The other day I had to install windows 7 on a laptop preinstalled with Windows 8. The laptop was a ASUS Ultrabook UX301LA with the Intel Core i7-i4558U processor.
First you have to create a bootable USB stick with the Windows ISO file because the laptop doesn’t have a DVD tray. The laptops are supposed to be paper-thin nowadays so we can’t waste any space having a DVD player, r you nuts? The bootable Windows installation stick is easily created using Rufus, see. https://rufus.akeo.ie/?locale=en_US.
Now, we need to make sure that the laptop can boot with the stick. We need to change some settings in the BIOS. First I will walk through what I did, even though the solution to this next part is very simple, it makes for a good story.
To enter the BIOS on the ASUS laptop you can hit either the delete button or F2, shortly after you start the laptop.
When you are in the BIOS, first change the “Secure Boot option” to “disabled”, then “enable” “launch CSM” under the boot menu. Reboot and plug in the USB stick in the leftmost port and enter the BIOS again. This worked for me. For some reason the rightmost did not work…
Now we should see the USB stick as a boot option. Restart and the windows installer should run.
At this point I found myself with “No device drivers were found. Make sure that the installation media contains
the correct drivers, and then click OK” message. I always loved those things.
So why do we get this message? The reason for this is because of USB 3.0. Windows 7 cannot read the stick because we have not provided any drivers to it. So I found the drivers and put them on the existing Windows 8 HDD. The problem is that none of the drivers are compatible with the laptop. Hmmmm…
According to the manual of the laptop, the USB port is backward-compatible with USB 2.0, it just can’t go ahead with the installation, something was not right here. I searched on Google and I found a tip about maybe the USB stick was corrupted or it wasn’t supported on the machine. So I RUFUSed another USB stick, to make sure. But the problem persisted.
At this point I gave up and called ASUS support, thinking they would be helpful, like the “IT Crowd” series. Imagine my surprise when I reached ASUS support and their response was that they cannot help me with the installation of Windows 7 because the laptop came with Windows 8 pre-installed. Why does that make any difference anyway? It is still Microsoft.
I then repeated what he said back to him, just to make sure we had an understanding of how stupid it sounds that support actually doesn’t give support to a customer. At least in the “IT Crowd” they tell their customers to “turn it off and on again”.
I went back to the laptop and fiddled with the BIOS and found something related to USB called “XHCI pre-boot mode”. I disabled it and rebooted. I hoped it wouldn’t explode and it didn’t, which is always nice. When the laptop woke up, the Windows installer started up as it always does and started to install Windows 7, yay!
I did my research (heh) and found out that XHCI means “Extensible Host Controller Interface” which is the USB 3.0. By disabling it in the BIOS I force the USB to use its backward-compatible state of USB 2.0, which is what we want.
After this I just had to find and install the Wifi and the graphics card drivers.
See. the driver hooks the function by patching the system call table, so it’s not safe to unload it unless another thread’s about to jump in and do its stuff, and you don’t want to end up in the middle of invalid memory… Hello?
Driving it home
I found out the correct drivers by going to the ASUS webpage->Support->Drivers & Tools-> Ix-4xxxxU and pick Windows 8 as OS. Go down to “Wireless” and you will find that the Wifi network card is called “Intel WIFI Wireless LAN Driver”. If you pick OS “Other”, you will not get any relevant information. In the “VGA” section it says “Intel Graphics Driver”. On the laptop it says “Iris”, so I searched for “Iris” and “Intel” and found a recent driver for that one too.
I chose the 64 bit exe-version of the Iris graphics drivers and the 64 bit Ds version of the WIFI driver called “Wireless_17.0.3_Ds64.zip”. I installed the Wifi drivers from the device manager and picked the drivers in the extracted directory. I believe you can download the exe version and simply install the Wifi in that way, see Wireless_17.0.3_Ds64.zip but I have not tested this.
After a proper installation, the Wifi should be called “Intel Dual Band Wireless AC-7260” in the device manager.
Disabling the touchpad
By the way, if are like me you would really want to disable the touchpad, because you can’t stop accidentally touching it with your thumbs. For this you have to enter the BIOS again. Enter the BIOS and get to “Advanced” and disable “internal pointing device”, see image below. To disble the touchscreen you can go to the device manager and click on “Human Interface Devices”. Right lick on “HID-compliant device” and click on “disable”.
I have now used the laptop for the last two weeks and it works like a charm.
I think a clip from “The IT Crowd” is in place:
Please leave a comment if this helped you or if you have any questions.