Some consumers trying to upgrade their computers to Windows 10 have run into a bug that is rendering their machines inoperative.
Instead of being able to use Microsoft’s new operating system, they get an error that says their computer has a “missing operating system.” Some also said their drives reported having nothing on them after the attempted upgrade.
Among those who experienced the bug was Randall Keith, the managing editor for Digital for Bay Area News Group, which publishes SiliconBeat. He ran into it while trying to upgrade his 3-year-old Asus ZenBook laptop, which was running Windows 7. Keith attempted the upgrade after getting a notification from Microsoft prompting him to do so and after using the company’s installer to see if his computer was compatible with the new software.
Instead of a smooth upgrade, he got what might be called the “black screen of death” with the ominous warning message his computer was now missing its operating system. Keith ended up taking his computer to the Microsoft Store in Palo Alto to try to diagnose and solve the problem. The only solutions offered to him were to send the computer off to try to recover the programs and data off the drive or to do a clean installation of Windows 10.
Since the computer wasn’t his primary one, Keith chose the latter, but then ran into a second problem — Microsoft no longer recognized that he had a license to use Windows, which he discovered while working with OneDrive when a prompt telling him to go to settings to activate Windows appeared on the screen.
Keith isn’t the only one to have the problem. On one Microsoft forum page devoted to the bug, some 25 people reported experiencing the same issue. On Windows 10 Forums, an independent discussion site, a separate thread had attracted more than three dozen posts from users experiencing similar problems.
“Upgrade was going very, very well, and after the installer got to around 89 percent, the computer rebooted,” a consumer identified as “jhuck5” wrote on the Microsoft forum page. “During the reboot, the BIOS screen appears with a black screen and ‘Missing Operating System.'”
A Microsoft representative declined to estimate how many users were affected by the problem or what types of computers it might be affecting. The representative suggested that those who encounter the bug should contact Microsoft’s customer support representatives.
“While the vast majority of our customers will be able to seamlessly upgrade, some app or device incompatibilities may exist and will decrease over time,” the company representative said.
Several of those who experienced the bug reported using Asus computers. Many also reported having laptops that use flash, or solid-state (SSD) drives.
UPDATE: Windows 10 is finally activated on Keith’s Asus laptop after two Answer Desk chat sessions, one of which included a promised a call from a supervisor that never came, and two visits to the Microsoft Store, where an Answer Desk technician resolved the activation key issue by grabbing a Windows 10 box from the shelf, ripping off the wrapper and typing the enclosed activation key in. Quick reboot, updates downloaded and installed without a problem and in less than 15 minutes Keith was on his way.
An engineer at Microsoft also responded to Keith’s posts in the Windows support forum thread asking him in a private message for additional details on his computer and the steps he took that resulted in the “Missing Operating System” and black screen of death.
The lessons learned:
1. If you’re an Asus owner, before you try to install Windows 10 go to the Asus Windows 10 page and make sure Asus has blessed the Windows 10 upgrade for your computer model. (Keith’s was a UX31E, just over three years old.) If your computer is a different brand, check the manufacturer’s site to see if they’ve done what Asus has. Be particularly careful if your computer is older than a year or so.
2. It’s obvious, but be sure to back up your data and run Windows update to install any security patches and other pending updates before you start your upgrade process. Make sure you’ve backed things up on an external drive. This is the time to consider a cloud backup service if you aren’t already using one. This wasn’t Keith’s primary computer, and he lost no critical files, but he’ll be backing up a lot more often now.
3. If you live or work near a Microsoft Store take advantage of the Answer Desk. Keith was fortunate because a store was close by, with technicians who worked directly with him to resolve the problem. (Once you find the store using Microsoft’s store-finder, book your appointment online. Keith found wide open availability, unlike his experience with Apple’s Genius Bar.)
Photo: People shop at the Microsoft Store at Westfield Valley Fair mall on the day of the Windows 10 launch in Santa Clara, Calif., on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)