For years and years, I’ve subscribed to the notion that a clean Windows install — as opposed to an upgrade — can be a desirable thing. In cruising the Web, I see that my belief is still shared by the vast majority of Windows experts and mavens. However, a response to my most recent blog from Windows wizard and security wonk Russ Cooper now has me questioning or rather, researching and rethinking, this notion. Here’s the substance of the interchange between Russ and myself:
1. I post a promo to the blog post that reads: “Finally figures out how you can perform a clean install on a Windows 10 upgrade without supplying a key.”
2. Russ responds by saying that the old paradigms from previous versions of Windows don’t apply to this one, thereby implying that a clean install is no longer necessary.
3. I respond to Russ by asserting conventional wisdom that “the occasional clean install is an effective technique for de-gunking … Windows installations” while giving a nod to Jeff Duntemann (and co-author Joli Ballew) for their excellent books on this topic (run this Amazon search for more info). I show him this recent Reliability History graph for my production PC, upgraded in early September, by way of motivation:
All of the red Xs indicate somewhat serious errors, most originating from IE or hardware errors. This system is none too stable.
In addition, I have been unable to come up with a set of Windows 10 sources that will allow me to run the DISM ... /restorehealth command on this installation to a successful completion, which tells me that I do have lingering corruption issues with this particular install. Though reinstalling the raft of apps on this machine (PSI tells me I have 85 such elements on my PC, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least one or two dozen more installed that it doesn’t track) will take me the better part of a full day, I am still of the opinion that it will be worth the effort to restore my desktop to more normal and stable operation.
All of this said, Russ’s assertion has me questioning this conventional wisdom that a clean install is in fact an effective way to restore sanity and stability to an increasingly wonky Windows installation. That’s why I’d like to throw this topic open to the readership, and ask you collectively for your thoughts and experiences in the pros and cons of clean Windows 10 installations versus upgrades. I’m also reaching out to other Windows wizards I know to get their thinking on this topic and will follow up with more information as it becomes available.
It’s a great subject, though, and one worth digging into. If you’ve got something to say on this subject, or experiences to share, please do post a comment here, or reach out to me via e-mail through my contact page at EdTittel.com. Thanks!
[Note added 9/10/2015:]
In this morning’s edition of the Windows Secrets newsletter Fred Langa provides a definitive explanation of what’s going on with license data in Windows 10 upgrades. Here’s a quote from his piece entitled “How to clean-install a Windows 10 upgrade”:
First, you must— at least temporarily — upgrade your current Win7/8 system to Win10, the standard way. During this initial upgrade, Microsoft’s activation servers create and store a unique and permanent machine ID that’s based on your old Windows key plus the system’s hardware.
During the upgrade, Microsoft will also automatically issue you a new, generic Win10 product key. But it works only after your PC has been successfully upgraded to Win10 and activated. (This is how Microsoft intends to prevent piracy of the free Win10 upgrade.)
After your system has successfully completed an initial upgrade to Win10 and it has been registered with Microsoft’s activation servers, you then can wipe out the Win10 upgrade setup and perform a thorough, from-scratch, clean install.
At the end of that process, your PC will again check in with Microsoft. But because your system was previously whitelisted on the MS activation servers, your new clean-install setup will pass muster — recognized as 100 percent legitimate.
And FWIW, Fred remains a staunch member of the “clean install restores stable, reliable Windows operation club,” as do many other experts whose opinions I’ve researched since writing this blog post (including Ed Bott, Brink at TenForums.com, and lots of other folks).
I’d been wondering for some time how one could perform a clean install on an upgraded Windows 10 machine without providing a key. Thanks to the nice folks at the Windows Ten Forums, I found a pointer to this Windows 10 Web page entitled “Installing Windows 10 using the media creation tool,” which helps to shed some light on this apparent mystery. Given a copy of the Windows 10 ISO — readily available using the Media Creation tool available from the Download Windows 10 page — simply mount that ISO or use it to create an installable USB flash drive or DVD, then run setup.exe from the root directory of that installation environment (for an upgrade install). To perform a clean Windows 10 installation to replace an upgrade install, you must boot from the upgrade media itself (which works without requiring the key to be manually entered, for reasons I am still chasing down — common sense argues that either Win10 install reads the key from the install being upgraded, or “phones home” to an MS server to obtain that information automatically, and I’ve seen both of those possibilities hazarded by other veteran Windows-watchers like myself).
