Windows 8 Rant

April 18, 2013 by Noah
So, I thought I liked Windows 8 a bit. The OS itself isn't absolutely horrible once you get used to it. I even bought the $40 upgrade to Windows 8 for my main PC, where I promptly spent 100% of my time on the desktop and not in the Metro apps. ;)

But, I just bought my first computer that actually had Windows 8 preinstalled on it: a Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook. It has a touchscreen and some nice features, and I wanted to dual-boot Windows 8 and Fedora Linux on it (giving Windows the smaller half of the hard drive, of course). Microsoft apparently went to great lengths to make this darn near impossible.

I came to find out, when you have Windows 8 pre-installed on your computer, it's probably the Windows 8 "Core" Edition. The only Win8 install DVD I had laying around was the Professional edition that I bought for $40. It was logical to me that I should be able to hopefully reinstall Windows 8 on the ultrabook from this DVD, maybe even using the same OEM product key that the laptop came with and not having to worry about any activation issues.

Apparently, Windows 8 PCs have their product keys "baked in" to the BIOS ROM. If you boot a Windows 8 installer of any edition, the installer looks for this product key in the ROM, and if the key is for a different edition than what the installer is intended for, it gives you some ugly error message about, "The product key you entered doesn't correspond to any of the install images. Enter a different product key." -- except it doesn't let you enter a product key anywhere, and just restarts the setup process from the beginning.

There also apparently is no Windows 8 Core ISO floating around the Internet -- not one that I would trust downloading, anyway. With the baked-in product key, the only Win8 installer that would work would be a Core edition installer, which doesn't exist. You can't install Windows 8 Pro on your computer, because the installer simply won't allow it.

Long story short, Microsoft has basically forced me to forego dual-booting completely and just install Linux on the entire hard disk. The built-in Windows 8 OS came bundled with a bunch of Samsung's crapware, and there's no way to "start fresh" with Windows 8 -- your only option of "reinstalling" is to use the Control Panel feature, which restores "to factory settings", which means your Samsung crapware is still gonna be there after the reinstall is done. And you can't install from scratch from a DVD for the aforementioned reasons.

You can even completely remove Windows 8 from your computer, maybe install Windows 7 or Linux across the whole drive, and you still won't be allowed to put Windows 8 back on there from an install DVD or USB again.

There is a workaround, though: if you make a bootable USB for Windows 8, you can add a text file to it where you specify the product key to use. For me to do this, however, I'd need to buy an additional Windows 8 Pro license, and that's not worth it to me. So, good riddance Windows 8, I don't care to have you on my ultrabook anymore, anyway.



There are 4 comments on this page. Add yours.

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Harry posted on July 11, 2014 @ 19:22 UTC

Using the recovery partition to reinstall windows, most versions, formats the rest of the hard disk so you lose any data or non replaceble programs READ the ....manual first. If its an oldish computer download the manual

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Mark posted on April 17, 2015 @ 10:21 UTC

Sorry harry, but I just can't let that go... There was no mention of using the recovery partition anywhere in the preceeding post. Furthermore, the idea is totally contrary to the spirit of the post, in which the author is documenting his frustration with the inability to use optical media to install the OS. How about instead of going around telling people to RTFM, you remember this sage advice: "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps his mouth shut." Sorry, man, I really never flame people, but I'm in a pissy mood already, the post made me somewhat irritated because of Microsofts newest antics, and then you came along and took a textual dump in my mind. At least I feel a bit better after this rant.

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Noah (@kirsle) posted on April 24, 2015 @ 23:57 UTC

Glad you're feeling better.

The built-in Windows 8 OS came bundled with a bunch of Samsung's crapware, ... your only option of "reinstalling" is to use the Control Panel feature, which restores "to factory settings", which means your Samsung crapware is still gonna be there after the reinstall is done.

While I admit I didn't try this (instead assuming that the "factory settings" would restore Samsung bloatware as well), a quick Google search suggests this is the right assumption to make.

I wanted vanilla Windows on my Windows partition, with zero Samsung software, zero McAfee trialware, or any of that other junk. The way to get that has historically been to install Windows from a vanilla install disc, like what you can download directly from Microsoft, but that generally isn't an option on Windows 8 OEM PCs.

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Crystine posted on May 12, 2015 @ 03:08 UTC

I totally get you. I tried to dual-boot win8.1 and bt5, and boy did I get FED UP! All pre-installed win8 computers run UEFI(Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) basically stands for F everything but windows 8. I even tried to dual boot win7 but no, wouldnt let me. So, basically where our similarities end is Toshiba apparently has a different UEFI going on and I had win 8.1 Home Premium install disc. I got it reinstalled but I'm stuck with it :(

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