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What is Significance of MSR, SYS, EFI partitions for Win 8.1 Native Boot VHD? How?

msr sys efi partition volume native boot vhd

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#1 crashnburn

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 07:09 PM

What is Significance of MSR, SYS, EFI partitions for Win 8.1 Native Boot VHD? How?

I ask because I've built and native booted several variations of Win 8.1 VHDs on target SPro 3. I'd like to know pros & cons.

CONTEXT: 
So, with a lot of help and input from multiple amazing people from multiple forums and coming closer to the goal of my project. I have found and tested the ways and means to complete the steps in my project. 
Some interesting questions and thoughts have come up. 
(http://forums.mydigi...l=1#post1085352)

PROJECT MILESTONES SO FAR: 

A - Was able to find articles that help bypassing Sysprep errors on Win 8.1
Did some extensive Driver Cleaning/ Reseting from OEM/Intel/Non MS drivers to MS Win 8.1 native drivers

e.g. Prototype sample runs involved Sysprepping Fresh Win 8.1 installs while eliminating issue causing Metro App packages. 

B - Played with DISM, Disk2VHD, GPTGEN in various configurations with Win 8.1

e.g. Prototype sample runs involved imaging Fresh Win 8.1 MBR/ BIOS installs and converting or applying them to GPT/UEFI VHDs and native booting them in Step C

C - Have been able to Native boot Win 8.1 VHDs using BCDBOOT: 

QUESTIONS & DECISIONS about MSR, SYS, EFI Partitions on Win 8.1 Native Boot VHD: 

I am left with some final decisions to make and questions.. 

Before I apply my Customized_Windows.WIM...
What kind of Partitioning structure should I CREATE IN/ FOR my FINAL VHD? 

I ask because I've built and native booted several variations of Win 8.1 VHDs on target SPro 3. 
Some with Single Partition Volumes and others with Sys+EFI etc. 

OPTIONS/ EXAMPLES of Sample VHDs executed & installed on Surface Pro 3:

[:\Windows]
DISM Installed Natively 

[Sys:300M][EFI:100M][:\Windows]
Vanilla Install via Hyper V
Possibly also doable using VDisk commands via Native Install as well. I guess. 
Also, during this Vanilla install it was trying to create the MSR partition in addition to the above. 

I did read about the MSR, SYS, EFI partitions online as well as how OSes can also run without those. 
https://technet.micr...2(v=ws.10).aspx 
https://technet.micr...1(v=ws.10).aspx

IC514412.png

Also, if ever V2P for Upgrading to Win10 and then P2V again smile.gif There were some workarounds posted on Technet (need to find link, will find and post) as Windows cant upgrade on Native Boot VHD. 

BOOT BCDBOOT QUESTION: 
With single partition volume VHDs, its simple & clear how to APPLY and USE ..BCDBOOT. 
With these SPECIAL PARTITIONS, I am curious what would the best way to "direct" BCDBOOT > > > ?? From where to where? 
https://technet.micr...y/hh824874.aspx
https://technet.micr...y/gg577238.aspx

EXISTING HARDWARE PARTITION VOLUMES: 

SPro 3 HDD (UEFI Only):
[Sys:350M][EFI:200M][:\Windows][Recovery:5GB]

X61T HDD (BIOS Only):
[:\Windows]


Edited by crashnburn, 22 July 2015 - 07:32 PM.


#2 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 07:52 PM

You still seem to me pretty much confused and mixing everything and the contrary of it together :w00t:  (without a real, complete grasp on the matters involved that are complex and may have a number of implications, let's call them "side effects" or "collateral damages" :ph34r:).
IMHO you are trying to do too many things at once, without taking some time in dividing them into more elementary steps.
 
However regarding the BCDBOOT it's simple (as in the links on technet you provided):
With single partition volumes you have "everything" on the same volume which is also active, so on BIOS if that volume has the C: drive letter you run:
BCDBOOT C:\Windows
or
BCDBOOT C:\Windows /s C:
to the same effect.
 
