My Win10.guru partner Ed has an old device, a Dell Venue Pro 11 tablet. He got it upgraded to Windows Insider build 18317 with a clean install, but couldn’t get beyond that. Whatever he tried, he could not upgrade it to the latest Insider build, nor clean install it. Ed wrote about retiring this well-used tablet at TechTarget, you can read the post here.
Ed got Insider build 18317 installed on that device, then gave up. It seemed there was no way to install a later build. At the same than time Ed wrote about retiring the old faithful device, I started to think about how to “bring it back to the future”, and how to get it to accept the latest Insider build 18323. Here’s a screenshot about my comments in Microsoft Teams chat when Ed posted the link to his post about retiring the Venue tablet:
Ed’s upgrades had always failed during the offline phase of the process, before the device got to OOBE, usually because of driver issues. I kept thinking, what if we “forced” the device to get Windows Setup done, with working drivers. I told Ed to export the current, working drivers to a folder, zip the folder and send it to me. I then injected those drivers into a Windows image (install.wim) for 18323, customized that image a bit making OOBE unattended, and automatic. Finally, I uploaded that custom build 18323’s install.wim file to Ed, and asked him to replace install.wim on his W10 install media with this custom WIM file instead.
Here’s a link to my tutorial on TenForums.com about exporting drivers and injecting them into Windows 10 install media: https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/95008-dism-add-remove-drivers-offline-image.html. It explains and illustrates that process completely.
I got to thinking that if we left the EFI, MSR and WinRE partitions intact, and deployed the custom WIM, we could bypass any Windows Setup errors and crashes. And, in fact, this approach worked! Ed now has Windows Insider build 18323 installed on his Dell Venue device.
Here are the instructions I sent to Ed, structured in a way I thought would bypass most of the issues. Remember, at this point I had injected his drivers into a custom WIM file. This is an extract from the PDF I sent to Ed:
OK, Ed, here we go. Please follow the instructions to the letter. We will try to replace your current Windows Insider build 18317 on system partition C: with 18323, but leave EFI, MSR and WinRE partitions intact.
1. Download the custom install.wim, download link in our chat in Teams.
2. Create a Windows 10 version 1809 install media (USB Flash Drive or DVD). You can also use an Insider build, for instance 18317 or 18323
3. When done, replace the original %USB%\Sources\install.wim with the custom one I made (delete old one, copy custom to replace it)
4. Boot Dell Venue from USB, press SHIFT + F10 on region selection screen to open Command Prompt:
5. In Command Prompt, run DISKPART (#1 in next screenshot) and enter command LIST VOL (#2) to list existing volumes.
6. Check the Volume number and letter for your Windows partition (#3), and drive letter for your install media containing custom install.wim
7. Enter command SEL VOL #, replacing # with actual volume ID for Windows partition (#4)
8. Enter command format fs=ntfs quick label=Windows to format Windows partition (#5)
9. Enter command EXIT to quit DISKPART (#6)
10. Enter following command to deploy custom Windows, replacing drive letter D in ImageFile switch with actual drive letter for your install media, and C in ApplyDir with actual drive letter for Windows partition (#7):
dism /Apply-Image /ImageFile:D:\Sources\install.wim /Index:1 /ApplyDir:C:\
That’s it. Close Command Prompt, close Windows Setup Region selection. Windows will restart to OOBE, which will be completely automatic. As your current drivers from 18317 are already injected into the WIM image, OOBE will not take very long. Image contains one pre-made local user account Admin. When OOBE is ready, you must set a password for it.
OK, Ed followed the instructions. Found this in our chat early this morning:
Ed’s Dell Venue device is now running 18323, the latest Insider preview build. It remains to be seen if it can upgrade to future Insider builds, but at least we now know a workaround to get those builds installed.
It’s a nice feeling when you find a non-standard way to get your device working after errors prevent successful upgrade or clean install. The secret to this workaround is that the DISM /Apply-Image command bypasses the usual Windows Setup installer which includes a driver check right near the end of the offline phase (what Ed calls the “Post-GUI install”). Because the new image is already present and ready to boot, the applied image simply goes into OOBE when it’s booted. We know the drivers already work, so it’s safe to do this for this particular Dell. And as the results show, this also produces a working, valid 18323 installation.
Author: Kari Finn
A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.