Monday, June 22, 2015

Windows 10, the cluelessness continues.

In my previous post I griped about how Microsoft throws responsibility to you to work out how the heck to get their ISO onto a bootable USB stick - good luck with that one grandma.

The Windows 10 bootable USB stick that I tried to make on my Mac didn't work and I didn't figure out why in the end.  I eventually managed to get a bootable USB stick made thanks to extensive Google searching and thanks to a utility call "Rufus" which I ran from an old Windows 7 machine that I resurrected for the task.  Microsoft should just buy that company with its pocket fluff and stick the utility right there on the Windows 10 download page.  

So I booted up my laptop and was pleased to see the Windows logo as the installer loaded from USB. All went fine until I tried to get past the formatting of the hard disk.  It didn't work.  Windows gave me some vague and unhelpful error.  OK, so is this a problem with Windows 10 or is there something wrong with the new hard disk that I just installed into this machine? To find out I downloaded the latest Ubuntu Desktop installer and put it on a USB stick.  Ubuntu Desktop booted up and installed cleanly and had no problem with the hard disk. 

As an aside, I have to say at this point that I was a little taken aback. I have never had a good experience installing desktop Linux.  I've given it a go every 12 months or so for a few years and it ALWAYS feels clunky and unix-ish.  Usually, any flavor of desktop Linux throws reams of complex, frightening and technical sounding text messages at you, switches jarringly out of graphics mode into text mode and back again, fails to recognise your wireless network card, forces you through the most arcane possible hard disk formatting process.  None of that happened this time. Ubuntu Desktop installed easy, quickly, cleanly, the wireless network came up, it did not spew complex technical messages at me and managed to stay in graphics mode.  Within minutes I was browsing the web under Ubuntu Desktop. When I rebooted the machine it started so fast I was awestruck.  Hmmm.

Back to Windows 10 attempted install.....

OK so Ubuntu installs fine so theres nothing wrong with the hard disk.  I go back into the installer and try every possible option and variant on getting the disk to format.  I search Google for the error message, others on the net have had the same error installing Windows 8! I try some of the suggested fixes.  Nothing works.  Further Googling finds a thread somewhere that suggests that the problem is because it is a USB3 stick.  OK well I am using a USB3 stick which I thought was  a good idea because they are fast.  Alright so I go back and make a new Windows 10 installer on an old USB stick that I have. Boom!  Problem solved, Windows 10 formats the hard disk and installs.

Why should Windows 10 not install if the installer is on a USB3 stick?  I don't know and I really don't care.  Certainly grandma would never get past that problem in her quest to install Windows 10.  It's concerning though that it appears to be a problem that was seen in Windows 8 so it's an old bug.

I'm not a fan of Desktop Linux but I'm left feeling rather unsettled that the Ubuntu Desktop install worked a whole lot smoother and better than Windows 10 install. What the heck does that mean?  Windows used to be the go-to OS for PC's because it actually managed to make all that diverse PC hardware work - is that not true any more?

When eventually I got into Windows 10 I'm sorry to say it felt kinda clunky.  The thing that bothers me most about Windows these days is that it feels like its designed by a committee, like it has problems that are too big to fix, and it feels like the outcome of deep corporate politics rather than the implementation of a clear vision of what an operating system should be.  I'll use it, but only when I need to.

At the end of my Windows 10 installation adventure I was left wondering, if you sat 1,000 ordinary people down in front of 1,000 average computers from the past five years, how many people would succeed installing Windows 10 without expert help? I suspect fewer than Satya Nadella would like.


  1. Looking forward to Windows 10, hopefully it will reduce startup time from 1 minutes to few seconds like Linux.