If you buy an Intel Compute Stick that comes with Windows 8.1 you may get prompted to upgrade to Windows 10 as you setup the device. DON’T!
Intel Compute Sticks have some flaws that will prevent a successful upgrade to WIndows 10 and also prevent you from rolling back to Windows 8.1. You will find yourself with a bricked Compute Stick. The “recovery Partition” that comes with the device is also faulty.
There is a way to do the upgrade without problems, here are the steps.
If you made the mistake of upgrading and your compute stick is non functional, scroll to the end of this article for recovery instructions.
Step 1 – Upgrade to the Latest BIOS for your Compute Stick
Compute sticks with a BIOS version prior to release 24 will fail and create a catch 22 situation with your upgrade. To upgrade your BIOS follow instructions at Intel’s website here.
Step 2 – Download WIndows 10 Upgrade Instructions from Intel
Download a very helpful PDF from Intel’s website located here.
Step 3 – Obtain Windows 10 Home Edition from Microsoft
The instructions will guide you through downloading an ISO image for WIndows 10 Home 32-Bit. Do not use the 64-bit version of Windows 10. Use a USB drive of 16GB or larger capacity.
Before copying the ISO to a USB drive be sure to format the USB first using NTFS partition type first. The 6GB ISO image will not copy to a FAT32 USB drive. FAT32 has a 4GB file size limitation.
Step 4 – DON’T install Windows 10 yet as instructed!!
First do the post install step of downloading new drivers for WIndows 10 and place them on your USB drive. This is important as you may not be able to connect to the internet if the wireless adapter driver fails under Windows 10.
The latest drivers can be located at Intel’s Website here.
Copy the drivers for Wireless, Bluetooth and Graphics Adapter to your USB drive.
Step 5 – Upgrade to Windows 10 as instructed
Now its OK to upgrade using your USB drive per the Intel instructions. Be sure to follow the instructions by the letter. Key points are
Attached USB Drive and reboot the system.
Don’t download updates as prompted by the Windows Update Process.
When prompted to choose what to keep when upgrading, be sure to select keep personal files only, even if it’s a brand new unit with no personal files on it.
Step 6 – Install the drivers you downloaded earlier.
I found it useful to download and run the Intel Driver Upgrade Utility. It takes the guess work out of selecting the right driver and finds others you may have overlooked.
Step 7 – Check Windows 10 is activated.
Press the WIndows Key and the letter I at the same time. Choose Update and Security.
Choose the option ACtivation option on the left hand menu to check your Windows Activation Status. If you are activated you are done.
Step 8 (Optional) – Reclaim 2GB of Lost Disk Space due to Upgrade
Windows retains a complete copy of your old windows 8.1 installation should you wish to rollback for any reason. This rollback is available for 28 days after initial installation. The disk space lost to the old installation is significant on the small 32GB disk drive Compute Sticks come with.
Download CCleaner from Piriform here.
Look at the advanced options and check “old windows installation” then click on clean. The cleaning process takes 4-5 minutes.
After cleaning is complete disable monitoring on the options tab after installing the CCleaner product.
Did your Compute stick get stuck upgrading before you came here?
To release your compute stick from its Catch 22 dilemma follow instructions at this intel community forum. The poster provides a total recovery image that does what the recovery partition fails to do on the original Compute Stick. The Intel forum will re-direct you to a support site for Hannspree and instructions for using the image are found in this PDF document