Tag Archives: Windows 8.1

Installing Windows 8.1/10 on Toshiba Satellite L300

Just a little note which maybe of interest for users of old hardware, in particular Toshiba Satellite L300 laptop. Earlier I wrote about adding SSD drive into it _, and my results were that with Windows Vista SSD doesn’t help that much: it is better with SSD but still extremely sluggish due to the fact that Vista does not support SSD properly. I also linked underwhelming performance to the fact that I put x64 Vista on 2 GB system (and there is commonly accepted opinion/rule of thumb of not installing x64 Windows on anything with less than 3 GB of RAM). Back then I was not able to install Windows 10 TP on this laptop (likely because of some missing driver).

Recently I finally revisited this laptop and successfully installed Windows 8.1 which was immediately upgraded to Windows 10. So this laptop runs Windows 10 x64 with 2 GB RAM and with SSD and this configuration significantly faster and more responsive. Really good example that to unlock your hardware potential you need support from software, and also illustrates quite well superiority and quality of work MSFT done in Windows 8.1 and 10 – it really works better than old versions even on the same hardware.

Slight issue was Canon Pixma 630 printer which was in use with this laptop. Pixma 630 officially not support Windows 10, so drivers available only for Windows 8.1 – but they are work just fine for Windows 10 – I was able to verify this.

Also in case you on the fence about x86 VS x64 problem your extra incentive for selecting x64 may be greater security and quality of drivers. Essentially x64 Windows 8/10 is more secure because it has: mandatory driver signing (x86 missing this), Address Space Layout Randomization aka ASLR (x86 has it but on x64 it is much more efficient due to larger address space), Kernel Patch Protection or KPP aka PatchGuard (prevents software, even drivers running in kernel-mode, from patching the Windows kernel for x86 this is technically possibly but never was implemented to preserve backward-compatibility with old software), Data Execution Protection (more strict and always enabled for x64 programs), WOW64 compatibility layer (enforces some restrictions on these 32-bit programs which runs on top of it) and guess what else? Dropped support for 16-bit applications 🙂

My conclusion is that nowadays I only would care to install x86 OS on hardware which has historical value as vintage piece for collectors or geeks and can’t support x64 OS, other than that I will either put x64 OS or would recommend upgrade hardware.

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Windows 8.1: Supporting WindowsToGO

Provisioning and configuring of Windows To Go is a subject of 70-687 exam, but 70-688 touches upon supporting it. To create Windows To Go workspace you have to have Windows 8.1 Enterprise which shipped with Windows To Go Creator Wizard. It is also requires certified Windows To Go USB flash drive (list can be found here). It was a great disappointment to me when I was not able to use generic/non certified drive to create WTG workspace, but as I understand you can get away with any drive which reports itself as a fixed disk.

Key facts to be aware with regards to WTG:

  • You can create WTG workspace only from a Windows 8 Enterprise edition machine and Enterprise edition installation files are required for this (ISO/DVD/WIM)
  • You can use customized images
  • USB drive must be at least 32 GB or larger + WTG certified
  • You can’t use TPM with WTG. This is simple: TPM protects specific computer (bound to chip inside of it), but WTG intended for use on various machines. But you can use BitLocker + startup password.
  • Hibernate & Sleep are disabled by default, but can be enabled via group policy
  • Windows RE/resetting/refreshing are not available for WTG. Problematic drives have to be reimaged.
  • If WTG has Windows 8.1 Enterprise installed on it Windows Store apps can roam between multiple PCs with WTG drive.

Key facts about WTG host computer (one you started with WTG drive):

  • Must have hardware certified to work with Windows 7/8
  • Must not be Windows RT or Mac
  • Should be considered as temporary host
  • Meet addtional requirements: USB boot support, CPU architecture have to support WTG image architecture, USB 2.0 port or newer and no USB hub, meet minimum requirements of Windows 8 (1 GHz CPU, 2 GB RAM, DirectX 9 graphics card with WDDM 1.2 or newer driver).

Probably most valuable for certification exam is to wrap your head around this table which simply tells which image you need to have to for specific firmware/processor architecture.

WTG hosting requirements - image compatibility

It is worth noting that legacy 64-bit BIOS machine looks like maximum compatibility solution in the table above.

Somewhat unexpectedly WTG startup options located under Hardware And Sound > Devices And Printers in Control Panel.

WTG startup options

It is not so important for real life as you either use search to reach anything or CLI commands but exam may ask you about this.

There is some group policies related to WTG but I will describe them in separate post later.

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How to enter BIOS on Thinkpad W540

Just a note which I mainly jotting down for myself on how to enter BIOS on ThinkPad W540 and some stuff around this topic. So first thing you need to know in case you need to enter into BIOS on Lenovo Thinkpad W540 is a hotkey for this – F1. But in case you know it, but can’t do it anyway then it is time to know yet another thing here 🙂

Because you are running modern operating system (I mean Windows 8.1 or 10 just in case ; ) whenever you perform shutdown operation what actually happens each time is that you are using Hybrid Shutdown which is something that allows you to do a Fast Boot. Boot times in Windows 8 and newer is really faster than in any previous OS versions thanks to these optimizations, even without SSD.

Each time you select the Shut down command from Windows 8 (8.1/10) Power menu, the first thing which happens (by default) is that the user session shuts down just like in a regular shut down operation. But next, instead of closing the kernel session, Windows hibernates the kernel session. Then, the hardware session shuts down normally and this allows really faster shutdown times.

