from Novell to Microsoft. It has definitely been a move for the worse.

NovellFeature -poorHigh qualityLow expenseSecurity: low profile
MicrosoftFeature -richLow qualityHigh expenseSecurity: target rich environment
Comparison between Novell and Microsoft

I’m just going to say that I dearly love (not):

  1. That Exchange Online has a new command New-DistributionGroup -RoomList which cannot be seen in New feature? Microsoft says Yay! Actually making it available to end user administrators? Ain’t no-one got time for that. Certainly this has been vetted thoroughly for security, too.
  2. Exchange Online –> Mail Flow –> Connectors –> Status set to “Off” does nothing. Mail still kept going to the partner, a week later.
  3. Set-Place command for adding the rooms to the RoomList – error! No worky! How to fix? Reboot the PC I was trying to run the PowerShell script on. Now it works. This is just so impressive. Have you tried turning it off and back on again? It’s two decades into the 21st Centrury – shouldn’t someone up there be ashamed?
  4. User asks for help, so I get delegate rights to her mailbox. The delegates rights are present (I run a script to check) but never did her mailbox populate so I could see what was going on in her mailbox. I deleted my own OST cache file just to make sure it wasn’t my machine. Ultimately, I had to use Outlook Web Access to see her mailbox.
    1. Every week we get multiple help desk tickets about folders not populating or visible for delegates.
  5. Exchange search is awful. Admittedly, I am coming from a GroupWise experience where search was great. But as important as search is, I would have thought that Microsoft could at least have pulled off “competent” – nope. I particularly like (not) that OWA has a drop-down for “search all folders” but the search only searches the current folder. What a bunch a maroons.

These were all in the last three days. I’ve seen nothing but this sort of low quality software for so many months now. Don’t even get me started on SharePoint.

Don’t forget – Microsoft will break your stuff if you do business with a competitor.

Dear Lord I wish I could retire tomorrow.

Microsoft is not good at software

“No shit, Sherlock”

All I’m going to complain about at the moment is Task Scheduler, and how I can run a PowerShell script if the script is on the local C: drive, but if the script is on my H: drive (which is on the network) then it’s no longer PowerShell, it must be ImpotentShell and should thus fail.

Apparently networks scare Microsoft?

Task Scheduler will attempt to launch it, with the target being powershell -File H:\blah\foo.ps1

But that run of the task will fail with the result code 0xFFFD0000

The only change I made to the Task Scheduler was to change the target path from -File H:\blah\foo.ps1 to C:\blah\foo.ps1. Now the script runs, where it failed before.

I find the whole attitude of “well, the network is so fragile that we are going to fail when we to try” moronic. The freaking machine this script on is a VM (a file) loading across the network you dolts.

But no…. We can’t have a PowerShell script on a network share. Network shares were invented 39 years ago – there’s no way that Windows can rely on tech that bleeding edge and unstable. So now I have to build stupid shit file synchronizing routines to keep changes made in the official repository up to date with the stupid copy on the stupid C: drive.

Please, Microsoft, keep working on Windows 11. Moving the start menu to the center of the screen is so important.

Also: why on the Lord’s Green Earth is the Task Scheduler All Running Tasks dialog box a fixed width? Wasn’t Windows 3 like, twenty years ago?

Man, I wish I could retire from this job.

Microsoft as bully, yet again

Personally, I think that people have the capacity to be both humble and bullies. But it is a conflict, and, some people think they are being helpful when actually they are bullying. “If only you did things my way, and then everything will be better” says the bully under the delusion of being helpful.

Recently, Microsoft pushed out an update to Windows 10 which adds a “News and Interests” widget to the Windows task bar. You don’t get a choice; it will be installed whether you want it or not. You can turn it off after the fact, of course. But what the person at Microsoft behind this change does not care to hear is that I didn’t want to be violated in the first place.

All it really does is remind me that I don’t have control of this machine; Microsoft does.

Thanks, Microsoft. I already dislike you, but, I hadn’t gotten a recent reminder of why.

“What’s the big deal‽‽‽ It’s just a little thing. I was being helpful and making your life better” says the bully. Yeah, no. I hear what you are saying, and I see through the deceit (conceit) that this is somehow for my good. It is not. It is an ego stroke for yourself and nothing more.

If it were really for my good, it would be turned off by default, and not installed by default. Microsoft could say “we added a new feature, if you want”, and I’d be fine with that. But pushing it without permission tells the truth of the act.