Windows Gremlins - Alternatives?

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  • Updated 4 weeks ago
Since purchasing my Flex 6400 I have spent just about as much time chasing Windows-related gremlins than I have using the radio. I'm getting fed up. I lusted after a Flex since seeing my first one demo'd at a hamfest. Years later,  I finally sold enough equipment (and robbed the piggy bank) to buy one. When things are working I'm happy with my purchase -- then along comes a Microsoft update and I spend the next week sorting things out. I'm aware of the uninstall/reinstall recommendation for updates, but it's a pain.

Sorry for the rant....here's my question: has anyone come up with a Linux-based SmartSDR solution? I've seen some discussions in the past, but nothing specific. I regularly use the iOS client and my Maestro. I know there's a dogparkSDR for Mac.... which I plan to try... but how about Mint / or similar?
John / WB5NFC
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John Kenney

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Posted 4 months ago

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Jim Gilliam

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I have made this suggestion before but it keeps falling on deaf ears. I use WintoUSB and have a USB thumb drive that mirrors one of my computers on Windows 7. The thumb drives today are very fast and work wonderfully with SmartSDR. Every time I want to use my Flex, I just boot up my thumb drive and stick my other thumb at Microsoft and their endless updates.
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Wayne

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So just swutch to windows 7 to run the flex and problem is solved or you could chase down as I have finally finding out how to prevent win 10 updates permanently so I can use win 10 with the flex. I mean if you dedicate a single computer with win 10 to running the flex and keep it from updating and you dont surf the internet with it there really is no need to constantly update it. I spend all my time with the radio and dont have any computer issues using win 7 or win 8.1 and I dont do updates on any of the win systems and works fine havent ever got a virus using them either.

You will really like it when microsoft moves the os to the cloud then you wont even be able to boot your computer unless you connect to microsoft, you may doubt it but its coming and sooner than you think. Its their solution for piracy and a monthly fee for you to even use your computer.
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Roland Forster

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Dear John, 

thanks for the post.

My Flex 6700 is the best radio I ever had. The Flex software is fantastic. 

If there are any problems with my ham station, the reason is: Windows.
If there are any problems with other software, the reason is: Windows.
If there is a problem with network, the reason is: Windows.
If I lose data, the reason is: Windows.
If there was a problem in my small company with printing, mailing oder network, the reason always was: Windows.
That's why a changed in my company to Mac OSX. Since ten years I work without these unacceptable mistakes of windows. I can not understand, why flex did not start their good products with smart SDR on Mac OSX. The only reason to go back to windows was my flex. It was a mistake. Since 3 month I have a good radio and no interest to start my computer with all the described problems.

Flex People! Change to a better system! Windows is telling us lies since the 90ties, they never offer a system you can compare with OSX or other.

Thanks again John.

73 de dg1rol
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Michael Coslo

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It's the old Installed user base issue. Because more people use Windows - even though most are not using it for anything like we are - Windows it is. I dream of SSDR on Linux.
By the way, MacOS and IOS are going to be melded together. So if Dogpark doesn't suit, you should be able to run the IOS app on a Mac. 
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DG1ROL

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Thanks Michael,
the dog park software is running fine on my mac since 2 years. I miss some functions and comfort. The iPad app is very fine. Do you have any idea to run the app on osx?
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N8SDR

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Been  using windows 10 since it was in Beta, and can say its gotten better over the years, I own and run my own I/T company and support many business running windows 10.  If properly configured and setup along with the correct hardware, right down to the power supply. It's a fairly stable operating system. Yes maybe 2-3 times in the last 3-4 years I have witnesses a botch windows update which has screwed things up, But if you setup your system restore points and have a good plan for daily or weekly backups (preferably full metal options which give you choice of doing a complete reinstall of your operating system software and configurations) then a system restore can be done quickly for me that takes less then 5 minutes from a fresh drive with no O/S or doing a complete restore after formatting the current drive(s). 
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Michael Coslo

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I'm not certain that a person should have to be running at that level of expertise just to use Windows. I mean yeah - it would be nice. I do hourly backups in two separate places and I'm imaged as well. But it seems so very odd to have to protect myself against Windows updates as if they were malware. 

