If your machine doesn’t have a DVD drive, you’ll either need to do a network boot or boot from USB. Fortunately making bootable USB media from an iso file is much easier. Microsoft has a free utility shown below that does it painlessly.
When installing Windows 8.1 or any operating system, you want to be thorough and get as much right the first time as you can. Since I wanted a clean, fresh install, I knew I’d be reinstalling all of my applications from scratch. This was a great opportunity to install an SSD. Whenever you get a new motherboard, you want the latest BIOS and whenever you get a new SSD, you want the latest firmware. That means you need to know what firmware you have. Update your firmware and BIOS before installing the operating system.
There’s a lot of bad advice on the internet for finding the firmware version of your SSD. You can reboot your machine and watch the POST process and hopefully see the firmware version in the instant before it disappears. There’s a more relaxed way of finding the firmware version. Some people advise you to install a program that will show you the firmware version, but that’s not necessary. You should be able to get the information you need from Device Manager.
Figure 1. Open Disk drive in the Device Manager, select your SSD, right-click, select Properties.
Figure 2. Select the Details tab and then select Hardware Ids.
Figure 3. The firmware version of this SSD is 1.04
I updated the firmware of my SSD to 1.05. I was very disappointed in Plextor’s firmware update utility. It displayed three identical messages about failing to “re-IDENTIFY”, whatever that is. I assumed that the upgrade didn’t work, so I ran the update utility again. It said I was at 1.05. Plextor should write a better utility.
Since I have an iso file instead of media, I wanted a way to copy the iso to a USB device and boot from it. Fortunately Microsoft has a free utility for doing this here. Don’t worry about it saying Windows 7.
Figure 4. Microsoft ISO to bootable USB utility.
Figure 5. Pick your USB device.
Figure 6. Your USB device will be wiped clean.
Figure 7. Do you really have a choice if you want to do this?
Figure 8. How long this takes depends on the quality of the USB device.
Figure 9. All done!
I did notice a significant performance difference between an old USB device and a new, high quality USB device in terms of I/O performance.
Since Windows 8.1 is going onto a new drive, I decided to keep my Windows 7 installation. I’ll probably dual boot with a default for Windows 7. One OS will have SQL Server 2012, the other SQL Server 2014. Storage is affordable and I feel better being able to revert back to the Windows 7 system if necessary.