Thursday, July 30, 2015

Windows 10 Upgrade Experience

Microsoft’s Windows 10, last of the lot, upgrade started to roll out yesterday world-wide and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be one of those who upgrade on the first day. While at my home laptop I had reserved the Windows 10 upgrade via the Windows icon in the task bar, I had not been able to do so for my work laptop. The Windows icon wasn’t appearing. KB 3035583 is required to be installed via Windows Update for the icon to appear, however my attempts to install this optional update failed continuously. When I tried various options like sfc /scannow or DSIM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth, I could not get past the failure. My system constantly showed that a system reboot was pending and however many times I rebooted, it kept showing the same message.

I wasn’t however going to miss the opportunity for the free upgrade, so I followed the steps mentioned in this article. Note that if you are upgrading the OS on the machine on which you access this link, then while you run the Media creation tool, you don’t actually have to copy it on any USB/DVD. It will run directly.

While I started my own upgrade process, I searched online to see if anyone has already done it and what’s the experience. I found this. Based on this, it seemed that it shouldn’t take much time and the upgrade should be a smooth sailing. While this person got his machine upgraded in 30 min or so, for me it took close to 3 hours and this wasn’t just the time to download the files. That happened in about 30-35 min, but the actual upgrade process took the rest of the time. I guess some of it was possibly due to the internet connection speed. So if you are working with a slow connection, make sure you have ample time at hand when you start the upgrade, as you cannot leave it midway.

I would rate the overall upgrade experience (downloading, installing and then logging into Windows 10 and get going) a 9.95 on 10. The 0.05 is that Windows 10 wasn’t able to get the correct resolution for my laptop and got it set to 1024 x 768. Right clicking on the desktop and trying to change the resolution didn’t help as it showed only this single option. I wondered if I will need to reinstall the display drivers. I clicked on Display Adapter Settings in Advanced Display Settings and then selected List All Modes option. Here I saw the option of 1366 by 768 and selected it and fortunately that worked. I got my display back to the needed resolution.

Advanced Display Settings

Here’s how the upgrade actually happened. From the link above I downloaded the media creation tool and ran it. It opened a dialog and prompted to download the required files. I could continue to work with my laptop during this time and for many of the next steps. With my network speed it took about 30-35 min to get the download done. Next step was to verify the downloaded files. The spinning cursor showed that something was happening, but the % remained at 0 for a min or so. It then suddenly jumped to 90% and got completed in about 1-2 min.

It then started creating the Windows 10 media for installation, which took about 2 min again. Here again the % got stuck at about 65% and then jumped to 99%. The main window disappeared and a toast like Window appeared, which read “Windows 10” and “Preparing…”. This continued for another min or two. The upgrade Window came up again and it showed “Getting Updates”. Since this was a new install, I wondered why it was doing this, but anyway in about a min, this got over and some message got displayed, which I didn’t get time to read, and immediately changed over to “We are getting a few things ready”. A license agreement came up, which I promptly agreed to and then it went back again to check for updates. I was surprised, as why it was doing this twice.

Unlike the first time, this second time, checking for updates took real long time. I guess this is where your internet connection speed will matter again. After about 7-8 min, it progressed to show “Making sure you are ready to install (please wait)”. As I was closing onto the actual upgrade process, this seemed like an eternity. The spinner seemed to just keep on spinning. There was unfortunately, no % indication. This went on for another 8-9 min and during this time the task manager showed 100% disk activity. Guess the tool was creating and writing the installation package in some temp folder to run it for the actual upgrade.

Finally it showed two options “Install” and “Keep personal files and apps”. Both were selected and I let them be as is and clicked Upgrade. For a second or two the window disappeared again and I was back to my Windows 8 desktop. As I was just about to wonder what happened, it went into the install screen. Finally, the Windows 10 installation, had begun. After a long wait of about 35-40 min, this part of the process got over and just as I was looking forward to seeing the Windows 10 login screen, I was surprised to see another “Upgrading Windows” screen appear. This showed three steps – Copying files, Installing features and drivers and Configuring settings. These 3 steps took another 35-40 min and finally I landed on the Windows 10 login screen.

The immediately noticeable aspect was that my profile picture appeared distorted (stretched) and I realized that the laptop wasn’t running on the optimum resolution. I already described this earlier. After the change, the screen looked proper and so did my profile picture. The other immediately noticeable improvement over Windows 8 is that the same screen allows one to change user and login as well. In Windows 8, one had to typically hit the back arrow to go to the list of all available users and then login.

Apart from the inclusion of Start menu, which now is a mix of listing of applications as in Windows 7 and the tiles from the start screen as in Windows 8, the other feature that comes to notice is the so called Metro apps or Windows 8 Store Apps or Surface apps (whatever you call them) now don’t run in full screen mode, but run like any other Windowed app. UI of the applications have undergone changes and do seem to have taken a more flattened look. The title bar doesn’t seems to have a color of its own. Besides the Start button, there is a search button and a new button that is the Task button. This can be used to lay out all the currently open windows as thumbnails side by side, giving me a view of what each windows has and I can pick a window by clicking on it. This is kind of similar to ALT + TAB list. I guess Task button is more useful for people running a touch screen. With a keyboard, doing ALT + TAB is equally easy to do. The icons on the taskbar have their lower edge colored when they are open on the desktop. It is kind of easy to immediately know which all windows are open.

Windows 10 Taskbar

I did try running Edge, the new version of Internet Explorer. On starting it seemed to take a long time to load the base page which seems like the MSN page. It has a box to type the search text and shows only that to start with. If you stay on the page for a while, other widgets start appearing. Each time you flip tabs, all these additional widgets disappear and then reload again.

There is lot more to try and explore in Windows 10, which I will do over the next few days and hopefully will get back with more things to share. Have you upgraded as yet? How was your upgrade experience? 

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