1 Reply Latest reply on Jan 21, 2017 3:56 PM by martmann

    Installing Windows 7 on Skull Canyon (6i7KYK) NUC with Intel 600p SSD

    WebMaka

      Greetings!

       

      A lot of people want to put Windows 7 on the latest-gen NUCs, and run into compatibility problems and a frustrating lack of information that will actually result in a working machine. Windows 7 does not support NVMe SSDs without adding hotfixes to the OS, and there's also no USB 3.0 support, so trying to install Windows 7 on latest-gen NUCs usually ends at the language selection screen with no working mouse or keyboard, and if you did manage to get past that the installer wouldn't see the SSD anyway.

       

      Making matters worse, since Microsoft has only released the NVMe support updates as hotfixes, they have to be injected into a Windows 7 installation disc (or, more specifically, the ISO image for one) so that they'll be invoked during installation. This is a convoluted, non-intuitive process that requires a bunch of additional software to perform.

       

      And let's add yet another layer to the stack: my setup includes an Intel 600p series M.2 SSD. There are no hardware-specific drivers for it. Intel's SSD forum area is rife with complaints about how Windows can't see it.

       

       

       

      This article will detail the software and steps required to create customized installation media for installing a fresh copy of any version of Windows 7 onto a new Intel Skull Canyon NUC. It should also work as a means to install Win7 onto other systems that use NVMe SSDs for boot drives, although this will likely require different and/or additional drivers.

       

      The technique below is the culmination of a solid week's worth of research, trial and error, and the combination of suggestions from dozens of sources. If it helps you, please consider spreading the word! (I also might accept donations so I can buy a few more NUCs - these things are awesome!)

       

       

       

      You'll Need To Download...

       

      Start by creating a temporary storage directory for the bunch of things that you'll need. Expect to need about 15GB of storage space in order to create a working Windows 7 install ISO.

       

      Here's the list:

       

      Windows 7 Installation ISO

      https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows7

      NOTE: Valid RETAIL product key required. If you have an MSDN, OEM, or volume key, you'll need to obtain an ISO through other means.

      NOTE: ONLY grab the 64-bit (x64) version - don't bother with the 32-bit (x86) version.

       

      Windows 10 Installation ISO

      https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

      NOTE: Download the media creation tool and use that to download the ISO.

       

      DISM GUI

      Download: https://dismgui.codeplex.com/releases/view/133331

      (Creator's Site: https://mikecel79.wordpress.com/ )

       

      Intel Windows 7 USB 3.0 Creator Utility

      https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/25476/Windows-7-USB-3-0-Creator-Utility

       

      NVMe Support Hotfix

      https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2990941

      NOTE: Microsoft will email you a link to the download. Choose the only option for Windows version, submit your email address, and download the hotfix from the link in the email that MS sends you.

       

      NVMe Bugfix

      https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3087873

      NOTE: Microsoft will email you a link to the download. Choose the only option for Windows version, submit your email address, and download the hotfix from the link in the email that MS sends you.

       

      Kernel-Mode Driver Framework version 1.11 update for Windows 7

      https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=38423

      NOTE: ONLY grab the 64-bit (x64) version - don't bother with the 32-bit (x86) version.

       

      User-Mode Driver Framework version 1.11 update for Windows 7

      https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=38421

      NOTE: ONLY grab the 64-bit (x64) version - don't bother with the 32-bit (x86) version.

       

      Rufus

      https://rufus.akeo.ie

       

      Any ISO creation program (or CD/DVD/BD burning program that can create ISO files) you prefer, e.g., WinISO, WinCDEmu, CDBurnerXP, . If you don't have one, grab IsoCreator.

      https://sourceforge.net/projects/iso-creator-cs/

       

      Any decent archive unpacker. 7zip was used in this process.

      http://www.7-zip.org/download.html

       

       

       

      Also, don't forget to grab all of the hardware drivers needed for your NUC - you can get these from Intel's website.

      https://downloadcenter.intel.com/

       

       

       

      Create A Working Environment

       

      Pick a spot on a drive with a good amount of free space, and create the following directory tree:

       

        Working

        --DriversHotfixes

        --ISO

        --Install

        --Temp

       

       

       

      Time To Do Work!

       

      Now that you have the tons of software downloaded, and a directory structure to work with, let's get to it...

       

      BTW, it is *strongly recommended* that you not deviate from this process, as it must be followed rather precisely in order to produce a working installation ISO.

       

       

       

      Unpacking Windows 7:

       

      1. Open the Windows 7 ISO with your archive program (e.g, 7zip) and expand/decompress the entire thing into the "ISO" directory you created. This will be the target of our efforts.

