Solutions

Solving Windows 8.1 Upgrade Error 0xC1900101 – 0x20017

Unsolved mystery of Windows 8.1 upgrade

As readers on my website knows, I’ve been using Windows 8.0 since the Developer Preview beta program on my Fujitsu T4210 TabletPC and I bought the license on Day one for my TabletPC.

I also bought 2 additional licenses for my desktop PC & for my wife’s laptop but I didn’t install Windows 8.0 on my desktop for quite a few months because Windows 8.0 was less keyboard/mouse friendly than Windows 7.

I did do a multi-boot for my wife so she can try Windows 8.0 if she wanted on her Fujitsu S6310 laptop or she can continue to use Windows 7 if she didn’t like Windows 8.0. Turns out she didn’t like Windows 8.0 because her laptop doesn’t have a touchscreen, which makes Windows 8.0 harder to grasp and use than it needed to be.

Before Windows 8.1 was launched, I installed Windows 8.0 on my desktop in anticipation of the much better keyboard/mouse environment in Windows 8.1.

My Fujitsu TabletPC and DIY desktop upgraded without any issues but my wife’s laptop couldn’t be upgraded. Whatever I tried, I ended up with the error 0xC1900101 – 0x20017 which indicated some kind of driver issue or hardware problem.

The symptom is always the same. It’ll install everything but during the final phase of booting up to Desktop, it’ll crash and refuse to boot, thus triggering a roll-back to Windows 8.0.

No Solutions in sight

You can find MANY threads at Microsoft forums of people who have this exact problem or something similar but few people manages to solve it.

This issue dragged on for months and months with Microsoft promising to solve it once and all in a major patch for Windows 8.0. Unfortunately, while it solved the problem for many people who has driver issues, it didn’t help my wife’s laptop.

I’ve tried different versions of drivers, including NOT installing drivers for unknown devices. I’ve tried upgrading Windows 7 using a Windows 8.1 Boot disc, which had the same issue, rendering the Windows 7 partition corrupt. I even tried to rename the Windows 7 partition as “System Reserved” because I read Windows 8 requires a separate recovery partition. Nothing worked. So my wife was stuck with 2 Windows 8.0 installation at the Boot screen but only one works.

Suffice to say my wife wasn’t too happy with the situation but since she only uses the laptop to watch TV dramas, I wasn’t in any danger of having to sleep on the sofa.

Solution came after solving an unrelated problem

Well if you read my previous post about installing Windows 8.1 without DVD or Product Key, you’d know that Microsoft recently updated their Windows 8.1 installation to handle more hardware, especially the new Ultrabooks which doesn’t have any DVD drives and all the recovery information are stored on the harddisk. So if said harddisk were to crash, like the one in the article, you must download a program from Microsoft which creates a bootable recovery disk on a USB thumbdrive or DVD disc.

After I recovered that laptop, I noticed that the Recovery disk has created 2 additional hidden “System Reserved” partitions at the front & back of the SSD besides the main System partition. Now in my wife’s laptop case, I only have the one at the back of the harddisk.

During the installation of Windows 8.0, the installer created 1 additional System Reserved folder which exceeded the maximum number of 4 allowable for a Basic Disk. In order to have more than 4 partitions, I needed to convert to a Dynamic Disk but that will create a lot of compatibility issues with harddisk and data recovery software that I have. So I opted to stick to a Basic disk and of course, Windows 8.0 couldn’t boot to continue the installation.

So I booted up to Windows 7 and ran Eason Partition Manager 8 to delete the extra partition and shifted some other partitions around. Windows 8.0 booted up fine and finished the installation after that but as a consequence, the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) now has missing and non-continuous partition numbering. I had to edit Windows 7 BCD so it can dual-boot with Windows 8.0. It was messy.

This turned out to be the actual problem with our Windows 8.1 upgrade!

