Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Fri, 17 Jan 2014

Windows 8.1 upgrade fails, kills the bootloader, but I eventually find the fix

(I used a digital camera to capture the screen images of my Windows boot failure and subsequent 8.1 upgrade failure so you can share in my pain before reading below how I fixed what Microsoft broke)

So I figured I'd upgrade the Windows 8 portion of my Windows/Fedora dual-booting (and naturally EFI-running) system to the presumably shinier, newer Windows 8.1 with the offer of an upgrade via the Microsoft Store.

Big fucking mistake.

I go into Windows 8 and do the upgrade. It tells me at some point that "there will be several reboots."

The first reboot was the last. Windows would no longer boot. (Luckily Fedora continued to boot during this whole nightmare.) When I tried to start Windows 8, I got a blue-screen error with the code 0xc000000f.

I went into Recovery Mode via the BIOS.

The automatic repair didn't work. Then I went to Advanced Options, then to the Windows command prompt, to start trying hacks.

The easy hacks didn't work.

Finally I stumbled on this superuser.com/Stack Exchange page: How can I repair the Windows 8 EFI Bootloader?.

This is the answer that helped.

I'll go into specifics later, but these commands, modified to fit my particular installation (which has extra partitions due to Fedora being on the disk, so I used a different volume and different drive letter) did the trick.

Once I did it all, I rebooted and was able to load Windows 8, which informed me that the 8.1 upgrade didn't work. No shit.

Anybody who thinks installing Linux is hard ought to know that installing or upgrading Windows is harder. And it's shit. Complete, total shit. I've done LOADS of Linux installations and upgrades, and this never happens. I've done maybe a dozen Mac OS upgrades, and all went smoothly. Microsoft, this is barbarism, plain and bloody simple.

My advice: DO NOT UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 8.1 FROM THE MICROSOFT "STORE."

I've heard that instead of using the Microsoft Store method, generating an ISO with your Windows product key and using it to do the upgrade is the way to go. Of course that method is only good if you purchased and installed or upgraded to Windows 8 online or from a DVD. (And who would give up Windows 7 for Windows 8?) This means the download-an-ISO method doesn't work for those of use with preinstalled Windows 8 systems, which is probably 99+ percent of the people who would benefit from this method.

At this point, I just don't care anymore. I will leave Windows 8 as is and continue ignoring it and using Linux 100 percent of the time as I usually do, and I'm very, very close to wiping Windows 8 entirely and single-booting Linux on this drive.

This is bush-league, user-abusing bullshit. Microsoft, you messed up. Windows 8.1 upgrade via Microsoft Store gets an "F."