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Old 02-21-2013, 06:14 PM
 
11,727 posts, read 24,425,096 times
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I just got my first "Made for Windows 8" laptop and have been putting it through the wringer. Its an Asus X202 which came with a 500GB hard drive that I've replaced with a 120GB SSD. Aside from needing a new laptop, I need to test out various repair scenarios before I start seeing them in the field.

Windows 8 logo'ed machines must have a feature called Secure Boot, which allows the machine to boot only from approved operating systems, enabled at the factory. As a result of Secure Boot, non-approved bootable devices will not even show up on a boot devices menu. So if you need to boot anything other than a Windows 8 installation that was done under Secure Boot , you'll have to disable Secure Boot. This includes booting from various USB or CD based utilities or even older version of Windows.

Machines that come pre-loaded with Windows 8 no longer have an installation key sticker on the machine. The code is embedded in the motherboard's firmware and cannot be seen. I have a Technet subscription which gives me ISO copies of Windows 8 and a couple of Pro installation keys. I have also created a universal Win8 DVD including x86 and x64 versions of Win8 and Win8Pro.

With Secure Boot disabled, I was able to boot from my DVD (or flash version of the same) and load Windows 8. It asked me to pick the OS version and later enter a key. This is just as on an older PC or in Hyper-V. But when I installed Win8 without Secure Boot, then enabled it, the SSD was no longer listed as a bootable device.

With Secure Boot enabled, the machine would not even see my universal DVD or flash drive. It did boot from the original ISO from Microsoft which includes the x64 version of Win8 and Win8 Pro. Under Secure Boot, it doesn't ask for a code or a version. It just installs the one that matches the embedded key, which was Win8 (standard) in this case. It was able to activate online without issue. The System Properties page has a link next to activation status to add features to Windows. At that point, it allowed me to enter my Pro key and it upgraded to Pro. This works just like the Anytime Upgrade feature in Win7.

Win8 seems to have changed the definitions of shutting down and restarting. Shutting down no longer appears to truly shut down the OS. Its more akin to hibernation. Apps are closed and no power is consumed, but it resumes very quickly, about 4 seconds in my case to reach the lock screen. This creates a problem for getting into the BIOS (F2) or accessing the boot devices menu (ESC) since it doesn't seem to check for those keys during "startup". This was very frustrating until I figured out what was going on.

Restarting Windows looks to be more like a true shutdown followed by a reboot. F2 and ESC worked during a restart, but the window is very narrow. Restarting takes longer than booting up. About 13 seconds total: 4 seconds to shut down and another 9 to restart. Keep in mind this is with a new machine and an SSD (Samsung 840).

The touch screen is very responsive and accurate. Of course Metro is designed for touch and while it works in the desktop, its less useful. I'm only using the touchpad (no mouse) so some things are easier to just tap than move the pointer to. Things at the bottom of the screen are a little awkward to touch since I'm finding myself approaching it in a finger-down posture which means my non-capacitive nail hits the screen before my finger tip does. This could be a real problem for women with long nails. Also, since the screen is only supported from the hinge below, it tends to wobble when touched. That's something I didn't think of since I'm used to holding touch screen devices, not having them free-standing.

Last edited by EscapeCalifornia; 02-21-2013 at 06:22 PM..
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:18 PM
 
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
4,793 posts, read 8,449,311 times
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"Machines that come pre-loaded with Windows 8 no longer have an installation key sticker on the machine. The code is embedded in the motherboard's firmware and cannot be seen."

What if your mb gets replaced from going bad? Do you have to buy Windows 8 again?
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse69 View Post
What if your mb gets replaced from going bad? Do you have to buy Windows 8 again?
I'm not sure. If you bought from a local store, you should get a DVD and code like before. No different. If you have an Dell and the board dies, I think you're out of luck unless you find a Dell replacement on eBay. If you try to move your stuff over to a SuperMicro board, you won't have anything to reload. Technically, this has always been the case with OEM licenses, but they're enforcing it now. I wonder how long it'll take the hackers to extract the code from the motherboards.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:22 PM
 
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It's good to know that you can still use the legacy method to get into UEFI or boot menu. In Windows 7, it was the only way to get to the UEFI. Microsoft was really late to the party on that one.

Given the short amount of time to hit F2/Del, it seems easier to just use the normal way if possible.
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeCalifornia View Post
With Secure Boot enabled, the machine would not even see my universal DVD or flash drive. It did boot from the original ISO from Microsoft which includes the x64 version of Win8 and Win8 Pro. Under Secure Boot, it doesn't ask for a code or a version. It just installs the one that matches the embedded key, which was Win8 (standard) in this case.
First , thank you very much for your informative post. It provided some great information that I was very interested in. I do however, have a question about this part above. When you say "With Secure Boot enabled, the machine would not even see my universal DVD or flash drive. It did boot from the original ISO from Microsoft...", if the machine would not see your universal DVD or flash drive, how did you boot from the original ISO?

I am looking into getting this exact model and so am interested in your experiences. Also, how hard was it to get the underside of the laptop off to install the SSD. What specific steps do you recommend in order to minimize the hassle and difficulty?

Thanks!
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Old 03-01-2013, 04:59 PM
 
11,727 posts, read 24,425,096 times
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The universal DVD is something I made myself from instructions I found online. The DVD (or ISO from Technet/MSDN) contains Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro but only one architecture, either x86 or x64. The universal DVD combines both versions into a single image so when you boot you get a choice of Win8 x86, Win8 Pro x86, Win8 x64, and Win8 Pro x64.

This universal disc was not recognized by Secure Boot as an approved OS, nor was the bootable flash drive made from it. I'm not sure if I did something wrong or if its just not compatible withe Secure Boot. Secure Boot did recognize the standard Microsoft issued disc image as bootable so that's what I used to load Win8 on the SSD.

The back of the laptop has a single large cover held down by 9 small Phillips head screws, 8 along the front and back edge, plus one right in the middle. Simply remove those screws and pull the cover off. Start prying from the edge under the LCD hinge and work your way around the perimeter. You may want to use a plastic pry tool but it shouldn't be necessary. The hard drive has a metal rail attached to each side, then the rails have two screws each securing it to the chassis. Remove those screws and the drive comes out easily.
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Old 03-01-2013, 05:54 PM
 
Location: NH
7,081 posts, read 8,877,079 times
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I did some experimenting with some HP Probooks we've ordered for clients, same results as you saw. The Probook I recently purchased had Windows 8 pre-installed, turned off the secure boot and enabled legacy mode and did a clean install on the SSD I moved from my old laptop with HP Windows 7 Pro x64 media and it was pre-activated after install, that was the one thing I wasn't sure would happen.
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