I think the Surface Pro 3 is a fantastic computer – with my only grief being that it only has 1 USB port, which is insanity. At least, I only had one grief with it until the first time I tried to do a clean install of Windows 8.1 Enterprise, which was surprisingly difficult. Just the other day, I installed Windows 10 Enterprise – and went through a bit of a painful installation again.
I’ve decided to write a small post about the fastest way to run through this installation, so that if anyone else has to do this, they can skip the pain.
In short, the problem with the installation stems from the UEFI BIOS replacement that the Surface Pro 3 runs. While it’s probably more secure (not sure, frankly), it adds a bit of a pain to clean installations from a USB key (the SP3 doesn’t have a DVD drive).
Pre-Surface Pro 3, all that was needed was to use the Windows 7 ISO/DVD tool and burn an ISO onto a USB key with >= 8GB. Then, make sure your BIOS was set to boot from USB, restart the computer, and call it a day.
Trying the same process now doesn’t work in the slightest bit because of UEFI.
I won’t go to far into WHY these problems crop up, but I will briefly mention that when I needed to clean install Windows 8.1, I wasted many hours trying the obvious, and then I followed these instuctions and these instructions. Following all those instructions worked, however, it was just a bit messy, error prone, and time consuming.
Instead, this latest time around, I tried something different, and it worked first shot in next to no time.
- Download Rufus
- Select your ISO to be loaded to a USB key
- Change to GPT partition scheme for UEFI
- Select FAT32 (should be defaulted anyways)
- Press ‘Start’ and let it complete
- Boot from USB following the instructions here
- Shut down your computer
- Insert the USB key
- Hold the volume-down button
- Press and release the power key to turn on the computer
- When the Surface logo disappears, release the volume key
- Proceed with Windows installation
And that should be it! Enjoy!