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August 2015The monthly newsletter by Felgall Pty Ltd

My Word

Windows 10

The first problem with actually obtaining a copy of Windows 10 is that your Windows 7 or Windows 8 system must be completely up to date for the request button to appear. All of the Windows 7 systems I have available appear to be stuck in an infinite loop trying to install one of the Windows updates as every time any of them has been shut down in over a month now it says that it is trying to install one update. Each time I check and it says the upgrade installed successfully but there is still one critical update that is yet to be installed (the same one it just finished installing successfully).

I decided to run the Windows 10 troubleshooter and it identified a different update as being missing and suggested manually installing that update in order to fix the problem. Trying to manually install the update fails with a message stating that the update is already installed.

You would think that Windows 7 ought to be able to tell which updates it has already installed but it appears not.

None of the other solutions I found anywhere on the web would work for making the request button appear. A script intended to be run from the command prompt simply got itself stuck in an infinite loop and everything else I found that was suggested as a possible reason for the problem didn't help as everything I ran indicated that it wasn't.

Eventually I gave up on trying to get the request button to appear and instead took the alternate approach of manually downloading a copy of Windows 10. There are both 32 bit and 64 bit versions available since you need to upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to the equivalent Windows 10 version. The download can either be applied immediately or you can do what I did and download an ISO copy. The ISO can then be burnt to a DVD and used to upgrade multiple computers without needing to rerun the download multiple times.

By downloading it yourself you also don't need to wait until Microsoft decides that it is your turn to get the download.

Having obtained a copy of Windows 10, the next step was to install it. In order to not overwrite my existing Windows 7, I made a duplicate of that partition and set up a dual boot. I then ran the Windows 10 install over one of the copies of Windows 7 Leaving the other one so I could continue working on an operating system I am used to while checking out the new one.

The install itself took a couple of hours to run and rebooted the computer several times. During the install I was asked to agree to the licence terms (as is usual with all software) and to select whether I wanted to keep my existing programs or do a clean install (I decided to keep them for this test).

Once the install finally completed the computer booted up to eventually display an image with the time shown at the bottom left of the screen. Upon pressing the escape key (the first one I tried), it gave me a list of the users registered on the computer and allowed me to login. So far so good - but that was about to change. At this point the screen went blank and eventually the mouse cursor and a couple of applications that I have the system start automatically appeared.

Not so good was that the rest of the screen remained black. The desktop, the task bar and the start button did not appear. Pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL allowed me access to the options for shutting down and also to the task manager. Looking at the task manager I soon found that by selecting "New Task" from the File menu I could either run a command as if at the command line or select the browse option to search for programs to run. The system was fully functional apart from the three items mentioned.

A search of the internet for solutions to this problem gave me several that didn't apply and also several that didn't work to fix the problem. What I did manage to discover while doing these searches was that the explore.exe program was not running and that was the cause of those items not displaying. I tried starting the program but it crashed again immediately. Obviously something else on the system was interfering with it.

I also found out how to start the computer in safe mode by changing the settings in the msconfig program so I did that and set it for a minimal startup. When I restarted Windows 10 the desktop now appeared along with the task bar and start button but the start button didn't work. I changed the safe mode settings from minimal to 'diagnostic repair' and restarted again. This fixed the start button and allowed me to reset the screen resolution from the minimal values that the minimal safe mode used back to the 1920x1080 that is the optimal value for the screen. Restarting again, this time with safe mode set to include networking gave me a working system but without any of the startup applications being run.

To fix the system from here should just involve working out just which of the startup applications it is that is causing the problem and disabling that while allowing everything else. That should then allow the system to start normally. In the meantime I did notice that at least one of my security applications (Commodo Firewall) does not work with Windows 10. The firewall notifies that the system is at risk and needs an update, I could then download and install the update and restart the computer (which I repeated three times) resulting in the software still saying that it is at risk and needs an update.

The next thing that I tried was to turn off ALL of the non-Microsoft startup applications and services. I expected that this would allow the desktop to actually load and that I could then turn on the disabled options one at a time to work out which one was the cause of the problem. Unfortunately the desktop still failed to load in this situation which effectively eliminated everything I could think of to fix the problem as it seems that it is something in the operating system itself preventing the desktop loading on my computer.

While I could still run things in Windows 10 by going via the task manager there seemed little point in keeping this Windows 10 install - not only was it not loading the desktop, it was also extremely slow to start up at all when compared to Windows 7. I decided to make use of the option provided within Windows 10 to revert back to the prior windows version (this option is available for the first month after you install Windows 10). Having selected this option the computer rebooted and after displaying the Windows 10 logo for a minute or so it displayed a message stating that it was restoring the prior version. After displaying this message for a few seconds it then rebooted again and again displayed the Windows 10 logo for a minute or so, the message that it was restoring for a few seconds and then rebooted again. After about 20 such reboots I gave up on trying to recover back to Windows 7 on that partition and deleted the partition completely. I then rebuilt the partition to run Windows 7 by making a copy of the working Windows 7 partition that I had not used for the Windows 10 test.

Based on these tests I recommend that you not upgrade your system to Windows 10 straight away but instead wait a few months to see what happens with other people who rush in to upgrade. We have until July next year to upgrade free so there is still plenty of time to upgrade if Microsoft get all the problems fixed and get Windows 10 working properly. The link for Windows 10 has since appeared in the task bar of one of the computers I have here but that link will NOT be used until after I can rerun the above test successfully.
 

On Site

Several software reviews this month and of course the above review of Windows 10 took up a lot of my time. I am also investigating some online payment processors at the moment so there may be more pages about them in the coming month.
 

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