Installing Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9926: Part 1 – Surface Pro 3

It’s still not all sunshine and daisies, I’m afraid…

When I said I was shocked over the “early” release of the January Windows 10 preview, I really was. Microsoft has been pretty adamant about what it would and would not release and when it would (or wouldn’t) release things as part of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and they’ve pretty much stayed on mission thus far.

When I saw the available download for Windows 10 Technical Preview 2, I kinda new what I would be doing over the weekend of its release. I expected to have a ball. Instead, I ended up pulling my hair out (or what little I actually have left). The install experience so far has been a total train wreck. I’ve got two different machines – a Surface Pro 1 and a Surface Pro 3 – running Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9926, here’s my experience in upgrading and installing Windows 10 Build 9926 on each of these.

Microsoft-Surface-Pro-34

Surface Pro 3
The words, “train wreck” do not adequately describe the amount of crap I had to go through this weekend to get Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9926 on my SP3. This was a huge pain the butt. And it all started out, with corrupt ISO files.

Yes. Corrupt ISO files.

I have my Surface Pro devices at use at work mostly; and I’ve got the enterprise version installed on both, just in case I get the opportunity to run either or both of them over my work network. While I’m not holding my breath – the office hasn’t totally adopted a formal CoIT policy as yet – I at least want to have the right build of Windows on my device(s) should the opportunity present itself. So, after chatting very briefly with Gabe Aul on Friday, I started downloading.

Initially, I had to abandon the first download as the network at the office isn’t that great. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t like my SP3 very much, as the speeds on it aren’t like they are on my SP1. Initially I thought this might be the Surface Pro 3’s dreaded Wi-Fi problem, but I have the same kind of crappy Wi-Fi performance on the ThinkPad T440 they gave me, so, maybe not. Wireless performance on my SP1, however, over the same network at the same time can produce download speeds of over 3x as fast than either my TP or SP3, so again… go figure.

When I got back to my place, I started the download almost immediately, and it was much peppier on the home network. Unfortunately, the ISO I downloaded was unmountable… it was also undeletable. As were the two additional copies I tried downloading to different locations on my Surface Pro 3. I couldn’t download a copy to save my life, and then I also couldn’t delete them either. I tried shutting the machine down; and I still got a “file was in use,” error from the OS. It was then that I simply restarted the machine and then was able to delete everything.

However, I still couldn’t download an ISO, and I didn’t want to try the consumer version, or simply downloading the EXE. I wanted installation media; and everything I could get my hands on was somehow getting corrupted.

You can’t download the Win10 TP on a Mac. The Windows Insider site is OS detecting, and unfortunately, doesn’t present a, “yeah, yeah, I know I’m running a Mac. Download the ISO’s anyway,” link. I also haven’t had good experiences burning a bootable Windows DVD on my Mac, so downloading the ISO’s via my Windows 7 VM under Parallels Desktop wasn’t an option, either.

I was kinda stuck… I bought my wife a refurbished Late 2009 13″ White, Unibody MacBook for Christmas to replace the 15″ Acer Windows 7 PC she had (someone stepped on it while it was closed and off, and cracked the LCD…) I’ve got her running Yosemite now. In fact, there really isn’t a “decent” and “working” Windows machine running Windows 8.x or EARLIER in the house any more… or was there..??

In a fit of desperation, I grabbed my wife’s 15″ Acer with the cracked LCD, and booted it up. The LCD is still half usable (on the right side) so I was able to run a browser, download both the Enterprise and the Consumer ISO’s and then using MagicISO, I was able to mount the ISO’s and burn them to a DVD.

Upgrading Windows 8.1 Update 2 to Windows 10 – The Train Wreck Continues
It just got worse from here.

windows-10-technical-preview-license

I had my Surface Pro 3 configured and setup with Office 365 and specific settings that came with it out of the box, and I wasn’t really ready to scrap all that, effectively blowing the device and starting over. So initially when I started the upgrade, I chose to keep everything.

Big, BIG mistake.

First there was a bit of confusion on my part as to how to appropriately start an upgrade. Windows 10 doesn’t want you to start it from a cold boot from the DVD. It wants you to start that from within Windows, so after booting to the Win10 Build 9926 DVD, I had to shut it all down and boot into Windows 8.1, put the DVD back in the drive and then run SETUP.EXE.

And that’s where it all turned south.

I knew the install would take a while, so with it running, I left to take the family to dinner. When I got home, I found the display off (as expected); but the device totally unresponsive. I had to look up how to resolve the, “my Surface Pro 3 won’t turn on,” issue. The thing that worked for me was pulling all USB devices and then holding power + volume up for 10 seconds and then releasing both buttons. After that, the device started up.

The setup picked up where it left off, with the “Hi.” screen. Unfortunately, the device was nearly unresponsive. The display changed colors, but very slowly. The text on the screen didn’t update. The mouse via the Type Cover would not work at all. In fact, the mouse cursor was totally missing. Typing a password didn’t update the screen, and then unlocking the screen seemed to take 15 seconds or more.

