Dell says my laptop won’t work with 1903?


I am an end-user, not an IT Pro.

I have a 5 year old Dell Precision M3800, with Intel i7-4712HQ.

When I bought it, it was a high model. It still runs perfectly well.

It is running 1803 and did install 1903 briefly but there were issues with a new user profile being created during installation, so I rolled back to 1803.

I am now not being offered 1903 – Windows Update says it is installed, but I am still definitely running 1803.

Following a remote support session, Dell have told me the M3800 “has not been tested” for 1903 (here), which means “Dell is not testing the device and drivers will not be updated for that model”.

The implication is the M3800 will not work with 1903, so I am stuck on 1803 which doesn’t get security updates after Nov 12 2019 (if I understand things correctly).

Does that sound correct that a 5 year old laptop will not run 1903?

If I do a clean install of 1903 myself, will that work?

If it will not run 1903, can anyone point to where I can download 1809, which has been tested for the M3800 by Dell and is therefore supported? The Dell support guy could not find it.

Comments (36)

36 responses to “Dell says my laptop won’t work with 1903?”

  1. waethorn

    It's a 5 year old laptop. Windows 10 wasn't even out 5 years ago. You could put Windows 8.1 back on it....

    Blame Microsoft for breaking things from Windows 10 build to Windows 10 build by not supporting older drivers. If it's the same OS by name, older hardware support should remain in newer builds without needing manufacturers to keep rewriting drivers.

    1809 will only give you another 6 months of support on top of what is offered for 1803.

    Check for a newer BIOS, then try a clean install. If it works, great! If not, use Linux instead, or buy a new computer to get abused by Microsoft again.

  2. jwpear

    As others have said, Dell isn't going to officially support this laptop with the latest Windows releases. You can install Windows with the media creation tool. Just be aware of the potential issues.

    What you may run into are missing drivers or incompatibility with certain hardware components if the component is not common enough for MS to include in their set of legacy drivers. For example, I had a Dell XPS 15z (2012-era) that had issues with the track pad and a fall sensor (for HD protection--head parking) when I upgraded it to Windows 10. Thermal management seemed to be off too because the fan spun up more. That could have just been Windows doing more in the background.

    I was able to force an install of the Windows 7 driver for the track pad. It worked fine. Of course, it wasn't a precision track pad being that old, so it was never going to support the things MS introduced in 8 and 10 for those. I didn't care at all about the fall sensor because I had replaced the mechanical HDD with an SSD. And the fan spin up wasn't that big of a deal for me. It was not the annoying whir that some fans emit.

    I think there was an issue with the display driver and it is hard to rule this out as something related to the latest Windows install. I would occasionally see the screen image go crazy--unrecognizable color garbage. Hard to say if this was truly a driver issue or a hardware issue on an aging laptop. But folks were seeing this with Windows Vista/7 too--can find videos of this on YouTube--so it could very well have been a hardware issue.

    So keep this in mind. When Dell says it isn't supported, it means they're not going to provide official drivers or support if you move beyond the OS version they designed and tested for. A newer OS may work just fine if the components are fairly mainstream and MS has included them in their driver base. If drivers are missing, you may be able to install an earlier version from Dell or hardware OEM like Intel. If something seems off or just flat out isn't working, you can always go back to the earlier OS.

    I will say, it is for this reason that I've stopped buying Dell hardware and moved to Microsoft Surface. One OS version for life just isn't acceptable to me. I feel like Microsoft does a better job of supporting their hardware for a longer period of time. And when they do decide to call it quits, they try to make it right by offering trade-in deals or issuing refunds (e.g. Band discontinued).

    And I'll add, I have a 2012-era MacBook Pro that I bought used around 2014. Apple is still supporting that freaking thing in 2019--7 years in! It has the lastest MacOS version on it right now. It was an i7 model and you could still upgrade the RAM and HDD. I bumped it up to 16 GB RAM and added a 512 GB SDD. And hey, you can replace the battery easily too, so I did that a couple years in. It is still a very usable laptop in 2019. Yes, there's an Apple tax, but man that tax buys you very long life. At least it did in 2012.

  3. Matt Kelly

    I sort issues like this for a living. As mentioned previously, a clean install from USB media of 1903 should work, with Windows update finding the majority of drivers without issue.

    I’d back up your entire user folder, update the bios and THEN use the USB media for a clean install, choosing ADVANCED, and removing ALL of the old partitions.