Anyhow, I've found that a scorched earth delete and reinstall is sufficient to restore SSDR, and the other programs that Windows updates kill. Just life when you use W10. But that is not the sign of an operating system that's ready for prime time.
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Michael Coslo

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We beg, we plead, but apparently a Linux based solution for SSDR ius not going to happen.  Your best bet is to Either switch to a Mac, use a iPad, or if sticking to Windows, get a Windows 7 machine. 

I bought DogPark foir my Mac side - it is also 100 percent uptime.

Windows 10 is a not ready for primetime horror show. My Windows 7 build is 100 percent uptime. My Windows 10 build is a joke. 

I'd pay hundreds for a Linux version of SSDR, if only for the reliability.
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Lawrence Gray

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I use Windows 7 on my SSDR PC and NEVER have Windows related update issues.  Win 7 is solid and works fine with SSDR and all of the other related software that I use.   We use Win 7 on our club shack PC's for the same reason.

I highly recommend a PC/laptop running Win 7 dedicated for use with SSDR and related software.  Linux would be nice, but I don't see it coming along anytime soon.
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Danny K5CG

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My latest solution is to reinstall Windows 10 new and install everything else except SmartSDR. Then take a disk image of it (Clonezilla anyone?). If there is a windows update or a SmartSDR update that messes up the system or registry, I restore to the previous clean Windows image, let MS update it to the latest, update everything else (fldigi etc.) THEN take another snapshot as a new restore point and then install the latest SmartSDR.

It would be really great if there was a way to make it into a portable app that doesn't need to be installed.
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N8SDR

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I personally use and prefer Macrium reflect for backing up, give it a look over.
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Danny K5CG

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Looks interesting, but I have a dozen virtual servers also that Clonezilla works on, so it would be prohibitively expensive at $275 a pop.
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Jim Gilliam

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I think the ideal solution is for Flex to come up with an uninstall program. I am not sure if it is possible but if it were, it would really make a great difference to a lot of its followers.
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Michael Coslo

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This! I've asked Flex to provide a program ostensibly calle "FlexRefresh". Any time you get a Windows update, you run this program to insure that your Flex Radio works.  I think it beats angry people who are going to blame the problems on Flex (and they are not Flex's problem) and it would just be a regular part of living with W10.
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Danny K5CG

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I still believe that DAX and CAT would be better decoupled from the SmartSDR installer/uninstaller and packaged separately. If you are uninstalling SmartSDR and you choose to keep the DAX/CAT drivers it leaves the CAT.exe exectutable in a subfolder under the OLD SmartSDR path, and it removes the DAX.exe executable altogether but not the drivers.
If DAX and CAT are not being changed in a new version, why have it entangled with SmartSDR at all? Yes, you'd have to watch for version compatibility if there is an update.

This doesn't fix the Windows update issue, but at least it isolates that particular issue to the DAX module only and you wouldn't need to touch SmartSDR trying to fix DAX.
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WQ2H - Jim Poulette

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I'm guessing a new Win10 laptop would be a fraction of the cost of the radio. I suggest a new i7, with the largest SSD, and the most RAM and graphics memory you can afford.
Or as my son would say (21st century vernacular): "Dad, don't be a cheapo - just swing for the gaming box dude"
73 Jim, WQ2H
(Edited)
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Burch - K4QXX

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Windows 10 is a royal pain.  It's not just SSDR that windows 10 updates break.  I work in IT and I have spent more time this past 2 years fixing Windows 10 issues than I have in the last 25 years fixing OS issues.  It continually breaks software and hardware at the firm I work for.  God forbid if an windows update fails.  When it works, it's a nice operating system but I never had these types of issues using Windows 7.  Unfortunately, Windows 7 end of life is coming up in January of 2020.
I'm not sure on the home version of windows 10 but at least you can delay windows 10 feature updates on the professional version of 10.  I have done this on my home computers and at least I can schedule the feature updates when I want.
Burch - K4QXX
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Bob Craig, K8RC