The Solution

Since I still have the USB thumbdrive for Windows 8.1 installation, I tried to upgrade my wife’s laptop and of course, the same error code cropped up. Then, I remember about the partitioning issues a few years back & realized that I could just edit the BCD! But I thought, now I have an extra partition, it’ll be cleaner to just backup her data and just delete off all the partitions and start over.

So I did just that and it was the exact same procedure as my previous article except before installing, you have to delete off ALL the partitions on the harddisk/SSD. My wife’s laptop was based on the old IBM-PC BIOS so I had to key in her Windows 8.0 Product Key. And YES, even though the Recovery Media program is meant to install Windows 8.1, it happily accepted the Windows 8.0 Product Key!

After that, it was smooth sailing all the way! 🙂

Her laptop is working better than ever!

I hope this helps some of you. Like the article and subscribe. If you have any questions, feel free to comment!

Solutions

Recovering a Windows 8 laptop without DVD & Product Key

Disaster! My Laptop Harddisk has crashed! How many of you had this happened to your laptop or your child’s laptop?

This is a very nice looking laptop!
This is a very nice looking laptop!

You were happily using your new Core i7 laptop which you got it cheap during Black Friday or Cyber-Monday, or during one of the 4 IT shows in Singapore. But after using for a year, the harddisk crashed right after the warranty expires? Sounds familiar?

That's what I thought. A cheap, slow & not so shock resistant harddisk.
That’s what I thought. A cheap, slow & not so shock resistant harddisk.

No problem, you tell yourself, Windows 8/8.1 has a “Recovery” function that will restore the laptop to factory condition! So you booted to the Recovery section of Windows 8 where you can “Refresh” or “Remove everything & Reinstall Windows”. Neat!

Windows 8 Recovery Page. Great for software rescue!
Windows 8 Recovery Page. Great for software rescue!

Except it takes forever to do the “Automatic Repair” or “Remove everything” fails at some point due to a head crash or media degradation and all because the laptop was moved around while in use! Or worse, the laptop simply don’t recognise the harddisk anymore!

Behold the inside of an Asus laptop.
Behold the inside of an Asus laptop.

OK, never mind! You (hopefully) have a backup of the important data, let’s just change the harddisk to something more resilient, like a Solid-State Disk (SSD)! You can get a Samsung EVO 850 256GB at $220+ these days and reviews are great for these SSDs, 10x faster than harddisk, no moving parts to crash, useful lifespan of more than 10 years & uses half the power! Why didn’t you buy a laptop with an SSD in the first place? Oh, that’s right. Cheaper models don’t come with an SSD option.

This is the battery resting on the Aluminium shell.
This is the battery resting on the Aluminium shell. The 2 silver oval you see either sides are the B & O speakers in their bass chambers!

The Recovery nightmare continues!

Alrighty! You bought your SSD, replace the failed harddisk yourself, which was easy enough, let’s open the laptop box for the recovery DVD & Windows 8 Product Key. Except your new Ultrabook doesn’t come with a DVD-ROM or Recovery DVD & maybe even without a Windows 8 Product Key! Faintz!

OK, don’t panic, let’s go to the maker’s website for support! What? You have to pay extra for a Recovery Disc to create a special thumbdrive because you didn’t do it the FIRST time you switched on your laptop? What is this daylight robbery?!?!

Now what? Try cloning from the old harddisk? Can’t do that. It’s bigger than the SSD & it’s full of bad sectors!
Get someone to do it? Will they do a good job & what are the charges?
Download the Recovery disc from Torrent? Is it infected with virus?
Search Forums? Most of them don’t have a clue.
Ask Microsoft for help in their forums? Moderators ask you to look for your OEM/laptop maker…

The solution for new laptops with UEFI BIOS

Lucky you! You’ve come to the right website! The solution with many recent (last 3 years) laptops is so simple that I’m amazed no one’s got it! Or at least publish it widely enough that a simple Google or Bing search will find it. There’s no need to extract the encrypted product key from UEFI, no need to create Bootable thumbdrive & mount the Windows 8 Rescue ISO. No need to mess with Linux Bootloader like Grub or syslinux. I’ve tried so many different methods and they don’t work due to some incompatibility here or there. It was a massive waste of time! Argh!