Next thing to know about is Fast Boot technology (related MSDN blog post): when you turn on the computer, first of all the system’s firmware boots up and gets the basic computer hardware ready for the operating system. On a modern Windows 8 or newer computer, the setup of the hardware session is a much quicker operation than on older systems, as the UEFI system is more efficient than the BIOS system. To complete the hardware session, the OS enumerates all available hardware and loads the appropriate drivers, thus ensuring that a solid hardware session is available.As soon as hardware session is ready, the operating system begins its resume operation. Since the resume operation consists only of restoring the kernel session, rather than restoring both the kernel session and the user session, the resume operation can occur much quicker. Additionally, the resume operation gets a boost from the fact that the operating system is now designed to take advantage of multiple CPU cores when it comes to processing the hibernation data file (the old resume process only used one), and use of SSD gives you an even more responsive resume operation.

With all that knowledge now you may understand that with this super quick startup you just unable to enter into your BIOS as you actually does not perform any real shutdown as you may think because how it all surfaced to you by Windows 8 GUI. To enter BIOS you need to perform true cold boot, and consequently need to do a real shut down first. And the way you do it in Windows 8 is bu holding Shift key on your keyboard and clicking on Shutdown option with your mouse in Windows GUI:

Win 8 ShutdownAfterwards you will be able to enter BIOS by pressing F1 after you switch on your W540 with power button.

Alternatively Restart option also gives you a full reboot of the system and thus a fresh kernel session. And of course you can do it old-school way using CLI:

shutdown -s -t 00

The thing is when preparing to Windows 8.1 certification I had a difficulty to wrap my head around that mock question which asked something about Windows shutdown and one of the proper/correct responses was hold Shift and click on Shut down option. Now after doing a bit reading I’m crystal clear on why it is so 🙂 Yet another question you may see in Windows 8/8.1 certification exam transitioned to the category of obvious things for me. 🙂

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Windows 8.1/10: How to change network type from Internet to Private

For one or another reason you may be in need of changing your network type from Internet to Private in Windows 8.1/10. For example you can’t join HomeGroup when you connected to Internet type network (being on Domain or Private network is a requirement for this, as well as IPv6 enabled on your network adapter, plus bunch of services in running state). But in my case I had an issue when I installed Windows 10 TP on my main desktop which I usually access via RDP from my laptop. I lost RDP connectivity just because Windows 10 defined my Ethernet connection is of Internet type instead of Private, and I seen this more than once (when changing Windows 10 builds). I’m really wondering how it detects/decides on network type?. Of course you can go and adjust firewall rules for Internet network profile, but this is wrong approach. Though it was something what I used as a quick fix as a way/place where you change your network type from Internet to Private is a bit counter-intuitive/difficult to find.

So I’m just noting how to do this on Windows 8.1/10. In order to change your network type from Internet to Private you should do the following:

Go to Settings (either by accessing respective charms icon or by pressing Win + I)  > Change PC Settings > Network > Connection. There you have to click on your connection and enable “Find devices and content” option. Once this is enabled your network type is changed to Private.

Find devices and content

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Options for adding device drivers in Windows 8.1

This is one of the topics you may be questioned on if you going to take 70-689 exam. Basically, apart from just installing device driver from some media or pulling it from Windows update you may also preload drivers for your devices in advance. There are 3 ways of doing this:

Add/remove drivers to an offline image by using DISM. When using this approach you adding drivers into offline image prior to booting OS. Drivers either reflected (i.e. copied into image according to the information in .ini file) or staged (i.e. added to driver store) into image. Boot-critical drivers are reflected, all others staged. Command to add driver looks as follows:

\n\n

Dism /Image:C:testoffline /Add-Driver /Driver:C:driversmydriver.inf

Important switches to be aware of are /recurse (to add all drivers from the folder) and /forceunsigned (to add unsigned driver). Please refer to the Add and Remove Drivers to an Offline Windows Image article on TechNet for details.

Add drivers during an automated deployment by using Windows Setup and an answer file. Here you should use Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) to create an answer file that contains the paths to the device drivers that you intend to install. There you are adding the Microsoft-Windows-PnpCustomizationsNonWinPE component to your answer file in the offlineServicing configuration pass. Then in Microsoft-Windows-PnpCustomizationsNonWinPE node in the answer file you right-click DevicePaths, and then select Insert New PathAndCredentials to add new PathAndCredentials list item.

Once you created your answer file you need to apply it to your image with DISM (first mount image, then apply):

\n\n

DISM /Mount-Image /ImageFile:C:testimagesinstall.wim /Index:1 /MountDir:C:testoffline\n\nDISM /Image:C:testoffline /Apply-Unattend:C:testanswerfilesmyunattend.xml

Add drivers after deployment on a running operating system by using PnPUtil or an answer file. So in order to add device drivers into running OS you may employ 2 methods:

\nUse PnPUtil to add or remove PnP drivers. See Use PnPUtil at a command line to install a Plug and Play device for details. You can use this procedure to install the device driver for a device that is plugged in, but for which no device driver is installed.\n

Use an answer file to automate the installation of PnP drivers when the computer is booted in audit mode. See Add a Driver Online in Audit Mode for details. You can use an answer file to automate the installation of device drivers when the computer is booted in audit mode. The auditSystem configuration pass processes unattended Setup settings while Windows is running in system context, before a user logs on to the computer in audit mode.

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