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I am wondering out loud if a little habit of mine is the reason I have had absolutely NO problems with SmartSDR on Windows 10:

For some time now, through Win7-->Win8-->Win8.1-->Win10 on the same machine I ALWAYS uninstall the old version of SmartSDR, including DAX & VSP, before installing a new version of SmartSDR. Now I know, Flex says this is not necessary but I wonder if doing so has prevented the problems that seem to be common in some people's shacks. It's essentially a "clean install" of SmartSDR each time.

Win10 updates when it wants to here but has never trashed anything on my hamshack machine.

I do agree that the weak link is the "Windows as a service" business model. The larger "updates" are really loading a new operating system over top of the old one which has never been a good idea. The mechanism that migrates core device drivers has never worked reliably since the first days of WinNT. (Mac & Linux, you are NOT immune to that bugaboo, either) Even when I migrated a machine from Win7 to something higher, I would backup data, then re-format the hard drive for a clean install. 

The problem of device drivers being trashed is not unique to Flex either. The i7 laptop I am writing this on has its IDT high-performance sound card drivers replaced by generic junk when a major Win10  update occurs.

Maybe we need to direct our ire toward Satya Nadella and his idiot business plan.
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Michael Coslo

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You aren't seeing a problem because you are doing what people have to do when they have a problem. Regardless, it is a smart thing to do. Much better to have the radio work when you boot it up than have it fail on you. 
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Stephen Hawkins NG0G

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My solution was to buy a 6400M.  I left windows about  W98  shifted to Linux and never looked back. I put off buying a Flex until the M versions just because of Windows. 
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Craig Williams

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You do know your "M" is running Windows?
(Edited)
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Bob Gerzoff, WK2Y

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My solution has been Windows 10 Pro.   It allows me to postpone the major updates (e.g., from 1709 to 1803) for up to a year.  These seem to be the ones that cause issues. Doing so does not prevent the security updates, and I also have highly rated security software running as well.  (BitDefender).   
73,
Bob, WK2Y
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Jim Gilliam

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For those interested in disabling Windows updates see the very informative YouTube video:

https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=&oq=How+to+stop+Windows+10+updates&i...https://outlook.live.com/owa/?path=/mail/inbox/rp

After disabling, you can verse the process just as easily. Takes about one minute to disable updates on Windows 10.

Jim, K6QE

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Roger J. Buffington

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I am new to the Flex community.  My question is whether these Windows update problems are common among users, or is it a rare occurrence or what?  I've only been on my Flex for around 2 months.  No significant issues at all here, and none to do with Windows updates.  Of course 2 months is not a very long time.
I'll be following this whole issue with interest.  I do not see Linux as any kind of viable alternative; I know that Linux has its devotees, but most hams won't want to have to deal with Linux in order to enjoy a Flex radio.
de Roger W6VZV
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John Kenney

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WOW.... looks like I hit a nerve <grin>.  Thanks for all of the comments. I usually try to reply individually, but in this case, it would just chew up a lot of bandwidth -- so thanks to all -- it appears misery loves company. I will likely try to dig up an old Win7 install disk at some point. That appears to be the best solution in my situation. I just dread tracking down all the misplaced passwords and install disks I will ned to locate for the 20+ programs I have loaded on Win10 (by the way, it's on a MacBook Pro set up for dual boot with Bootcamp). I have 2-3 other older Windows computers I use for other things, but my MacBook/Win machine is my primary computer. I've found with multiple machines, it's hard for me to remember what is where. Again, thanks for all the comments and suggestions. As always, I've learned something from the group.

73
John / WB5NFC
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Michael Walker, Employee

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Steve has made this comment before, but I can share the highlights.    This is a common question.

