Last month I created two Windows 10 1909 images for a Dell Precision 5540, one image for “naked” Windows 10 including all drivers, and another image complete with all our usual software. That laptop came with BIOS version 1.3.3, which was upgraded to 1.4.0 before any of the images were captured.
Today I got my hands on another Precision 5540. This 5540 was also delivered with BIOS version 1.3.3. I transferred the image from last month and let the laptop run Windows Update. Upon reboot, Windows 10 entered an endless automatic repair cycle. After twisting my head for a while, I remembered this latest laptop still ran the older BIOS version 1.3.3. One BIOS update and an image transfer later, for safe measure, and the system made it through a round of Windows Update, and no endless automatic repair cycle in sight.
Remember to update your boot firmware to the same or newer version at the earliest opportunity when applying an Windows 10 image. And in the case of Dell laptops, let Dell Command Update have a go at updating the system’s drivers and firmware before Windows Update get its chance. This might involve isolating the laptop and disabling the Windows Update service before connecting the laptop to the network.
I had the same issue with some of our recent Lenovo ThinkPad T590. I never made the connection that the boot firmware might be outdated and incompatible with the Windows 10 image. This insight might have saved me some precious time last year if I knew it back then.