    Personally, is consider swapping out the drive for a good SSD ( Samsung 860 EVO or Crucial MX) at the same time, considering the age, if you’re still using the original drive...

    Run Windows update, letting those drivers all install, let it restart.

    Then have a dig around in device manager, see what (if anything) is missing drivers, and start from the Dell support website (using your service tag) and start with the drivers listed there before you try any other methods.

    Usually it’s fingerprint sensors or things like that will give you issues.

    Have an Ethernet cable or a USB WIFI dongle available if the installation of Win 10 leaves you without connectivity to run Windows update initially!

  4. ghostrider

    I'm sure a fresh installation from USB media should work, but both Dell and more so Microsoft hold the power to technically end-of-life your laptop if they decide to - even if it still runs perfectly well. Dell do have drivers for Win10 x64 on this hardware, so they should still work with 1903, but if MS decide one day that your CPU is no longer supported in Win10, or any other bit of hardware they chose, that's it. MS would then expect you to buy new hardware if you want to carry on running Win10, which is part of the 'as a service' hardware lifecycle (and keeps their hardware partners happy!).

    I will just add that your laptop would still run Windows 8.1 perfectly well (supported up to 2023), or even a fast Linux laptop - you have other options.

  5. lwetzel

    Hey @S100 Let us know if you get it to work.

  6. StevenLayton

    Backup the laptop and force update it. It’ll be fine. Better still, clean install Windows. But if in the unlikely instance it’s not, you have a backup.

  7. S100

    Thanks so much for everyone’s responses, which helped me better understand the situation.

    I will provide an update once I have done the upgrade, which, for various reasons, I will be undertaking around the time of 1803’s End of Service (Nov 12).

  8. epguy40

    well 1803 has just reach EOS (only the home & pro editions of win10 v1803) today 11/12 and the 1909 (Nov. 2019 update) has just been released. the enterprise & education editions of 1803, on the other hand, will continue to receive new updates until November 2020.

    Dell has not yet posted any info of what PCs have been tested for 1909. btw, 1909 is basically 1903 SP1

    the Intel i7-4712 cpu in S100's Dell laptop seems to be a "4th generation" i7 core cpu (Haswell series). if the Dell M3800 can run 1903, then it can certainly run 1909.

  9. anoldamigauser

    As others have pointed out, a clean install from USB should do the trick. Obviously, make sure you have good backups.

    If you want to try something less extreme, I was able to get a Thinkpad Yoga to update to 1903, by resetting it, while keeping my files and settings; and then going to the Windows Update website. Prior to that, it was offered the update, but it would always fail on installation...or more specifically, it would appear that it updated, but checking the system settings showed it to still be on 1809 and the installation history would indicate it failed with some error code.

    I had to reinstall a slew of non-store applications, but that was not too onerous.

  10. s100

    Apologies for the much delayed update; for a variety of reasons I only attempted to install 1903 again this past week.

    4-5 months after the 1903 update originally failed on my laptop, I was offered the update again via Windows Update.

    Before trying the update again this past week, I had a look on Microsoft Answers re the issue I had, and a number of people suggested removing any remnants of old Zune software before attempting the update. Frankly, I didn’t understand the rationale for that, but I deleted anything related to Zune in any case.

    Whether removing the old Zune software made a difference I do not know, but my laptop did successfully update to 1903, and subsequently 1909.

    As far as I can tell, everything seems to be working fine. I will wait until a later date to attempt updates to 2004/20H2.

    Many thanks again for everyone’s previous responses, which helped me better understand the situation.

    • bkkcanuck

      In reply to S100:

      It is silly that the Windows Updater does not list incompatible drivers/software and give you an option to upgrade and as part of it uninstall or move to an unsupported folder -- is actually quite surprising... You should not be having to hunt around for reasons why the upgrade is not compatible.

    • epguy40

      In reply to S100:

      you may need to consider upgrading to either 2004 or 20H2 either by the end of 2020 or sometime in 2021, S100.

      Microsoft will end support for Win10 v1903 in December 2020 while support for v1909 ends in May 2021.

  11. 02nz

    As others have said a clean install is the way to go. 1909 (which is more like a service pack) is only a few weeks from general release, so I'd wait for that.

  12. codymesh

    ignore what Dell says, my brother's laptop (which came with Windows 7) got updated to Windows 10 1903 without a hitch.

    You should get automatically updated too, barring only the extremely rare severe third-party compatibility issue.