If you have a multi-volume setup, the active partition is not the C: volume and also normally has not a drive letter so you can only run
BCDBOOT C:\Windows
or assign manually a drive letter to the active partition let's say P: and run
BCDBOOT C:\Windows /s P:
to the same effect.
 
 

BIOS:

  • BCDBoot copies the boot files to either the active partition on the primary hard drive, or the partition specified by the /s option.
  • BCDBoot creates the BCD store in the same partition.

 
Same goes for UEFI, if you do not issue the /s parameter and provide a drive letter to it, the files will be automatically put on the EFI system partition, otherwise they will go on the drive letter you specify:

 

UEFI:

  • BCDBoot copies the boot files to either the EFI system partition, or the partition specified by the /s option.
  • BCDBoot creates the BCD store in the same partition.
By default, BCDboot creates a Windows Boot Manager entry in the NVRAM on the firmware to identify the boot files on the system partition. If the /s option is used, then this entry is not created. Instead, BCDboot relies on the default firmware settings to identify the boot files on the system partition. By the UEFI 2.3.1 spec, the default firmware settings should open the file: \efi\boot\bootx64.efi in the EFI System Partition (ESP).

 

 
maybe the issue is here:
 
 
 

MSR, SYS, EFI partitions 

In UEFI there is no such thing as a "SYS" partition,  there is only  the EFI  (actually EFISYS) one, the partition on which WIndows is installed is a "normal" MSData one and the MSR partition is only some "reserved space for future use".
 
A partition can ONLY be one of these three:
EFISYS (or EFI System Partition)
MSR 
MSData
 
and additionally:
the "nameless" WinRE one, with GUID "de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac" 
and the "nameless" ones related to dynamic disks
 
See:
http://reboot.pro/to...o-gpt/?p=186534
 
:duff:
Wonko

P.S.: As a side note, though I personally do not approve same exact threads started on n different boards (usually frequented by more or less the same people), if you are going to continue on that route please post some cross references, so that people that will find your thread on one board through a search or similar may be able to read answers/suggestions (and hopefully reports of success  :) ) on the other identical opened threads.


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#3 cdob

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 10:13 PM

What kind of Partitioning structure should I CREATE IN/ FOR my FINAL VHD?

I ask because I've built and native booted several variations of Win 8.1 VHDs on target SPro 3.
Some with Single Partition Volumes and others with Sys+EFI etc.

Another example: Win 10 update works with a single partition.
Keep it simple: use one partition inside the VHD.
Even a MBR VHD would work nice at UEFI hardware. Or create a GPT one.
 

With single partition volume VHDs, its simple & clear how to APPLY and USE ..BCDBOOT.
With these SPECIAL PARTITIONS, I am curious what would the best way to "direct" BCDBOOT > > > ?? From where to where?

The firmware can't read VHD partitons, booting from the VHD partition is not possible.
No, you can't use other VHD partitons at bcdboot.

Copy the vhd file to the Surface Pro 3 internal disk.
Run diskpart or disk management and mount the VHD file.
Assgin a drive letter V: to the VHD windows partiton.
Run diskpart and assign a drive s: letter to the Surface Pro 3 [EFI:100M] partition.
bcdboot.exe V:\Windows /s S: /f UEFI

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#4 Zoso_The_Internet_Fucktard

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 10:30 PM

I'm not sure about the WinRE tools partition, I've never seen in appear when install 8.1 in either BIOS/MBR or UEFI/GPT mode. I would assume that it serves a similiar purpose as the Recovery partition. In any case, neither is absolutely essentially, as long as you have other external media from which to run repairs/restores,etc.

 

System, is of course, the EFI system partition, in a UEFI install, or just the System partition, in a BIOS/MBR install. Windows can also be both the Active/System partition (where the boot files live) and the System partition (where Windows itself is installed), but this only applies to BIOS/MBR installs. In UEFI install the system (boot) partition must always be separate from the Windows partition.

