A lot of people out there are apparently having an issue with laptops upgraded to Windows 10 from other operating systems, in the form of black screens. The typical example includes seeing the spinning dots, and eventually, just a black screen.
As of recently I have looked at a computer exhibiting such symptoms and have come to find the single culprit. The Windows 10 Display Driver. The fix? Not so fast.. let me explain why there is a major issue here.
History of Windows Upgrades and Laptops
Typically speaking the way laptop manufacturers do business is they produce a laptop, support it with driver updates for a few years, then stop updating the drivers for it, leaving you in the ‘out of warranty’ zone. This has been the way it has been working for some time now.
So what happened?
Windows 7 was a massively popular operating system for nearly 7 years, and a lot of people (rightfully) refuse to budge off of it after the whole Windows 8 fiasco, and are even still afraid to move to Windows 10. Up until the last year Microsoft has always stuck by their normal business model of ‘pay to upgrade’ your Windows Operating System, until the Windows 10 Free Upgrade came around, some people were apparently even forced to upgrade. But why?
Windows 10 Scenario
Lets say you have a laptop from 2005 running Windows 7, and are either forced to Upgrade to Windows 10, or upgrade by choice. Chances are, your laptop manufacturer has already deemed you as ‘antiquated’ and are no longer receiving updates from them, or they do not support any newer versions of drivers. This becomes a massive problem. Without the correct drivers for things like Display Adapters, Windows 10 will use a generic driver to try and accommodate it.
What happens is that Windows 10 magically fails to find your laptop display, and in its infinite wisdom, detect a 2nd non-existent display, which it makes a primary, showing your login screen and everything else on. What your laptop display is actually showing is ‘Monitor 2’. So unless you hook up your laptop to the external screen via HDMI, VGA or DVI, you won’t see your login screen.
I suspect the reason Microsoft did this ‘free upgrade’ is because they yield nothing out of having you upgrade free. That is unless your laptop fits into the scenario above, in which, you take it to Geek Squad, and they say ‘Its toast, buy a new one’. If you do, you are buying a laptop that the manufacturer had to pay Microsoft something like $80-$100 for Windows 10, and on top of that, padded the manufacturers pocket just a little bit too, and boosts PC (as opposed to Mac/Apple) sales.
Check to see if your manufacturer has released Windows 10 drivers for your laptop’s display adapter. If not, Revert to Windows 7. Contact your manufacturer and get a copy of the original software, or if you have a copy of Windows 7, load it up. Make sure you back up first though..
Should I upgrade to Windows 10?
If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8, the first thing to check is if your manufacturer has released Windows 10 Graphics Drivers via their individual support sites. If not, don’t even think about it. If they do, chances are you are safe, but who knows how long.
So what about that laptop you looked at?
The owner recognized that it was older, and was prepared to replace it. We went to a local electronics store and picked out a nice, sub $300 laptop, that he was pleased with, and I was pleased with, and supported Windows 10.
If you have been struck with the Windows 10 Black Screen bug, your options are downgrade, or replace. End of story.