System CPA Gives Way to About Info in 20H2 Release

In yet another sign that the Settings UWP apps are slowly but surely supplanting Control Panel, MS changed some key behaviors in 20H2. On 2004 or earlier, if you right-click This PC in File Explorer, then click Properties, you see the Control Panel System applet (CPA, as in the title to this post). If you do likewise in 20H2, you get the Settings → System → About pane instead.

In fact, if you enter “System” into the Start menu, then click the item that appears therein (shown in the lead-in graphic for this story) you’ll still wind up at the Settings/System/About pane anyway. To me, this comes as no huge surprise. Rather,  as in Pink Floyd’s song lyric “It’s just another brick in the wall” that MS is building between users and the Control Panel and its applets. I can’t say I’m overjoyed about this gradual transformation, but it is starting to seem completely inevitable. Just for grins, here’s what shows up in 2004 on those PCs where WU hasn’t yet seen fit to extend a 20H2 upgrade offer. The contents of the About pane (from 20H2) follows immediately afterward.

Some of the information here does not appear in the About pane, and vice versa (see below).
[Click image for full-sized view.]


The About pane speaks more to the Windows OS and PC than to the organization that delivers it, where the System CPA covers those things, too. (see above).
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

If you’re persistent, you can find your way to the System CPA if you really want to. Warning! Even if you go into Control Panel (which comes up as it always has) and click the System item therein, you’ll get the About pane anyway. You can use an Explorer shell command to make it appear — namely:

explorer shell:::{BB06C0E4-D293-4f75-8A90-CB05B6477EEE}

This still works (I set it off to make it easy to cut’n’paste). Another string-based technique is to enter

control /name Microsoft.System

in the Run box, at a command prompt, or in PowerShell. That works, too. (Thanks to Benj Edwards at How-to-Geek for bringing this to my attention.)

You can turn the explorer shell string into a shortcut to reliably launch the old System CPA, too. Lawrence Abrams at BleepingComputer wrote a nice article about this on October 25, entitled Windows 10 now hides the SYSTEM control panel, how to access it. It provides all those gory details.

I don’t like to clutter my desktop up with shortcuts so I keep the control … string in my Sticky Notes collection instead. You may, of course, do as you think best on your own (or your user’s) PC(s).

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.