 

MSR is MicroShaft Reserved, it is simply 128MB of unallocated/unformatted space, and (from what I've read on M$ websites), serves no purpose other than to be a placeholder in case the user wants to convert a Basic disk to a Dynamic disk, the space is used for the conversion. But otherwise, it's not necessary either.

 

The Windows setup will ( I believe) create a ESP, Recovery, MSR, and Windows partition on a disk that has no partition table, and creates them in a certain order. The Recovery and MSR partitions arent critical for a UEFI Windows install. I typically get around this by creating all my partitions in advance, then installing with ImageX and bcdboot.


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#5 crashnburn

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 06:07 PM

I appreciate your replies. Its been a while since I went this deep - Also, I misnamed some partitions, as they are similarly named and at other times mix up in my brains.. Hence, the post and question :)

 

I'm not sure about the WinRE tools partition, I've never seen in appear when install 8.1 in either BIOS/MBR or UEFI/GPT mode. I would assume that it serves a similiar purpose as the Recovery partition. In any case, neither is absolutely essentially, as long as you have other external media from which to run repairs/restores,etc. 

 

System, is of course, the EFI system partition, in a UEFI install, or just the System partition, in a BIOS/MBR install.

Windows can also be both the Active/System partition (where the boot files live) and the System partition (where Windows itself is installed), but this only applies to BIOS/MBR installs.

In UEFI install the system (boot) partition must always be separate from the Windows partition.

 

MSR is MicroShaft Reserved, it is simply 128MB of unallocated/unformatted space, and (from what I've read on M$ websites), serves no purpose other than to be a placeholder in case the user wants to convert a Basic disk to a Dynamic disk, the space is used for the conversion. But otherwise, it's not necessary either.

 

The Windows setup will ( I believe) create a ESP, Recovery, MSR, and Windows partition on a disk that has no partition table, and creates them in a certain order. The Recovery and MSR partitions arent critical for a UEFI Windows install.

I typically get around this by creating all my partitions in advance, then installing with ImageX and bcdboot.

Win RE is there on Surface Pro 3. I think thats why I confused names and number of them. Then went looking to see if MS has a document on this stuff thats clear on purpose of each. Yes and no. 

Thanks for the above insights. It will help my course of action.

On my laptops - Dynamic Disk is doubtful :) (MSR out),

Recovery - Nice to have, but I'm guessing if I have Bootable Install media or USB Flash drive Recovery Disk then I am safe with that? 

 

2 down, 2 to go. 

ESP (EFI Sys) + \Windows.  

 

Another example: Win 10 update works with a single partition.
Keep it simple: use one partition inside the VHD.
Even a MBR VHD would work nice at UEFI hardware. Or create a GPT one.
 
The firmware can't read VHD partitons, booting from the VHD partition is not possible.
No, you can't use other VHD partitons at bcdboot.

Copy the vhd file to the Surface Pro 3 internal disk.
Run diskpart or disk management and mount the VHD file.
Assgin a drive letter V: to the VHD windows partiton.
Run diskpart and assign a drive s: letter to the Surface Pro 3 [EFI:100M] partition.

bcdboot.exe V:\Windows /s S: /f UEFI

 

Given that my life is moving to UEFI machines, I will be going GPT (Although for experiments sake I want to try booting an EFI > MBR hybrid VHD - Any thoughts on DISM-ing one of those, do let me know.)

 

Anyways, I am now confused as RED conflicts with BLUE ?? Or is that a difference between UEFI installs of Win 8 & Win 10? Please clarify. 

 

In my recent experiments and experience, I have been able to get create, deploy and

Native Boot both types: Single Partition and Multi partition VHDs.

But, the Single partition VHD did not boot inside Hyper V (I guess it needs some EFI push in some fashion - whether internal to VHD or externally??)

