Windows 7 Installation Hacks: One Post to Bind Them…

After 31 October 2016  OEMs will no longer be allowed to ship computers with Windows 7 Pro. What better way to mark the end of an era than a series of articles about installing Windows 7?

14 November 2016 Correction:  OEMs are able to ship Windows 7 preloads after 31 October if they have an inventory of previously-purchased licenses.  Lenovo, for example, still has Windows 7 machines available as of this date.  Apologies for the misinformation!

I’ve gathered some information here based on my recent experience with a Lenovo X1 Yoga.  I wanted to purchase it while Windows 7 was still an option.  Even though it would have downgrade rights (as explained in an article linked below) I wished to have an actual Lenovo ‘7 preload to archive in case it was ever necessary.  True, Windows 10 makes much more sense on a touch-enabled laptop, but the Win 10 forced update policy is nearly intolerable.  I wonder how many trains, buses, and dentist’s appointments have been missed when a laptop decided to do an update instead of just shutting down?

Full disclosure: I’m running ’10 on the X1 Yoga now.  The group policy editor allows setting the update policy to notify only, but that’s a story for another day.

Lenovo machines shipped with Windows 7 Pro preloaded via downgrade rights come with a coupon for a Win 10 Lenovo image that can be downloaded.  With the Lenovo ‘7 recovery image created and archived, the Lenovo ’10 image downloaded and archived, and a clean Windows 10 downloaded from the Microsoft site, I’ve got all the bases covered – I hope.

Back to Windows 7: this seemed like an opportunity to test a clean Windows 7 install on the X1 before going over to the dark side and installing ’10.  Below are 4 little articles on installation hacks (plus a bonus on fixing Windows update) that came up as I tested a clean install.   They’ve been covered fairly extensively elsewhere but I’ve gathered them here in one place for my own information. Hopefully yours too 😉

Convert Windows 7 Install Media to All-Version  Take a single version install medium (Pro only for example) and enable the other versions hidden therein.

Windows 7 UEFI Installer on Flash Drive  Modify Windows 7 media to allow a UEFI-mode installation from flash.

Activating a Windows 7 Downgrade  Windows 8.x Pro and 10 Pro include downgrade rights to Windows 7.  Activation is tricky.

Adding USB 3.0 and NVMe Drivers to Windows 7 Install Media  Lack of USB 3.0 drivers will result in the dreaded and confusing “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing” error.  An NVMe SSD target drive will be invisible to the installer without proper drivers.

Fixing Windows 7 Update Hangs  Bonus: it’s becoming more and more common for Windows 7 Update to spin for hours (or days…) on “checking for updates“.  It can and does happen with new installs, newly purchased OEM preloads and recovery images, and even otherwise fully-updated machines. There are many “fixes” on the interwebs.  This one worked for me.

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