All of the links (APIs) are available for someone to take the lead and build a Linux Client.  This is how the iOS and Apple OS clients were built   We do provide the tools to make that happen.   

What is interesting is why hasn't anyone from the Linux community done the same?  Surely there are some Hams who right software who also use a 6000 series radio?   

Here is my personal guess (nothing to do with FRS--my software support from a past career).  Once you write it, you then have to support it, and that can take a lot of time and effort.  I'm sure whoever writes this, might want to make some revenue for the mega man hours they put into it, so then you have to figure out how to license it and control your Intellectual Property.  That in itself is no small feat.    I suspect that this is where the slowdown on Linux has happened.  A few have dabbled with it, but making a prototype is a LONG way from releasing a final product.    Let's say some enterprising people actually do develop and deliver a product.  Would you pay $200 for it or expect it for free?    

BTW, don't kid yourself. All operating systems have issues once you get past web browsing, etc.  Apple, Windows, the 200 versions of Linux, etc.  :)  If you have used enough of them, you will understand what I mean.

The grass isn't greener on the other side, it is just different grass.  

Mike va3mw
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Linux is not perfect, I use Linux Mint, It updates often and never breaks drivers, anything connected to it like the printer, all software are never effected with an update.
I think a lot of hams would grab onto Linux, it runs and works the same as Windows and there are thousands of software you can install right within the operating system with the software chooser.
$200.00 for Linux SSDR? I don't know, interesting question.
Maybe someone should contact the Linux Mint dev and see what they think as a business venture?
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AA0KM

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"So then you have to figure out how to license it and control your Intellectual Property."  That in itself is no small feat. 

That says it all for Linux.

(Edited)
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Michael Coslo

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Thanks Michael - and while the concept we get is that it is the Linux communities fault, there are other factors at play. 

I control what is bought at our club station. Members have seen me using my Flex Radio, and thought it was very interesting. 

But I find myself not reccomending my favorite radio in the world to our members because of Windows 10. The operating system has forced me into a "do not buy" recommendation. 

Fortunately, the new Flex's with a on radio display make it easier to recommend, but it's just food for thought, when some folks don't recomment it because of the frail Windows 10 peripheral. 

If I was a competent programmer, I would write the Linux version. But I'm not.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Ok so your steering them away from Flex? what are they buying instead?
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AA0KM

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All I can say if people buying a Flexradio then having to sell the radio because of windows 10 I don't see much of that happening.

At least not where I go looking for used gear.

I tell people if you get along with the aggravation of computers in general then

 running a flexradio will should be really  easy for them.

Upfront people need to understand the computer or tough enough to handle the aggravation of it all.

We all get aggravated but I would never turn someone away from the idea of a flexradio..;)


2$cts



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Michael Coslo

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Hi Bill. We bought a loaded K3S and panadapter for the one recent radio. Bought the external speaker for it - that was a mistake. Replaced that external speaker with a Kenwood speaker. After Elecraft's new amplifier is out a while we'll buy one of those to go along with it. A good CW radio, but if you don't use it every day the button pushing for menus is easily forgotten.

Jeffrey - the rub is that I put my name on the line with our purchases. And in a club environment there are plenty of people with an idea of what is the "right radio" that if we have some contests and Windows does an update,  kills the radio, and I'm not there to fix it pronto, they'll be looking to lynch me, because I didn't buy their favorite radio. Such is club politics.

Which is why I won't recommend a Signature series radio for them, despite them being my favorite radios.  Windows just makes them unreliable. I can fix them quickly, but I can't be at the station 24/7. 


At present, I am recommending the 6600M and the Power Genius after we see it's track record. Some others want an IC-7610, but thats a real step down,  and a few want us to run exclusively K3S's, which won't happen either. We'll see how it all shakes out.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I know many people want the latest software with all the new wonders if offers, so many jumped onto the Windows 10 wagon and purchased Windows 10 to have the latest, then soon cursed it because of problems with anything using it.