       

       

       

      Gathering Drivers:

       

      2. Open the Intel Windows 7 USB 3.0 Creator Utility archive, and extract the whole thing into the "Temp" directory you created.

      3. Open "Temp" then open "USB_Drivers" then open "x64." Press CTRL-A (select all) and then CTRL-C (copy).

      4. Back out to the "Working" directory then open "DriversHotfixes." Press CTRL-V. All of the files you'd selected in the previous step should copy into this directory.

       

       

       

      Gathering Hotfixes:

       

      5. Open your temporary storage directory (or wherever you downloaded these) and select "kmdf-1.11-Win-6.1-x64.msu" and "Umdf-1.11-Win-6.1-x64.msu" (hold CTRL to click more than one item). Press CTRL-C.

      6. Go back to the "Working" directory, then open "DriversHotfixes." Press CTRL-V. The two files you'd selected in the previous step should copy into this directory.

      7. While you're in the "DriversHotfixes" directory, click the box at the top of the window that shows where you are directory-wise. (Example: "This PC > C: > Working > DriversHotfixes") Windows should then compact the lot into a simple path. (Example: "C:\Working\DriversHotfixes"). Right-click on it and pick "copy."

      8. Find and run the first hotfix you'd downloaded from Microsoft. (Filename should be something similar to "477475_intl_x64_zip.exe".) Click "Continue." Right-click the location box and pick "Paste" to paste the path to the "DriversHotfixes" directory and click "OK."

      9. Find and run the second hotfix you'd downloaded from Microsoft. (Filename should be something similar to "486575_intl_x64_zip.exe".) Click "Continue." Right-click the location box and pick "Paste" to paste the path to the "DriversHotfixes" directory and click "OK."

       

      If you did everything right thus far, you'll probably have about a dozen files in here. Four of them will be the hotfixes (their filenames all end in ".msu") and the rest will be "isub3"-whatever.

       

       

       

      Creating A Slipstreamed Install ISO:

       

      10. Launch DISM GUI with elevated permissions (right-click, click "Run as administrator").

      11. Click "Choose WIM" and navigate to "Working\ISO\Sources" and select "install.wim". Click "Choose Folder" and navigate to "Working\Install" and click "OK."

      12. Click "Display WIM Info" and after a popup "DISM is working" window comes and goes you should see a list of versions of Windows your downloaded ISO will install for. Make a mental note (or a physical one if your memory sucks) of how many indices it listed. (Typical clean ISOs from Microsoft will have four.)

      13. Make sure the "Index" setting (to the right of "Choose WIM") is set to "1" and click the "Mount WIM" button. Another "DISM is working" window will appear. This well tell DISM to mount and open the installation file set for the Windows 7 flavor the index setting is for (and, again for clean MS ISOs, index 1 should be for Windows 7 Home Basic.)

       

      We're going to repeat these next steps a few times...

       

      14. Click the "Driver Management" tab.

      15. Click "Choose Driver Folder" and navigate to "Working\DriversHotfixes" and click "OK." Check the "Force Unsigned" box. Leave "Recurse" checked. Click "Add Drivers." Watch ugly bargraph that tells you nothing useful about actual progress for a moment or three while DISM does its thing.

      16. Click the "Package Management" tab.

      17. Click "Choose Package Folder" and again navigate to "Working\DriversHotfixes" (it should start there) and click "OK." Leave "Ignore Check" alone. Click "Add Packages." Yet again watch ugly bargraph that tells you nothing useful about actual progress for a moment or three while DISM does its thing.

      18. Click the "Mount Control" tab.

      19. Click "Dismount WIM" and when it asks about committing the changes, pick "Yes". Yet another ugly non-useful bargraph ensues.

      20. When it finishes, scroll the bottom pane to its bottom and make sure it says "The operation completed successfully." If it didn't, close DISM GUI, doublecheck your files from steps 1-9, and repeat the instructions starting from step 10.

       

      Assuming all went well to this point, you've just slipstreamed USB 3.0 drivers and NVMe hotfixes into the one of the Windows versions on the ISO.

       

      21. Click the "Tools" menu option at the top of DISM GUI, and pick "Cleanup WIM". This is basically a flush-the-trash operation done as a precaution.

      22. Change the "Index" setting to "2" if your mental (or physical) note on how many Windows versions is 2 or more, and click "Mount WIM."

      23. Repeat steps 14-20, above.

       

      24. Click the "Tools" menu option at the top of DISM GUI, and pick "Cleanup WIM".

      25. Change the "Index" setting to "3" if your mental (or physical) note on how many Windows versions is 3 or more, and click "Mount WIM."

