Before the D-Day Upgrades
We have four computers running Microsoft Windows 7 Pro, 2 HP DV6T laptops (2012) and 2 DELL (Studio XPS) desktops. The latter DELL’s are I5 and I7 first generation (2009) processors. My initial concerns were hardware/software drivers since 3 of the 4 have had various components replaced over the years (hard disks, video cards, more memory, USB3 adapters…etc). If you reserved your copy of Windows 10 you can perform a hardware / software compatibility checks directly on the checker board notification icon in your system tray. All of our hardware passed as well as software.
My Typical prep work before the upgrades included:
- get rid of old vendor recovery partitions (using free mini-tool partition manager),
- Remove vendor “bloatware”,
- making sure the computers met Windows 10 install requirements,
- use Acronis True Image 2015 to do complete image backups on external USB3 drives,
- use BELARC Advisor to baseline the final Windows 7 and new Windows 10 configurations (saving in .pdf files),
- using Ccleanup to cleanup system / reg junk,
- make sure your internet connection is stable,
- use AC power for laptops since the processing is long,
- and finally, removing apps that you know you’re not going to use. This is OBE if you’re doing a clean install which I did.
- This list is not conclusive…..
You have to upgrade first to get your system activated with Microsoft. The only exception to this rule is if you install with a retail (purchased) key.
You will not receive a physical or know what the KEY is like past versions of Windows. You will need to look at Windows 10 All Settings –> Update and security –> Activation panel to verify that your OS is activated. If not, give it some wait time (I’ve read some folks waited up to a week). If you want to know the product id and key, use BELARC Advisor but I think the free upgrade KEY is the same for everyone.
Once the OS is activated, it’s for the life of the machine it’s installed on ie non-transferable to a new machine. A retail KEY is transferable to another machine (not sure of the key deactivation process or a phone call to Microsoft). If a re-install from scratch is necessary on original machine, no need to know the KEY because it’s already stored in Microsoft’s activation database and it should activate all by itself.
The system(s) Upgrade Process
Only one of the four got the official update notification (my wife’s dell desktop). The other 3 were reserved but no notifications came through as of yet. My upgrade plan was to try Windows 10 on my laptop for a couple of weeks for go-nogo to proceed with “clean install” OS installs.
Our HP DV6T i7 / i5 Laptop Upgrades
The upgrade for my laptop went pretty smooth. Not receiving the formal upgrade notice from Microsoft, I decided to use Microsoft’s MediaCreationTool to download and save the upgrade files to flash (thumb drive). Once downloaded you can run setup.exe from the flash and a complete upgrade is done in place preserving settings, apps, etc. The previous Windows 7 pro apps, settings, etc are saved in a directory c:\windows.old. I tried Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC and the overall performance of my laptop was, I thought, slower.
I continued on with my laptop clean install. Clean install entails booting on the flash drive and re-installing Windows 10 Pro without preserving settings apps, etc. All the previous file data is however, preserved in a directory called c:\windows.old.000 (clean install) and it leaves the original c:\windows.old alone. You can download Microsoft’s Windows 10 32/64bit, Home/Pro .iso directly HERE. After the clean install performance was much better but I had no apps installed. Since d-day I have all of my apps reinstalled and performance in Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC are faster as well as Dreamweaver. Overall, I am quite happy with my laptop.
Following the same methodology I continued on to my and my wife’s laptop which installed OK but performance and boot time (boot 10-15 minutes) was unacceptable and this was done with a Clean install. After fooling around with her laptop for about a week, we decided to go back to Windows 7 Pro. Since we made an image backup we had her system back and running is less than 30 minutes. God bless backups!
Our DELL Desktop i7 / i5 Upgrades
My wife’s desktop was a true test of getting the whole update from Microsoft and installing just like a regular patch or service pack install. It went flawless and took a long time. This type of upgrade does not give you the option to save to .iso or flash to usb thumb drive. It’s just a flat out OS replacement leaving everything in place. It still does save the previous OS files in c:\windows.old. Again, I tried boot and some of the everyday apps to get a feel for performance. I judged it was a little slower but not earth shattering. I proceeded with the “Clean install“, getting the .iso file from Microsoft (here). This was flawless, the OS was already activated from before and performance was considerably better.
Moving onto my desktop however, was a total nightmare. I spent 3+ days combing through internet posts about the error “Something Happened. Windows 10 failed to install“. Since this is the computer that we use to do all of our business on, it was a priority to get it back and running. I decided to buy a KEY ($199 from amazon.com). Bye, bye to free upgrade.
I download the Microsoft Windows (x64, PRO, English) .iso from Here, flashed it to USB thumb drive and booted up from the USB2 thumb drive device. When it asked for KEY, you supply the retail KEY. I optioned to install a new system (it still saves previous data files in c:\windows.old) and the OS installed just like in the old days. Flawless, old days type of windows install you’d expect.
I am satisfied with the overall Windows 10 Pro performance. Windows 7 boot time on my desktop was almost 13 minutes. Windows 10 clocked just over 2.5 minutes on the same computer. I do have 3 Buffalo 3TB Drivestation USB 3.0 external drives attached which accounts for some of the boot time delay. Although I cleaned up my system before upgrade, I ended up not re-installing several apps that I never use. I do have Adobe CC installed (Photoshop, Dreameaver, Acrobat Pro, Media encoder, Lightroom, Flash Pro, NIK tools and OnOne PhotoSuite 9.5). These new installs have been optimized for Windows 10 to mention a few and perform great.
I would say the pain level of my multiple upgrade experience was 4 out of 10 (0 being no pain, 10 being max pain) but I feel it was worth it. I was surprised at how well drivers were matched up. The two laptops have switchable graphics cards, Intel, Nvidia and AMD. I did go to their sites and download the latest to be safe.
I don’t like Microsoft forcing post Windows 10 updates, especially drivers. I have 3 out of 4 computers running Windows 10 Pro and have already taken updates (except kb3081438 which was a problem for my laptop but no impact to my 2 desktops). All three computers has Show and/or hide windows updates installed to screen out hardware drivers and kb3081438.
It’s a crap shoot as to how well the upgrade is going to work for you. Unfortunately, most folks don’t have extra computers to test the upgrade process on. To that end I would suggest — wait a little while until the Windows 10 upgrade environment is more stable, especially if you have old hardware. There are thousands of posts on the internet right now, talking about Windows 10 installation problems.
Some useful tools and information
- Show and/or hide windows updates https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3073930
- Turn on/off Windows 10 Spy features http://pxc-coding.com/de/portfolio/donotspy10/
- Change Start Menu: http://www.neowin.net/news/stardock-announces-start10-now-available-for-download
- Microsoft USB download tool: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/windows-usb-dvd-download-tool
- Gadgets for Windows 10: http://winaero.com/blog/desktop-gadgets-and-sidebar-for-windows-10/
- Windows 10 .iso file: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/techbench
- Software Licensing Management Tool: http://ss64.com/nt/slmgr.html
- Windows 10 Media Creation Tool: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install?ocid=ms_wol_win10
- How to do /Clean Install of Windows 10: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/insider/wiki/insider_wintp-insider_install/how-to-do-a-clean-install-of-windows-10/aef0ae63-2117-41ee-a8ea-4a3181625b08
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