1. someoneinwa's Avatar
    I installed Windows 10 on three devices: a Dell XPS 2710 Ive owned since 2012, a Surface Pro 3 I bought on launch day and is the most heavily used device Ive ever owned, and a Surface 3 purchased in June that is used by family members mainly to surf the web and handle e-mail and Facebook. 30 days after I began my install efforts: my results are the Surface 3 and Pro 3 work fine and the XPS died.

    Both the Surface and Surface Pro downloaded Windows 10 on its day of availability, July 29, as I had reserved. The XPS had not been approved for automatic download. That should have told me something. On September 1, with Windows Update still telling me no, I decided to force the install.
    After the automatic install on the Surface tablets they worked OK but there were certainly odd glitches and annoyances. After a day or so the Surface 3 displayed a half dozen or so tiles with no text or icons. Nothing but blank squares. These tiles werent live and also didnt work. Clicking on them resulted in no action at all. Other tiles had other problems. The weather app, for example, had both its text and the icon in the tile but never displayed live tile data. I tried changing its size several times and restarting the tablet but these efforts made no change. You cant uninstall the weather app so the uninstall/reinstall tactic is not available. If you have an OS based on live tiles and cant even get something as basic as the weather on one, I think that is what is known as a fail. If you clicked on the weather app it would open but was inevitably showing data that was hours old. I got so frustrated by the behavior of this app, that I even tweeted Gabe Aul a screenshot of the open app showing the bright sun backdrop and the clock app showing that the current time was about 10pm. I felt bad after sending it because I really appreciate Gabe and the work he is doing.

    There were other apps having problems as well and the Surface 3 was constantly losing track of my Wi-Fi and showing no available networks until it was restarted.

    The Surface Pro 3 was having similar problems. The weather app was equally useless on this tablet. I didnt experience the blank tiles on the SP3 but I did have the problem of disappearing Wi-Fi here as well and occasional graphical glitches.

    After reading articles on Windows Central about clean installs of Windows 10 and the benefits of this approach, I decided to give it try. I thought the prudent approach would be to first use the Reset this PC feature in Windows 10, but instead of keeping everything I would let the process wipe out my apps and leave just my files. I started with the Surface 3 because it had very few apps installed on it other than the ones that come with Windows and had no personal files or pictures. The reset took quite a while. I assume this had something to do with the Atom CPU. The process never tested my patience, but it took far longer than I had expected.

    The results were real. The live tiles all appeared as they should and after a moment or two some of them began flipping with live data. I clicked on the weather app. It took a moment to load the first time. I set it to my location and noted that the detail screen was current. I closed the app and waited. It took about 30 seconds, but the tile flipped with current weather data! I checked the app repeatedly throughout the day. Each time it opened instantly and with current data. Each time it closed, the live tile flipped within a few seconds.

    My weather app experience on the Surface 3 is emblematic of the total results of the Reset. Things that werent working right after the upgrade did work correctly after the Reset. Given this success I decided a clean install of Windows 10 on the Surface 3 was not necessary.
    I used the same approach with the Surface Pro 3. Ive used this device daily for over a year and it has had a lot of apps installed on it. Many of these I dont use any more or use rarely so once I was sure there were no important documents or photos or videos on it I was OK with doing a Reset while saving only my files.

    On the more powerful Surface Pro 3 the Reset process was much quicker than it had been on the Surface 3. I was pleased that the process provided me with a list of apps that would be deleted and needed to be reinstalled. I actually only reinstalled a handful of these.
    The SP3 benefited from this process as well. I hadnt experienced quite as many odd behaviors after the upgrade as with the Surface 3, but there were enough that it annoyed me. And again, the weather app was one of the offenders. On the Surface Pro, the weather app live tile worked but the app did not refresh on opening just as it had on the Surface 3.

    After the Reset the weather app, the Wi-Fi issue, and the other tiny graphical glitches disappeared.
    I was now a big fan of this process and decided it was time to try it out on the three year old computer that Microsoft hadnt wanted to install its new OS on, my Dell XPS 2710.

