A valid Windows 10 product key is required
Windows 10 has been unleashed upon the world, and you know what that means – it’s upgrade season. Windows users around the world are plodding on their keyboards as we speak, praying to the old gods and the new that their upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10 goes off without a hitch. I would know, I was one of them. But on Friday I hit a hitch – my trusty Windows Embedded 8.1 virtual machine, used countless times for classes, just refused to upgrade to Windows 10, giving me the now infamous “Something happened” error message.
Windows Embedded 8.1 is a specialized version of Windows 8.1 meant for embedded systems, like ATMs. But Microsoft also gives away this fully functional version of Windows to people like me – students, through their Microsoft DreamSpark program. Perhaps predictably, Windows 10 will out of the box refuse to upgrade from Embedded 8.1. Luckily, tricking the system into performing an in-place install is not only incredibly easy, but appears to work without issue.
So, how’s it done? Fair warning, however. Windows Embedded 8.1 is not eligible for Microsoft’s free Windows 10 promotion, so you will need a valid Windows 10 product key to activate Windows. Functionally, you can use Windows 10 without successfully activating, but you’ll be missing out on quite a few important features.
This guide come with absolutely no warranty whatsoever. It may totally destroy your Windows installation, rendering your computer completely unusable. That said, I don’t think that will happen – these are the exact steps that worked for me.
1) First, you’ll need to download Microsoft’s new Media Creation tool by heading here – you’ll probably want the 64-bit version.
2) Open up the MediaCreationToolx64.exe we just downloaded. A Windows 10 Setup screen will start. Select the “Create installation media for another PC” option, and click next.
3) Select your language. Under “Edition”, select whatever edition of Windows 10 you purchases / have otherwise obtained. In my case, I selected “Windows 10 Pro”. Under architecture, select “64-bit (x64).” Hit next.
4) Select “ISO file”. Hit next. For convenience, save the ISO file on the desktop. Windows 10 will begin downloading.
5) Now for the fun part – we need to essentially trick Windows 10 into thinking that we’re running Windows 8.1, and not Windows Embedded 8.1. To do this, click the Start Button on the taskbar and type “regedit” (without the quotes). Press enter.
(If you’ve never used the Registry Editor before, be sure to follow these instructions exactly as written. The Windows Registry is extremely important to the general health of your PC. I’m not responsible for anything that happens to your PC from here on out, even if it becomes sentient, sets your house on fire, kidnaps your cat, and runs away with your significant other.)
6) In the Registry Editor, expand the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” directory. Expand the “SOFTWARE” directory. Expand the “Microsoft” directory. Expand the “Windows NT” director. Single click the “CurrentVersion” directory.
7) The keys found on the right side of the Registry Editor in the “CurrentVersion” directory are responsible for telling applications, including the Windows 10 installer, what version of Windows you’re running for compatibility reasons. We’ll need to change a couple of these in order to “trick” Windows 10 into performing an in-place upgrade.
8) Double click the “EditionID” key. Under “Value data”, type in “Core” if you’re installing Windows 10 Home, or “Professional” if you’re installing Windows 10 Pro. (Without the quotes.)
9) Double click the “ProductName” key. Under “Value data”, type in “Windows 8.1 Core” if you’re installing Windows 10 Home, or “Windows 8.1 Pro” if you’re installing Windows 10 Pro. (Without the quotes.)
10) Double click the “BuildLab” key. Under “Value data”, type in (or copy and paste, let’s be honest here) “9600.winblue_rtm.130821-1623”. (Without the quotes.)
11) Double click the “BuildLabEx” key. Under “Value data”, paste “9600.16384.amd64fre.winblue_rtm.130821-1623” if you have are running 64-bit, or “9600.16384.x86fre.winblue_rtm.130821-1623” if you are running 32-bit. (Without the quotes.) Close Regedit. (hooray!)
12) If you’ve got a halfway decent internet connection, the copy of Windows 10 we started downloading the Media Creation Tool should be just about finished. If so, head to the Desktop and double click the ISO we downloaded earlier – likely called something like “Windows10.iso”
13) From here, go through the Windows 10 Setup prompts as you would – Windows should now allow you to upgrade your copy of Windows Embedded 8.1 to Windows 10. Remember, Setup will require a valid Windows 10 Product Key. As Windows installs, your computer will install a couple of times.
14) Open up a cold bottle of water, you deserve it.
