Windows Insider Dev Channel – Constant GSODs making upgrade impossible
First, some background: upgrading Windows 10 Insider Preview Dev Channel from build 20185 to build 20190 on an HP ProBook 470 G5 laptop, the machine got GSOD within a minute after finally booting to desktop. The GSOD screen was only shown a second or two, too fast to read it (title image is a stock image, not the actual one I got). Booting to WinPE and checking the crashed OS, no dump file could be found. All subsequent tries to boot to now upgraded Windows 10 Insider Preview build 20190 got GSOD within two minutes after booting to desktop. Always the same: GSOD screen shown a second or two, no dump file created.
I only got to build 20190 upgrade late last night. I’ve been bedridden all week, tried a few times get up to inform my Win10.guru partner Ed that I am still alive and start writing, but had to give up and return back to bed. Late last night I finally felt that OK, I’m back, and did the upgrade.
I gave up after four tries, every boot caused GSOD. Macrium Reflect to rescue, in less than 10 minutes I had restored build 20185. I thought that OK, I will skip this build. However, I wanted to check what could cause Windows to crash every time within minutes after getting to desktop. It was quite clear that it had to be a driver related issue.
I’ve now been up all night testing various scenarios. First, I created Windows 10 PRO x64 EN-GB build 20190 ISO image. I wanted first to test if I could clean install 20190, using existing drivers from my current 20185. I exported all current drivers, injected them to 20190 image, and deployed it to a native boot VHD (Native Boot VHD – One-Click Deployment). Booted to VHD, which got GSOD within minutes.
OK, next test was using a clean 20190 image, no injected drivers. Booted to VHD, reached the desktop, let Windows Update download and install all updates and drivers. No GSOD, Windows was stable even after two hours stress testing. It was clear, that one of my drivers in 20185 did not work with 20190. Logically thinking, video drivers seemed the most probable cause.
Prepared a new 20190 deployment image, this time only injecting video drivers (Intel & Nvidia). Deployed to VHD, booted to it, GSOD again within minutes. Repeated the test with image only containing Nvidia driver from my current 20185. Again, when booted to VHD, GSOD every time within minutes.
At this point, I must reveal that I have not downloaded any third party drivers from hardware manufacturers, on any machine, in years. In my opinion, Windows 10 is extremely capable to take care of itself, I have had no issues in letting Windows Update to get and update the drivers. Thus, the Nvidia drivers in my current 20185 and clean 20190 are those provided by Microsoft through Windows Update.
Comparing now my current build 20185 Nvidia GPU driver to that which Windows Update installed on clean 20190, I can see that there’s difference.
This is from 20185:
Driver date June 19, version 184.108.40.20641.
This one is from clean 20190:
Driver date July 5, version 220.127.116.1167. Later driver date, smaller version number.
Conclusion: The “newer” driver on my current 20185 does not work with 20190, therefore clean deployed 20190 downloads and installs an “older” driver. Interesting!
At this point, I finally gave up. When feeling still a bit better, I just have to deploy a new Insider image, and start from scratch. At the moment, I will remain in 20185.
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.