Along with some 65 million others who also recently received the long anticipated Windows version 10 software upgrade notice July 29th (can’t imagine the technology behind downloading 5 gigabytes of Win10 file to that many users in the opening hours alone!) I was eager to see the new features but scared of anything so untried on my brand new PC system. This recently purchased computer came with Windows 8.1 installed and an anticipated free Windows 10 upgrade available just one week later. My son, Mike, had called to excitedly share the event as seen on his system, tackling the download & install on each of the family’s laptops without incident. Mike reported the family users being very favorable to the new user interface and perceived speed of the new OS. And so I went to see what was happening under “Update” on my PC here.HPEnvy

As it was, my experience was not to be a smooth one with Microsoft leaving messages of trying to download and install that new release only to find it “failed to install” many times on day one of the launch. Their error code of ‘80240020’ was the only clue but with no explanation. Better to wait and see what fixes might come from so many users’ opening day experiences on a variety of home environments.

Of course I spent hours of error code research but wasn’t able to find any meaningful solutions. My computer is both a production system and a technology hobby, so while the average consumer might get very frustrated with the situation, for me it was a hobby like challenge of solving the puzzle with much on-line research and trying various suggested solutions, thus not a real frustration. In the next few days I would spend hours testing various posted solutions, all to no avail. With over forty years in a technical career and now another ten years as a retired hobby, I was able to tackle some pretty deep technical procedures.  These included deleting internal Windows folders/files, using the internal Command Prompt in Administration mode to do things that were behind the user interface of the Windows OS. That even included ‘cardiac surgery’ editing and creating new entries in the internal heart of the system, the Registry where you read “WARNING: Any mistake in this could cause your whole system to fail!” When a Win10 automated user friendly download/install process failed, I took the suggested manual option, downloaded the file and created a DVD install/boot disc. Finally getting the DVD device to boot, itself yet another challenge, the process called for entering the Windows ‘product key.’  

Finding a key used to be easy to just read a label attached to the computer. With aged knees, I crawled under the desk, searched every side including top and bottom of that computer case, even inside the case, by flashlight trying to find any label with a product key. Nothing!!! Found free downloadable software that would reveal the key.  When used, this 25 digit/alpha key was entered and rejected multiple times as not being valid. “Damn!”  Called HP tech support, manufacturer of my new PC, who explained they didn’t use external labels anymore.  The missing key was encoded on the firmware so it would be checked by the MS software install without user intervention.  I was directed to call Microsoft for support in getting that ‘hidden key’ to move forward. Didn’t make sense to me that you had to enter an ‘invisible key’ to accomplish this manual install, but I did as directed and called Microsoft. Well, with this new world-wide release just a few days old you can only imagine the length of time you would be in their queue as the voice advised: “Due to the large volume of callers, there might (really? …‘MIGHT?’) be a delay in getting an agent on the line”. Needless to say I didn’t stay long on hold before going back to the self-directed ‘journey’ again.

Finally I moved past the original error code using the internal ‘tricks’ mentioned above and was able to download a 5GB Win10 file directly onto the system hard drive only to end up with yet another equally meaningless error code (‘80200056’) when trying to install from the file. This too led to a merry chase and eventually a Registry edit to allow it to run the install. Actually that vendor posted reply claimed the error code was just to alert the user that a user intervention was needed in the install process.  That edited Registry entry somehow circumvented the issue and so, late last night – finally!! It’s not a short install (took about three hours), but I was watching it progress slowly while I ran back and forth changing water in three fish tanks, also watching favorite TV shows as the install reported its progress as 1% in slow increments til 100% complete.

And there it was, that ‘high tech’ advice message quoted in the title to this blog: “Windows 10 install in process, ‘sit back and just relax’ – this will require some time and several restarts” – I had to smile. This was the most non-technical direction I had ever seen, in truth exactly what the user was required to do, sit back and just relax, watching the progress til about midnight when it did its last reboot.   Sure enough, (finally) Windows 10 was up and running. Despite wanting to experience the new interface and apps, instead I choose to ‘relax’ even further and went to bed, tired and happy after a week of puzzle solving as my hobby of technology.

First thing this morning, I was up trying things out. Norton Security immediately announced it was not Win10 compliant and would download and automatically install a compliant new version.  This worked seamlessly as everything has throughout this work day so I’m a happy camper. Given the experience, and remembering son Mike’s where it worked without errors, I can’t imagine the non-techie user who might have to face those challenges unless they engaged lots of technical support, either free or paid!

I close with my admiration for whoever came up with that ‘technical advice’ offered during the process: ‘Sit back and just relax’ – good advice for life, huh? I can only imagine the push back in a brainstorming design room when it was suggested, but it carried the day.  Later, in one final install screen, a blank black background with a simple and short white message: “Hi!” welcomes the user to the new environment.  Yup, that’s all it said while you watched and waited for the final install steps to complete – some back room design techie was really having fun. I turned into bed, tired but feeling very accomplished, with a big grin as I reflected on both of those simple messages from a technology giant as they faced the huge task of populating hundreds of millions (maybe even billions?) PC’s with this Win10 OS, billed as the last version. No more new versions (IE., DOS, Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, etc.). In its place, just a lifetime of updates to this final one, Windows 10, offered free to users until later this year when if you haven’t installed it, you will have to buy it for $119.

So I’m just sitting back now and relaxing as I learn all the new stuff – a process that keeps the mind young and challenged. I do hope that if you are in a similar upgrade environment, your experience is easy, like Mike’s, and not worthy of writing a story like I just did.Win10