MS handles a clean (re)install of Windows 10 as a kind of upgrade and retains the upgrade key.
The secret is briefly mentioned at the very tail end of the afore-linked “Installing windows…” page, where the text explaining installation media includes this comment:
Both of these options allow you to upgrade the PC if it’s already running Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10.
The two options mentioned are the ISO mount or install from UFD or DVD already mentioned, where a clean install from such an environment is apparently able to extract the key information from the running Windows 10 installation it is about to replace before overwriting (or adding to) the boot/sys volume on the PC that’s acting as the installation target. I’ve tried this now with an install onto an existing Windows partition, as well as an install that begins by repartitioning the boot/sys drive (and volumes) before actually copying files, and can confirm that both methods work.
Among other things, this means you can select a target disk for your new clean install to replace an existing Windows 10 install on a drive different from the one that housed the initial upgrade installation. This can be very handy when replacing the boot/sys drive, or when switching from an older, slower boot/sys drive to a newer, faster one. I’ve also been able to confirm that capability on my Lenovo laptops, both of which made the switch from an older, slower OCZ Agility3 boot/sys drive to a newer, faster Plextor mSATA boot\sys drive as part of the Windows 10 adoption process.
And for those who may be concerned about the old, tried-and-true method of capturing the Windows 10 key, and then reusing it during installation: that still works, too, as I confirmed early in my massive upgrade-to-10 sequence in late August and early September here at Chez Tittel. But it’s nice to know you aren’t forced to capture the key if you don’t want to (I always grab mine as a matter of course, however, being paranoid enough to realize that just because Windows 10 isn’t out to get me doesn’t mean I might not have to recover from a catastrophic crash some time in the future).
Cheers, and Happy Labor Day!
For months during the Technical and Insider Preview stages of the Win10 version track, I noticed that some of my PCs would switch from Private to Public network status following sleep (tablets, mostly — both Surface and Dell Venue Pro 11 proved occasionally susceptible). The easy fix on my home network which lacks an Active Directory server is to launch the HomeGroup applet in Control Panel: this immediately informs me that the network is Public and must be reset to Private before HomeGroup access is available. On an AD network, machines that fall prey to this gotcha must instead be reset from Public to Domain, as explained in this excellent tutorial on the TenForums.com website “How to Set Network Location to be Public or Private in Windows 10.”
Once you get into the properties for your adapter (Ethernet or Wi-Fi in most cases), you should turn this setting On.
For those to whom the HomeGroup method is not applicable, the quickest method to regain access to proper network status is to dig into the Network and Internet silo in the Settings app in Windows 10. Once into that silo, pick Ethernet for wired PCs and Wi-Fi for wireless ones, then make sure the setting for “Find devices and content” is turned on, as shown for Ethernet in the preceding screen cap. This will automatically confer the proper network status for those who have administrative access to their PCs. Those who lack such access will have to get some help from their Help Desk or local administrator, to restore their PCs to normal (and expected) functionality.
Here’s hoping that MS will be able to finally find and fix this occasional glitch in some forthcoming update to Windows 10, preferably sooner rather than later. In the interim, the preceding approach will help users get back on the network (and back to work) with minimal muss and fuss. Please consult the afore-linked TenForums tutorial for alternate fixes based on registry hacks, local security policy, or PowerShell (all of which work for both HomeGroup and Domain situations with varying degrees of success; Domain Admins will also want to investigate edits to domain security policy as well).
There was a long period in my checkered career as someone who works with and writes about Windows, where I simply couldn’t get by without a high-end screen capture tool. For most of that period, in fact, TechSmith’s outstanding SnagIt was my tool of choice for such things. But when Microsoft added the Windows Snipping tool to Windows Vista back in January, 2007, my appetite for high-end, high-dollar screen capture programs started to abate.
