The Windows 10 installation experience

Something to do this weekend!

For some time now, I had been planning (and looking forward) to upgrade an old 4 GB RAM, 150 GB, Windows 7 32 bit Pro laptop to Windows 10. This weekend, I finally got some time to get this plan into action. Just as a prelude, Windows 10 was released on 29th of July 2015 (Hello World). Microsoft offers free upgrades to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users (some Enterprise editions are excluded – How to Upgrade).

“This combines the strengths of Windows 8 with Windows 7.” – Windows Insider on Windows 10

Windows 10 features are listed in various articles and blogs across the internet. 10 great new features in Windows 10 lists out some of them.

I went through several blogs and comments from people across the internet before proceeding though. Based on a review, it took someone only about an hour to install it. I was not that lucky! In fact I had to try a few times before I could finally get it installed.

Round 1 – 8th August 2015 – 20:00 hours

The laptop I had to upgrade was not showing a Windows 10 upgrade icon in the system tray.

Windows 10 upgrade icon

Windows 10 upgrade icon

The reason for this was this machine had not been updated in a few months and this icon won’t appear till latest Windows 7 updates are installed. Not having the patience to wait for the updates to download and install, I decided to fall back on my Windows Insider account. Once I logged in, I got an option to “Get Windows 10”. I downloaded the Media Creation Tool (Windows 32 bit) and ran it. The operating system is downloaded first. Download speed obviously depends on the internet connection. In this case, it took about 2 hours. At about 10 PM, once OS the download completed, the “Upgrade this PC now” option is what I selected.

Installation

Installation

I was redirected to the next page where I chose the language, architecture (32 bit) and ‘Windows 10 Home’ options. Surprisingly, I did not get a ‘Windows 10 Pro’ option even though the laptop was running Windows 7 Premium. I later came to know both Windows 7 Home and Home Premium can be upgraded to Windows 10 home only (upgrade paths below).

Host operating system edition
Windows 10 edition
  • Windows 7 Starter
  • Windows 7 Home Basic
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 8/8.1 Windows 8.1 with Bing
  • Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Home

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Ultimate
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8.1 Pro Windows 8/8.1 Professional with Media Center
  • Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 Pro

In the “Which type of installation do you want” Window, I picked ‘Custom: Install Windows Only’ first. There were three choices displayed – ‘keep apps,settings and files’, ‘keep files and ‘keep nothing’. I just went back to the previous page, chose ‘Upgrade: Install Windows and Keep Files” and went ahead. Somewhere in between this process was a long wait where the system checked for updates. This process took about 2 hours. In addition there was another process where after the OS was downloaded, it was verified. This too took up a lot of time.

The entire process completed at about 01:00 hours on the 9th of August, 5 hours after the install had been initiated. The system then restarted at about 1:10 and the old start screen was displayed with a rotating loading icon. At 1:22 with this ‘loading’ icon still rotating , I decided to call it a day.

Next morning, at 7 AM, the same screen was still being displayed! I was disappointed and initiated a hard reboot by turning off power. Once the laptop was turned on again, “a failed to install Windows 10” message was displayed. Thankfully, the system was restored back to the old “Windows 7” state automatically.

Round 2 – 9th August 2015 – 10:00 hours

While I obviously was disappointed with this failure, I decided to try another approach. Using the same tool, this time I downloaded Windows 10 as an iso file. The download took about the same time and the iso was saved to a USB. Once the download completed, I realized that it would be a pain to mount it to a drive as I would need an iso mounting program (or alternately I would need to write this iso to a DVD). While Windows 8 has an option where an iso file can be mounted directly, Windows 7 needs a program to mount this file. As a result, I decided to give “Media tools’ direct installation another shot.

Round 3 – 9th August 2015 – 12:00 hours

I re-initiated the OS download process and went through the same steps as in Round 1. This time, there was some good news. After a few hours of download, verification and checking for updates, Windows 10 started to install. Installation started at around 17:00 hours (once again the other processes took about 5 hours to complete). Windows installation itself took about 2 hours.

At 19:00 hours, the laptop restarted and asked for a password. Once I entered the password, a number of different messages like “almost there, checking the system” etc. were displayed. The best one went something like “it has taken longer to do this than expected. However please be patient”. At around 19:30 hours, 7 hours after the second install had been initiated, and after numerous status messages, setup completed successfully! Once done, I was taken to my desktop where my wallpaper was the same as before, but the icons and taskbar were different. I now had a brand new start menu!

Conclusion

Installing Windows 10 is a crazy but fun experience. The installation process itself takes a lot of time (something which I had not expected when I started off). However, the good part is that very little intervention is required and the installation process takes care of itself. Even though I updated directly from Windows 7 to Windows 10, no data was lost. In addition, all programs were unaffected and no reinstall was necessary.

Windows 10

Windows 10

In addition, rollback too happens automatically in case installation goes wrong and that’s really very good. It does not however imply that we skip taking a backup of files before we proceed with installation. Taking a backup is mandatory.

Another neat feature is that the system maintains an older copy of the Windows folder and other files so users can always switch back to the older OS (Windows 7 or 8) if they do not like Windows 10. Of course, that’s not something anyone should be doing in a hurry!