    The XPS arrived in 2012 with Windows 8 installed on it. I installed Windows 8.1 on the day it became available for download. Windows 10 was thus the third operating system to be installed on the computer. It was probably always problematic that a device could handle that. Dell was OK with the 2013 and later versions of the XPS 27 being upgraded to Win 10 but the website said the 2012 model would not be tested with the OS. I poked around the Dell website for drivers for my machine and there were none that were newer than 2013 and I already had all of those installed. I dont know what problems Dell and Microsoft expected and it strikes me as odd that machines dating to Windows 7 era could handle the upgrade, but not something from as recent as 2012; particularly an expensive machine like the XPS 27.

    Most of my important documents and family photos and videos are stored in the cloud and on an external back up drive so I was fine any kind of approach I might need to take to get Windows 10 on my XPS: forcing the upgrade or a clean install. I followed the steps I had found online to force the upgrade on to my machine. The process started, it scanned the computer for a list of apps that would need to be reinstalled, and then it gave me a Blue Screen error and restarted. The error message WDF_Violation apparently has something to do with a driver. Maybe this message should have caused me to leave this machine on Windows 8.1, but no. I unplugged any peripherals that had been plugged into the XPS and tried the process again. I got the same result.

    This is when I decided to try the clean install process. Following instructions from this website and others, I downloaded the files to a USB thumb drive, inserted the drive and restarted the XPS. The clean install process began. It took more time than the Reset on the Surface Pro but far less than the Reset of the Surface 3. There seemed to be no serious issues, but there were the same graphical issues (and the same non-functioning weather app) that I had seen on the two tablets. There was also something else going on. Restarts of the computer took a very long time. The shutdown phase was greatly extended and the startup was also longer than it had been. The fans in the XPS were running more often as well. There were some periods where nothing would work for a few moments: mouse movement, cursor blinks, touches, nothing would register for several seconds and then everything you did during the frozen period would all happen at once and then the computer would behave normally again. This was all new behavior.

    The next day the XPS I noticed that in the clean install process the name of the XPS had been changed to a generic Desktop xxxxx. The xs were numbers. I wanted to change it back to what I had called it before. I entered the new name in the Control Panels Name Computer dialog box. This requires a restart of the PC. As the computer started to shut off, a screen flashed up briefly that said something like Update XX of XX is installing. Do not turn off your computer. I did not know it was doing that. Too late. The computer turned off. It did restart, but there was no Dell logo, no little circle of dots. Nothing. I waited and waited. Nothing. I waited 20 minutes. Nothing. The screen backlight was on but the screen itself was black. No keypress worked. Nothing. With nothing left to do, I turned off the PC and tried again. Nothing. I turned it on again with the F2 key. Then F4. F10. F1. F12. Nothing. I put the flash drive back in. Nothing. I plugged an HDMI cable in and changed the input and was able to watch something streamed from my Surface Pro 3, so I knew the screen still worked. It was the computer that was fried. I checked online and at a local computer repair shop Ive used before. The news was always bad. The tech told me he would charge about $120 to try to restore the hard drive but couldn't guarantee that would work. This was a three year old machine that I was planning to replace later this year. Best Buy has a trade in program and gave me $230 in a gift card for the XPS. I told them what was wrong with it. I am sure the shutdown related to the name change was the issue and not really Windows 10 but it was Windows 10 that was downloading and installing some updates at the time that was happening and I wasnt aware of that activity until that warning screen popped up after it was too late to stop the restart.

    I had been uncertain about what I was going to do when I replaced the XPS. I knew I didnt want another machine that large, so I was considering a smaller all in one or a docking station and monitor solution based around my Surface Pro 3 (and later the 4). This incident forced my decision a bit sooner than expected and I went with the monitor and Surface docking station approach. I had to buy a portable optical disk drive and a better keyboard and mouse for this system, but I think it will work well for me. Im pleased two of my three devices are working fine with Windows 10 but I am still sad that the XPS met such an ignoble end. It had been a good and faithful machine.
    09-22-2015 05:09 PM

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