Feature: Installing Windows 10 on a £50/$80 tablet: Learn from my mistakes

Windows 10 on tablets

Over the past few months, I have been playing with Windows 10 in many flavours and builds. From 10049 to the current one, which is 10122 (at the time of writing), from Windows for desktop to Windows on phones, and overall the journey has been a fairly easy one. Until now that is.

It may well be that I was unlucky with the hardware, as trying to install the OS on a popular, entry-level, Windows 8 tablet, the Linx 7, proved to be an ordeal to say the least.

To Microsoft’s credit, they had always suggested that Windows 10 Technical Preview was not ready for tablets or indeed for touch. But all the touchscreen capable laptops I’ve upgraded to Windows 10 Insider Preview worked without a hitch.

A note of caution before proceeding: I strongly urge you NOT to carry out this test on any sort of expensive gear. I bricked a tablet trying to install Windows 10 and I shan’t be liable for any accident that might happen to other people’s hardware – you have been warned!

Pictured below is the actual setup I used:

The Linx 7 tablet and a flurry of accessories

A final note – you might want to catch up on my previous adventures: You don’t need a crazy powerful PC to run Windows 10 – here’s the proof; This is what I learned installing Windows 10 Mobile on a £25/$40 smartphone; and Want to install Windows 10? Check what I learnt first.

How to install Windows 10 on a tablet

Windows 10 is pretty lean and easy to install but you still need a keyboard and a mouse. As I discovered in my previous experiments, the OS installation process doesn’t coerce you into plugging your device into a power socket.

You can’t run Windows 10 from Windows 8.1 on the Linx 7 tablet – trying to do so will bring up an error message saying that Windows 10 will not install on a compressed operating system (the Linx tablet uses a slightly different version of Windows 8.1, one that comes with WIMBoot).

The only other option is to perform a clean installation, and that’s exactly what I did. To achieve this, first of all I charged the tablet, then I used an adaptor (micro-USB to USB), a 4-in-1 USB hub, a Bluetooth keyboard and a USB memory stick with the latest Windows 10 ISO and the necessary drivers.

You will have to access the BIOS and modify the boot sequence, then reboot. Follow the instructions (this is a standard Windows 10 setup, so should be fairly easy to execute) until you boot to the desktop (remember to remove the USB Boot drive or the setup process will start again).

Note that you won’t be able to use the touchscreen during installation and the whole process will take place in portrait mode. The first thing you want to do is get Wi-Fi running; look for a Generic SDIO device in the device manager.

From there, I couldn’t get the touchscreen to work and that was it – no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the right driver. I don’t blame Windows 10 but it shows that on more exotic hardware, Microsoft’s latest operating system might have a very hard time getting it right.

As for the Linx 7, I am currently forced to use it with a keyboard and a mouse, and the performance is far from being silky smooth even without any applications running. That’s what you get running on 1GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage.

But you can expect Microsoft to tweak Windows 10 further and deliver a slimline, compressed version like it did for Windows 8.1 for tablets, which will hopefully improve overall performance.