Friday, January 17, 2014

Windows 8.1 preview to final in-place upgrade

I had to install Windows 8.1 Preview over the Windows 8 installation which was giving me problems. The problems went away but yesterday I got a nice surprise:

This preview version has expired. Please upgrade to Windows 8.1 using the Store. The computer will reboot in two hours and then every hour.

...or something along the lines.

I started downloading the update but then read on some forums that the installation will wipe clean your previous programs and probably settings, only the [useless] apps will remain in place.

Here's how to skip the trouble and perform an in-place installation of Windows 8.1 while retaining all your previous programs and settings. You will need to have a valid Windows 8 product key.

Steps summary:
1. Go to the 'order page with product key only'
2. Download Windows 8 installer
3. Start the installer and cancel after it reaches 1%
4. Download Windows 8.1 installer from the same link
5. Launch the [new] installer and let it download the image
6. Make an installable USB drive
7. Edit USB:\sources\cversion.ini and replace 9458.0 with 9431.0
7. Create USB:\sources\ei.cfg with the content below
8. Launch USB:\setup.exe and perform the in-place upgrade
9. Restore your Windows 8 key / serial number

[TODO, doing these steps myself just now, will add links]

ei.cfg content:

cversion.ini content:

The installer also requested me to manually uninstall the following programs:
  • Sentinel Runtime Drivers - caused by Lightworks. Download haspdinst.exe and run it with the parameters "-fr -kp"
  • N-Trig installer - this is from my drawing tablet. Renaming \Program Files\N-trig to N-trig.old solved this
You need to install Windows 8.1 without a product key because the Windows 8 key will not be accepted.

To restore your key launch cmd.exe in Administrator mode and enter:
slmgr /rearm

Obviously you need to replace the 'X's with your valid key.

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