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New Build, New Name, Lots of Win10 Action

Whoa! Has it really only been two days since the last time I posted? It seems like a lot more time has gone by than that, but perhaps that’s because I’ve been pounding away at Win10 issues over most of the intervening days and hours. No sooner did I finally got my Dell Venue 11 Pro up and working with build 10061, than along came build 10074, and a new name for the current state of Windows 10, both in connection with this week’s Build 2015 conference held in San Francisco.

No more “Technical Preview,” Now it’s an “Insider Preview”
At the conference über-Windows guy Gabe Aul explained that “In fact, Insider feedback has become so valuable to our engineering process, we’ve decided to rename ‘Windows 10 Technical Preview’ to ‘Windows 10 Insider Preview.’ It’s the same OS as before” [I picked this gem up over at the Windows Ten Forums, where it appeared in a news item early on May 1, one day after Aul’s Blogging Windows post introduced the nomenclature update]. Here’s that headline, for your delectation:

win10-ip

Here is a new name straight from MS [click image to see full-size screencap].

From Build 10061 to Build 10074, and beyond!
So, just after getting the Dell Venue 11 Pro up and running on 10061, I found myself immediately upgrading to 10074. This one proved a great deal more interesting than the last upgrade for a whole slew of reasons, which I will now elaborate:

1. As usual the desktop upgraded smoothly and painlessly from old to new build, and the Dell once again hung after the initial shut-down that precedes the first restart once the new OS in place. Having now learned that a cold start will prevent this problem from pausing progress, this time I popped the battery out of the unit after the shut-down occurred, and was then able to boot right up into the “getting Store apps, setting a few things up, …” post-install clean-up during the finishing phases of the OS install. Having been through this 5 times in the past 10 days, I now believe there’s some issue with the start-up behavior of the Venue 11 Pro, possibly related to the BIOS or low-level boot blocks used in the earliest phases of start-up during or immediately after BIOS execution, that’s hanging during the restart that occurs during the installation process. The workaround of forcing a cold and complete shutdown, then a clean restart seems to fix whatever issue is causing the problem.

2. There’s no question that Windows 10 is getting bigger. For build 10061 I had 24.2 GB reported in the Windows.old holdings as available for post-install cleanup (you can clear these files in Disk Cleanup by selecting “System files” during its enumeration phase, or you can elect “delete old Windows installation” in Piriform’s CCleaner program: I am inclined to use the latter because it’s 3-4 faster to completion than the built-in utility). For build 10074, Windows.old was reported at 34.0 GB instead, an increase of almost 10 GB!

3. For the second time with any Windows 10 install, I found driver issues following the installation. It’s normal when performing a clean install of a new OS for the first time for there to be anywhere from a few to a couple of dozen device drivers in need of update or attention. But this is the first upgrade install of Windows 10 since the first build went out where I actually lost a half-dozen drivers following the upgrade (normally drivers are preserved from one build to the next, apparently unmolested during the upgrade process). On the Dell Venue 11 Pro, I found a handful of unknown devices in Device Manager following the install, which turned out to include these items:

  • Intel Watchdog Timer
  • Intel 82802 firmware flash hub (which turned out to be an Intel 28F320C3 Flash Update Device, when properly recognized)
  • O2 Micro Integrated MMC SD card reader
  • Intel Display Audio
  • Intel Virtual Buttons

Fixing those missing items turned out to be the most interesting part of the “getting back to work” effort following the 10074 installation. DriverAgent helped me fix 3 of the 5 items reported as Unknown Devices, but I had to resort to old fashioned detective work to fix the other two. In each case I used the “Hardware Ids” string from the Details pane in the Properties window to search for the device that needed a driver. In both cases, the search was pretty straightforward, and I was able to find the necessary software to bring those devices out of terra incognita and endow them with current, working drivers. Very interesting!

So far, I like Build 10074 better than 10061. It is more stable, offers more interesting graphics and layout, permits running 32-bit applications from the start menu without workarounds, and generally seems pretty well-behaved. I’ve even been able to make new system image backups and system refresh images for both the desktop and the Dell Venue 11 Pro without incident. If I should accidentally trash something, as my experimenting sometimes causes, I’m pretty sure I can get back to a known, good working state on either machine pretty quickly. In the wonderful but whacky world of Windows beta OS work, it doesn’t get any better than that!

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