More Windows 8.1 Torture

I decided to upgrade my Dell e6420 laptop from Windows 8 to 8.1  Upon trying to run the upgrade, it kept telling me I need to remove something called “Dell Data Protection”.  I removed this from Programs and Features and yet the update kept telling me I needed to remove it.  After some Internet searching, I found out if you use this MrFixIt from MS and remove Dell Access Direct from the list that comes up, that upgrade will then continue.

– Soli Deo Gloria

Windows 8.1 is Out

Windows 8.1 is out.  Big flipping deal!  I decided to be risky and updated to 8.1 from 8.0 on Saturday on my home PC.  You have to pull the update from Microsoft’s App Store.  During the setup process, Microsoft now forces you to create an online Microsoft account and associate it with your local Windows profile: how rude!  Of course, when the setup was done, I went to the Users Accounts applet in the Control Panel to disconnect it and convert it back to a local account.  I know Microsoft really, really, really wants me to put everything in the cloud, but I choose not to. And they really, really, really want me to use their app store for loading applications, but the only app I’ve loaded is the 8.1 update and that is under duress.

The update torched all VPN software I had loaded requiring an uninstall and reinstall of said software.  The update also messed up HyperV…I have two NICs and it appears to have bound the virtual switch to the one not plugged in (took me a good hour to nail that problem down!) Then I was getting a LogiLDA.DLL error message on bootup, so I had to go through to the registry and delete all keys relating to this file…something about a Logitech Download Assistant?  Classic Shell was borked as well, so I had to load version 4.0 and then I was able to once again not have to look at that evil Metro/Modern UI startup page.  I did switch over to Metro to change my login screen wallpaper and then this stupid tip “Switch between apps” kept coming up and blocking part of my screen.  It kept telling me to swipe the edge of the screen to dismiss the tip…but I DO NOT HAVE A TOUCHSCREEN MICROSOFT!  ARGH!  Off to Google to find a fix and this seems to be a common issue: you have to put your mouse is the very left corner of the screen and then the annoying tip screen goes away.

Still not impressed by Windows 8.  Please redeem yourself Microsoft!  If it wasn’t for HyperV, I would be very tempted in going back to Windows 7.  Here’s another tip: create a shortcut to chrome.exe.  Add “–force-desktop” (without quotes) to the end of it.  Now Chrome won’t randomly go into Metro mode on Windows 8.

– Soli Deo Gloria

Moving Windows 7 to New Hardware

Recently, I was tasked with transporting Windows 7 installed one piece of hardware to another. Not a trivial matter, considering the driver and activation issues.  I used Acronis Trueimage 2013 with the Universal Restore feature to accomplish this task and it worked quite well.  I was able to take an installation of Windows 7 x64 installed on a Dell Optiplex 390 and transport it safely to a Dell Latitude e6430.  The normal barrier for bringing up Windows on different hardware is usually the mass storage drivers.   If we can somehow inject the correct drivers offline, we can get into Windows and load the other drivers on an as needed basis.

I set out to do this for free and found this thread: http://www.911cd.net/forums//index.php?showtopic=24245.  If the web site is down, you can grab the file from my web site here. Essentially, this VBScript code does just that by invoking the powers of DISM.  The first thing you will need is a Vista or later based WinPE disc.  You can do this cheaply by tapping the F8 key and picking “Repair my Computer” and then breaking out to a command line.  Or you can use Liveboot 2012 from Wondershare.  This program is definitely worth the $60 for everything that it can do.  Here’s one cool trick you can do with WinPE (unrelated to Universal Restores, but cool none-the-less).  Install TightVNC server on a PC.  Copy the files screenshooks32.dll and tvnserver.exe from the Program Files directory to a USB key.  Now you can run that executable from with-in WinPE.  A “V” will appear in the taskbar.  Right-click this icon, go to properties and set a password.  Now you can VNC into your WinPE boot media!

Run cscript fix_7hdc.vbs from within WinPE.  It will ask for the Windows 7 drive: pick C:.  It will then ask for the folder containing the mass storage drivers.  Drill to that.  It will now inject those drivers into the offline Windows 7 install and produce a report afterwards:

Viola: Universal Restore for free!  What if we didn’t know what mass storage drivers we need?  Well, within WinPE, we can run AIDA64 and click on the PCI Devices tab to get the vendor and device IDs.  If you are cheap and don’t want to spend the $40 for AIDA64, you can also use SIV32:

– Soli Deo Gloria