As my regular readers already know, I’m an active member of the Insider Preview program. This is part of my charter as a Windows Insider MVP. Thus, over the past three years and more, I’ve been diligent about downloading, installing, and working with regular Insider Preview releases. Right now that means dedicating 6 test machines, 2 each for Dev Channel, Beta Channel and Release Preview Channel updates and releases. It also means watching the Microsoft blogs, Twitter, the MVP Yammer Community, and TenForums (whose Windows 10 News forum is a great source of update/upgrade intelligence) to jump on new stuff as it gets pushed out for Insider review. This whole effort also means I’ve seen plenty of Windows 10 issues, bugs, design flaws and omissions, and so forth, in working through this stuff on an ongoing basis.
Drawing on Troubleshooting Lore
It’s considered a truism in the troubleshooting trade that intermittent issues are the hardest to diagnose, find, and ultimately, fix. I have been reminded of that pretty regularly lately in working with recent Dev Channel Insider Preview versions on my older of those two test machines. It’s a 2012 vintage Lenovo X220 Tablet, which I originally purchased in 2013 to write a book about Windows 8 (at the time of its purchase it was one of the very few reliable and affordable touchscreen PCs that met the initial Windows 8 requirements for touch points, sensitivity, and so forth). In the 7-plus years I’ve owned this machine it has proven itself to be solid, reliable and — especially for a 13″ display device — unusually expandable and adaptable machine. Thus, for example, even though the machine is not equipped with any built-in USB 3 ports (yes, it really is that old) I purchased a StarTech 2-port ExpressCard adapter that provides surprisingly fast USB 3 capability. Even after all these years of constant use I still like this machine and intend to keep using it as long as it will support current and Insider Preview Windows 10 versions.
But there’s one thing about the X220 Tablet that’s been making me crazy over the last six months or so. Each time a new Dev Channel release comes along, I never know whether Remote Desktop access will work or not when I boot into the latest version. Sometimes, it does. But sometimes (for about half of recent releases) RDP can’t connect to this PC. I’ve learned how to fix it, as this story’s lead-in graphic shows in a snippet captured from the Advanced Sharing Settings window from the Network and Sharing Center in Control Panel. What’s weird about this is that my Lenovo X380 Yoga is not likewise affected (nor has it been, ever). What’s even weirder is that sometimes I’ll get two or three releases in a row where RDP doesn’t work right away (and this fix is necessary, with a subsequent reboot, to make it work). But then, the next release (or releases) will work just fine because those altered settings somehow get preserved from one installation to the next.
Rather Than a Sanity Challenge, Treat It as a Game
For a while I let this unpredictable back-n-forth bother me. But over time I realized that it’s just one of those things that happens sometimes, and doesn’t happen at others. So far, I’ve not been able to figure out what causes it to occur. Nor have I been able to understand why after 2 or 3 releases in a row where RDP won’t work, another similiar series may follow where it works just fine. Part of it is just a normal consequence of working with pre-release or beta software, where things do change regularly and sometimes randomly. Hopefully it’s no surprise to readers that the first experiment I conduct on the X220 Tablet after applying the latest Dev Channel preview release is to see whether or not RDP is working this time around. If it is, I rejoice. If it’s not, I fix it.
And that’s how things go here in Insider Preview Windows-World — fairly often, in fact. One begins to build a bag of tricks to deal with Windows oddnesses and eccentricities. For me and my X220 Tablet, this is one of those kinds of things, for sure.
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.