Install Windows 7 on a modern, Intel 8th generation computer

Posted on Sun 11 August 2019 in windows, IT

I spent a good week trying to get Windows 7 to work on a modern laptop, having an Intel i3 8th generation CPU and other recent components, such as a NVMe SSD. What I did not know in the first place, is that officially, Windows 7 does not support Intel CPUs later than 6th gen. Moreover, it does not support UEFI boot (not GPT partition tables). For reference, we are talking of a PC Specialist Ultranote IV 14". Up to now, everything works almost flawlessly but the wifi/bluetooth adapter.

I am not gonna provide a full tutorial on how to install Windows 7 on a modern computer, but I am going to list here all the relevant resources that helped me succeed in the mission, as the research turned out to be quite exhausting.

The main issue is that the installer will stop quite soon and abruptly, stating that "A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing". Clearly, this is bullshit, as the laptop does not even have an optical drive and the installer was running from USB.

Windows failure

Since Windows 7 does not even support USB 3 ports, it could have been an issue with that, and some people advised to just plug the USB to a USB 2 port, or to integrate the USB 3 drivers into the installer. None of this helped me the slightest. Even launching the installer from inside a Windows 10 installation had Windows 7 hang on boot at reboot.

  • First, you need to re-build your Windows 7 image, integrating into it recent updates and modern drivers. A guy developed the tool Windows 7 Image Updater, which proved vital in doing that. You just need to get through the instructions and run it to obtain a copy of Windows 7 which can be installed on modern hardware. Technically, Windows 7 is fully compatible with modern hardware, it is just the installer that needs the updates that the OS received through the years to to support it.
  • Burn the Updated Windows 7 iso (for example with Rufus), selecting MBR as partition table scheme. Turn off UEFI boot in your BIOS. This should get Windows 7 successfully installed on your computer.
  • Then, some things will not be working. In my case, it was the video driver and the wifi/bluetooth adapter. I did not spend too much time caring for the wifi adapter, as I had a spare external one that worked just fine. My attempts were a failure though, as it looked like the Windows 10 driver from which I was supposed to borrow was quite different than the older Windows 7 one, and it was invocating services and registry keys that did not exist.The video was a different story, and it was important to get it working, if only for the brightness control! My reference was this page (and the only one that worked!), which basically tells you how to port the Windows 10 drivers for your integrated graphics to Windows 7.

And here we are, in 2019, still running Windows 7. Just because my mother does not want Ubuntu.