Category Archives: Windows 8

Lenovo Flex 10 SSD upgrade

I was asked for advise for a cheap new Windows laptop for a friend. I went for the Lenovo Flex 10, for the following reasons:

      1. Lenovo build quality & support
      2. Portability
      3. 4GB of RAM

This machine is currently £229.99 in PC World (http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/laptops-netbooks/laptops/laptops/lenovo-flex-10-10-1-convertible-touchscreen-laptop-black-10016057-pdt.html) , which is where the friend happened to be when I was called. So a quick bit of research, this is what I went for, the main reason being that it is relatively easy to install an SSD. These small laptops are all very well, but would really be about as fast as an ageing Windows XP netbook. Put an SSD in however, and everything comes to life – the CPU can keep up, there is enough RAM to have a few apps running, and with a decent SSD in, the system seems positively spritely. At the end of the upgrade, you have a small, lightweight machine with a fast SSD a shade over £300, not bad. So I also recommended the Crucial MX100 256GB SSD drive for £73.79: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crucial-CT256MX100SSD1-256GB-Includes-Spacer/dp/B00KFAGCWK/ref=as_sl_pc_ss_til?tag=highbird-21&linkCode=w01&linkId=&creativeASIN=B00KFAGCWK.

So the machine came along with a disk. A bit of Googling didn’t quite give me enough detail, so I will share how I did this here.

SSD Installation in the Lenovo Flex 10

You can install an SSD as follows:

      1. Prise open the 2 rubber feet. Lever open the side near the edge of the laptop, there is a hinge at the other side. I used a pen knife blade, be careful not to damage the foot.
      2. Remove the paper seal under one of the feet (goodbye warranty) and remove the screws underneath
      3. Remove all the other screws on the bottom of the unit. Keep the safe.
      4. Prise open the case, I used a credit card (a store one you don’t want as it may get damaged) to go all around the edge until it popped open. At the back near the hinge I had to use a penknife bottle opener to pop that off, it was quite tough. Then the whole back came off nicely, revealing the standard 2.5″ 7.5mm HDD. There are no wires or cables attached to the base, so it is a relatively safe operation if you are careful.
      5. Unscrew 3 screws holding in the HDD caddy. Note that in the picture below I mistakenly screwed one back in the wrong place, the top one, don’t add that one.
      6. You will then be able to slightly life up the caddy, and remove it. It is quite tricky as the one I had had some sticky tape on the bottom of they drive. Take it slow wiggling from side to side.
      7. Remove the old HDD from the caddy and install the new one. It just takes standard 2.5″ 76mm drives.
      8. Clip the laptop back together and screw all the screws in.
      9. Reboot, press Fn+F2 to enter the BIOS.
      10. Go to the Boot option and enable legacy boot.
      11. Reboot, press FN+F12 this time to enter the boot menu.
      12. Choose your USB device to install Windows.

Windows installation

What I generally do, is stick in an SSD if I can, and then do a clean installation of Windows, without all the crapware. In this case, I was not able to preserve to the OEM activation due to the version of Windows on this machine (Windows 8.1 with Bing), so I used on one of my own Windows keys.

The machine came with ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’. The SKU for this is CoreConnected. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to do a clean install of Windows with this version (yet) – see http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/40897-Guide-to-preserve-Windows-8-x-OEM-Activation

Here are some images which may help.

Skipping product or license key during installation of Windows 8 and Server 2012

Windows 8 and Server 2012 have an annoying default installation process which forces you to enter a product key during installation. Often you may want to paste this in later, or just not enter one if you are installing a demo or test system, having to type one in manually is a massive pain. Luckily, you can easily modify the installation so that it lets you skip the requirement for entering the product key. The easiest way to do this is by creating the ei.cfg file in Sources folder in your ISO or USB media.

For Windows 8 or Server 2012 – this is the file that I normally create using notepad and save as ei.cfg in the Sources folder.

