Amiga to Win10 in 30 Years, Pt 1

New and Old

CPU imageAnyone who reads my site will notice I’ve gone quiet lately. I’ve been on an expedition through my Man Cave/PC room, doing a dual new machine/old machine revival.

My original intention was just to make some room and clear out some things, but it’s turned out to be much more. Once I came across equipment that I’d made or modified myself, I started getting the itch to get back into messing with hardware again. I’ve got Amstrad word processors, Amigas and old 8-bit tech too; also more recent PCs, laptops and new servers/render farms.

I’ve got these all laid out in some sort of order now, and have been getting them running and modernised.

WINDOWS 10

The first thing was getting Windows 10 running on all the computers that could take it. It turns out 6 were capable and one on the border of being upgradeable. Three are laptops (Dell Precision, HP Probook and a Sony Vaio N21E). Now, if you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer and you signed up to receive the upgrade, you will know that an upgrade icon would have been on your toolbar if the computer is eligible for it. You don’t have to wait for that to get round to you. Going here, you can download the ISO for the full version of Windows 10. Which version of Windows 10 you get will depend on your previous Windows version and hardware.

The Dell upgraded with no problems, it took about an hour in total from the upgrade icon in toolbar. The VAIO already had the developer’s version of Windows 10 on it; that installed trouble-free and the full Windows 10 (32bit) was the same, problem free, though it took a little longer. This was a surprise – when I tried to install Windows 8, it said it wasn’t upgradeable from its original Vista install.

The third machine, the HP Probook, installed but once it rebooted to Windows 10 it was dog slow. Now after its install you will notice a slowdown for a good 4 to 6 hours on some machines as it seems to still be doing background tasks and collating your Apps and files etc. Just leave the computer on until it settles down living on your particular setup. Then, if after this time you reboot and you still find it slower than it was on Windows 8, you have problems. On all the machines I’ve installed it on, including older “minimum spec” versions, Windows 10 has been a marked improvement. If yours isn’t, like my HP Probook, it’s most likely some software on startup that isn’t living happily with Windows 10 and needs updating or disabling. The following method is the best way to fix it:

  1. Open a command shell. When your computer is running slow, this is the best way: Right click the Windows logo, select Command Prompt (Admin). The command prompt window will appear. In that window, type “msconfig” (without quotes).
  2. On the General tab, select ‘Selective startup,’ not ‘diagnostic’ as that will stop windows services too. You just want to find what software you have that’s problematic.
  3. On the Services Tab, tick ‘hide all microsoft services,’ then untick any services that remain so they won’t start on the next reboot.
  4. On the Startup tab, select ‘open task manager’

The last step will show you all your third party apps that start up when you boot your computer. I usually have most of these turned off anyway; they are mainly resource hogs that are not needed to run from start unless you use them frequently. Having these turned off in here doesn’t affect them from working; they just don’t run in the background. It is a generally good idea to turn them off in startup anyway, for fast booting and smooth running. Obviously some are needed, such as your pointing device software if a laptop, etc., and you would normally leave those on. But for this fault finding task, we will turn them all off by unticking the boxes next to the tasks.

Next, close all windows. It will ask you to reboot; do so. If after rebooting it runs fine, then it’s a case of working out what service/startup app is causing the problem. The likely candidates are any antivirus apps. In my case, Avast was the culprit even though it was fine on my other systems. I’ve noticed that different hardware setups will give you different issues – or no complaints at all. What was fine on one machine doesn’t mean it will be fine for everything. Windows 10 has its own antivirus and anti-spyware, but if you still want a separate antivirus program, it’s better to remove what you have and reinstall it over Windows 10.

If in your case the antivirus does not come up as a problem, continue using your system as it is until you notice you are missing something you need or want. Then simply enable that item by opening the Command Shell, run msconfig, and on the Startup tab, re-enable the desired item and reboot. This way, you will narrow down the culprit without too much disruption to your work, rather then selecting one at a time and rebooting in a recursive, time-consuming fashion.

That took care of the three laptops. An Old VAIO QR20 wasn’t worth doing; it’s too old, but it is happily running on the Ubuntu Linux distribution. My desktop computers came next, three of them. They are a Dell XPS, an HP/Compaq Athlon x2 215, and a custom built with AMD Athlon x2 250. All of them were able to take Windows 10.

The Dell ran the installation until it got to 72% complete, then just got stuck there. It’s not unknown for this to happen, then suddenly jump once it gets past the sticking point. If you get a similar thing, don’t reset or restart. Leave it be and check back after a few hours. On my Dell, it was still at 72% after 6 hours. It does have 2 terabytes of files and data on it, so I expected it to be the slowest upgrade, but not this long. I reset it and it thankfully booted back to win 8.1, so I left it for the next day. When I ran the upgrade a second time, I noticed it found some updates before continuing. It completed the installation without any further problems. I can only assume that an update fixed whatever problem there was before.

The custom built AMD has had many OS versions on it in the past: Windows XP, Vista, Ubuntu Linux, Windows 8 and 8.1, then the developers Windows 10. The full Windows 10 installation was faultless and quick.

The Compaq as of the afternoon of 2nd August still said I was in line for the update. I’d downloaded and burned the Windows 10 ISO onto a CD, so I decided to install using that. It asked me for a product key. I put in the Windows 7 product key and it didn’t like it. I then realized that Windows 7 Home Premium won’t update to Windows 10 Pro. I had to use a Windows 10 Home ISO on my disk. That ran the installation, then it rebooted and asked for a product key again but with a ‘skip’ option. I clicked to skip that. It told me to reboot without the disk and proceeded to install without the disk. I don’t know if the installation ran with previously downloaded files or if it was downloading as it went. It took about an hour and there were no more problems. This desktop is not on Windows 10 Pro, but it is a 64-bit version of Windows 10 Home.

I have a few more, older, computers. I will need to decide which operating systems to put onto them, as they don’t meet the minimum specifications for Windows 10.

Since this post is quite lengthy, I will talk about the vintage computers in Part 2…stay tuned.

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