Windows 10 (again) on Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Series

Client brought me a Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series she got for free from Time-Warner Cable.  It has Windows 8.1 on it.  My intent was to upgrade to Windows 10 and clone to an SSD using Acronis software.

Earlier I downloaded Windows 10 onto a flash drive and used that to do a clean install on another computer, a Dell Vostro 220 desktop.  But I wasn’t  able to activate Windows 10.  

My experience with the Dell Inspiron laptop was worse.  I wanted to do a clean install of Windows 10 but kept on running into trouble. The Windows 10 installer wouldn’t recognize the ssd.  It kept on asking for drivers. So I put back the 8.1 drive and tried to upgrade.

When I tried to do the upgrade on the Windows 8.1 drive (not ssd) the upgrade failed.  So then I tried applying the newest Win 8.1 updates and they failed.  Now I’m trying to update again.  

By the way, this site says that you can’t do a clean install of Windows 10 from 7 or 8, but have to upgrade first, activate 10, then you can do a clean install:

Have I fallen into the usual Microsoft morass?

Alan SilvermanOwnerAsked:
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You should run the upgrade from within the running Windows 8.1. Just run the setup.exe from your download. Before running it though, make sure you have downloaded the correct version of Windows 10 that corresponds to your installed version of Windows 8.1. If it is Windows 8.1 core, you must download and use the Windows 10 Home version. If it is the Windows 8.1 Professional or Ultimate version, you must download and use the Windows 10 Professional version. You must also make sure that your bit version corresponds (32 bit Windows 8.1 version can upgrade to the 32 bit version of Windows 10, and the 64 bit version of Windows 8.1 will upgrade to the 64 bit version of Windows 10).

If you follow those simple rules, the upgrade will work and Windows 10 activate automatically. You won't need a product key for it.

Once you have done that once on every PC and it has been activated once with m$ you can later do a clean install of Windows 10 again on that PC. This time it will activate automatically as it has previously been registered with M$ when you did the upgrade.

If during a clean installation the disk isn't found, you will have to supply the PC's disk controller's drivers via a USB stick during the installation.

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Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
I got the upgrade from within working.  After it's done I will clone the drive.  Hopefully it will remain activated. When I upgraded I was given the option of not including any data or apps. I'm hoping that will give me close to a clean install, saving me from going through that.  
After it's done I will clone the drive

What is it you mean with that? Are you cloning just as a backup, or is it for use in another PC? If it is for another PC, activation won't work. Activation is only for that exact PC you originally activated on.

I have done several upgrades from within the previous OS, and those systems were all automatically activated as soon as Windows 10 was ready. I then did a clean installation of Windows 10 on at least some of those PC's of Windows 10. Although you get asked 2 or 3 times during the installation for the product key of Windows 10, you can skip that and the installation will proceed. When the installation has finished I checked those PC's, and they were all still properly activated. So once you have done a proper upgrade to Windows 10 on a PC, and it is properly activated, you can install the OS cleanly whenever your want, and it will automatically be activated again provided you have an active internet connection.
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Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
I will clone the hard drive the Inspiron 11 came with to a SSD.  Make the PC faster.  Same PC, new drive.
Thanks for everything. I can take it from here.

PS Just thought of one more question, if you care to answer it.  Do you think a clean reinstall is necessary?  On the same PC, after the upgrade, any idea if a clean install will make the PC significantly faster with less errors (bugs), rather than just going with the 8.1 upgrade?
Before cloning to the SSD I suggest you make sure the firmware on the SSD is up-to-date. Besides that I also suggest you rather use Paragon's migrate OS to SSD utility, which makes sure that everything is adapted to the new SSD so it performs best:
Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
Do you think paragon is better than Acronis 2015?  I've used Acronis for years.
Paragon is a lot better than either Acronis or Symantec stuff, and their products are usually also less expensive, Some are even free.
Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
Here's something to remember.  I could not get windows to recognize either of two crucial SSDs, a M500 and a BX100.  Finally I put in a Samsung EVO drive and it's doing a clean install. I made sure the firmware on the crucial drives was uplevel and also upgraded the bios on the Dell. It might finally be a Dell problem.  There was this weird thing I noticed. I'd do F2 to look at hardware setup and one time it would show the Crucial drives.  The next time the bios said there was no hard drive detected.  That's what made me think to try a Samsung.  
Please note: No second installation is needed to get a clean activated installation. We can choose to keep nothing or just files when upgrading, both will provide a clean installation.
Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for clarifying.  I did that once but wasn't sure it constituted a clean installation.
I'm really starting to like Windows 10.  Have to turn off all the Microsoft spying though.  
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