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September 23, 2020

PowerToys v0.19.2 Gets Installer Right


On July 15, Clint Rutkas and his development team at MS released a new version of PowerToys (v0.19.2). Over the past three versions I’ve been giving them regular feedback on their installer process, and watching each subsequent vision improve greatly. Is there a relationship between my input and their output? Who knows? I’m just glad to see them steadily improving with time.

Hearken Back to V0.18.2

I wrote a blog post on June 24 entitled “Thoughts on Updating PowerToys (Preview)” in which I observed that updating from v0.18.1 to v0.18.2 caused installation to pause while it asked me to close a bunch of applications, including Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and the Nitro Pro PDF editor. Over the next few releases I watched all of them drop off that list (Outlook and Nitro Pro fell out in v0.19.0; and Teams finally dropped out with v0.19.2).

I also heard back from @ClintRutkas and other team members that issues with DLLs added to the PowerToys runtime related to .NET Core were responsible for the oddities I’d observed and reported. They said they were working on fixing these things. In the three weeks since I started submitting bug reports via GitHub, and exchanging tweets with Clint and his team, slowly but surely they’ve done what they said they would do. Kudos and thanks for that to one and all in the PowerToys group!

The Situation as of V0.19.2

The installer no longer asks me to close any applications during the install process, unless I leave PowerToys itself open after launching the install (oops!). Near the tail end of that process, it asked if it was OK for it to restart Explorer to complete the installation on my production desktop PC. This actually turns off the Start Menu and the Task Bar (and of course, Explorer.exe itself), works some magic, then turns everything back on. I didn’t have to do anything but agree, and then wait for the process to complete. Obviously, that means it’s working on parts of the Explorer runtime that shouldn’t be touched unless it’s not in use at that moment.

In fact, I just updated a second (test) machine to v0.19.2 and no Explorer restart proved necessary there. Looks like YMMV depending on the target machine’s runtime environment. All this said, the PowerToys team is doing a great job of engineering their software for real-world use. Makes me wonder how soon it will transition from (Preview) status to production code.

Good stuff. Keep up the good work, people!

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.

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