Sure, there are things you can do with such tools that no simple screencap utility can match — such as the ability to capture entire Web pages to an image including what’s off the screen as well as what’s on it, the ability to time the “snapshot” so that users can mouse over to active objects and cause them to appear for inclusion in screen captures, not to mention tools for cropping, annotating, rotating, and working on the resulting image files.
I still keep SnagIt around, but was amused that I hadn’t renewed my license for it when I fired it up the other day. That’s because for most of my needs — static screencaps to enliven my blog posts, UI snapshots to explain systems and programs, bits and pieces of photos or artwork to add visual interest to my prose, and so forth — I don’t need the kinds of advanced features that a high-end screencap utility can deliver. And such capabilities come with certain costs, above and beyond the purchase precise and license renewals: such programs go into the startup lineup, run constantly in the background, take over global hotkeys for activation and use, and so on.
That’s why I was tickled to see a “Delay” option show up on the (miniscule) menu bar for Snipping Tool in the RTM version of Windows 10. It looks like this:
On the menu bar, Delay now appears between New and Cancel.
Though this new capability might not sound like much (and only offers delays from 0 to 5 seconds, in whole second increments), it provides the ability to request a screen shot, and then offers users time to mouse over to a program or Web page, open a menu or pull-down list or whatever, and capture that dynamically produced information for posterity. Here’s a snap that shows what I’m talking about, taken from the GoSquared Windows 10 marketshare graphs I wrote about in my previous blog:
What you can now do with Snipping Tool is set a delay, then go off to a program or Web page, and capture pop-up info, like the stats read from the Win10 tracking curve shown here.
This is a great little feature, often useful, and provides yet one more reason why I’m thinking about not renewing my SnagIt license, though I do really like the program. However, in a delicious irony, that thinking is countered by my observation that Snipping Tool adamantly refuses to make a snapshot of itself: I had to use my extended trial version of SnagIt to capture the first of the two screen shots that appear in this very blog post. LMAO!
[Note added 9/2/15 11:15 AM CDT] OK, so by researching my E-commerce folder in e-mail I was able to ascertain that I’d upgraded my license with 1 year extended support for SnagIt on 8/26/2015. Five days after the cutoff, I went to the TechSmith website and found myself still able to qualify for update pricing on the software ($25 for another year, plus $13 for another year’s worth of upgrade access). I went ahead and upgraded because the tool is too handy to have around but for those who don’t need its more advanced features (I do, sometimes) or who don’t need to take snapshots of the Snipping Tool itself (ha! ha!), SnagIt may be overkill, however great a tool it happens to be…
On August 26, 2015, MS made it known that the Windows 10 installed count had surpassed 75 million. A quick look at the calendar shows me that 8/26 is exactly four weeks after 7/29 (the day Windows 10 hit RTM status, and Build 10240 became available to non-Insiders). A fascinating article on Supersite for Windows entitled “Windows 10 Momentum” digs into these numbers, and also exposed me to a new and very different, UK-based source for online user population data named GoSquared.com.
GoSquared reports a very different fraction of Windows traffic from Win10 as compared to NetMarketShare.
Last week, I blogged about an earlier 67-million-installed figure from unofficial sources that apparently equated to a fraction under 1 percent of all desktops it monitored through its tens of thousands of sites. GoSquared, on the other hand, reports some very different statistics — namely, instantaneous readings that vary from a high of just over 20% on August 23 to a low of under 1% right out of the starting gate on July 28 (as far back as its data goes). I believe these numbers reflect the breakdown by Windows version (and the line graphs underneath the circular indicator shown above show the breakdown across Windows 7, 8, and 10 for the entire time line covered) at any given point in time graphed. What’s not clear to me is the size of the population that’s being monitored and how that population is composed. GoSquared is a subscription service which makes the population self-selecting (those willing to sign up and pay for its services).