 

I wanted to create a Universal VHD that would also boot in all 3 environments listed below: (and move exclusively to VHDs) (http://www.andrewconnell.com/blog/Moving-Exclusively-to-Boot-to-VHDs)

 

Preferable:

- Native Boot (with Host OS)

- VM Boot (in Hyper V or VMWare) 

 

Optionally: 

- Native Boot without a Host OS

e.g. e.g. Like the examples here

http://www.nextofwin...peration-system

http://blogs.msdn.co...-native-os.aspx

http://www.johnpapa.net/bootoffmetal/

http://www.roelvanlisdonk.nl/?p=2137

 

Can I do this with the Single partition? If you say thats a fact, I will try another experiment and try out some more BCDBoot experiments :)


Edited by crashnburn, 24 July 2015 - 06:46 PM.


#6 crashnburn

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 06:28 PM

You still seem to me pretty much confused and mixing everything and the contrary of it together :w00t:  (without a real, complete grasp on the matters involved that are complex and may have a number of implications, let's call them "side effects" or "collateral damages" :ph34r:).
IMHO you are trying to do too many things at once, without taking some time in dividing them into more elementary steps.
 

In UEFI there is no such thing as a "SYS" partition,  there is only  the EFI  (actually EFISYS) one, the partition on which WIndows is installed is a "normal" MSData one and the MSR partition is only some "reserved space for future use".
 
A partition can ONLY be one of these three:
EFISYS (or EFI System Partition)
MSR 
MSData
 
and additionally:
the "nameless" WinRE one, with GUID "de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac" 
and the "nameless" ones related to dynamic disks
 
See:
http://reboot.pro/to...o-gpt/?p=186534
 
:duff:
Wonko

P.S.: As a side note, though I personally do not approve same exact threads started on n different boards (usually frequented by more or less the same people), if you are going to continue on that route please post some cross references, so that people that will find your thread on one board through a search or similar may be able to read answers/suggestions (and hopefully reports of success  :) ) on the other identical opened threads.

I will reply to each part of your post in pieces :) Once, we can resolve the following, I will go into the BCDBoot aspects with CDOB and You - I am already penning down a lunch with you both.. its barely a thank you.. :)

 

For uniformity lets call them

EFISYS (Needed)

MSR (Optional) (Needed only for Dynamic Disks - Not for my laptop)

\MSWindows (Needed)

MS/WinRE ( - Optional -  see the above post & links) (Oh..noticed its also there in the post your linked)

 

Please, also look at the Blue and Red parts I marked on previous post above, as well as extra data I posted and help resolve this conflict. 

 

PS: @Wonko - I have great respect for you Wonk :) the Insane :) haha! Trust me when I say this.. I know its not good to doubple post inside same forum, but there is no police for posting across various forums :P haha.. 

 

Trust me, its no fun for me.. But god & experience is my witness (and the threads are there for evidence), there may be overlaps of people like you, me, CDOB... but there are things and people I have only gotten on a particular forum. 

 

e.g. After a month on MDL & Reboot last year we found answer on MSFN (the Win 7 failure to work due to GOP vid driver thing) (that cdob pointed out as well). I had to abandon it the time. 

e.g. My learnings about good ole thinkpads.. spread across NBreview, TBpcreview, ThinkpadForums, LenovoForums.. tons of common people but somethings take birth only one place.. 

 

And I firmly believe and agree with you on POSTING back the solution. Trust me, I am so close to the finish line on this project. I will post back a detailed solution for everyone. And you will see the amount of forums, threads and blogs I learnt stuff from.. crazy. 

 

I am not complicating it just because, but playing with each step of process and making it work.And the end of the day, when this is done.. How I use OSes, Apps, Data and migrate them across Hardware will have changed forever. :)


Edited by crashnburn, 24 July 2015 - 07:24 PM.


#7 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 06:36 PM

About the need of two volumes or partition for UEFI booting, the issue is IMHO slightly different (though the end result is often the same).

 

The UEFI specifications mandate that the EFI loader resides on a FAT partition (and usually a FAT32 partition is used), simply the UEFI Firmware has not by default a provision to read NTFS, but only FAT filesystems.

 

Starting from Windows 7 it is not possible (unlike a number of tricks are used and even then it may be flaky) to install the OS on a FAT (FAT32) volume, so the only remaining possibilities are NTFS (default and recommended by MS) though maybe - I don't think anyone tried it - maybe it would be possible with exFAT (which however I believe does not count as "FAT" for the UEFI specs).

