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Windows 8 UEFI Install

OK, I admit it. I’m often a “better late than never” kind of guy. I’ve been writing about UEFI and Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 since September 2011, but I’ve just now finally gotten around to performing an intentional and fully-functional UEFI install of Windows 8.

A UEFI install requires jumping through some hoops, but is very doable.

A UEFI install requires jumping through some hoops, but is very doable.

This comes about thanks in very large part to postings on the Windows Eight Forums by forum meister Shawn Brink (aka Brink) and an anonymous poster named Arkhi, respectively entitled:

The steps involved are fairly straightforward once you assemble the correct ingredients and build yourself a Windows 8 installation bootable USB flash drive for UEFI. The other necessary ingredient is a target system drive that is completely blank (if you plan to recycle a drive that’s already been used as a system drive without a UEFI boot, you’ll need to remove all partitions from that device so it shows up in the Disk Management utility as unallocated space. If you need to prep the drive, you can use the diskpart utility to do this from an elevated command prompt (right-click cmd.exe, then select Run as administrator; you’ll be wiping the contents of the entire drive so if there’s anything on it you might ever need again be sure to back it up beforehand):

  • diskpart
  • list disk
  • #note the disk number for the drive you want to wipe clean; I'll use 5 as the number in the example code that follows
  • select disk 5
  • clean
  • exit

Launch the Windows 8 installer, then when the “Where do you want to install Windows?” screen appears, highlight the blank target drive, and select the New entry. Click Apply, and then OK. The disk will be formatted using GPT (GUID partition table) into 4 partitions as follows:

  • Partition 1: Recovery
  • Partition 2: System (an EFI system partition that houses NTLDR, HAL, boot.txt, drivers, and other key system boot files)
  • Partition 3: MSR (a Microsoft Reserved partition that reserves space on the drive exclusively for subsequent OS use)
  • Partition 4: Primary (this is where your Windows OS will actually, and serves as the Windows system partition)

Windows 8 must be installed to Partition 4, the Primary partition. At this point, UEFI install is properly set up and you can proceed with a clean install of Windows 8 from here. If you get an error message that reads “Windows can’t be installed on drive X partition Y” don’t worry unless you can’t click the next button (this is apparently an occasional glitch in the installer, which works properly despite the error message). One more word of warning: UEFI install works only with 64-bit Windows 8; 32-bit Windows 8 versions are not supported!

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