[EditionID]
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

This works using MSDN or Technet (RIP) keys and media. I don’t bother entering the version, since I often may want to choose that during installation. By not entering the version you can choose if you want Standard, Datacentre etc.The format of the ei.cfg is as follows:

[EditionID]
{Edition ID}
[Channel]
{Channel Type}
[VL]
{Volume License}

[EditionID]: This is the version of Windows that you want to install. This varies by OS. You can use Dism /Get-ImageInfo and specify the image file  to get the editions available from the wim file e.g. Dism /Get-ImageInfo /imagefile:I:\sources\install.wimValid options are:

Windows 7:

Starter
HomeBasic
HomePremium
Ultimate
Professional
Enterprise
Windows 8:
Core
Pro
Windows Server 2012:
SERVERSTANDARDCORE
SERVERSTANDARD
SERVERDATACENTERCORE
SERVERDATACENTER
Note that there others, e.g. Foundation and Essentials for Server 2012.

[Channel]: This can be OEM or RETAIL depending on the type of media that you have.

[VL]: This can be 1 for  Volume License, or 0 for Retail

See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824952.aspx for more information.

 

Creating bootable Windows Vista, 7, 8, 2012 USB or SD memory card

There are several ways to create  bootable USB media if you have an ISO. You can also do this using an SD card if you have a USB adapter for the memory card.  For windows 7 a 4GB drive is fine, for later you will need more than 4GB.

Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool

The easiest method is probably the Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/html/pbPage.Help_Win7_usbdvd_dwnTool

This is simple and easy to use, and should work with Windows Vista ISOs or later.

 ZOTAC WinUSB Maker

This is another nice tool from http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/47012-ZOTAC-WinUSB-Maker-Official-Support-Thread, and works with Windows Vista ISOs or later.

Manual method

 

If you don’t have the ISO or want to do this manually, you can also use diskpart to prepare the drive and then copy the contents over. This is the way I normally end up doing it for some reason, the advantage being that you don’t need any other tools if you are running a Windows OS. Risk of formatting the wrong drive if you don’t know what you are doing with diskpart, so be careful.

Format the Drive

Run cmd.exe as Administrator and type the following:

  • list disk (Note which one is your USB disk – make sure you get       the right one!)
  • diskpart
  • select disk 2       (assuming that it was listed as disk 2)
  • clean
  • create partition       primary
  • select partition 1
  • active
  • format fs=fat32 (Note: Quick format does not work)
  • assign
  • exit

Copy the files

Mount the ISO or insert the DVD, and then copy the Windows files to your drive.

Modify the below example depending on your drive letters:

xcopy d:\*.* /s/e/f e:\

OR easier using Robocopy:

Robocopy d: f: /e

 

Note that you can do something similar on Linux using http://www.pendrivelinux.com/

Quickly editing the “New” context menu in Windows…

When you right click in a folder and want to create a new item, the New context menu that appears can become quite cluttered with programs that you do not want.

This is how I edit this menu to remove all the entries that I do not want and streamline my workflow. You could of course script this, but not easy to script the removal because it depends what you want to remove. This can save you time as you don’t have to hunt for the items that you actually need in a larger New menu.

  • To start with, right click in a folder, choose New, and note the items that you want to remove. You will need to know the file extension for each entry. Some will be obvious, e.g. you probably know that a Text Document has a .txt extension. Others may not be. In this case, just create one of the files using the New item menu, and use explorer to show the file extension of the file that it creates.
  • Once you know the extension, open regedit. I am going to assume that you know what you are doing here, so if you don’t I would not advise proceeding without a system backup.
  • Open HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. You will see a long list of extensions.
  • If you want to remove e.g. New Word Document, type in .doc (including the period) and you will jump down to .doc
  • Expand the key and find the key called ShellNew, and delete it.

HKCR_shell

What you end up with is a nice clean New menu:

New_Context

 

 

Relocating Documents and other folders the easy way

If you want to relocate users folders on a locally managed PC, one (somewhat painful) way is to just right click on each folder, choose Properties, then change the location on the location tab:

docs1

But, a much easier way is simply to cut and paste the folder. This works even if the destination exists, and has the added benefit of removing the folder from a C: drive. So it is the ideal way to do this if you keep user folders on another drive and have formatted your primary OS drive.

– Navigate to C:\Users\username
– Right click on each folder you want to move, choose cut, and then go to the destination you want e.g. D:\Users and choose paste. This should work on Windows Vista or later. XP probably won’t want to merge the folders.

docs2

Job done!

Reinstalling Windows and keeping Steam content without backup

Today I discovered somthing extremely handy if you are a Steam user for games on Windows. This does require that you already store your steam games on a seperate partition or disk to your OS installation. I do that to keep all the games off my rather small 128GB SSD drive which contains just the OS. If you don’t have steam on a seperate drive, you would have to backup all the content in Steam (right click on a game and choose backup) and then reinstall Steam on another drive, e.g. D: instead of C:.

