Another post provides a detailed discussion of the complete process of setting up and tweaking a customized, advanced Windows 7 Ultimate installation on an Acer laptop that originally came with Windows 8. This post provides a simplified version of the first half of that detailed discussion. For anything beyond the preliminary installation of Windows and the necessary drivers, please see that other post.
The first section of that other post deals with partitioning. A simplified version of the partition scheme described there would use just two partition: one for Windows 7 and other program installations; one for user data and other purposes.
In this simplified installation, I did not attempt to include the customized Start Menu, encryption, and other tweaks described in that other post. I called my two partitions PROGRAMS (i.e., drive C) and DATA (i.e., drive D). I felt that a better partitioning scheme would also include something like the BACKROOM partition mentioned in the other post, to hold the paging file, system images, and other files that I would not want to include in my day-to-day data backups. But for present purposes, I kept it simple, with just two partitions.
To make the partitions, I used GParted; it and other freeware partitioners were available on the multiboot media linked in the other post. I was doing this simplified installation on the same computer on which I had done that previous, more complicated installation, so I did not have to redo the BIOS tweaks described in that other post.
I was installing from a Win7 x64 Ultimate upgrade DVD. The installer asked for the product key. I entered it. It said, “The product key is not valid.” I tried a couple of times. I was definitely entering it correctly. Finally I went with the advice not to enter it until later — I just left the product key field blank and clicked Next. I figured I would take care of that once I was able to go online.
From Acer’s website, I had already downloaded a bunch of Windows 8 drivers for the computer. But I decided, this time, to let Windows Update figure out what drivers I needed, to the extent possible. My immediate goal was just to install the drivers needed to go online.
To see more clearly which files I was telling the computer to run, I went into Windows Explorer > Organize > Folder and Search Options > View tab > uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types.” The other adjustment I made at this point, for purposes of convenience, was Control Panel > Mouse > Pointer options > turn off Enhance Pointer Precision.
WLAN Driver & Updates
Then I went to the first driver I wanted to install. I knew my machine used the Atheros rather than Broadcom driver. I believed that driver was essential for going online. Unfortunately, it was also supposed to make Bluetooth devices work with this computer, and in the previous installation that had not happened. But this time I saw, from another source, that the DriverLap blog had identified a set of Windows 7 x64 drivers, as distinct from the Windows 8 drivers that I had installed on this machine previously. So instead of installing the WLAN_Atheros_10.0.0.263_W8.1×64 driver that I had used last time, I tried the Wireless LAN_Atheros_10.0.0.38_W7x64_A. That worked: in Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center, I was able to connect to my wireless router. (I did not accept the opportunity to create a home network at this time.)
Then I went into Control Panel > Windows Update > Check for updates. (I tended not to let Windows install updates automatically; it had been obtrusive in the past, and I remembered often enough to check manually.) It identified four important updates and 54 optional updates. Some of the optional updates were language packs. On each of those, I used right-click > Hide Update. That left 20 optional updates. Some looked like drivers. I selected and installed them all.
The system rebooted and wanted to install another update. I noticed, after giving the OK, that this was Service Pack 1. I continued installing updates, rebooting, and clicking on Check for Updates, until there were no more to install. It did take a long time on some of these cycles; it seemed to be installing or otherwise digesting the downloads it had consumed. But the SP1 installation did not kill Internet connectivity this time around. Possibly the approach of letting Windows Update handle the updates in proper sequence made the difference; possibly I had confused things, in previous installations, by attempting to load a bunch of downloaded drivers at the same time, without enough reboots, and/or not in the desired sequence.
The SP1 installation opened the floodgates: now I had nearly 200 additional updates to install in Windows Update. Then there were more after that. With a somewhat slow broadband connection and other distractions, these updates took the better part of a day, and continued over into the next.
When at last there were no more updates, I looked at Control Panel > Device Manager. Installing the WLAN Atheros driver (above) seemed to have incidentally taken care of many things. I was pleased to see, in particular, that Bluetooth was not a problem this time: it appeared to have installed correctly. If needed, Acer’s site offered a separate Bluetooth driver; but it seemed that Windows Update had taken care of that. Altogether, then, that alternate WLAN driver did appear superior for this machine.
Device Manager indicated that several devices still needed drivers, specifically PCI Device, SM Bus Controller, USB Controller, and High Definition Audio Device. For the first three of those, when I right-clicked and went into Update driver software > Search automatically, I got “Windows was unable to install” messages. For the fourth, the Audio Device, I got an indication that the best driver was already installed.
So I went back to the drivers I had downloaded from Acer’s website. Before proceeding, I made an image of the drive at this interim point, so that if something went wrong, I would not have to repeat the previous day’s updates. I also remembered to complete the product activation process. For that, I went into Control Panel > System > Activate Windows now. This produced an “Invalid product key” error (Code 0xC004F061).
