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Update Windows third-party utilities semi-automatically

I used to have and recommend a tool for updating all your third party software on Windows machines. Unfortunately that tool went end of life several years ago. But Microsoft, of all people, has a tool that works suitably. Usage is similar to apt or yum on Linux. It’s called Microsoft App Installer, and at the command line, it takes the form of the command winget.

App Installer is a free tool that updates what Windows Update won’t. That means open source apps, but also some third party apps, and even some difficult-to-update Microsoft apps, like the Visual C++ runtime. It is capable of updating more than 3,000 apps.
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Change your computer name in Windows 11

If you thought changing your computer name in Windows 11 was just a matter of right clicking on an icon on the desktop, I have bad news for you. It’s not. That option hides from you now, though you can find it again behind a completely different right click. Here’s where Microsoft hid it.

The quickest way to rename a Windows 11 PC is to right-click the Start menu and click System. Right-clicking the start menu is a good trick to remember when you can’t find something in Windows.

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Windows mouse cursor moves on its own? The fix

My Windows mouse cursor on my work laptop was moving on its own and driving me up the wall. Here’s how I trace the problem and how I fixed it. It turned out the mouse cursor was moving when I pushed the arrow keys. The obscure problem is easy enough to fix, fortunately.

Two things can cause the Windows mouse cursor to move on its own or when you hit the arrow keys. Those are an obscure feature called Mouse Keys, or the venerable Microsoft Paint app.

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Install Windows 11 on an unsupported CPU

Ever since Microsoft announced Windows 11 would have much stricter hardware requirements than it’s predecessors, people who don’t want to go and replace all of their computers have been looking for work arounds. Here is the easiest way to install Windows 11 on an unsupported CPU, including virtual environments like VMware or Virtualbox. No need to edit files, mess with an ISO file or disk image or Rufus or the registry editor.

The easiest way to install Windows 11 on an unsupported CPU is to delete one file, appraiserres.dll, from your installation media. This trick will hopefully keep some usable computers out of landfills a little while longer.

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Local account in Windows 11

I prefer to use local accounts on my home network. If you’re reading this, chances are you do too, so I don’t need to sell you on the idea. You already know Microsoft doesn’t want you to use local accounts and makes it hard to create them now. But it’s not impossible. Here’s how to create a local account in Windows 11, even when you’re doing a new install.

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Cheap Windows 11 PC options

Microsoft caused a major hubbub when they announced that Windows 11 will not be supported on systems that are more than about 3 and 1/2 years old. That means a lot of still usable systems have to stay on Windows 10 until Windows 10 goes end of life. Here are some cheap Windows 11 PC options. I’ll mostly cover desktops here, as the market for laptops is rather different.

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Windows 11 on unsupported hardware

When Microsoft announced Windows 11, they also announced some pretty severe hardware requirements. Windows 11 would only be supported on the three most recent CPU generations, and would require a TPM chip. At the end of August 2021, Microsoft announced a way to work around it. Then they did their best to try to talk you out of doing it. Let’s talk about running Windows 11 on unsupported hardware.
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