Windows 7 UEFI Installer on Flash Drive

This is another of a set of small articles on modification and use of Windows 7 install media:  multi-version, UEFI boot, driver injection, and downgrade activation.  The focus will be on USB flash media.

It is possible to install Windows 7 in UEFI mode, but it takes some work. Patience, grasshopper, and read on…

Why bother?  Good question.  Perhaps to take advantage of GPT drive formatting, or to co-exist with another OS that boots in UEFI mode.

First, prep a flash drive for UEFI boot as described here:  A FOB STORY: Preparing the flash drive  (TLDR: a single FAT-32 formatted partition, active flag not set.)

If you don’t already have it, go get 7zip.  It’s an incredibly useful archive manipulation tool.  http://www.7-zip.org/  You’ll also need a Windows 7 SP1 DVD or ISO.  Copy the contents of the DVD – or use 7zip to extract the ISO contents – to the prepped flash drive.  The extracted contents should look like this:

win-7-pro-64-iso-extracted-to-flash

Open the “efi” folder and create a new folder there: “boot”.

Navigate up and then down into the sources folder and find install.wim. Open it with 7zip:

win-7-pro-64-flash-install-wim-open-in-7zip

Then drill down into folders “1” -> “windows” -> “boot” -> EFI and locate the file bootmgfw.efi.

win-7-pro-64-flash-install-wim-down-to-bootmgw-in-7zip

Extract that file to the previously created \efi\boot folder on the flash drive.  (use the extract function or simply drag it from 7zip to that \efi\boot folder.)

Rename bootmgw.efi to bootx64.efi.  That’s it.

win-7-pro-64-flash-extracted-to-temp-bootx64-created

To boot the created USB flash drive: in BIOS configuration turn off Secure Boot, make sure UEFI booting and USB booting are enabled, and enable CSM (compatibility support module).

If CSM isn’t enabled the installer will boot but typically hang on the Windows + dancing balloons splash screen.  An installed UEFI Windows 7 will also hang in the same way if CSM support is OFF.

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Convert Windows 7 Install Media to All-Version

This is the first of a set of small articles on modification and use of Windows 7 install media:  multi-version, UEFI boot, driver injection, and downgrade activation.

This has been discussed extensively elsewhere, but I’m gathering it all here to document my recent experience – and maybe help a few others.

The articles will focus on flash media.  It’s almost certain that a computer that needs any of these mods will be able to boot a flash drive – and may not even have an optical drive.

To the topic…

The Windows 7 SP1 install media I have access to is single-version.  That is, a given DVD or ISO will install either Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate.  The version available is determined by the particular ISO or DVD in hand. That can be changed 🙂

The image below is a screen shot of a Window 7 SP1 Pro 64-bit ISO extracted to a flash drive by the 7zip archiving tool.  The folders and files will look the same if copied from a DVD.

7zip is free and amazingly useful.  You need it.  Get it here:  http://www.7-zip.org/  You won’t need it today if working from DVD media, but you will need it in the future.  Trust me on that 😉

win-7-pro-64-iso-extracted-to-flash

If you examine the sources folder, it looks like all four versions are there, but something restricts the media to a single version at install time.  Turns out that something is the ei.cfg file in the sources folder.  See the image below.

win-7-pro-64-flash-sources-file-list-partial-ei-cfg-highlight

The contents of this particular ei.cfg are:

[EditionID]
Professional
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

Note “Professional”.

If one deletes or renames ei.cfg (to ei.cfg.OLD, for instance) the install media will offer all four versions.  Why would you want it to do that?  You have a license for one version but only media for another maybe.  You’d like to have a single copy in your kit – flash drive or DVD – but be able to install any version as needed.  The possibilities are endless…

So, copy the contents of the DVD to a flash drive or temporary workspace – or use 7zip to extract the contents of an ISO to same – and rename ei.cfg.  Hey presto!  an all version installer – or at least the files for one.

win-7-all-version-install-menu

Note: the 64-bit installer contains the above options once ei.cfg is modified.  The 32-bit version also includes Windows 7 Starter.

How to format the flash drive (or in the complicated case remake a DVD) is beyond the scope of this particular little article.  Flash drive prep is covered elsewhere on this blog:  A FOB STORY: Preparing the flash drive  (TLDR: a single FAT-32 formatted partition, active flag not set.) Either do that in advance of making the mods if working directly on the flash drive, or copy the workspace files to the prepared flash drive after making the mod.

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Fixing Windows 7 Update Hangs

Update hangs?  Boy howdy!  This has become a real nightmare. Windows Update can spin on “checking for updates…” for hours – or even days.

