Friday, July 17, 2015

The Paranoid Android Windows 10 upgrade

To Marcus and Agata, as Geeks  (and proud of it!) it would indeed be a badge of shame if any of our Computer Upgrades failed, or if we did so and accidentally lost some data.

So we have been thinking about the upgrade to Windows 10 for some time now.

The other OS Haters
To the Apple lobby who only believe in OSX.  Well yes, it's nice, the File Manager is crappy though, and you need those nice Google Applications to make for the best working system. But yes OSX is very decent.  And I do like it's recovery mechanism due to its simple installation structure.  Unfortunately all that OSX goodness sits on a Closed hardware platform that is between not easy to, or, non upgradable.  No thanks.

To the Linux Lobby:  Well Windows is still so much more convenient.   I don't always want to compile up my applications, or constantly choose between the over 50 different Linux flavours.  My laptop does dual boot (to Centos Linux) but for ease of Application use, Windows wins so I spend more time in Windows.  [I might have spent over 20 years with Linux, but I spent an even greater time with Microsoft]

Windows Haters
There have been many critics of Windows 8 (over Windows 7, which most people loved).  I feel it's a simple mistake.

Sure, there is that annoying full screen app mode, but you don't have to use it.

And yes, the Start menu disappeared, however, just press the windows key and start typing (anything) to find any installed application

Oh and use the touch-screen interface, it's great.

The Paranoid Android Plan ....
The sensible, panaroid plan runs as follows.

01 Pre Requisites
- You bought your copy of Windows.  If you are a cheapskate/ pirate/ person who snatches the meal from paid Professional software developers, well: piss off.   Get a Free Operating system like Linux instead.

- You are not a penny pinching cheapskate
By this I mean the sort of person who denies that a backup infrastructure ( e.g an external disk) or a backup program is necessary.  Or somebody who though "you constantly use your computer all the time" ;looks me in the eye and says it's not important to you and that you are not prepared to spend any money on it

- You have more than one Computer
So if your upgrade screws up you might need another computer for rescue software etc.  Or to use whilst the cockup is fixed. So either your backup computer with an Internet connection or a friend with resources.

02 Backup Preparations
- You make a complete backup of your computer to an external disk.  And you test you can read the backup.  Ideally you test the restore  (although if you use the clone procedure below this is not necessary because your backout is your old untouched disk)

03 Clone your existing Window 7 or 8
- Use some disk cloning software
- Clone your existing disk, remove the original and keep it safe, and put the cloned disk into your system.

BTW, this is your chance to make your system faster, by cloning to a faster disk, example to a SSD, or faster SSD.

04 Wait!
Wait until July 29, 2015 when the retail copy of Windows 10 can be purchased.
05 Wait more
Oh, you'd be much wiser to wait at least one month, we are basically at about Sept 1, 2015 so that the millions who buy earlier can find the bugs, so that by September you will have a more reliable installation.

(When windows 10 installs or upgrades it tries to get the latest setup executables from the Internet, so even with the original July 29 executables, the setup will be superior)

06 Upgrade on screen
To upgrade you are going to run setup.exe from withing your existing Windows installation. And as noted above not before September 1st and also with a working internet connection at time of upgrade.

An upgrade as contrasted to a fresh install will  mean that applications and data are preserved wherever possible.

07 Backout Plan
If things don't work out then you remove this newly cloned and upgraded hard disk and put back the original untouched prior version.

Unfortunately Marcus did not follow the above plan ...

The Enthusiast Plan
Unwilling to wait for the sensible Paranoid Android plan Marcus instead went for:

01 The Pre-requisites
The master plan was to carry out all the following actions in a VMware virtualised environment first, and then on my production laptop later when I know that the upgrade works

Also, I've been using Windows 10 in a virtualised environment since November 2014, therefore I already have experience of installation and upgrades, and general usage and compatibility.

So, what could possible go wrong ....

02 Backup preparations

- Delete any unused software
In Control Panel remove absolutely every unused bit of software that is installed.  This reduces the complexity of the upgrade that Windows 10 will perform

- Buy Another Hard Disk!
You are going to clone your disk to a new one and upgrade the clone.

 I chose a Crucial MX200 Hard disk   This is a relatively low cost yet fast SSD.

At the end of the process I'll use the old disk as a gift to a PC I'm building for somebody, until then it is my failsafe backout

03 Clone your existing Window 7 or 8

The short summary comment is that Ez Gig IV worked eventually.  But only after really removing every bit of unusual software that was installed.  Before that Ezgig would just hang when the copy operation was to start after configuring.

Also: gParted and Clonezilla and Acronis True Image 2014 all failed to copy my existing and complex Windows 8.1 Professional edition.

04 In Place Upgrade to 10166 built
Run setup.exe from within your existing Windows installation.

The 10166 build was from the Insider programme  though now I think the programme is closed.

05 Set Fast Ring
In Windows Update, Advanced options set Fast Ring.

06 Upgrade to RTM 10240

After only a few hours you will become eligible to download and upgrade to Release To Manufacturing (RTM) Level 10240.

Also I would consider installing the Free Microsoft Office 2016 preview

07 Testing

You spend at least one week testing that all your applications work correctly.  In my case

- Specialist MP3 tagging software
- Sony Alpha 7 support software
- Petzl lighting configurator
- GPS software including Garmin smartwatch
- iTunes
- VMware
- Cygwin UNIX

08 Backout Plan
You keep your old and pristine Windows 8.1 disk until you are satisfied that your testing indicates that all is well.

Else, the backout is obviously to put back this original disk.

Windows 10, how is it?
- Start Menu is back!
- Modern Apps can be windowed not just full screen
- Cortana Support
- Consistency over phone/ tablet/ PC

It's a modest step forward over Windows 8.1, but a useful one.  Once again, to me the platform only makes sense on a laptop with a touch screen interface.

Now, go forth and upgrade, well all in good time.