What’s fascinating is the idea that if Windows 10 is indeed roughly 10% of the Windows population active on the Internet at the time the graph was generated, the total number of Windows users online falls under 1 billion. This makes more sense than the 17 billion figure I calculated last week, predicated on the assumption that all Windows users were online and that the number of online Win10 users scales smoothly into the overall number of Windows users across all versions. Alas, that’s not really the way that it works, because at any given moment we’re measuring only a fraction of the global population, excluding the approximately 1/3 of the globe that’s in its prime sleeping hours at that time. Assuming instead that we can measure a maximum of 2/3s of Windows users at any given moment, that raises the global Windows population to something in the neighborhood of 1.12 billion. But given the wide range of fluctuation in the Windows 10 numbers available by tracking the graph on GoSquared across the past week (which runs in a range from over 8 percent to under 15 percent of active users at the time of monitoring) we get a sense that the population is pretty fluid and changeable in size.
What I do like about these numbers is that they show a more realistic notion of what the overall population of Windows users might be, and put Windows 10 in a more realistic position vis-à-vis the other common versions in use (though XP and Vista are not on this radar). It remains very interesting to watch Windows 10’s explosive growth, and to see how that curve continues to climb. To me, that makes upcoming quarterly and yearly milestones equally interesting, especially as indicative of overall trends.
[Note added 9/1/2015 AM:]
When I checked NetMarketShare for Windows 10 yesterday, it was still reading under 1% (0.93, to be more precise). As of this morning, however, that figure has zoomed to 5.21%. This is much more in line with what I thought it should be, at about half of what GoSquared is reporting. I’m sure there’s a story in how those numbers could jump by 560% in one day, but I’m also pretty sure we’re not going to learn the no-doubt “oops!”-related details involved. Here’s the screencap:
What’s truly amazing about this 5.21% number is that Windows 10 achieved in 28 days what it took Windows 8.1 almost one year to achieve (the 8.1 number was 5.92% by the end of July 2014, about one year after the RTM date). At this rate (which obviously cannot be sustained for too much longer, though it will be interesting to see how long this run lasts), Win10 could conceivably surpass Win8.1 some time in early November! We’ll see…
I’ve been aware of Windows Hello (the ability to use biometrics for login authentication and other access controls) in Windows 10 since MS first started talking about it late in 2014. Intel’s RealSense cameras, which exploit built-in 3-D recognition capabilities, have gotten the lion’s share of attention in promoting what Windows Hello can do. They are also new devices, and unlikely to be supported on anything but the latest and greatest of laptops, notebooks, and tablets. That’s why I was intrigued to read recently that Hello also works with any fingerprint readers that Windows can recognize. As it turns out, this means even my three-to-four-year-old Lenovo laptops support the Hello login capability in Windows 10.
I didn’t realize I could use Windows Hello to login with a fingerprint reader until I reinstalled Lenovo’s Fingerprint software on those laptops.
Once the right software to link the device to the Windows login facility is in place — I proffer the afore-depicted instance for the Lenovo ThinkPad laptops as an illustration — Windows Hello will quite cheerfully work with even fairly old devices like those installed in my X220T and T520 ThinkPads (purchased on 3/2/2012). This will produce the Windows Hello response when logging into a Windows 10 machine using the fingerprint reader, and helps speed that process while providing tighter integration with the OS than was available in Windows 7 or 8 versions. Certainly, for those devices that already include fingerprint readers, it’s worth taking advantage of this facility.
Every now and then, I like to drop in on the market share stats at NetMarketShare.com to see what’s up in the desktop world as monitored via that company’s observations of the Internet. When I checked this yesterday, I saw that for the first time in the three years or so since Windows 8 versions made their debut, that a single Windows 8 version (8.1) has surpassed the installed base for Windows XP, at 13.09 and 11.74 percent respectively.
On 8/25, the baseline for XP finally gave way to Windows 8.1
I’m not sure where Windows 10 figures into all of this, but with that OS in RTM status for a month now, and over 67 million installations leaked to Windows Central on 7/31, it still doesn’t show up on the NetMarketShare pie chart as a separate entry. The 8/26 readout shows Windows 10 at a mere 0.39% of respondents, so if all of the 67 million were on the Internet today, that puts the total PC population at 17 billion or thereabouts — a patently absurd figure, given that Internet World Stats puts the total number of Internet users worldwide at just over 3 billion.