      26. Repeat steps 14-20, above.

       

      27. Click the "Tools" menu option at the top of DISM GUI, and pick "Cleanup WIM".

      28. Change the "Index" setting to "4" if your mental (or physical) note on how many Windows versions is 4 or more, and click "Mount WIM."

      29. Repeat steps 14-20, above.

       

      Most clean Windows 7 install ISOs will only have four entries here so you should be good at this point.

       

       

       

      Modifying The Startup Side:

       

      30. Open the Windows 10 ISO you'd downloaded with an archive tool and navigate into its "sources" directory. Select "boot.wim" and "setup.exe". Extract them to your "Working\ISO\Sources" directory, and overwrite the existing files.

       

      This will use Windows 10's boot and initial-setup system to kickstart Windows 7's installer. This is a critical step, as without this you won't be able to install Windows 7 onto the NUC.

       

       

       

      Making The ISO Universal:

       

      NOTE: This is an OPTIONAL step that is ONLY useful if the ISO can install more than one flavor of Windows, as per the index value from step 12.

       

      31. Navigate to "Working\ISO\Sources" and find "ei.cfg." Select and delete it.

       

       

       

      Rebuilding The ISO:

       

      32. Use your preferred ISO creation software to convert the entire contents of the "Working\ISO" directory into an ISO file.

       

       

       

      Creating Bootable Installation Media:

       

      WARNING! This will erase the media.

       

      33. Plug a suitable USB storage device (4GB at a bare minimum, 8GB+ preferred) into any available port. For faster results, use a USB 3.0 flash drive on a USB 3.0 port - otherwise it may take a while to push the few gigs of data onto the drive.

      34. Launch Rufus with elevated privileges (right-click and click "Run as administrator").

      35. Look just halfway down the window on the right side for a CD-like icon. (It'll be to the right of the option "Create a bootable disk using.") Click it. Navigate to the ISO you'd created in step 32 and click its name.

      36. Make sure "Device" points to the right drive. Set "Partition scheme and target system type" to "MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI." Set "File System" to "NTFS." Leave "Cluster size" on the default setting. Give it a usably informative name in "New volume label."

      37. Click "Start," and approve the warning about erasing the media.

      38. Come back in a few minutes and it should be finished.

       

      That's it, you've made a full Windows 7 USB-based installer that includes the USB 3.0 drivers you'll need for the NUC, and will automagically load and use the NVMe hotfixes from Microsoft so the installer will be able to see the NUC's SSD.

       

      As an added thing, you may want to consider adding a directory to the USB drive and copying the NUC's hardware drivers you downloaded from Intel into it so you can immediately start installing them as soon as the Windows installation finishes.

       

       

       

      The Moment Of Truth:

       

      39. Connect your NUC to a suitable monitor, add a suitable keyboard and mouse, and power it up. Press F2 when the "Intel NUC" text appears.

      40. At left-center, there's a box that reads "Boot Order," and the "UEFI" tab should be active. Check "UEFI Boot." Click the "Legacy Boot" tab and make sure "Legacy Boot" is *also* checked. Yes, you will want both options.

      41. Make sure the USB device that contains the Windows 7 installation ISO's contents is installed in one of the USB ports on the NUC, and press F10 to save and exit the BIOS. Give it a "Yes" when asked whether to save and exit.

       

      If the NUC doesn't boot into the USB drive first, you may need to power-cycle it and tap F10 when the "Intel NUC" text appears. Then, pick the USB drive that has Windows all up in its business.

       

      Install Windows 7 as required, and be sure to install suitable anti-malware software as soon as you can.

       

       

       

      Folks that are familiar with what Windows installs look like will be somewhat confused by using Windows 10's setup to install Windows 7. It's weird but it works - Windows 7 should install without a hitch.

       

       

       

      Here's what my install ended up looking like:

      http://i.imgur.com/zsb4JYg.png

       

       

       

       

       

      Special thanks to the following for providing hints, help, and crucial details that made this possible:

       

      - Intel, for their shockingly-powerful-for-its-size Skull Canyon NUCs.

      - Intel again, for the tiny but critical detail of using Windows 10's boot.wim and setup.exe as part of a custom Windows 7 installer.

      - The makers of the software used in this project: Mike C (DISM GUI), Pete Batard (Rufus).

      - Intel forum user "ilikerhinos," for attempting to provide a ready-to-use Windows 7 ISO. It didn't work for me, but kudos nevertheless for the effort.

      - Scores of people all over the world who have shared their tidbits here and there on how to get Windows 7 installed onto modern hardware of all sorts.

      - Intel yet again, for giving me somewhere to post this!