Install fresh Windows 8.1 on Lenovo G50-S70

Inspired by Lenovo’s bone headed move to install the superfish malware on its machines, I decided to wipe my mother’s Lenovo G50-S70 laptop and start anew. It was supposed to be easy but I ended up running into some issues with this new fangled hardware.

Microsoft has released a very easy tool to create boot ISO images and / or USB media to install Windows 8.1. For Windows 8.1 certified devices like the Lenovo G50 this is extra nice because the key is embedded in the UEFI BIOS – no need to write down or memorize a key.

After creating a USB drive, however, I was greeted with a lovely error message:

Select the driver to install.

It seemed that the install media didn’t see the G50’s hard drive. I could not get past this error message. All drivers on Lenovo’s website are .EXE files which don’t extract well – even when extracted, the installer didn’t like them.

The solution is to boot into a Windows PE environment and run the Windows installer from there. I chose this PE image, which worked quite nicely. Once booted from this PE disk, I was able to mount the install media and run setup.exe manually. This time the installer saw the hard drives and installed Windows 8.1 as you would expect. Success.

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