It’s going to be interesting to watch Windows 10 emerge from the lowest ranks by market share, and begin to make its way up that ladder. I predict it will catch up with and pass Windows 8 versions much more quickly than they have come up that same path, but we’ll just have to wait and see how those numbers play out. I do have to question the leaked numbers reported in Windows Central, though, simply because the actual counts appear to be much lower as a fraction of the overall active user population measured through NetMarketShare. It’s also fascinating that the leading desktop, Windows 7, is now two full generations back from the current OS version, now out of mainstream support but with four-and-a-half years still to go on extended support (see the MS Lifecycle Fact Sheet for details).
In my recent efforts to upgrade and/or clean install Windows 10 on a whole passel of PCs lately — a topic to which all 6 of my previous blog posts here have been devoted, starting on 8/10 — I’ve been faced with checking device drivers for all of those machines post-install to see what’s what, and what’s either missing or out-of-date. In general, the news about Windows 10 and device drivers is very, very good. My small sample population includes 8 PCs, to wit:
1. Production PC: i7 2600K Sandy Bridge, GA Z77X-UD3H Mobo, 32 GB RAM, Samsung 840 EVO SSD boot/sys
2. Test desktop: i7 4770K Haswell, MSI Z87-G45 Mobo, 32 GB RAM, Samsung 840 EVO SSD boot/sys
3. Boss PC: i7 3630QM Ivy Bridge, Jetway JNF9G-QM77 Mobo, 16 GB RAM, Samsung 840 EVO SSD boot/sys
4. Dell Venue 11 Pro: i5-4210Y Haswell ULT, 8 GM RAM, LiteOn LJT-256L6G M.2 SSD boot/sys
5. Lenovo T520: i7 2640M Sandy Bridge, 4239CTO, 16 GB RAM, Plextor PX-256M5M SSD boot/sys
6. Lenovo X220 Tablet: i7 2640M Sandy Bridge, 4294CTO, 16 GB RAM, Plextor PX-256M5M SSD boot/sys
7. Surface Pro 3: i7-4560OU Haswell ULT, 8 GM RAM, Samsung MSMTE256 SSD boot/sys
8. Dell XPS-27 AIO: i7 4770S Haswell, 16 GB RAM, Samsung 840 EVO SSD boot/sys
A typical result after using DriverUpdate to update and/or check over Win10 drivers.
The same PC shows no out of date drivers in the other program, and the false positive shown is resistant to all update attempts.
I’ve been running systems 2 and 4 on Windows 10 since the Technical Previews available in October 2014. All systems are now running Windows 10 in at least one boot partition (Build 10240 on all machines except 2 and 4, which are running 10525 Pro and 10525 Enterprise, respectively). In my entire experience of running Windows 10 on these PCs, only 7 drivers have either not been recognized or out-of-date — that is, I’ve seen 2 question mark icons in Device Manager, and have successfully updated 5 other drivers as well, primarily for Nvidia related graphics and audio devices.
Having been contacted about three weeks ago by the folks at Slimware Utilities, I also used the upgrade to Windows 10 to compare the accuracy and efficacy of eSupport’s DriverAgent to Slimware’s DriverUpdate. Each of these two products now runs as a standalone PC program on a host system, and checks what it finds installed on each such system against its database to determine what’s out-of-date and in need of replacement. Both programs live up to their descriptions as providing (mostly) automated support for downloading and installing drivers, though I believe that Slimware DriverUpdate holds a slight edge over eSupport DriverAgent in its ability to manage the driver update process and to achieve the best overall results.
My basis for making this statement is as follows:
1. On the 8 machines aforementioned, DriverAgent was able to update all but two drivers (both related to the Intel Management Engine Interface and/or Active Management Technology), while DriverUpdate handled all drivers except one (the Serial Over LAN, or SOL, driver on the Dell VP11). However, in numerous cases (5 to be precise), DriverAgent’s automated install reported driver update failure, after which I used the downloaded files to extract those drivers and installed them manually using Device Manager myself. In every case where DriverUpdate completed the driver install process, it did so automatically with no manual intervention required on my part. I’m not sure if its SOL failure was a true failure, or if I lost patience after the 10 minutes the program ground away at attempted installation, and short-circuited that process (more on this in the final remarks below).