The problem seemed to be that I was doing a clean install from a Windows 7 Upgrade DVD, without first installing the copy of Windows XP from which I was upgrading. I could have started over with a clean drive and that Windows XP installation. Instead, to respond to this error code, I took the advice to perform these steps:
- Start > Search > regedit > navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\OOBE\MediaBootInstall > right-click > Modify > change Value data to 0 (that’s a zero).
- Start > Search > cmd > right-click on cmd > Run as administrator > type this: slmgr /rearm
Then I tried again with the same product key. This time I got a new error: “The security processor reported that the trusted data store was rearmed” (code 0xC004D302). I restarted the system and tried again. This time it worked: “Activation was successful.” I installed antivirus software: a search inclined me to Avira and Malwarebytes. I also verified that Windows Defender was turned off (Start > Search > Windows Defender).
Returning to the previously downloaded drivers, I started with Gregory Shilin’s comment on the previous post. Gregory seemed to be recommending that I run the latest version of Intel’s Chipset Device Software (formerly known as the INF Update Utility). At this writing, that version was 10.0.27 (May 5, 2015). The specific Chipset Device file that I downloaded and ran was called SetupChipset.exe. When I ran that file, it seemed to fix some driver problems automatically: it apparently resolved my SM Bus Controller issue, and it altered the USB Controller issue, so that Device Manager was now highlighting an issue with “Intel(R) 8 Series/C220 Series B xHCI HC – 8C31.”
For that C220 Series chipset, the latest Intel driver for Windows 7 seemed to come in a file called Intel(R)_USB_3.0_eXtensible_Host_Controller_Driver_220.127.116.11.zip. I downloaded it, unzipped it, and used Device Manager > right-click > Update driver > browse to the folder containing that newly downloaded 18.104.22.168 driver. That seemed to fix the C220 Series issue — I could see entries for that series in the Universal Serial Bus Controllers section in Device Manager — but now, in that same USB section, Device Manager was showing a problem with the Intel(R) USB 3.0 Root Hub, as well as a new Unknown Device in its Other Devices section. Windows Update did not seem to be detecting and responding to new hardware with new updates that would resolve any of this.
I wondered whether I should instead have used the older USB driver file (full name: USB 3.0_Intel_22.214.171.124_W7x64_A.zip) offered by the DriverLap blogpage that had given me the useful WLAN driver (above). Evidently not: when I unzipped it and tried to run its Setup.exe file, I got an error: “This computer does not meet the minimum requirements for installing the software.” Evidently it was for some other hardware. Browsing to that download from within Device Manager did not work either.
Interestingly, Acer’s webpage for this machine did not offer any USB driver. That left me wondering where I had found the not-as-old Intel(R)_USB_3.0_eXtensible_Host_Controller_Driver_126.96.36.199 driver that I had saved on my computer. A search suggested it was still available for download from Intel and elsewhere. An attempt to install it provoked a question:
The computer currently contains driver versions newer than the versions you are about to install. Are you sure you want to overwrite the following drivers with the older versions?
The drivers listed were for the PCI bus, the USB 3.0 Root Hub, and the USB 3.0 eXtensible Hold Controller. The first two of those three were among the troubled items still highlighted in Device Manager. I said Yes, go ahead and overwrite. The installer completed; the system rebooted; and back in Device Manager, I saw that the situation had improved: the Unknown Device and USB Root Hub problems were gone.
So for my machine, at least, the somewhat older 188.8.131.52 driver seemed to provide the USB solution. AKJammer said that, for his V3-772G machine, a USB_Win7_184.108.40.206.zip driver worked as well.
Acer’s site offered a driver called Audio_Realtek_220.127.116.1165_W8x64_A.zip. In my previous installation, I had used Audio_Realtek_18.104.22.16827_W8.1×64. DriverLap offered an alternative named Audio_Realtek_22.214.171.12470_W7x64_A.zip. I didn’t recall having problems, previously, with the Win8 driver I had used, but I decided the Win7 driver might be better. So I downloaded and installed the one from DriverLap. After rebooting, Device Manager still reported a High Definition Audio Device problem. I thought, but was not sure, that at least this driver had converted the other High Definition Audio Device entry, in Device Manager, to a more specific Realtek High Definition Audio entry.
It seemed I might have been better advised to start with the driver I had used last time after all: Audio_Realtek_126.96.36.19927_W8.1×64. When I installed that one at this point, it indicated that it would be uninstalling the current Realtek driver. Unfortunately, this alternate driver did not make any difference: the problems in Device Manager remained the same.
In the previous installation, I had resolved the audio driver problem obliquely, by focusing on something else instead. Specifically, the audio problem had gone away after installing the video drivers. I turned to that now.
While I was installing Windows Updates, the Acer had automatically resized itself, so that I was now viewing the screen in 1920 x 1080 resolution (see Control Panel> Display > Adjust resolution). There were also no display-related problems in Device Manager. For many purposes, then, it seemed my video was already set up, and I did not need to install any further display drivers.