Microsoft has published the solution starting from Windows 8.1! Why they don’t publicise is a great mystery! Anyway, many newer laptop have the new UEFI BIOS instead of the old IBM-PC BIOS. Without going into details about how great UEFI BIOS are, one of the features these new BIOS allows is for laptop makers to embed a Windows 8 Product Key into the BIOS itself! This is why there is no DVD or Product key or License sticker included in the laptop box!

So the next question is, how do you install Windows 8.1 onto your new SSD? Just get a fast 8GB thumbdrive or SD card, go to this Microsoft website and follow the instructions!

* For your convenience, I’ve included the steps & things to watch out for below.

Windows Installation Media Creation Tool

Why do Microsoft like to use such LONG names for their stuff?

Are you at the Create installation media for Windows 8.1 page?

Windows 8 Installation Media Creation Tool
Windows 8 Installation Media Creation Tool
  1. Click the “Create Media” button & run the downloaded file
  2. Select your Language
  3. Select the Edition. Most consumer laptops are running “Windows 8.1”. Business laptops will likely be “Windows 8.1 Pro”.
  4. Select the Architecture. If your laptop will NEVER EVER be installed with more than 4GB of RAM, chose “32-bit (x86)”. If you have more than 4GB of RAM or you’re planning to install more in the future, you MUST choose “64-bit (x64).
  5. Click Next and you’ll see this.
  6. Choose USB flash drive
  7. Select USB flash drive and click Next.
  8. Make sure to select the correct drive!
    Make sure to select the correct drive!

    Select the correct drive before clicking Next!

  9. Click OK if you're sure.
    Click OK if you’re sure.
  10. Click “OK” at the dialog box if you’re sure you have the right drive.
  11. Download starts...
    Download starts…
  12. Wait for download to complete & for it to check the files & getting the files ready & creating the USB…
  13. Once it’s completed. You should click “What’s next?” which will take you to a Microsoft website that guide you on using this Thumbdrive to install Windows 8.1. Print it or open it on your phone or something! This is the link for Boot from the media you created to install on a partition.
  14. Insert the thumbdrive into your laptop & boot from the thumbdrive instead of the SSD. Different laptops has different keys to enter the Boot Manager. Search for your brand online. It’s usually ESC or DEL or ENTER key.
  15. Install Windows 8.1 even though your laptop came with Windows 8! It’ll even auto-activate if you’re online! There’s no need to key in any Product Key! This thumbdrive has now become your Rescue/Recovery drive as well! Keep it safe!

Well I hope this help you. Leave comments, subscribe and like my posts!!! 🙂

Reviews

Windows 8 Developer Preview on Fujitsu T4215 (Updated)

Update: My Fujitsu T4215 has been upgraded to Windows 8 Pro 32bit. Everything works as expected but battery life doesn’t seem improved from Win7.

This is a quick note of my thoughts on the new Windows 8 Developer Preview on my souped up Fujitsu T4215 Convertible Tablet (launched 2007).

*** Summary ***

Windows 8 DP looks great @ Build 2011 because they are using fairly modern hardware (don’t need to be the fastest). When running on legacy hardware without Touch, even with a Digitizer, the experience is not so great. These are hardware problems & it’s not something software can solve easily. SO? Go buy new hardware! 8)

*** Quick specs ***

CPU: Intel T7200 2Ghz (upgraded from T5600 1.83Ghz)

Memory: 4GB

HDD1: WD 160GB 5400RPM (some drive I had lying around)

HDD2: Kingston 64GB SSD with Full Disk Encryption enabled

Input: Keyboard/Touchpad/Digitizer screen

*** Boot-time ***

HDD1: 9 sec

HDD2: 7 sec

Not quite the 3 sec boot up shown by Emily Watson. Reason is probably because the BIOS is too old & together with a motherboard that does not support UEFI, dooms my Tablet to boot using legacy IBM PC mode.