I (and many, many others) have run into this on new Windows 7 SP1 installs from Microsoft media, newly arrived laptops with Win 7 SP1+ preloads, and laptops and desktops running ‘7 SP1 that were previously fully updated.

The below fix was recommended to me by a wise old IT JOAT.  It has fixed all my machines and will hopefully help others.  OTOH it isn’t likely a universal fix and it takes some patience to apply.

For me Windows Update works almost instantly after this procedure.


Install  .NET update NDP461-KB3102436-x86-x64-AllOS-ENU

In an elevated command window turn off the update service:  net stop wuauserv

rename the folder C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution to …OLD

With the update service still off, install this update to the update client:  KB3138612

turn the update service back on: net start wuauserv

Install the following KBs in order, rebooting after each install.  It may be necessary to turn off the update service while doing this to keep it from hanging on “checking…”.  The update service is typically on a delayed start so it may or may not be necessary to turn it off for each install.

KB3145739
KB3153199
KB3161664
KB3020369
KB3172605

That last KB is the July roll-up.  It may be superseded by later roll-ups, and there should be an indication of that on the KB’s page.

Happy updating 🙂

 

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Miix it up: Lenovo’s Miix 700 Tablet

[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

lenovo--miix-700-combo-pic

(Image Lenovo)

The same old boilerplate:  From time to time the nice people at Lenovo send me a gadget.  They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums.  I do some testing and writing as well.  I’m not otherwise compensated, and opinions are my own.  I DO NOT speak for Lenovo

Well, another Lenovo gadget showed up the other day.  This one is a Miix 700  – my first Windows tablet.  It’s a surprisingly capable machine for a tablet.  Maybe too capable – since it encourages trying some things I’d normally attempt on a laptop or desktop.

This isn’t a review; I don’t do reviews.  This is a quick look at the tablet’s specs and features I find interesting.  I’ll also explore some things I do with most computing hardware that I get my hands on: making recovery media, accessing the tablet’s innards, SSD upgrade/replacement/performance, cloning, virtual machines, and Linux, for a start.

Continue reading

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Lenovo Yoga 900: not a ThinkPad, but not too bad…

Lenovo-Yoga-900

From time to time the nice people at Lenovo send me a gadget.  They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums.  I do some testing and writing as well.  I’m not otherwise compensated, and opinions are my own.  I DO NOT speak for Lenovo.

I’ve had a Yoga 3 Pro 2-in-1 for a while now.  Fascinating piece of engineering.  Thin, light, beautiful display, reasonable performance, and the gymnastic ability to transform from a laptop into a tablet – and several poses in-between.  And that stunning watch-band hinge…

Recently  a Yoga 900 showed up on the porch. Wow!  It’s a refinement of the ‘3 Pro: i7 processor, 6-row keyboard (with function keys!), USB-C port, increased battery run time, similar display, hinge, and flexibility.

I’ll probably do a series of articles including things like SSD upgrades, cloning, backup, etc – but first let’s just start by comparing the specs, appearance, and power supplies:

I’ve done my best to gather accurate specifications, but no guarantees.  Please double check before making a purchase decision based on this information!

Specifications

Yoga 3 Pro Yoga 900
Processor Intel Core M 5Y70 (2 cores / 4 threads 1.10GHz / 2.6 GHz 4MB cache)

Intel Core M 5Y71 (2 cores / 4 threads 1.20GHz / 2.9 GHz 4MB cache)

Intel Core i5-6200U (2 cores / 4 threads 2.3 GHz / 2.8 GHz 3MB cache)

Intel Core i7-6500U (2 cores / 4 threads 2.5 GHz / 3.1 GHz 4MB cache)

Operating System* Windows 8.1 Home 64 Windows 10 Home 64
Graphics  Intel HD Graphics 5300  Intel HD Graphics 520
Memory 8GB max / PC3-12800 1600MHz LPDDR3, soldered to system board 16GB max / PC3-12800 1600MHz LPDDR3, soldered to system board
Hard Drive Up to 512 GB  m.2 2280 SSD Up to 512 GB  m.2 2280 SSD
Display 13.3″ QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS, 300 nits 13.3″ QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS, 300 nits
Camera  720p HD, 1.0 MP resolution, fixed focus  720p HD, 1.0 MP resolution, fixed focus
Audio support HD audio, Realtek® ALC286 codec / two JBL® speakers,
1.5W x 2 / dual digital array microphone, combo audio / microphone jack
HD audio, JBL branded Speaker with Dolby® Audio Premium certifi cation,
2.0W x 2, dual array microphone, combo audio / microphone jack
Keyboard Full-size keyboard, backlight, 5-row, multimedia Fn keys Full-size keyboard, backlight, 6-row, multimedia Fn keys
Touchpad Buttonless touchpad below keyboard, multi-touch Buttonless touchpad below keyboard, multi-touch
WLAN 802.11ac, BCM 4352, 2×2, Wi-Fi + BT combo adapter

