Windows 10 installation notes

Last modified: Mon Dec 3 19:59:36 EST 2018

These are notes from my installation of Windows 10 Technical Preview in early 2015 with revisions made after an installation of the October 2018 version.  Your requirements may vary.

Theory of operation

While Windows 10 is not the full repudiation of Windows 8 that all sane users hoped for, it is definitely about damage control.  The Metro BS is still there, but instead of replacing the entire desktop it just takes over the left-click menu of the start button which is now a window icon thing with no name.  More familiar stuff is on the right-click menu.

Space requirements

Installing W10 and one game on a 60 GB SSD leaves not enough space to install the multi-GB updates that Microsoft pushes out.  120 GB seems OK at first, but before long you are prompted to delete the previous version of Windows to make space.  Therefore, if you don't want to be constantly running disk cleanup, start with 500 GB.

Hibernation mode automatically grabs an amount of space equal to the amount of system RAM.  To disable hibernation and free up that space, run Command Prompt as Administrator and do powercfg -h off.

Running the install

Pitfall:  The installer is easily confused by the existence of multiple devices and other operating systems.  It leads to getting stuck at the partitioning screen with a bogus error about cannot find a partition.  You really do just have to disable all of the other drives.  If there's no BIOS setup option to disable a drive, you have to disconnect its power temporarily.  (Yuck.)

As with Ubuntu, choosing to boot the installation medium in BIOS or UEFI mode apparently determines the mode of the installed bootloader.  This matters because Grub has issues with cross-mode chainloading.  I was able to boot a UEFI W10 install from a BIOS Grub, bypassing the Windows EFI stuff, but doing so caused all Windows updates to fail.

It is possible to install W10 in a single NTFS partition if you use BIOS mode and format it yourself.  However, if you install to an empty disk, you'll get a separate partition for Windows Boot Manager.  (In UEFI mode, this is just the mandatory EFI system partition.)

Sometimes you get a separate partition for the Windows Recovery Environment.  This is a good thing, but I don't know how to make it happen.  When it's not put in a separate partition, it goes in C:\Recovery.

As of the October 2018 update, the option to complete the install without creating or signing into a Microsoft online account has gotten buried even deeper and made more difficult.  See Step 23 here.  Choose "offline account" at every opportunity and keep saying NO when it tries to railroad you into changing your mind.

Network configuration

Drivers

Windows now installs manufacturer's drivers for Nvidia GPUs and Realtek audio/LAN automatically.

Nvidia's driver pack now comes with something called GeForce Experience, which Microsoft wisely omitted.  It has nice features like optimizing game settings and updating drivers automatically, but it also has some hidden background function that randomly goes off and hogs massive amounts of CPU and network bandwidth without any warning or explanation.  GeForce Experience is unnecessary and deinstalling it fixes the problem.

Miscellaneous

Make sure that System Restore is activated and creating restore points.

For some reason the network connection doesn't come up until 2 minutes or so after booting.

By default, SSDs and USB flash drives will be subjected to scheduled automatic "optimization" which you may or may not want.  To disable it, run Disk Defragmenter, click on "Configure schedule...," clear the checkbox next to "Run on a schedule," and hit OK.

Final thoughts

If you don't take full drive images every day...

If you don't have a Windows recovery partition...

If System Restore is turned OFF...

YOU ARE GONNA HAVE A GOOD TIME.

Oopsie Woopsie


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