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Windows UEFI Install Info

In the past three or four months, I’ve messed around with various takes on installing Windows — especially Windows 8 — on PCs sporting the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, in lieu of the more traditional BIOS firmware used to raise PCs from a cold dead start to normal operation since time immemorial. Along the way, I’ve encountered lots of speculation, rumor, and word of mouth information on this fascinating topic. This morning, I finally came across a detailed reference in the TechNet Library that I wanted to share with all of my readers.

What you see to the left is a snippet from that element of the TechNet Library entitled “Phase 4: Image Deployment,” specifically the entry that’s highlighted in black: “Installing Windows to an EFI-Based Computer.” It explains that you must run Windows set-up, which may or may not take advantage of a special answer file to perform all kinds of interesting and intricate disk partitioning and formatting as part of the initial set-up process.

There’s an equally interesting article elsewhere in TechNet entitled “Sample: Configure UEFI/GPT-Based Hard Drive Partitions by Using Windows Setup” (and a variant that uses Windows PE and DiskPart instead). These items include step-by-step answer file entries (for the first of these two options) or ready-to-run script files (for the second) to handle the details of disk layout, partition assignment and sizing, and so forth and so on.

So far, this is the first and best detailed set of instructions and information on working with UEFI that I’ve found. It’s already helped me to make sense of the kinds of default disk layouts that Setup creates on its on when you perform a UEFI-based install, and I now understand how to increase the size of some of the non-Windows disk partitions that have occasionally given me trouble in the past (particularly the Windows RE tools, MSR, and Recovery Image partitions that Setup creates on its own).

What I still long to do, however, is to boot my UEFI PCs into the EFI shell immediately following start-up and learn how to work on my systems inside that pre-Windows boot run-time environment. I’ve read the Intel books (Beyond BIOS… and Harnessing the UEFI Shell) but I’ve yet to get to the command line and do anything with it after booting into EFI. Because I’m dying of interest and curiosity, I’m hoping some reader can recommend how I can built a boot USB or CD-ROM that will actually put me into a working run-time environment after booting into EFI.

Otherwise, these resources make me feel much more comfortable working with EFI-based installs, image captures, and deployments. Though I haven’t yet reached UEFI nirvana, that makes me feel a whole lot better about this stuff. Hopefully, other readers will benefit from access to these resources as well.

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