Installing Windows 8.1 to a Samsung Series 7 Slate

Note: I already had the latest firmware version installed. If you haven't upgraded your firmware, do so before installing Windows 8 or 8.1 RTM. For the //Build tablets this is firmware version 05WJ. If you don't your tablet will be unable to start after the installation of the RTM bits.

Samsung strongly urges retail slate users to also update to the latest firmware version before installing Windows 8. Also note that Samsung will not provide support for a slate that was originally installed with Windows 7. Why I do not know, I don't like it either.

I recently sold my Samsung 7 slate, but not before upgrading it to Windows 8.1. The easiest way is to just download the ISO equivalent to your Windows 8 installation (Pro or Enterprise) and performing an in-place upgrade, but the process to install cleanly hasn't changed much since Windows 8:

  • Make a backup of your content (Skydrive comes to mind)
  • Format a bootable USB key of 4GB. I used Fat32
  • Download the Windows 8.1 iso, or insert the disk into your machine
  • Copy the contents of the iso file to the empty usb disk (some slates can even boot by copying the iso file to the usb key as is).
  • Now you have a usb installation key for Windows 8.1. Put it in the slate's usb port.

Depending on whether you have the //Build Developer Device or a retail Samsung 7 Slate, the next steps differs:

//Build Retail
- Restart your slate while holding vol-up+vol-down
- Disable CSM and Safe Boot in the bios.

- Navigate, change value: vol-up, vol-down
- Enter sub menu: Rotate lock
- Confirm selection: Rotate lock
- Cancel: vol-up+vol-down

- Save the changes and restart the slate again while holding vol-up+vol-down.
- Choose Boot from USB
- Restart your slate while holding pwr+winkey
- Enable UEFI, Legacy USB

- Navigate on page, change value: vol-up, vol-down.
- Enter sub menu: Rotate Lock
- Confirm Selection: Rotate Lock
- Navigate between pages: Rotate lock + vol-up/vol-down
- Cancel: Winkey

- Save changes and reboot.
- Hold winkey+pwr
- Go to the last tab and choose to boot from the usb key you have connected to the slate.

This should start the installation process for Windows 8.1.

  • In the drive selection screen click advanced and delete all the partitions of the slate.
  • Choose to create a new partition. I opted for one big one.
  • Setup will also create an Emergency Partition and some other partition used for the boot loader and BitLocker, this is normal..
  • Next, next, finish, reboot reboot reboot.

Ok, so now you're in Windows. In my case all drivers loaded themselves. While the touch drivers are updated, your slate may act weird. Wait for the driver installation to happen silently in the background. Touch should return to normal function automagically.

When I tried to activate it said "DNS not found". And I couldn't find any place to enter my key (I installed Windows 8.1 Enterprise, this is easier with  Pro). So I entered it from an Administrative command line (ctrl-shift-enter in the start menu, or slide tile down and start it as administrator from the options bar).

slmgr.vbs -ipk insert-your-product-key-here
slmgr.vbs -ato

After activation a couple of drivers were updated. Nothing fancy.

Most drivers are detected automatically. Some can be installed with drivers from the original manufacturer for a newer version.

So far I've added the following additional device drivers to the system:

Note: Intel releases new drivers regularly. I've stopped updating the above list of links. To check whether you have the latest driver versions, visit the Intel Driver Update Utility page.

Then make sure you've backed up your Bitlocker recovery keys if you use the bitlocker security feature.

There is a firmware upgrade for the Touch sensors available which reduces tap-and-hold issues and generally improves the touch experience.