Video: How to upgrade an old PC to Windows 10 - free
If you own a PC or tablet that's powered by an Intel Clover Trail processor , you're part of an exclusive and unlucky fraternity. For now, at least, Microsoft has cut off Windows 10 support early for your device.
Any Clover Trail-based device currently running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, version 1607, will be blocked from upgrading to the latest version: Creators Update, version 1703. And under Microsoft's new support calendar, that means you'll stop getting security and reliability updates for version 1607 sometime in the first quarter of 2018.
I've asked Microsoft for more details on why this problem is occurring and whether owners of affected devices can expect a software patch to resolve the incompatibility. Earlier today a spokesperson declined to provide any details, saying only, "We are aware of this and investigating the matter."
The population of devices that are being cut off from support is a tiny fraction of the installed base of Windows 10 PCs, but it's still a large number. Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies, who tracks PC and tablet sales closely, estimates that the number of affected devices is probably more than 10 million.
So how can you tell whether your PC is one of them?
Start by looking in Settings > System > About. If the processor is identified as an Intel Atom Z2520, Z2560, Z2580, or Z2760, as shown here, your device is blocked from the Windows 10 Creators Update.
If you see a different processor, including later Atom variants such as the Z3700 or x5-Z8500, you should be in the clear.
But even on a PC running a fully supported processor, you are potentially at risk of being blocked for other issues, including serious incompatibilities associated with specific devices or installed programs.
To check for potential problems before you spend hours attempting to update to the latest Windows 10 release, there's a simple option: Run the Setup program with a pair of switches that instruct it to perform a compatibility check and return the results.
For this compatibility test, you need installation media for the Windows 10 version you want to test. If you've already downloaded the Creators Update, you can use that media; just make sure it matches the architecture - 32-bit or 64-bit - of the system you plan to test.
If you don't have the latest Windows 10 installer files, use the Media Creation Tool to download a fresh copy, as I describe in my FAQ: How to install, reinstall, upgrade and activate Windows 10.
Double-click the ISO file to mount it as a virtual drive with its own drive letter, or insert a USB flash drive containing the installation files. Make a note of the drive letter.
Next, open a command prompt window (the easiest way is to type cmd.exe in the Run box and then press Ctrl+Shift+Enter to run it as an administrator.
At the command prompt, type the following command, substituting the drive letter where your installer files are located in place of d:.
d:\Setup /Compat ScanOnly
Press Enter and follow the setup screens just as if you were performing an upgrade. When you get to the final screen, click Install. The program should end at that point rather than beginning the upgrade. When it does, it writes some information to a file called BlueBox.log, which you'll find in the C:\Windows\Logs\MoSetup folder.
Double-click that file to open it in Notepad and then scroll to the bottom and look for the final error code. If you see 0xC1900210, you're good to go. That means there are no blocking compatibility issues.
If you see another error code, you'll need to find out what it means. Here are four common errors, decoded:
- Compatibility issues found (hard block): 0xC1900208
- Migration choice (auto upgrade) not available (probably the wrong SKU or architecture) 0xC1900204
- Does not meet system requirements for Windows 10: 0xC1900200
- Insufficient free disk space: 0xC190020E
There are other, less common error codes you might encounter. For information on what these codes mean, see this official Microsoft support document: Resolve Windows 10 upgrade errors : Technical information for IT Pros.
That article also explains how to use the echo %errorlevel% command to return a result that can be converted into a hexadecimal equivalent using a toll like the Windows Calc program.