I use Win 7, I have been for years and I can't remember ever having trouble with my Flex any time. I was using my Flex 3000 with Win 7 then I got a Flex 6500.

Microsoft has endless resources and man power to make the best software on the planet but Win 10 is a mess and breaks things,,Flex is just one of the the fallen.

My main work horse computer is Linux, I have no reason to use Windows if it were not for Flex.
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AA0KM

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No alternative but I do like Toyota`s built in the Usa but that's for another topic somewhere else. :)

Forgot on here who the author was sorry for that. (very clever)>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Windows 10 Hamradio edition is eagerly anticipated by the ham developers community.

There are several key enhancements that will appeal to ham radio operators around the world:

1) Full support for unsigned drivers. Such drivers will be considered trusted until proven otherwise and allowed to run at the kernel level, including with Realtime priority.

Further, they will be excluded by default from all antivirus/antimalware products.


2) Full native DOS and Windows 3.11 support. This feature will allow developers to freeze their development efforts to pre-Windows 8 times when all hell broke loose.


3) Software designated as ham radio will be allowed to run by default as System and have full read/write to all high security areas of the file system.


4) Windows Update will be permanently deleted from the file system so it is impossible to ever be executed again.


5) Windows firewall will be disabled by default. The C$ and IPC$ shares will no longer have any ACLs.


(Edited)
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Jon - KF2E

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For those running Windows 7 and recommending it to others, be aware that Windows 7 already passed the date for end of main stream support in 2015. It will reach the end of extended support in January 2020. So, in a year and a half there will be no more security updates making it extremely risky to run it on an open network.

I personally run Windows 10 and have had very few problems.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I know there are some that have very little problems with Win 10..but for so may, problems are continuing. What are they doing wrong?
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AA0KM

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Could be some are using win7 computer that went to windows 8 to windows 10 who knows.

Are some windows 8 to windows 10?

We don't know the numbers.

A new computer designed for windows 10 drivers and all might not have issues as much who knows.

But some report issues on here on the forums and some just  read the forums and work out their bugs on what they find and  fix them selves.

So no real tally to be made.



(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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So, bottom line? we are going to be at the mercy of Windows for a long time.
Thankfully there have been people on the community sharing what they know about fixing Windows problems.
Lets not forget about the countless hours Tim has spent testing Windows 10 and breaking things so as to learn from it.
I strongly recommend all to read up on Tim's reports and suggestions in fixing known issues after an update. It has helped many.

May I also suggest not using the community to complain about updates, nothing is likely to change. Just ask a detailed question that relates to your problem and help will follow.
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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How many specific problems are you having with Windows 10 that are not addressed by this support thread for the DAX drivers?
ref:  
https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/most-common-fix-for-dax-driver-errors-in-windows-spring-update-1803-you-can-do-this
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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For all the fuss over Windows 10,  there seems to be a repeat of one common problem after a windows 10 update, and it is documented here;
https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/most-common-fix-for-dax-driver-errors-in-windows-spring-update-1803-you-can-do-this

It is interesting to me how often this is occurring (due to Microsoft), yet costing both users and FRS
a lot of time and frustration.   Rather than switch back to an unsupported Windows 7 and become a 
target for hackers and ID thieves, all you have to do is use the fix at the above link.
But that fix takes time and a bunch of typing and steps.   I will repeat what I posted previously
for Flex to consider;

========
Tim mentioned that the reason an uninstall/reinstall cycle does not fix it is because MickySoft with their windows update migrated the entries to a new name and created registry entries that the Flex installer did not create.   Hence the Flex installer package did have that list of registry entries to uninstall.

As someone both cost conscience and also all about customer satisfaction, I still maintain the point 
I made earlier;   If Flex wants to save money and reduce both user frustration and time spent on 
support calls, they need to add an optional click-box on the installer package prompt screen that 
lets the user select "Deep Clean, Re-Install", which will warn the user to backup profiles, then 
proceed to scan the registry, purge ANY entry with Flex's keywords (This is what Norton 
Uninstaller/cleaner does), and then after that proceed to reinstall.     With coding, it is very easy to
match/find the registry entries that MickySoft migrated with their update.   The risk is low in doing that.   The rewards are huge, both financially and customer frustration wise.

