Clean Install of Windows 8 on Sony Vaio S15
Sony Vaio laptops are rumored to suffer from two defects: the preloaded OS image being full of crapware, and being extremely difficult to clean install. The former is true for nearly every laptop vendor. I do not care about it because I reinstall anyway – I know from first-hand experience how much can go wrong building an OS image. The latter is bad since it obviously jeopardizes my remedy for defect #1.
Impossible to Install?
Despite having been warned by a colleague (who owns a Vaio and said he had failed at doing a clean install) I ordered the S15. Luckily, probably because I had talked to him, the first thing I did was to create a disk image (which is still possible on Windows 8, though well hidden – the tool you need is called Windows 7 File Recovery). Then I installed a fresh copy of Windows, formatting the disk in the process.
Things to Do
Here is my list of things to do to get a fully working yet extremely “clean” version of Windows 8 on your Vaio, in UEFI mode, of course!
- Salvage drivers and other software from Sony’s installation:
- Copy C:\Windows\Drivers to a safe location
- Optionally copy the installers for some of the software Sony installed (I ignored that)
- Create a bootable UEFI USB flash drive:
- Format the flash drive with FAT32
- Copy the contents of the Windows 8 DVD to the flash drive
- Optionally copy additional files you plan to use (e.g. the drivers you salvaged from Sony’s installation)
- Set the BIOS mode to UEFI
- Install Windows 8 from the USB flash drive. When it is done you will notice that only few hardware components are without a driver.
- Open Defender and update the definitions (shipped definitions are more than 150 days old and it takes some time for Defender to update on its own)
- Run Windows Update to get new and updated drivers and patches
- In Device Manager only these device do not have a driver yet:
- 2 unknown devices
- Fingerprint sensor
- Although most devices have a driver, updated versions may be available. Since I could not get Sony’s auto-update tool to work I right-clicked each device, selected Update driver and directed it to search in the directory where I had stored the drivers from Sony’s installation. That removed the two unknown devices and updated 12 drivers.
- After a reboot I installed the drivers for the only three devices still highlighted with an exclamation mark in a yellow triangle:
- Fingerprint sensor -> WBFMinSonyx64.msi
- Huawei EM680 w/Gobi Technology (two devices) -> HGDriverSetup.exe
- After another reboot I installed from Sony’s website:
- Sony Shared Library
- Sony Hotkey Utilities (installs Vaio Control Center)
That is it. Not too painful. With this procedure you get an extremely “clean” yet fully functional Vaio machine. Enjoy.