If you have installed Steam on another drive, you are in luck. All you need to do is reinstall Windows (clean install is fine, format the C: drive and install a fresh copy), then you just download and install Steam into the same location it was previously. Lo and behold, Steam sees all your games and steam apps, and when it starts up you will see all your games ready and waiting. Pretty neat huh? If you buy games exclusively through Steam, this makes reinstalling the OS much easier. I would recommend that you backup your Save games just in case.

Windows 8 Pro vs Enterprise, which version should you install?

Windows 8 Enterprise is the version most Enterprises will deploy, supporting all features and included as part of a volume license susbscription. However some people may have a technet subscription which comes with both Pro and Enterprise versions, and may be wondering which version to install. Both are pretty full featured, for instance both versions include:

– Domain join
– Bitlocker and bitlocker to go
– Client Hyper-V

However there are significant differences which you should be aware of before deploying in a test environment.

Key differences are:
– Enterprise includes branchcache support, Pro does not
– Pro can add Media center, Enterprise cannot
– Enterprise has more advanced remote desktop client features e.g. Remote app
– Enterprise includes Windows to go feature for installing on a USB key

There is obviously more to it than that, but I think these are the key decision points if you are just installing from technet on a test machine. Check out Paul Thurrott’s excellent feature list here:
http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows8/windows-8-secrets-book-guide-product-editions-144067

Moving metro to a secondary monitor

If you are running multiple monitors with Windows 8, you might want to change the screen that Metro shows up on when you press the start button. You can do this a few ways without setting the secondary screen as primary, the easiest way I have found is as follows:

  • Open a Metro app e.g. Mail
  • Move it to the secondary screen by grabbing it at the top and dragging it over
  • That’s it – press Start again and Metro shows up on that screen now.

 

Windows 8 on the Lenovo X220

I have been running Windows 8 RTM for some time on my Lenovo X220 laptop (non tablet version). I would say I have had quite a few issues compared to e.g. the Win7 RTM which was hassle free.

Note that the Windows 8 Lenovo beta drivers are here:
http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/downloads/detail.page?DocID=HT072084

These are updated pretty regularly so worthwhile back checking often, and keeping a note of the versions that you installed.

The main issue I have outstanding is that the Lenovo Power Management Driver installs but doesn’t seem to do anything. When the device locks, the fan speed goes up until it is quite loud, although CPU utilisation whilst locked seems normal. I am using the driver file called win8beta_gdku05ww.zip.

On the plus side:

  • Windows 8 is fast, although I have a 256GB Samsung SSD installed in my X220, which helps. However it doesn’t seem any faster than Windows 7.
  • All my programs have worked so far, including fallout 3 which is a pig to run on anything.
  • Graphics performance seems the same with out of the box drivers, no issues there, see above.
  • Touch pad works OK with the beta drivers – scrolling is a little hit or miss, but you scroll, zoom etc in Metro which is nice. I bought a Microsoft Wedge Mouse, which is much better for vertical and horizontal scrolling, but doesn’t support other Windows 8 gestures so I sent it back.

Negatives:

  • I had 2 things unknown in device manage, base system device and unknown device. One was the media card reader driver, I don’t know what the other one is.
  • I had a nasty issue on my first build where explorer went into a crash loop and you could not do anything. This was supposed to be fixed in the developer preview. I had to rebuild. Deleting the local profile might have fixed this.
  • Metro doesn’t work with proxy servers which is really bad. Basically half of Windows 8 doesn’t work in the office.
  • My headset didn’t work properly with the default Windows 8 drivers, had to install the Lenovo sound drivers, and now it is working fine.

Battery life seems better with the Lenovo Power Management Driver, but still have the fan issue. I was expecting it to install the power meter on the task bar, but maybe they won’t implement that in Win8 given the new start screen.

Overall, it has been a bit of a painful transition, akin to XP to Vista with drivers and other issues, but I wouldn’t go back now, Win7 feels a step backwards.

Update: There is a newer Power Management driver – win8beta_gdku07ww.zip. The fan seems a bit better, but frankly I am not sure if it does anything. I do have an intermittent issue when it resumes from sleep and just displays a black screen sometimes. This is resolved by putting into sleep again – close the lid, then open.