  13. terry jones

    Our TV room beater is a 5 year old Dell Inspiron 3721 that came with Win8,which I updated to 8.1

    It was never tested or approved for win10, but once I got the right drivers for it back then, it's been smooth sailing ever since. Not one issue. I'm on 1903 at the moment.

    Check their support forums. There used to be a guy who would try other laptop drivers and see if they would work in the untested ones. That's how I found network/bluetooth drivers that worked on this one.

    And yea, don't forget to update the bios.

  14. S100


    Any idea how I can download 1809?

    The extra 6 months would be useful in not having to understand right now how/if clean install to 1903 would work.

    • lwetzel

      In reply to S100:

      I think you should be able to run 1903 on that machine. I have a HP EliteBook 8470p and I believe it was released in June of 2012. It is running the latest insider 1909 build. no problems. I would try a clean install.

  15. robincapper

    if you can do a clean install most likely Windows 10 will find enough drivers to run it. Had same with old HP Mobile workstation and the only thing which didn't work was the old style finger swipe unlock function which never used anyway.

  16. jimchamplin

    1903 is working fine on a ten year old Xeon-based Lenovo Thinkstation and a six year old AMD APU powered Thinkpad. Just clean install it using the media creation tool. Chances are all the drivers you need will be in the box, or will install from Windows Update the first time you check for updates.

  17. Patrick3D

    We have 2 of the same model of laptop at work, do the following to update it: download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, run the tool and create an ISO for your system (32-bit/64-bit), right-click the ISO after creating it and select "Mount", in the mounted virtual drive of the ISO run Setup.exe. If the laptop is connected to the Internet with an Ethernet cable, unplug the cable; if the laptop is connected via Wi-Fi, locate the wireless antenna On/Off switch on the right hand side of the laptop and switch it Off. The laptop needs to be disconnected from the Internet for the update to install.

    With the method above you can do an in-place update without needing to do a clean install. Forgot to mention: during the installation wizard un-check the box related to sending data to improve installation experience, there will also be a prompt about downloading the latest drivers with a text link to click where you can turn off downloading the latest drivers, be sure to turn that off.

    • waethorn

      In reply to Patrick3D:

      This method doesn't do any compatibility checks they way that the sanctioned Windows Update method does. You're literally brute-forcing an upgrade on the system which is a) a bad idea, and b) a very bad idea. If the Windows Update version is stating that the upgrade is incompatible and Dell says they don't support it, it's incompatible and not supported. Forcing the update isn't going to fix that.

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to Waethorn:

        OEM support is meaningless.

        If it worked with 1809 it will work with 1903.

      • Patrick3D

        In reply to Waethorn:

        It forces Windows to install with default drivers instead of attempting to download the latest drivers which it can do after the installation is complete. You have obviously never supported this model of laptop before.

        • waethorn

          In reply to Patrick3D:

          As with any system, Microsoft supplies *some* drivers with Windows. If an *OEM* still supports it, they can supply Microsoft with drivers that Microsoft can post on Windows Update. If they don't supply them, and the previous drivers don't meet Microsoft's code-signing and/or compatibility requirements for new drivers, they won't show up on Windows Update. An OEM can sign their driver code with version-specific compatibility flags which are acceptable to Microsoft for WHQL testing (which must be the ones that ship on a system) which can fail code signing checks in future versions of Windows, thus requiring removal and replacement, if one exists.

          If the OEM doesn't support the system, they won't update drivers for it, so any missing component drivers won't be available, hence the system is incompatible with that version of operating system.

          In laptops, a lot of the non-chipset components are often customized with unique firmware and/or features by the system OEM that Microsoft's generic drivers either don't support, or don't function properly with. This can be relatively common things like audio and network controllers, but also things like hard drive thermal and drop sensors, rotation sensors for convertible systems, webcams, touchscreen controllers, security features like fingerprint readers, and custom controllers used for system management interfaces similar to the Asus ATK or HP SM controllers.

          To note, most systems that got Windows 10 originally at 1507 won't have the same drivers installed, and dealing with many different brands and models on a daily basis, I've seen many that are now just incompatible with 1903 because of driver issues where there is no updated replacement from the system or chipset OEM. Saying that "some other computer company makes a similar model and the drivers 'more-or-less work' " is not an valid argument to make to an end-user.

  18. Alastair Cooper

    Not been tested is unlikely to mean it won't run in my experience. It just means exactly that - that the manufacturer hasn't run through a battery of tests to establish that 1903 will run but neither has it established that it won't.

    In practice though, it's rare that there are major, breaking changes. Make sure you take a backup first.

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