At that point, I decided that saving all of the apps, programs and settings wasn’t worth the grief of having to compute at a glacial pace, so I decided to blow the device and start from scratch.

And that’s where it all turned Deep South.

Honestly, I didn’t think it could get much worse; and I really didn’t think I was going to get out of this mess, either. I mean, I know what I’m doing. And without sounding like a total jerk or anything, other than a few people like Paul Thurrott, I don’t know too many other technically savvy people other than myself (especially local to Chicago) who might be able to help me resolve the situation…without making a trip to the Microsoft Store and swapping the Surface Pro 3 out in a warranty exchange. I mean, I was really *THAT* stuck. I really thought the computer was (effectively) bricked at one point.

So I let the PC get to a point where I could come back and restart everything. That is to say, that I gave up for the night and picked it up the next day. I let the device finish whatever it was going to do and in the meantime, I took 3 Advil and went to bed.

The next day, I tried to determine the best way to blow the device. I was having trouble now getting the device to boot from the USB DVD drive I have. I still had to make sure the device would turn “on” via the power button +volume up method I mentioned above. The bloody thing was still unresponsive otherwise. To boot, I also have evidence of the boot screen bug that’s been associated with Build 9926 where the Windows 10 device shows a boot screen before booting to Windows 10.

However, this would prove to be the turning point in the process, too.

Since the boot menu appears with an option to actually boot into the recovery partition, I tried going there and looking for the option to blow all the personal files and settings and hopefully get whatever was causing the PC to move at such a slow pace, off the machine.

The first time I tried to use the recovery partition, it failed. I got an error that setup couldn’t start. I wasn’t given any reason or even encouraged to try again. I rebooted the machine.

The second time I tried, the recovery partition told me that the drive I wanted to install Windows 10 on wasn’t available because it was encrypted with BitLocker. I hung my head and simply rebooted the machine Thankfully, I got the boot menu again.

The third time I tried was the charm. The recovery partition was able to “figure out” what I wanted to do when I told it I wanted to restore Windows to its factory state. I had some errands to run on Saturday afternoon, so away I went.

When I got back to the desk in my home office, the screen on the SP3 was dark again, but I expected that. I had been gone for a number of hours, and even though the SP3 was plugged in and charged, I had expected the PC to be asleep. I was just hoping that I wouldn’t have the force power it on with power + volume up again. That’s not the way I wanted to start the device from here on out.

Thankfully, the device powered on immediately when I pushed the start button, and took me through setting up the PC without any issues. I’m pleased to say that everything appears to be running normally. After it got setup up, I ran Windows Update, as recommended by Gabe Aul and nearly everyone under the sun in a position to know that MS found and resolved issues with Build 9926 immediately after it was released.

WIndows-10-UI

Observations, Post Install
There’s a lot going on with Windows 10, especially on the Surface Pro 3. Here are some of the things that you need to know, going forward, if you use an SP3, and are running Windows 10 Build 9926.

  1. PRE install, you need to make certain you have all of the latest updates for Surface Pro 3 installed. This includes a much needed, and very important, firmware update. You can get all of it from Windows Update. Update the device there first in Windows 8.x before making the journey over to the dark side, and Windows 10.
  2. The video driver is a serious sore point in Windows 10 on the SP3. It’s very possible that you’re going to see the level of performance issues that I saw after upgrading (though I couldn’t imagine it being any worse that I what I saw). Depending on how bad your device performance is, you’ll need to open up Device Manager and delete the Intel HD Video Driver. This will install the basic driver. Then you’ll need to update the driver via the facilities on the Driver Properties modal dialog box and let Windows Update bring down the latest Intel HD driver for you. After a series of screen blips and blackouts (and possibly a restart or two later), you should be good to go.
  3. You may see a serious battery life hit after all is said and done. This will likely be temporary as this *IS* a Preview Build and MS is likely working on a fix, but forewarned is forearmed. You may not want to venture too far away from your AC adapter…
  4. You may see that issue with the Boot Menu I mentioned…or you may not.

A fuller, more comprehensive list of issues can be found on the SuperSite for Windows, now managed by my friend, Rod Trent.

Conclusion – Surface Pro 3
I think I can say with pretty much 100% certainty that this is the rockiest OS upgrade – beta, prelease, or preview – that I’ve ever done on any PC anywhere…and I’ve been running Microsoft OS betas since Windows 95. Heck, even the Developer Preview of Windows 8 back in 2011 was a heck of a lot smoother than this.

Key point – any time a software manufacturer announces an update to an OS they released THAT SAME DAY, you HAVE to know there are issues with the build. And honestly, I was expecting issues. I really was. However, I never expected as rough a go as I had. This was really painful.

However, Windows 10 Technical Preview 2, Build 9926 is installed and running on my Surface Pro 3. I’ll let you know how the OS performs over the coming weeks.

Have you installed Windows 10? Did you install it on a Surface Pro 3? Did you bump into any issues or problems when you upgraded or installed? If you’re on an SP3, did you bump into video driver issues? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion Area below, and give me an update on how you fared? I’d love to hear what your experience was.

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