2. On 5 of the 8 machines, DriverAgent reports anywhere from 1 to 4 “false positives,” by which I mean it reports drivers as out-of-date and provides update files whose application (either automatic or manual) does NOT update the reported driver. DriverUpdate has yet to report a false positive in my repeated uses of that product (I’ve been using DriverAgent for 5 years or more, but am just getting to know DriverUpdate, so I’m not sure if this is a valid observation, or simply a function of a narrow observation period).
3. Both products come on a yearly license basis, and each one costs about $30 for a single PC license ($29.95 for DriverAgent, $29.97 for DriverUpdate). A single DriverAgent license is good for up to 10 PCs, while the license for DriverUpdate is limited to up to three PCs (I couldn’t find this on the pages at www.driverupdate.net, but got this info from marketing and tech support staff at Slimutilities). Volume licenses are available for each product, in varying number (I currently pay $65 a year for a 50 PC license for DriverAgent, and have been using a “loaner license” from Slimware provided for the purposes of testing and observation).
Given the licensing terms for the two products, people who manage drivers for more than three and up to ten PCs will be best-served by the DriverAgent product, simply because of its more liberal terms of coverage. Those looking for the best, most accurate driver management product between these two contenders will be best served by DriverUpdate, especially those with one to three PCs to manage. I found both of them entirely suitable for managing drivers on Windows 8.1 and 10 PCs, and have used DriverAgent since the Windows Vista days with Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 all with great satisfaction and success.
As for DriverUpdate, I have some nits to pick with the program, about which readers should be aware before plunking down any cash for the software:
1. When I first started testing DriverUpdate, after the program started up, it ran for some time (anywhere from just under two minutes on my faster PCs to as long as over four minutes on my slower ones) before providing any indication that it was working: no screen pop-up, no progress bar, nothing. I’d already suggested to Slimware that more activity feedback would be of interest to users (I had to launch Task Manager to see that the application was running and in fact doing something rather than hung). And in fact, their latest release (which I obtained by download on August 21, identified in file properties as version 22.214.171.124) does come up much faster (under a minute on all machines) but I’d still like to see an immediately “it’s working” pop-up as part of the program’s launch behavior.
2. When the installation processes get underway, items are tackled in the order listed (explained on the basis of driver dependencies among the items shown). It can take several minutes for certain individual items to work their way to completion. That said, DriverUpdate shows considerable facility in scripting third-party installers (like those from Intel, Synaptics, Nvidia, and so forth) to run under its control, and to result in successful driver installation. By contrast, though DriverAgent uses many of the same installers, its success rate was not as high (as indicated by my earlier mention of more manual follow-up required). I gave up on the SOL installer after 10 minutes of watching it grind away, and was able to manually install that driver in under 30 seconds (of course, I knew what I was looking for, where to find it, and how to install it, so that may be either unkind to Slimware or unfair to less experienced users).
3. Unlike DriverAgent, which always makes a complete list of devices and associated drivers on the PCs it scans readily available (and even provides pointers to alternative drivers for such devices, in many instances), DriverUpdate doesn’t appear to provide such information beyond a basic set of counts ((x) Out of date drivers, (y) Ignored driver updates, (z) Up to date drivers, (k) System drivers). Thus it doesn’t provide some of the clues to missing drivers that DriverAgent does, which repeats the Question mark and Warning flag icons also shown in Device driver in its listings to warn users about potential problem or missing drivers.
Ultimately, though, DriverUpdate appears to be a well-engineered program driven by a large and accurate database of hardware and vendor IDs (used to identify devices, according to technical staff I questioned on their methods) and inclusive of extensive input and feedback from a large and active user community that provides input and feedback on the program’s operation and the accuracy and validity of its results. It’s worth checking out and getting to know and a genuine alternative to my long-time stalware go-to DriverAgent tool as well.