No, you're not getting Windows 10
Remember Microsoft’s Surface RT? It was Microsoft’s own tablet that ran full Windows on an ARM chip, right down to the confusing Metro/Desktop switch. It had Office pre-loaded, but you couldn’t use any other desktop apps with it unless you jailbroke it. And with relatively few quality Metro apps in the store, there was really no incentive to buy a Surface RT over a comparable x86-based tablet.
If you were at or watched Microsoft’s Windows 10 conference yesterday, you may have noticed that not a single utterance of “Windows RT” was heard anywhere. In fact, according to C|NET, Microsoft “devoted only a few seconds to Windows RT, saying during a Q&A with reporters that it is ‘working on an update for Windows RT as well.'” Companies like Asus and Dell who both introduced Windows RT tablets have already gone and killed their products with the remaining holdouts being the Surface RT and the Lumia 2520.
While the Surface Pro lineup will naturally be getting the Windows 10 update, Microsoft only said that there would be a future update that brings some of Windows 10’s functionality to Windows RT. This statement feels eerily similar to how Microsoft mis-handled the Windows 7.5 upgrade path, where Windows Phone 7 handsets would never see an update to Windows Phone 8 but would instead be updated to have some of the same functionality as Windows Phone 8. We’ll be waiting to see what Microsoft has to say later on about Windows RT but for now, it certainly sounds like this is the end.
The year of the budget Windows tablet
Microsoft hasn’t had the best of luck with tablets running Windows 8.1 just yet, but that isn’t stopping some manufacturers from trying. Budget manufacturer eFun has come to CES with not one, not two, but three low-spec tablets running Windows 8.1, all of which will run you under $300, thanks in part to Microsoft’s still relatively new Windows 8.1 with Bing version of Windows.
The main differentiator between all of these devices would be, of course, screen size – all three models feature a quad-core Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB to 64GB of internal storage. The cheapest model will run you $229 and features a 10.1 inch display, while one ring up gets you a 11.6 inch display for just $279.
The real deal, however, is the 12.5 inch model at $279. Not only is that on the upper end of tablet display sizes, eFun’s tablet also comes with a full year’s subscription of Microsoft Office 365. That comes with the full suite of Microsoft Office programs, something that many other tablets can’t boast.
But if Windows 8.1 isn’t your thing – and if sales are any indication, it might not be – eFun also has three Android tablets they want to offer you. A slightly smaller 8-inch device ships with bundled LTE support and a Snapdragon processor starting at $129 in a 16GB configuration, or you can upgrade to 32GB of internal storage if you need a little more room for activities. There’s also a 10.1 inch model for $229 with similar specifications, and an 11.6 model for $249 with a boosted 64GB of internal storage. All of the Android tablets feature 1GB of RAM.
Bugs and connection issues expected
While Microsoft and developer 343i continue to recover from the disastrous Halo: The Master Chief Collection launch, both companies are looking ahead at what comes next – Halo 5: Guardians. Today the company has officially launched the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta to everyone who purchased Halo: Master Chief Collection with two included maps – Truth, and Empire – and the Slayer playlist.
Haverzine was granted a sneak peak of the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta alongside other Xbox Preview Program members, and all in all we liked what we saw. Gameplay was fast and fluid, graphics were impressive and a notable step up from 2012’s Halo 4, and the game still felt more or less like Halo.
That said, we did notice some odd glitches and problems in our time with the Multiplayer Beta early access period. We noted some severe connection issues throughout the weekend, with parties failing to connect to the Halo servers, games ending early, and slow matchmaking performance in general. The beta is also running at a sub 1080p resolution, disappointing considering the Xbox One’s graphical capabilities and expectations.
Are you enjoying the Halo 5 beta? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! I’ll see you on the battlefield.
It's still Trident, though
The ever reliable Mary Jo Foley of All About Microsoft on ZDNet is reporting that, despite expectations that Microsoft is working on developing Internet Explorer 12, Microsoft is in fact working on an entirely new web browser developed from the ground up using the existing Trident core. The new web browser, which is expected to ship alongside Windows 10 and is codenamed Spartan, sticking with Microsoft’s Halo inspired codenames for the next version of Windows, will feature versions both native to the “Modern” tablet experience as well as the desktop.
Microsoft will reportedly ship Windows 10 with both the new Spartan web browser alongside the existing version of Internet Explorer 11 found on Windows 8.1 devices for backwards compatibility purposes. According to Jo’s sources, “Spartan” will feature a brand new, streamlined, user experience that more closely resembles other modern web browsers, including Google’s Chrome and newer versions of Mozilla Firefox.
