Living with Windows 10 S: The Desktop, Take 2

Posted on September 1, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 74 Comments

Living with Windows 10 S: The Desktop, Take 2

Success.

Last weekend, I wrote about my experiences trying to install Windows 10 S on a desktop PC. That effort failed, but it’s been bugging me ever since. And in mulling it over this week, I came up with two possible ways to solve the problem.

Curiously, both work.

So let me explain. In my original attempt to install Windows 10 S on my Intel NUC, I encountered several hardware devices that were not provided with drivers. And because many driver packages are delivered as EXEs—desktop applications—that means they cannot be installed in Windows 10 S.

But you can get around this, for the most part.

First, not all drivers are delivered as EXEs. When I visit the driver downloads page for my NUC, I can find some drivers packages that are folders of files plus an EXE, and I can find some that are just the EXE.

The driver folders can be used in Windows 10 S just like in any other version of Windows: Open Device Manager, right-click a driver-less device, choose “Update driver,” browse to the driver folder location, and then have the wizard find the right files.

This worked for me with some of the devices that were missing drivers.

But some key drivers were still not installing, among them the SM Bus Controller, which is the Driver Manager name for the Intel Chipset Utility. And that driver is delivered as an EXE, so you can’t install it in Windows 10 S.

That particular installer, however, can be extracted from the command line. And when you do that, you get—wait for it—a folder full of files that includes the drivers that will work in Windows 10 S.

Using these methods, I was able to get almost all of the drivers installed correctly in Windows 10 S. The only holdout was “Unknown device.” But looking at the Hardware ID in its properties, I discovered (via Google) that that device is the Bluetooth controller. Whose installer is a single EXE that can’t (to my ability) be extracted. But no matter: Bluetooth is not critical to what I want to do.

So that’s one way of solving my problem. One very ponderous way.

But I had a theory about a better way. And prompted by a Twitter user who had done what I had wondered about, I tried it myself.

Which is this: Clean install Windows 10 Pro on the PC in question. And then run the Windows 10 S installer I wrote about back in early August. That installer basically converts Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 S. But I’d never actually run it. And I was curious if it worked the way I thought it did, since it wasn’t delivered as a normal ISO.

It does.

That is, after clean installing Windows 10 Pro, getting it up-to-date in Windows Update, and then converting it to Windows 10 S, the NUC was exactly where I wanted it: Fully working, with all drivers present and accounted for. That’s the kind of success I am always looking for.

Now. Let’s see if I can actually live with this thing, at least part of the time. Again.

 

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