Installing Windows 8 in UEFI mode from USB

After deciding I want to install Windows 8 in UEFI mode on my new ThinkPad X230T laptop, I found out that it’s not such a straightforward task, especially when USB is used instead of DVD.

So, if your computer supports UEFI (you can find out that by checking the manual or system config menu) and you are planning to do fresh installation of Windows 8, you can do that in UEFI mode following the steps below:

  1. Make sure you have your Windows 8 ISO image file ready
  2. Attach USB flash drive (4GB at least) to your computer
  3. Download Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool
  4. Run the tool:
    1. Step 1 of 4: Select Windows 8 ISO file
    2. Step 2 of 4: Click “USB device
    3. Step 3 of 4: Select your USB device from the list and click “Begin Copying
    4. Step 4 of 4: Wait till copying finishes
  5. Create a new folder on your computer disk, for example, C:\WIN8USB
  6. Copy all the files from your USB thumbdrive (the one you got prepared at 3rd step) to the newly created folder (created in the previous step)
  7. Right click on the USB drive icon in Computer window and select “Format…” from the context menu. Make sure you select “FAT32 (Default)” in “File system” drop down menu. Click “Start” and wait till the drive gets formatted
  8. Copy all the files from the folder you created earlier (C:\WIN8USB, for example) to the formatted drive
  9. Your Windows 8 installation USB drive is ready. Attach it to USB 2.0 port (some computers doesn’t support booting from USB 3.0 ports)  of the computer you want to get Windows installed
  10. Reboot computer and launch BIOS/UEFI config menu (on most computers it can be done pressing F1 after computer starts)
  11. Find settings related to UEFI. Make sure you have something similar to “UEFI Only” or “UEFI first, legacy second” selected. If you leave the setting as “Legacy first“, Windows will proceed with regular, non-UEFI installation
  12. Save settings and reboot the computer. It should boot with the USB drive
  13. Proceed with Windows installation normally

That’s it. Even there are quite a lot steps listed, they are pretty simply. The trick there is that Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool formats the USB drive as NTFS and that type of filesystem is not supported for UEFI booting. That’s why you need to reformat the drive and copy the files back. During formatting, MBR is preserved so the thumbdrive is bootable.

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6 comments on the post

  1. A simpler way would be to format your USB drive in FAT32, unpack the ISO using WinRAR, 7-Zip or mount it and copy all the files from it to the USB drive.
    Then after making sure your computer can boot in UEFI, mash the Esc button while booting. A boot manager should come up, and you should be able to select to UEFI boot your USB drive. Voila!

  2. Pingback: Two Tips When Doing a Fresh Install of Windows 8 | Noise from the Basement

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