 

The combined effect is that an install on UEFI firmware requires two volumes, a FAT one for booting (the one MS calls the other way round  "system") and a NTFS one for the operating system (the one MS calls "boot").

 

More about the (mis)naming here:

http://www.multiboot....uk/system.html

 

The good news are that there is no real need in the specs for the FAT partition to be FAT32, it can be FAT12 or 16 and that it does not need to be as huge as default Windows install make it, if you don't have language file and bootmgr fonts a few Mb is enough and even including the whole "standard" structure including languages and fonts only a few tens of Mb are needed.

 

The bad news are that some firmware implementation does not respect the specifications and wants anyway a FAT32 partition, since the minimum size of a FAT32 partition is around 32 Mb, 512 byets x 1 sector per cluster × 65,525 clusters = 33,548,800 bytes with a minimum sized FAT32 parittion (or slightly larger than that) all hardware should be covered while allowing for the "full" set of loader+language files.

 

The further (side) news are that as it came out from the recent "Hacking Team Leak" it is seemingly possible to add to the EFI support for the NTFS file system so I wouldn't be surprised if before or later someone comes out with a hack or two allowing to have a monolithic NTFS volume.

 

:duff:

Wonko


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#8 cdob

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 06:19 AM

Anyways, I am now confused as RED conflicts with BLUE ?? Or is that a difference between UEFI installs of Win 8 & Win 10? Please clarify.

The 10 update example refers to a T61, hence BIOS.
EFI specification requests a FAT partiton, almost all machine won't boot from a NTFS partion.
 

Preferable:
- Native Boot (with Host OS)
- VM Boot (in Hyper V or VMWare)

Then I misunderstood the 'Native Boot VHD' request
If you boot a virtual machine, the VHD image acts as a internal hard disk.
This is flat file booting, not VHD booting.
 

For uniformity lets call them
EFISYS (Needed)
\MSWindows (Needed)

Yes, create two partitons.
at VHD native booting: the NTFS windows is used only.
at virtual machine flat file booting: both partiitons are used
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#9 crashnburn

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 11:06 AM

Thanks a lot :) I will be going through what you wrote again in more detail later in the day. 

 

I'd like to dig a bit a bit deeper to find out which of those RE Ptns can be eliminated and how.. given that MS provides a Download-able Recovery Image (5+ GB)

 

Just sharing a little more info from Disk Management on Surface Pro 3: 

 

Physical GPT SSD: 

[350 MB : Recovery Ptn][200 MB : EFI System Ptn][232 GB : C:\Windows ][5.37 GB : Recovery Ptn]

 

A Vanilla Hyper V Installed W8.1 on GPT VHDX: 

[300 MB : Recovery Ptn][100 MB : EFI System Ptn][28 GB : C:\Windows ]



#10 cdob

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 03:24 PM

dig a bit a bit deeper to find out which of those RE

That's basically files boot.sdi and winre.wim, the Recovery Environment
https://msdn.microso...y/Hh825173.aspx
https://technet.micr...0(v=ws.10).aspx

No, you can't boot to this at native VHD boot.
Yes, you can boot to this at virtual machine internal hard disk(based on a VHD image).
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#11 crashnburn

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 02:46 PM

That's basically files boot.sdi and winre.wim, the Recovery Environment
https://msdn.microso...y/Hh825173.aspx
https://technet.micr...0(v=ws.10).aspx

No, you can't boot to this at native VHD boot.
Yes, you can boot to this at virtual machine internal hard disk(based on a VHD image).

Assuming it doesnt take tons of space.. and reading the links I figured I should add Win RE prior to EFI Sys & Windows...

But.. if your last 2 lines say that about the a VHD with WinRE, then hmm.. I guess it wont help for Native Boot? 

Should I just have a WinRE as one Disk on Easy2Boot? 



