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Broken No More? A Windows 8 Release Preview Freeze Workaround

Last week, I wrote about two problems I’ve had with the Windows 8 Release Preview in the hope that I could determine whether they were specific to my PCs or configurations or whether they were in fact widespread problems. Several hundred emails later, it’s clear these are very real problems. But I have a workaround that should help readers overcome the more vexing of the two issues.

To recap, I described the following two issues in Broken Windows? Two Serious Issues That Make Windows 8 Release Preview Almost Unusable (For Me):

System hang. On multiple PCs, the system will suddenly stop responding and the only recourse is to hold down the power button and manually shut down and then restart the PC.

Networking performance. On two desktop PCs, I’ve seen terrible file copy issues with very large files (ISOs, video files) in particular. After the issue kicks in, all networking (including Internet access) refuses to work, or work well, and sometimes keeps failing after a reboot.

After determining that neither of these issues was unique to me, I queried Microsoft to ask whether they knew about the issues and/or had developed workarounds or fixes. I was informed through Microsoft PR that Windows engineering was not seeing these as significant issues across its telemetry, testing, or other feedback mechanisms but that it would continue to investigate. So I waited a few days just in case, while potential solutions poured in from readers.

And boy did it pour in. I mentioned “several hundred emails” above—it was somewhere north of 500, I stopped counting—and I really, really want to thank everyone who wrote in to confirm one or both issues, discuss details about them, or provide potential workarounds. People use this term a lot, but what the heck: It was humbling. Thank you for trying to help. It’s this sort of communicate loop that makes the community of Microsoft customers such a special group. Seriously, thank you.

Many of the comments were interesting. A majority of those who had experienced the hang issue have SSD (instead of hard drive) storage. All of them had “Sandy Bridge” or newer Intel-based chipsets in their PCs. Interesting.

The workarounds were intriguing, but most amounted to disappointment, at least for me. Some had insisted that turning off “defragmentation” on SDD-based systems would fix the issue, but as it turns out, the system defragger actually performs useful TRIM optimizations. Some mentioned that installing Google Chrome—or, more specifically, the “Metro” version of Google Chrome, was what triggered the hang issue, but that was something I had been experiencing since before that release. I tried command line fixes, I looked at disabling the C6 power state in the system firmware, and more.

Nothing worked.

But one thing did work. And while it’s working perfectly for me—three days and no hangs at all, fingers crossed—it may not work for you. I’ve tried this on three PCs, to great results. But there’s no guarantee.

And that workaround is…

Install Hyper-V.

I explain how to do this, and what the requirements are, in Windows 8 Feature Focus: Client Hyper-V.

Thanks to everyone that wrote in with the Hyper-V tip, there were several.

And now on to that networking issue. It’s not as widespread as the hang issue, based on my email, but it’s another thing I’ve love to see fixed.

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