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Windows 10 Upgrade Not Always Easy

windows 10 upgrade fails

Doing a Windows 10 upgrade can be a challenge. Try doing four at once.

I have just wasted a week trying to do the Windows 10 upgrade on four computers, with mixed success. Given that the proclaimed “free windows 10 upgrade” period is (maybe) closing in a few months, I thought it was time to get it done.

Just to be clear, I have no compelling reasons to upgrade. I am perfectly happy with Windows 7. For me, it has been the most stable and useful OS since Windows 2000, or perhaps Windows NT before that. But Windows 7 mainstream support ended more than a year ago, and extended support ends in less than four years. Customers have been doing the Windows 10 upgrade slowly, and its market share now exceeds that of XP. But Windows 7 is still the dominant OS.

Still, enough people have done the Windows 10 upgrade and report it is a good performer, with the caveats about configuring privacy settings with some care. Most troubling though is that I cannot figure out what is the new Microsoft business model, which is not surprising since I don’t think it can either.

But,as things stand right now, all of my upgrade attempts experienced substantial issues, and only 2 of the four succeeded. Here is what happened.

PC and Windows 7 Version

Windows 10 Upgrade Results

Dell Laptop – 32 bit. I was nervous about this one because it is dual boot Vista / Windows 7 Windows Update stalled at “starting download”. Used the Media Creation tool to do a manual update. Success.
Custom-built AMD Athlon – 32 bit. Windows Update stalled at “starting download”. Used the Media Creation tool to do a manual update. Success.
Toshiba Laptop – 64 bit. Windows Update ran but froze at the dreaded 32% completion. Created install disk but also freezes. Six attempts. Failure. Roll back to Windows 7.
Asus i5 Laptop – 64 bit Windows Update ran but failed at the second re-boot (74%). Created install disk but also freezes. Six attempts. Finally Windows 10 installed, but I then went into the endless restart cycle attempting to fix a “system thread exception not handled” error (screen of death). Failed. Fortunately, I was able to roll back to Windows 7.

Windows 10 Upgrade Failures – No Real Support or Remedies Yet

I won’t bore you with the error codes. But, take my word for it, the failures I experienced on the two 64-bit upgrades are the most commonly discussed based on Google searches. The 32% completion failure appears to be due to bad drivers or associated Registry / permission settings. The 74% completion failure appears to be related to system crashes when attempting the second re-boot during installation. Similarly, the “blue screen of death.”

In reading the online commentary, I can only conclude that all of these failures are too complex to be dealt with by users. I have tried all of the most suggested fixes, which include:

  • Updating all drivers.
  • Disconnecting all USB devices
  • Turning off or removing anti-virus software
  • Turning off network connectivity during installation
  • Installing from media rather than online
  • Cleaning the registry and resetting system permissions
  • Running Windows Update Diagnostic and System Upgrade Readiness Tools
  • Attempting to read the huge log files created by the Windows 10 upgrade and then manually removing what appear to be problem drivers.

It’s all too much. I have no idea what percentage of users have these kind of problems. It must be a minority – but why am I so blessed?  During April, I read a trade magazine article indicating that Microsoft has just assigned some senior engineers to help with Windows 10 Upgrade problems. This is commendable and (very) long overdue. All of the problems I have been experiencing are well documented on the web since the Windows 8 upgrades. And it is clear from reading Microsoft’s own support web sites that everyone is still stabbing in the dark. Virtually every set of articles I read labeled “Solved” are just compendiums of people trying a bunch of stuff until the get lucky, but not consistently. And when the problem is solved, it seems to be not clear why. Or, if it might happen again.

Five days was enough time to waste trying to do Windows 10 upgrade. My strategy will now be to just try once every three months and hope Microsoft designs some tools to overcome these problems.

In the meantime, Windows 7 works fine. So, for my 64-bit upgrades, I have a compelling reason not to do so.

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