[Note: Changes and corrections made late Monday afternoon, 8/24/15, after a phone call and e-mail from Slimutilities.]
Whew! I’m pleased and relieved to report that my big upgrade push is over now, with all 8 PCs successfully upgraded to Windows 10 in at least one boot-up partition (a couple of my test machines still boot 8.1 so I can continue to test in that environment for a while). I was concerned about losing access to my production PC so held that one until last, but it turned out to be totally ho-hum and routine, much like the upgrade I reported on yesterday for my wife’s mini-ITX PC.
A ho-hum, no fuss upgrade is a great way to conclude the upgrade-a-thon here at Chez Tittel.
Because of all the applications installed on my production machine, though, I’m still cleaning up some of the aftermath. Here’s what I’ve dealt with so far:
1. As with my other systems, I had to uninstall Start8, then install Start10 to maintain menu control and consistency. The program is totally worth the $5 it costs.
2. 8GadgetPack recognizes it’s been trampled by a new OS and automatically self-repairs after the first boot-up for Win10.
3. Upon launching Outlook for the first time after the upgrade, MS Office 2013 had to reinstall itself. Though I could receive Outlook messages immediately thereafter, I couldn’t send any outbound. A quick Google search informed me that running sfc /scannow would take care of that problem, and it did the trick.
4. The usual post-install cleanup, preceded by a full image backup, removed a 21 GB windows.old file from my system. CCleaner took care of all of this for me, much faster than the built-in Disk Cleanup program could have.
5. There have been several sizable update roll-ups for Windows 10 pushed out since the RTM was released at the end of July. Be sure to apply those updates to new systems sooner rather than later for much-needed stability and security improvements they deliver.
My next project will be to extract keys from the upgraded systems and perform selective clean installs. I can’t seem to find a /source (Windows image or running installation) that will work for DISM on my production PC and running dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth doesn’t conclude successfully on my production PC. At some point, I’m going to have to gird my loins and perform a clean install of the new OS on that PC, in search of a more perfect (or repairable) runtime image. Here’s what SIW Pro reports for Windows key information on my production PC (actual key values are blanked out for security reasons):
Resource Type Key Microsoft Windows NT CurrentVersion DefaultProductKey2 XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX Windows 10 Pro XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX Windows Default Product Key XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX Windows PID XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX Windows Product Key Windows 10 Pro x64 (Professional) XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
As far as I can tell, there isn’t any carryover of Windows 8.1 keys into the upgrade environment inside the OS itself. Presumably, MS *is* tracking this information back at HQ when it grants the upgraded OS permission to proceed, based on reading the value of the key in the OS being upgraded. But this key data is much cleaner than what I found stored on Windows 8.1 PCs that had been upgraded from 7 to 8, from 8 to 8.1, and then had the subsequent Update (a pseudo-SP, if ever there was one) applied.
[Note added 1:27 PM 8/20/2015 CDT -06:00 UCT]Based on feedback from one reader of the preceding material, I must add a summary section that explains that my overall experiences with Windows 10 have been quite positive, starting all the way back with the first technical preview edition I installed last October or November, all the way through the present day. I installed at least one dozen different builds on two test machines — a high-end i7 desktop with 32 GB RAM and similar accoutrement, and an i5 convertible tablet with 8 GB RAM — and have now upgraded 8 different PCs (3 desktops, 4 laptops (of which, two conventional, and two tablet-based), and an all-in-one) from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. Though reading through my previous 7 blogs will cover the troubles I encountered along the way, at least some of them were of my own doing and by no means Microsoft’s fault in any way. Thanks to download tools, good advice, and great technical support along the way, I survived the process and managed to get all machines upgraded and working properly.
I think Windows 10 is a great OS, and offers the best device driver support I’ve ever seen from Microsoft for any OS. For the first time, ever, I came through a long series of upgrades and clean installs with less than a handful (3 to be exact) of device drivers that the OS didn’t recognize and install correctly on its own. On 7 of my 8 machines, in fact, DriverAgent and DriverUpdate found all drivers to be correct and up-to-date after Windows 10 took over those systems. I’ve NEVER had a post-install experience like that from MS ever, not even with Windows 8 or 8.1, both of which were already pretty good in that department.
