Windows 10 is Windows 7 with a new-old skin

This post was written by eli on November 4, 2015
Posted Under: Microsoft

… with one little difference: It seems like you can install Windows 10 without any product key. According to this post, one can install Windows 10 from scratch, and when prompted for the product key, click “Skip for now”. Twice. The installation will have this “Activate Now” watermark, and personalization will be off. But otherwise, the post says, everything will work fine. Never tried this myself, though.

Either way, it’s the regular Windows 10 you want to download. Not the N or KN or something.

Wanting to be sure that some driver I’ve released will work with Windows 10, I upgraded from Windows 7, where the driver was installed, to Windows 10.

To my great surprise, Windows 10 started with the same desktop, including program shortcuts, all running as before. Only a new look and feel, which resembles Windows 8, just slightly less annoying.

I should mention that at the “Get going fast” stage of the installation, I went for Customize Settings and turned off basically everything. That’s where all the “Send Microsoft X and Y” goes.

The real surprise was that my own driver was already installed and running on the upgraded Windows 10. If I was looking for a sign that everything is the same under the hood, an automatic adoption of already installed driver is a good one. I don’t think Microsoft would risk doing that unless there was really nothing new.

Needless to say, removing the driver and reinstalling it went as smooth as always. Same device manager, same everything.

IMPORTANT: For a bare-metal install, boot the USB stick with the ISO image (possibly generated with winusb under Ubuntu) in non-UEFI mode, or the installer refuses to use existing MBR partitions (unless the partition table is GPT anyhow).

VirtualBox installation notes

Jots while installing a fresh Windows 10 on VirtualBox v4.3.12 under 64-bit Linux. Correction: I eventually upgraded to v5.0.12, which lists Windows 10 as a target OS. This was required to make the Windows Addons work.

  • Set OS to Other Windows 32 bit (I suppose other Microsoft selections will work as well)
  • Under processor, enable PAE/NX
  • Attempting a 64-bit installation got stuck on the initial Windows splash image, no matter what I tried (maybe this was solved with 5.0.12, didn’t try this)
  • Turn off screen saver after installation
  • The installation will ask for the product key in two different occasions during the installation. Just skip.
  • Didn’t work:
    In order to install VirtualBox Windows Additions, pick Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD Image… on the hosts’s VirtualBox menu. Then start the virtual machine. VirtualBox v4.3.12 doesn’t support Windows 10, so refuse the automatic run of the CD. Instead, browse the disc’s content and right-click VBoxWindowsAdditions-x86.exe. Choose Properties. Pick the Compatibility tab, check “Run this program in compatibility mode” and pick Windows 8 (as suggested on this post). Then run this program, which will then install the drivers properly. Windows will complain that the display adapter doesn’t work, but that’s fine. Just reboot.

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