I suspected, however, that for some applications the more advanced NVIDIA drivers would be important, and in any case I wanted to try to resolve the audio problems noted above. So at this point I planned to install the Intel VGA driver that I had downloaded from the Acer website. This one was called VGA_Intel_188.8.131.5271_W8x64.zip. But perhaps I didn’t need to. When I started the installation, I got a notice that newer Intel display and graphics drivers were already installed. It seemed that the Intel VGA driver had been handled through Windows Update; evidently I would have needed the download from the Acer site only if I had not been recurrently checking Windows Updates throughout this process.
So I proceeded to the second part of the display driver project: the NVIDIA drivers. These came from NVIDIA’s website. I had previously had better results with a slightly older driver (i.e., 347.52-notebook-win8-win7-64bit-international-whql.exe, available via manual search at that NVIDIA website) than with NVIDIA’s latest and greatest. So I installed that now. That did add a Device Manager entry (NVIDIA Virtual Audio Device) under the Sound category. It may also have added NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M under the Display Adapters category; I wasn’t sure whether that had been there previously. But it did not fix the High Definition Audio Device item that was still flagged as a problem. I tried again to right-click > Uninstall that item, but after a reboot it was back.
Management Engine, CardReader,
TouchPad, and Intel Rapid Storage
As with the NVIDIA drivers, there did appear to be several other drivers that might not be necessary for purposes of resolving problems in Device Manager, but that might nonetheless turn on useful system capabilities (and might incidentally fix the several problems remaining in Device Manager).
One of these was the driver that I had downloaded as MgmtEngine_Intel_184.108.40.2064_W8.1×64. I was not sure what it was, or where I got it. It was not presently appearing in the list of relevant updates on the Acer website, but it seemed that I had installed it onto this computer in the previous installation. A search led to pages suggesting that it might only have value in corporate desktop environments or on Lenovo PCs, neither of which was relevant here. I decided to postpone its installation.
Other somewhat obscure drivers included those for the CardReader. In the case of the TouchPad, again, experimentation confirmed that the thing was working, with or without the Synaptics driver (TouchPad_Synaptics_220.127.116.11_W8.1×64) that I installed at this point. I did install CardReader_Realtek_6.2.9600.28145_W8.1×64 as well. That one appeared to remove the PCI Device problem indication in Device Manager. Finally, I installed Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) Driver 18.104.22.1686.
I rebooted and caught up with Windows Update. High Definition Audio Device (HDAD) was now the only problem remaining in Device Manager. It appeared that the driver needed for that item could be part of either an audio or a graphics driver package.
As one possible solution, Stefano Campanella recommended using Control Panel > Troubleshooting > Hardware and Sound. I started with the Playing Audio troubleshooter. It said, “There is a problem with the driver for High Definition Audio Device. Reinstalling the driver might fix this problem.” I chose the option to Apply This Fix. But it concluded, “Troubleshooting was unable to fix all of the issues found.” (The other issue it found was that I was not allowing Windows Update to install drivers automatically.)
To gather more information, I right-clicked on HDAD > Properties > Driver tab. The Update Driver button > Search automatically led to “The best driver software for your device is already installed. Trying again, Driver tab > Driver Details button said that this was a Microsoft driver, file version 6.1.7601.18276. The file name seemed to be win7sp1_gdr.131003-1533. That name suggested that this driver had been installed in Service Pack 1. I wondered if perhaps the problem would not exist if I had installed my drivers and Windows Updates in some other order. Since I did not have this problem in the previous installation, it seemed that it might have been better to install the NVIDIA and other drivers with audio components before installing SP1.
It occurred to me to try using audio and see if HDAD made any practical difference. I went to YouTube in Internet Explorer, the browser supplied with Windows 7, and successfully played and listened to a video. (I told Internet Explorer to Ask Me Later regarding preferred settings.) I played an MP3 audio file, and also a WAV file. (For this, I went with the Recommended Settings in Windows Media Player.) With headphones and also through the speakers, these sounded great. Volume was fine.
I suspected that the HDAD problem would probably emerge only in a specialized context. For example, a comment by Carlos Atashian suggested that a similar Device Manager problem might have to do with the audio in an HDMI connection. Carlos suggested a fix for that problem. I did not pursue his suggestion, partly because I was not sure it was quite on target for this case, and partly because things seemed to be working fine for my purposes. If I did decide to pursue perfection on this issue, I might have to start again from a previous drive image, or even from scratch, using the approach suggested in the second preceding paragraph.
There were many other refinements and adjustments that I would want to make in a Windows 7 installation for my own use. The other post provides a complete discussion of such alterations. The present post offers an alternate elaboration covering only the first half of that other post. Readers wishing to continue with further tweaks might want to skim that first half and then begin reading that other post at the Basic Tools and Setup section.