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Retiring Older PC Upon Long Service

If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you’ve followed my recent misadventures with my old but trusty Dell Venue Pro 11. It’s a model 7130, with an low-voltage i5 (Haswell) 4210Y CPU, 8 GB RAM, and a 256 GB Lite-on M.2 SATA SSD. Until pretty recently it’s been a great Insider Preview test machine for Windows 10, too. But since the release of Build 18305 (4 releases back) I’ve been facing the same problem. I can perform a clean install of new Insider versions. But an upgrade install fails every time at about 86% into the Post-GUI install (“Working on updates …”). And with the same error code, too — namely WDF_VIOLATION. WDF stands for Windows Driver Foundation. Thus, I’m convinced there’s an incompatibility between the upgrade process and one or more drivers in that PC. And indeed, that’s why I’m considering retiring old PC upon long service.

Retiring Older PC Upon Long Service.sideview

The little screen desk is actually a standalone tablet, but plugs into a clamshell keyboard that makes a decent traveling laptop.

Pros and Cons of Retiring Older PC Upon Long Service

I confess. I’ve got a thing for capable tablet PCs. I even owned a Fujitsu Q704 tablet for a year or so, before its outrageous price ($3K+) and flaky behavior induced me to sell it on, and buy this Venue Pro model in 2014 instead. I also own a Surface Pro 3 (i7 4650U, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Samsung M.2 SSD). All of these tablets have their little quicks, especially on the hardware side. Keeping up with drivers and firmware has been interesting on all of the them.

On the plus side, I like their compactness. For reading in bed, nothing beats a tablet (though I like Kindle on the iPad as much, if not more, than Kindle for Windows). For quick and dirty access to Internet stuff and info, as when playing Scrabble or looking up ingredients/recipes in the kitchen, a tablet is a great go-to tool. Thus, ease of access and use are other pluses for me.

But the minuses are also many. Limited ports unless docked; limited resources in general. Usually somewhat underpowered and thus sometimes slow. Limited screen real estate. Yes, I understand these are all natural consequences of the form factor and inherent to the engineering tradeoffs involved in putting all the important pieces and parts into a thin, flat deck. It is what it is.

What about the Venue Pro 11?

Alas, my time to fiddle with test machines is limited right now. I’m drowning in paying work, so that means my playtime for mucking about with problem PCs is slim to non-existent. That’s why I’m planning to install a production version of Windows 10 Pro on that PC, and take it out of testing. It’s quite stable and capable at running the base OS. There’s just something new and different in the Upgrade install (anybody else notice the UUP-CT2 moniker appended after recent upgrade install notifications in Windows Update) that doesn’t like this machine. So reluctantly, I’m going to swap it out of its current role. For grins, I’m going to try using my even older Lenovo X220 Tablet (which has been extraordinarily stable and capable since I bought it in 2012, originally to run Windows 8, though it came with 7 installed).

Let’s see what happens next. And when I’m in funds I’ll be looking for a good new Windows 10 touch screen PC to use as a test machine. Right now the Dell Latitude 7390 appeals. Anybody have other recommendations? If so, please share!

Note added 1/30/2019

Kari, my partner at Win10.Guru, convinced me to try taking the install file offline and using DISM to inject the drivers from 18317 to support a clean install to 18323. Took some time and effort, but indeed it worked. And, upon running that new install for a while I got the WDF_VIOLATION GSOD when awaking from sleep. To me, this proves that the Intel Management Engine driver is indeed involved in my difficulties. And it seems that injecting those drivers does indeed do the trick to keep the Venue Pro 11 moving forward on Insider Preview updates.

Now the real question becomes: do I want to make this a routine part of my Insider Preview upgrade drill? With practice, I don’t think it will take too much longer than an ordinary upgrade. And FWIW, Kari’s been recommending this approach: using DISM to inject drivers into install.wim for the clean install media, then using DISM to apply the upgrade. Looks like I’m getting on that particular bus now. He’s written an article about this process for Win10.Guru as I write this note (Project “Dell Venue — The Second Coming”). Please check it out for the clever workaround it uses to bypass the driver checking that causes both upgrade and clean installs to fail on that PC. Good stuff!

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