You need a modern system with newer chipset + a SSD to achieve the 3 sec boot up.

*** Memory footprint: 630MB on boot up with TabletPC extensions enabled. ***

Better than Windows 7 by a fair bit

*** Windows Experience Index ***

CPU/Memory/HDD : 5.2

Graphics/3D : 3.2

*** Drivers ***

Intel INF + Graphics : Latest available but actual installed driver dates back to 2009

Fujitsu Motherboard BIOS extensions : Latest available for T4215 on Windows Vista and dated late 2007 Windows 8 detected all other drivers natively

*** Findings ***

— Older hardware like my T4215 is not modern enough to run the full Windows 8 Experience. Running normal apps etc., it can keep up when my WD Scorpio Black 7200RPM HDD or a SSD is installed, but Fast Boot & Touch experience is not as the developers intended. This means that I cannot use the Metro Interface even though I have the Stylus.

The situation is unlikely to change unless a new input scheme is hatched because a Stylus only allow 1 point of touch while Metro works best with multi-touch. This means that a Stylus works more like a mouse than as a touch device.

Boot up is faster than Windows 7 even taking into account logging into your user account.

— Windows 8 new UX (this will change by a fair bit when Win8 is launched (mid?) next year)

The old Start Menu is completely gone & replaced with the Start Screen so at the moment it feels disjointed when using just Keyboard/Mouse. I would rather they leave Start Menu there when you click the Windows Icon & show the Metro start when you Touch the bottom Left corner of the screen. That way the transition is smoother. As a Keyboard Mouse user, I’m already starting to feel like a second class citizen.

Microsoft has defended this move in this recent article. It does make sense & I admit I did not spend a significant amount of time to “acclimatise” but I’m one of the 1.2% who uses Jumplists so I’d appreciate if Microsoft develop that secondary tiles concept. A good compromise is probably to switch between Start screen & Start Menu based on the input mix and also allow users to set it in Control Panel.

Many of the apps & the OS itself is compiled in Debug mode so performance ain’t so great. For example, the Weather app, on my WEI graphics score of 3.2, the background video is choppy. When released it should be much better. Under the Hood, Microsoft has done a lot of groundwork & it shows when you use the system. No crashes or BSOD, background tasks are started & completed without user intervention or any slowdown in performance, everything is smooth & seamless. Much of the architecture has been changed & rearranged to minimise Kernel/Drivers/Services footprint & UI impact, allowing the UI to take center stage. Even at this stage, Windows Update is working, allowing Microsoft to smoothly transition developers from DP to Beta to RC without the hassle of reinstalling the whole OS.

It also allow programmers from different backgrounds to tap into the powerful Win32 API, now called Windows Runtime, all using a single familiar IDE in Visual Studio 11. New Tools like Task Manager, Control Settings, Windows Refresh, etc. also enhances the basic day-to-day operations & maintenance of your piece of equipment to improve productivity or simply to enjoy your PC without having to worry about background stuff.

The only problem now is how to find these little gems without resorting to Search all the time! I think the Apps Hub should be part of the Charm bar & Metro Start bar instead of going into Search.

*** Conclusion ***

Microsoft has completely casted away the uncertainty the DOJ had caused them & have gone back to basics. Windows 8 as it is now is already a much better Windows 7. Lower memory footprint, tighter CPU control on Apps & even Windows itself. 3D accelerated UI across the board, nice addition of information incorporated into even simple things like File Copy, all makes Windows 8 very nice to use if you have Touch.

With Keyboard Mouse & Stylus only + legacy hardware, the experience is more mundane. It’s still very nice but it lacks the WOW factor seen in the Keynote videos. Make sure you buy a laptop with a Touchscreen or Tablet to get the most out of Win8.

Hint: Windows 8 will run on any of the Windows 7 tablets on the market like Acer Iconia W500, Asus Eee Slate EP121, Fujitsu Q550, etc.