Microsoft may not be on track to ship a beta version of “Spartan” in time for the official Windows 10 Consumer Preview in January, however it will likely ship with a future build pushed to Windows Insiders not long after.
Source: All About Microsoft
Create a game in a game on a game console
Project Spark, the innovative game building game that launched as a limited beta earlier this year, has finally been released as both a digital download as well as a physical disc in retail. Available for both the Xbox One (sorry, Xbox 360 users) and Windows 8.1 (double sorry, Windows 7 standouts – can I interest you in Windows 10?), Project Spark allows players to create entire worlds for others to play trough, complete with campaign support as well as multiplayer.
If you choose to go for the download option, Project Spark is entirety free to use – Microsoft is only asking you pony up some cash for add-on packs that add content that you can use to further enhance your world. You can get this version at both the Xbox Marketplace as well as the Windows Store. Alternatively, you can walk into your nearest video game retailer and pick up the physical version for $39, which is actually a steal as it contains about $85 worth of that aforementioned add-on packs.
Calling it Windows 7.5 isn't that far off
Using the Windows 10 Technical Previews feels a little bit like going home. It’s as if I had just spent the last three years in some sort of bizzare-o world filled with buggy, nearly useless full screen applications; like I’m enjoying a swim in a refreshing, crisp, blue pool after spending an eternity in the fiery depths of Hell.In this scenario, Hell is, of course, a stand in for Windows 8 – and I think the sooner we admit the similarities, the sooner we can all recover from its abuses.
The Windows 10 Technical Preview is kind of like the anti-Windows 8 – indeed, some have taken to calling it Windows 7.5, and I don’t think that’s too far off. If you’ve not seen it in action yet, picture this – all the Desktop improvements that shipped with Windows 8 minus all of the horrible Start Screen garbage. Oh, and the Start Menu is back, so that’s pretty nice.
Microsoft is saying that this represents only a tiny fraction of the features, design, and functionality we’ll find in the final version of Windows 10 – due sometime late 2015 – and I believe it. Essentially, there’s only a couple of things worth getting really excited about here thus far, if you appreciate the fact that Microsoft is reverting back to the “classic” Windows 7 way of doing things.
Read more to hear our early impressions of the Windows 10 Technical Preview build.
Unveiling at 10 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern
Windows 9 is coming. Sure, Microsoft may not call it that – not today, and perhaps not ever – but whatever Microsoft announces at their “future of Windows” event today, it is the next major release of Windows, one that will stand just as tall as the Windows 8’s, 7’s, Vista’s, and XP’s before it. Despite remaining relatively secretive about the future of Windows beyond what little of a next generation Start Menu that was revealed at BUILD 2014, we know a surprising number of details about what the future of Windows will look like and how it’ll work. Let’s get started.
What to realistically expect…” is a series of posts which we use to temper expectations concerning upcoming industry events. All entries thus far have focused on Apple events, however a big new version of Windows doesn’t come along every day, so we think it’s important to take an in-depth look.
A Windows machine for under $100? Madness!
Microsoft has been looking to readjust their Windows strategy to better combat the influx of ultra low-cost, low end machines flooding the market these days, and today we’re seeing another step in that process. HP has just announced a bunch of new machines, but the stars of the show really are the new HP Stream tablets and two new HP Stream laptops. Both are (presumably) low end, both have Intel processors, but perhaps most impressively, both are full blown Windows PCs with some truly unbelievable price tags.
Starting off with the HP Stream, we’re looking at a 7-inch tablet with a starting price of just $99 – that’s a buck under $100, crossing something of a mythical line in the sand when it comes to pricing. It runs the full version of the latest version of Windows 8.1 and even comes with a free year’s worth of Office 365 subscription. There’s also an 8-inch tablet that’ll cost you an extra $50. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to learn what exactly is powering this bargain basement deal or how much memory it’ll ship with, but all in due time.
Meanwhile, the HP Stream laptop features a bunch of, erm, “interesting” bold color options, like the purple one above. Starting at $199, it features an 11-inch display, an Intel processor, a front facing camera, and also runs a full version of Windows 8.1. There’s also a 13-inch version, if you’re the type of person who needs a bit more screen real estate. No specifics on exact processor or memory configurations here either.
Microsoft has their building blocks
Mojang isn’t a big studio, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from paying a big price for it. While the Swedish indie studio is home to less than 50 employees, these guys are hard at work on one of the biggest games the gaming industry has seen in some time – Minecraft, the multiplatform wonder that has captured the heart of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of gamers across potentially even more devices. And now, for a cool $2.5 billion, it belongs to Microsoft. Or it will as soon as the deal closes, rather.