Yesterday afternoon, I sat down in front of my wife’s PC — a mini-ITX box with a mobile Haswell i7, 16 GB RAM, … — and fired off my next-to-final Windows 10 upgrade. But first, I performed a series of preparatory tasks, in case that upgrade didn’t produce either an upgraded system, or a working system of any kind. I’ve seen things turn out both ways often enough that I’d rather take the time to cover myself against the latter possibility than have to fix the aftermath without benefit of a restorable backup, which is why these tasks fall under the heading of “CYA” (which can be politely decoded as “cover your assets”). Here’s that list:
1. Apply all pending Windows 8.1 updates, clean up unneeded trash and obsolete files on the hard disks, run CCleaner, inspect drives with WinDirStat, clean out the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder (where Windows Update keeps installed update files and folders), run sfc /scannow and dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth at the command line (nothing to repair found, thank goodness), and reboot.
2. Perform a System image backup using the facility built into the File History widget in Control Panel to an external USB attached drive (first, however, I had to disconnect the folders on that drive from the Pictures item in Libraries, because linking shares from such a drive into a Library disables its use for File History or backup purposes, as I discovered when researching why those tools refused to “see” that drive).
3. Use the “Create a recovery drive” in the Recovery widget in Control Panel to build a recovery drive for the target system on a UFD, to make sure it could be rebooted and repaired or restored even if the boot/sys drive were to go south — as it has done for me twice so far, out of the 7 PCs I’ve upgraded over the past 10 days or so.
All in all, those tasks took me the better part of 75 minutes to complete. Now comfortable that I could deal with any curveballs that the process might toss my way, I fired off the upgrade to Win10 through Windows Update. Recently, that machine has been popping up nag screens since our return from vacation on August 7 exhorting its users to install the upgrade, as shown in this screen capture from Reliability Monitor with its three warnings about “Failed Windows Update” for Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro yesterday, for example:
At least, Windows Update doesn’t force users to upgrade — it only nags them to do so!
I’m delighted to report that the upgrade worked as it should, and took less than 30 minutes to complete from start to finish. I confess to feeling a bit of anxiety as the install process approached the 25% mark at which both of my Lenovo laptops came up with badly damaged boot/sys drives, and a thrill of exhilaration as the process ticked past that milestone, and worked its way to a successful conclusion. Because I promised “the Boss” she wouldn’t notice much of a change from Win8.1 to Win10, I immediately installed Stardock’s Start10 menuing system after the upgrade was complete, and took another backup snapshot so as to be able to return to a post-install pristine state should that prove necessary. Next, a quick jump back into CCleaner recovered ~21 GB from the prior installation in the Windows.old and Windows.~BT folders. A quick scan with DriverAgent showed no unknown devices and all drivers on the PC up-to-date. “All in all, a highly successful and very clean upgrade,” I found myself thinking: “Woo hoo!”
About forty minutes later when the Boss sat down at her machine, she called me upstairs to ask why her browser didn’t come up with the usual defaults. She’s habituated to IE 11 and Win10 invokes Edge by default, and I hadn’t warned her about that. After promising to figure out how to change those defaults in Edge (I hadn’t bothered to learn that yet, but it’s as easy as clicking the ellipsis symbol at the far right, then digging into Settings), and installing a launch icon for IE on her task bar, she was up and running without too much indication that her desktop was running a new OS. And that, my readers and friends, is how an upgrade SHOULD be.
One more thing: I tried to remote into her machine this morning to check some stats and data there. I was unable to get in, because the upgrade didn’t include re-admitting the newly-hatched Win10 PC into the local Homegroup here at Chez Tittel. One quick password later, and all was once again good. I’ve noticed that various settings do not survive the upgrade, particularly when some kind of authentication is required to make them in the first place. There are always a few miscellaneous clean-up/restore operations like this that occur after an OS upgrade, so I’ll be keeping track in the days ahead to see what else pops up.