#12 cdob

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 07:41 PM

about the a VHD with WinRE

Personal prejudice: ignore Recovry Environmmnt.

Did you ever used Recovry Environmmnt sucessfully?
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#13 crashnburn

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 07:52 PM

Personal prejudice: ignore Recovry Environmmnt.

Did you ever used Recovry Environmmnt sucessfully?

 

Ha ha :) Well.. I have been using the Install DVD ISO (_ISO) off Zalman VE 200 and a

small USB Flash Drive that I put Win RE on (that I might port to Easy2Boot on the Zalman HDD. 

 

I figured even if I don't use it a lot, it might come handy in an emergency, just in case I dont have to pull the above 2 out. ? What you think? 


Edited by crashnburn, 26 July 2015 - 07:53 PM.


#14 Zoso_The_Internet_Fucktard

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 08:07 PM

I don't use MS's recovery tools, for the most part. I use 3rd party tools to do my repairs, maintanence, backups/restores, etc. What's important is that you have *something*, because you'll never know when something goes wrong until it's too late.



#15 crashnburn

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 08:09 AM

I don't use MS's recovery tools, for the most part. I use 3rd party tools to do my repairs, maintanence, backups/restores, etc. What's important is that you have *something*, because you'll never know when something goes wrong until it's too late.

i have tons of paragon & similar backup, partitioning tools sitting on the Zalman VE 200. But, if at all I add WinRE to the VHD, the objective would be to have it just in case I dont have that around or want to bring that it for a simple Boot fix or Safe Mode / Adv Options.. if I ever need to do that. 

cdob & AnonV - Do you think it would help for those things? 



#16 crashnburn

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 12:34 PM

@cdob, AnonVendetta, Wonko - Thank you so much :)

 

I ended up going with 2 partition scenarios on VHDs - FAT {SYS/ EFI} + NTFS {\Windows} and its been good. Played a lot with combination of MBR, GPT, UEFI, BIOS variations of partitions. 

 

Now let's move to next steps - 

 

Some new learnings & questions :) Would love your thoughts on the next steps here - please do post/ reply :)

 

http://reboot.pro/to...t-way/?p=195299

http://reboot.pro/to...ay/#entry195299


Edited by crashnburn, 11 September 2015 - 12:42 PM.


#17 crashnburn

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Posted 18 October 2015 - 04:12 AM

Personal prejudice: ignore Recovry Environmmnt.

Did you ever used Recovry Environmmnt sucessfully?

 

I agree so I got rid of it.. I just need your insights on this last thing and then my project is complete - cdob - I read a thread where apparently you discovered some such reg entries. Please do guide. Thanks. 

 

http://reboot.pro/to...ng-wtg-usb-vhd/


Edited by crashnburn, 18 October 2015 - 04:13 AM.


#18 cdob

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Posted 20 October 2015 - 05:46 PM

I read a thread where apparently you discovered some such reg entries.


Which tread did you read?

BootDriverFlags is a bitmask flag.

Use the OS specific (Windows 7, 8, 10) predifined settings.
The OS manufactuerer adjusted driver relating settings.
A special case requires adjustment: Windows 7 and USB 3 drivers.
Keep the Win 8.1 defaults.

#19 crashnburn

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 09:25 AM

Which tread did you read?

BootDriverFlags is a bitmask flag.

Use the OS specific (Windows 7, 8, 10) predifined settings.
The OS manufactuerer adjusted driver relating settings.
A special case requires adjustment: Windows 7 and USB 3 drivers.
Keep the Win 8.1 defaults.

 

Here is the thread with variations of those Registry Entries.

 

Significance of special Registry Entries related to booting WTG USB & VHD?

http://reboot.pro/to...ng-wtg-usb-vhd/

 

When I google for them, in one of the top searches your name pops up :) 

 

These are the variations I found (default, USB, VHD etc), do share your thoughts on them. WinToUSB also makes some changes on them for USB VHD WTG booting. 

 

Are there other variations? What do they mean? 







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: msr, sys, efi, partition, volume, native, boot, vhd

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