Windows Enterprise Desktop

Nov 25 2013   11:46AM GMT

Lenovo T520 Notebook 7–>8–>8.1 Upgrade Goes Better Than Expected!

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

One week ago, I posted a blog here entitled “Windows 8.1: More Than an Update, More than an SP.” The point I was trying to make therein was that upgrading to Windows 8.1 involves some interesting and unexpected changes, especially where device drivers are concerned (many of which get replaced as a consequence of the upgrade, sometimes even involving over-writing newer already-installed drivers with older ones, sometimes involving driver replacement when 8.1-specific items are known to the Windows 8.1 installer). This post provoked an interesting comment from user “Branestawm” (Richard) who warned against upgrading to 8.1 on a Lenovo laptop:

My advice would be not to update to 8.1 if you have a Lenovo laptop.  Their website lists a large number of incompatible models.  I have an Ideapad U330 Touch (which is supposed to be OK) and have just reinstalled 8 after my problems.

Many people share this problem, as can be seen on the Lenovo forum:
Other models have similar tales of woe.  Lenovo support say that they are working on the problems, but I can’t understand why they were not sorted out before launch.
Thus it was with some trepidation that I went ahead later that week on a planned upgrade sequence for my production Lenovo T520 notebook (i7-2640M CPU, 16 GB RAM, mSATA and SATA3 SSDs, Intel 3000/Nvidia Quadro NVS 4200M graphics) that would take it from Windows 7 SP1 to Windows 8 and onto Windows 8.1. I’m sorry for Richard’s troubles with his IdeaPad U330 Touch, but I’m happy to report it was smooth sailing all the way for my T520 laptop (my X220 Tablet is on loan to a friend and colleague right now, and still running 8, but I plan to upgrade that unit to 8.1 once it’s returned to me after the upcoming holiday).
Given the perhaps overly dire admonitions included above, I was expecting trouble during my upgrade. But that trouble didn’t materialize, and I got two very pleasant surprises on the path to 8.1 both nicely encapsulated in this pair of screenshots from Driveragent to report on the final state of drivers for both of those Windows 8 releases:

Yes, that’s right: I was able to update ALL drivers for the T520 to most current status for 8 and 8.1!

Interestingly, DriverAgent showed 4 drivers as behind the curve on Windows 7 SP1 before I started the adventure, and that represented the best I was able to do in terms of getting those drivers completely up-to-date. Yet after each upgrade (first to 8, then to 8.1) I started out with only two drivers behind the times on either of those releases. In other words, my driver status right after the upgrade was already better for either of the two Windows 8 versions I worked through than it had been for Windows 7 to begin with. That was a real surprise, and differs dramatically from my experiences on other systems from Dell (an XPS12 convertible notebook and my son’s XPS2710 touchscreen All-in-One) and on home-built systems, both of which include Asus motherboards (a P6X68D-E on one, and a P8Z68-V on the other), and an Acer 5552 notebook with an AMD dual-core CPU.

As always, the devil is in the details. I don’t think it’s necessary to warn any and all Lenovo notebook owners off of the Windows 8.1 upgrade process completely, but that doesn’t mean every upgrade will go as smoothly as mine just did, either. YMMV, indeed.

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