Windows 10 Upgrade Experience for Lenovo W541

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, I backed everything up and then upgraded my Lenovo W541 from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10; the upgrade went without a hitch until I encountered some battery charging problems described in the section Battery Would Not Charge. During the install, you should not choose the express option for settings, as most users probably want to be aware of the privacy issues with some of the default settings, as described in Windows 10: Microsoft under attack over privacy. From a security perspective, most users probably want to turn of the automatic connection to WiFi hotspots that are listed in their contacts hotspot lists.

Battery Would Not Charge

About four days after the upgrade, the battery was dead and it would not take a charge. I Googled the model number and found this link to a new power management driver: Lenovo Power Management Driver for Windows 10 (32-bit, 64-bit) - Laptop (n1cku18w.exe, 1.7M). Next, I went to Lenovo’s web site and found these instructions for upgrading Microsoft Windows 10 Upgrade: A step-by-step procedure checklist. I had backed up all of my data, but did not look for or upgrade the BIOS before doing the Windows 10 upgrade. Clearly, this was a big mistake.

I found an article about booting the machine without the battery: this worked. I ran the Lenovo System Update program–it took several tries and ultimately failed to install any updates. It powered off several times.

Next, I put the battery back in, downloaded the power management driver independently, and installed it independently over several boots with and without the battery. I rebooted with the battery installed; it started charging and got to 3% at which point it started to discharge, even though it was plugged in.

At this point, it was not charging above 2%, but it would run otherwise normally on AC with the battery installed. One web reference suggested going into the ThinkVantage settings and changing the battery management values for when the battery would start charging. When I went into Lenovo settings, it prompted for a new version of a driver and send me to a download link; I downloaded, installed it and rebooted.

Still no change in charging. I next retried the Lenovo system update, which failed in the download again. I went back to Lenovo Settings and then to the Power icon; it prompted me for a driver update (n1fsd09w.exe, 37M), but showed that the battery condition was good. Part of the update failed, but when it rebooted, the battery showed 5% and was charging. I reinstalled the update, and got no error messages upon the reboot. The battery was still charging normally.

I went back to the ThinkVantage Settings to the Power icon and looked at the settings. I do not know if this makes a difference in whether or not you will encounter this problem, but I had previously gone into the BIOS to enable the always-on USB charging feature; this was very useful for charging phones while on a trip to Denmark.

Lenovo Updates

Although at this point the battery charged most of the time, but when it went into battery-saver mode, it still would not charge until I manually selected some other mode. I tried the Lenovo update, but it still failed. I found a newer version of the update program on ThinkVantage System Update, downloaded the 5.07.0013 version and updated from the 5.07.0008 version that was pre-installed. During the install process, I asked whether or not to delete files that were no longer needed; I chose “yes.” When I started the new version of Lenovo update, it successfully found and downloaded and successfully installed a number of updates to various drivers (including battery charge display) and a BIOS update.

Improvements in Windows 10

Although this was not a painless upgrade, two of the new features in Windows 10 make it worth the headaches:

  • The traditional “Start Button” is back and is a huge improvement over the Windows 8.1 approach.
  • Microsoft finally implemented native virtual desktops and learned from the implementations on Linux and OS X.

Problems with Mozilla Thunderbird

After the upgrade to Windows 10, Thunderbird (38.3) would not start. After figuring out how to start it in safe mode–log out, log back in and press the shift key while clicking on the icon–I disabled all of the add-ins and then re-enabled them one by one. The Provider for Google Calendar 1.04 addin was the cause of the failure. Thunderbird started reliably once I disabled that add-in.

Once I got Thunderbird to start, I started having problems with it locking up; it appears that the gContact Sync add-in blocks everything else during a long-running sync.

Changes for the Worse in Windows 10

There are several things that are changed for the worse in Windows 10:

  • wuapp no longer runs the System Update utility. You have to go to the settings menu in the “Update and Security” section. The discussion Windows cannot find 'wuapp.exe' issue in Windows 10 Pro provides a pretty good understanding of how this has changed–for the worse I think.

Ongoing Problems

After running Windows 10 for several months, power management has proved to be an ongoing problem; if the battery gets in to the range defined to activate the “Battery Saver” power management settings, the machine stops charging–even when plugged in to the power adapter. The only way to reset it is to shutdown, remove the battery and then re-insert the battery. I’ve changed the “Battery Saver” setting to effectively disable it, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Turn off the Battery Saver function in Settings->System->Battery Saver->Battery Saver Settings to avoid charging problems on Lenovo W541.
To avoid charging problems in Windows 10, disable the Power Saver function in Settings->System->Battery Saver->Battery Saver Settings

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