(Bluetooth 4.0 wireless, integrated in Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter)

One of the following, configurable by model:

11b/g/n+BT: 11b/g/n, 1×1, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter, M.2 Card

11ac+BT: 11ac, 1×1, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter, M.2 Card

Intel 8260 ac+BT: 11ac, 2×2,Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260,
Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter, M.2 Card

(Bluetooth 4.1 wireless, integrated in Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter)

Battery** Up to 7.2 hours, 4 Cell 44.8 Watt Hour Li-Polymer Up to 9 hours, 4-cell 66 Watt Hour Li-polymer
Ports 2 x USB 3.0,  1 x micro HDMI, 1 x DC-in with USB 2.0 function, 4-in-1 reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC), Audio Combo Jack 2 x USB Type A 3.0, 1 x USB Type C 3.0 with Video-out, 1 x DC-in with USB 2.0 Function, 4-in-1 Card Reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC) Audio Combo Jack
Weight 2.62 pounds (1.2 kg) 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
Dimensions 13″  x 9″ x 0.5″ (330 x 229 x 12.7 mm) 12.75″ x 8.86″ x 0.59″ (324 x 225 x 14.9 mm)

* Operating system as shipped.  Other options may be available.

** Take battery run time with a grain rock of salt 😉  although I’ve seen the Yoga 900 “gas gauge” indicating over 15 hours just sitting with a web page open.

Hinges and Side Views

The hinges are nearly identical.  And amazing.  The 900’s hinge feels subjectively stouter, but this may be due to the more rigid halves of the clamshell.

lenovo-yoga-3-pro-specs-ports_JustHingeCLEANED

The Yoga 3 Pro’s right and left sides:

lenovo-yoga-3-pro-specs-ports_JustPortsCLEANED_TIGHTENED

And the Yoga 900’s:

yoga-900-specs-ports)CLIPPEDCLEANED

The port layouts – and many other things  – are detailed in the respective user’s manuals:

User Guide – YOGA 3 Pro

User Guide – Yoga 900

Power Ports and Supplies

One thing that’s immediately obvious is that oddly-shaped USB port on the laptops’ left sides near the hinge.  It’s one of the clever (and perhaps confusing) aspects of these Yogas.  That warped port is a combination USB 2.0 host port – for attaching devices – and a port for charging the laptop.

Here’s the confusing part: even though those ports support attaching USB devices and the charging cables have USB connectors on each end, these laptops cannot be charged by a 5V USB power sourceThey require a specific 20V power supply.  More on that below.

To match the laptops’ charging ports, the AC “wall-wart” power supplies have dual-purpose capabilities.  They can supply the 20VDC required by the Yogas via an extra pair of pins added to the standard USB pins.  They can also supply USB-standard 5.2VDC to other USB devices when not being used to charge a laptop.

YogaPowerPinsCLEANED

To further add to the confusion, the two laptops’ wall-warts are similar.  The connectors and cables area physically compatible, and both supply 20V.  However, the Yoga 3 Pro’s supply provides 40 Watts max, and the 900’s provides 65 Watts.  The Y3P’s supply can be plugged into the 900 and may be able to charge it when the laptop is turned off.  When the 900 is running it will likely max out the smaller power supply – leading to overheating and possible over-temp or over-current shut down. Generally speaking, it’s fine to use the larger supply with either laptop, but not a good idea to use the smaller one with the 900.

Another minor difference:  the Y3P’s supply has the AC pins located toward the edge, while the 900’s pins are in the middle.  The 900 supply may block more than one AC socket in a wall outlet or surge strip.

The Yoga 3 Pro wall-wart & cable:

Y3P_PowerCLEANED

Links

A friend’s video comparison of the two Yogas:  Lenovo Yoga 900 & Yoga 3 Pro Differences

Laptop base specifications:

Yoga 3 Pro

Yoga 900

Hardware Maintenance Manuals:

Hardware Maintenance Manual – Lenovo YOGA 3 Pro-1370

Hardware Maintenance Manual – Yoga 900-13ISK

 

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