While it’s not inherently clear as to what Microsoft plans on doing with Mojang, you can bet that Minecraft won’t see any neglect going forward. Minecraft is essentially the singular big product the company has ever put out, which means that Microsoft’s interest in the company has to be directly relating to Minecraft. More than likely, the company is planning on using the studio to build up the in-house studio support of their Xbox (and likely Windows, including Windows Phone) gaming platforms.
While that may sound like it makes sense, and also pretty exciting – Microsoft is a massive company with enough clout and money to improve all the ways Minecraft has lagged behind some expectations in recent years -it should also kind of scare you. Minecraft is famously available on just about every platform known to man (as long as that platform doesn’t happen to be made by Nintendo – sorry, fellow Wii U and 3DS fans), and Microsoft likely has very little interest in becoming an enthusiastic PlayStation or Android developer. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Minecraft will ever become an Xbox and Windows exclusive, it does mean that we know where their priorities lie; indeed, Microsoft promises that Minecraft will “remain available” on all available platforms.
Mojang leader Markus “Notch” Persson has taken this opportunity to leave the company he helped build, explaining his feelings towards both the sale of his company to Microsoft as well as his personal feelings towards his relationship with his fans and game development in general in a new note posted on his personal website (and mirrored here) entitled, appropriately, “I’m leaving Mojang.” Notch claims that the deal, to him, isn’t about the money – but rather his sanity.
But is it enough?
As PC sales keep shrinking, Microsoft’s flagship software – Windows 8 – has failed to see much love from customers or OEMs. The industry is increasingly switching over to tablets running competitor’s software; not to mention low powered – and low priced – notebooks running Google’s Chrome OS operating system (“Chromebooks”), which have been best sellers on Amazon for months now. Microsoft is keenly aware of the situation, of course, and has been fighting against the Apple iPad for some time now with the company’s Surface lineup, and now they’re tackling the Chromebook problem with a line of new low powered, low priced notebooks of their own, running – of course – Windows 8.1 rather than Chrome OS. The first of this new initiative is the HP Stream 14, a 14-inch notebook revealed today by a leak published by MobileGeeks.
According to the leak, the HP Stream 14 has an unspecified AMD processor, a midrange 1366 x 768 pixel display, 2GB of RAM, and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage depending on the model you’re looking at. No word yet as to when the HP Stream 14 will be hitting your local Best Buy, but I’d bet it’ll be sooner rather than later and when it comes, it should cost you just around $199. Microsoft must be keen to pick up sales of their Windows 8 devices, and if there’s one thing we know, there’s certainly a market for low priced, but quality devices.
Things are getting pretty bad
Honestly, it’s not like things haven’t been bad for Microsoft on the mobile front since around the time Apple launched the iPhone in 2006, but frankly things are looking even worse than ever for the behemoth mobile software developer today. The IDC has reported on this quarter’s smartphone sales, revealing that sales of Windows Phone 8 devices (ie. Nokias) have seen a sharp decline from 11.9% to a measly 2.5% – a drop worse than even Microsoft might have imagined.
As if to prove just how bad things have gotten for the platform, OEM support for Windows Phone has thus far diminished to just about one – Nokia, which Microsoft acquired earlier this year in order to keep the Windows Phone devices coming. Prior to the acquisition, Nokia had been working on a line of new Android devices and was in talks to drop the Windows Phone options entirely, which would have all but diminished Windows Phone’s presence in the marketplace. Though Microsoft managed to stop that disaster from happening, Nokia did release their first line of Android devices before the acquisition was announced, Microsoft recently killed that line in favor of lower priced Windows Phone devices.
Microsoft is preparing to launch a new line of Lumia smartphones earlier September, with initial reports suggesting that there are two models incoming – a midrange Lumia “Selfie” phone with a 5 megapixel front facing camera, and a new Lumia device wrapped in an all aluminum body. The company has already sent out invitations for the event where these phones are rumored to launch.
All that said, it really is just a simple question at this point – have things been too bad for too long for the company? Or, in other terms, is it too late for Windows Phone? It’s nearly been 4 years since the Windows Phone platform launched at this point, replacing the archaic but long lasting Windows Mobile one which was almost instantly obsoleted by iOS and Android. Microsoft hasn’t really had much luck since that point, and there has to be a point where it would make more sense to just give in the towel – maybe this is it?
Unless, of course, you’re Microsoft, and you’ve got a selfie phone coming.