Work Smart, Not Hard.
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Michael Coslo

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I'll second that again. 
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Roger J. Buffington

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I too have had no real problems (can't remember any) with Win 10.
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WW1SS - Steve

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Me neither . . . No problems here with Windoze 10
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Michael Coslo

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Can you tell us what all the people who have problems are doing wrong? We need people like you to to guide us!
(Edited)
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N5LB - Lionel B

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Linux OS has its own issues-different than MS but from experience changing from MS to any version of Linux can be frustrating.  There seems to be more Linux documentation and how to's than all the books printed since Gutenberg - some outdated, some just flat wrong. Maybe its better now but the hunt for drivers was nonsense unless Linux is your profession or hobby. 

That said, my point is that any OS will have some problems. W10 got me on the last update to 1803 and might on the next.  But I am pretty familiar with W10 now, unfortunately, and would not be easily convinced to change and have to learn an entire new family of buggy software.
There are many days when I hate MS.  Well most.

Some highly motivated Linux devotee should take on the challenge and demand for writing of a version of SSDR - though I see no way to pay for development and support - I see no business purpose for Flex to invest the six, or seven (?) figures it would probably take to develop a "bullet proof" Linux app.  SSDR in my experience is extremely stable on W10 unless MS manages to foul it up. And Flex has, I think, a pretty deep institutional knowledge of W10 issues and fixes. They respond fast, and bend over backwards-that is their business decision.

I think everyone's gripe is rightly with MS and pretty much the same as we all have had for decades and I think we will into the future.
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Michael Coslo

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I haven't had a driver issue with Linux since early Ubuntu came out. I even remember it - a audio driver for a Toshiba laptop around 2007.  Present day Linux load the drivers as you install. Installing from live CD or Thumb drive with an internet connection and it will read your hardware and grab the drivers.  I dare say the driver support is now better than Windows. An example is I was setting up a number of Mint boxes with USB to Serial adapters to run some radios via computer. Then since they were dual boot, I used the same adapter on the Windows side. No Joy, as it ended up that the adapter was an old USB to Serial that was first used on a Palm Pilot - Linux just went out and grabbed the drivers and installed them, and worked perfectly,  but there was no drivers for Windows. I had to re-do everything with an adapter that Windows would work with.
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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Agreed.  I've been a Windoze users since V2.0, way back in the mid 80s,  and in general have found W10 to be at least as stable as W7, and better than some of the old versions. (I did like XP)  I did get bitten by the 1803 driver bug on one of my shack computers, and my wife's laptop (which knows nothing of SSDR and is only used for Quicken) actually was hit worse.  My computers (and radios) here in the shack run 24/7, and I've found by setting the active hours to the maximum in Windows Update I've been able to prevent most unintended upgrades.  When a major one comes along, I make sure that everything SSDR related is shut down before I let the computer restart and upgrade.  I haven't had an issue since I began enforcing that policy.  The driver issue with 1803 was a pain in the butt, but nothing that can't be solved with a bit of effort.  As far as Linux goes; I've messed with it a bit, but at age 72, I'm too old to start over learning all the tricks of a new OS.
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Clay N9IO

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Same here Rick just not interested in the learning curve. I have had some Linux systems at work in the past and thankfully had good tech support to deal with it but as far as this thread goes to me it's a matter of either learning to tame the Win10 beast with better knowledge of housekeeping OR just run Win7 Pro like I do and sit back and read about everyone else's issues that leads me to the conclusion that I must have made the better decision (For me anyway.)

Almost forgot, I didn't start until W3.0 but I remember trying a new GUI program called Windows on my Commodore 64 and thinking to myself that this has got to be the dumbest damned idea I had ever heard of in my life.
So much for thinking... Ha...
(Edited)