Monthly Archives: November 2012

Windows 8 Install on my 8440P Elitebook

DisclaimerI am currently not working at Microsoft.  I do however have a long history of working for them, for partners and as a contract staffer.  What does that mean?  It means I understand that Microsoft is full of hard working people. Its not some giant boogeyman.

NOTE: Updated info at end including how owners of um2000/um2420/um2430 cards can get 100MB a month of Free Broadband!

During my last stint at Microsoft, I was not using the pre-release software.  But as I prepare to go back in the next few weeks I knew I needed to get caught up.  Microsoft is pretty good about putting its staff first on beta software and then the current release.  This provides a large user base that gives them extra insight into any issues that might pop-up.  While many businesses will wait a year or more before moving to the newest version of a Microsoft release.  Microsoft puts large numbers of its people doing important business on pre-release software.  I always respected this about them.

Diving in Early

So this week I picked up a copy of Microsoft Windows 8 Pro.  In the past, I ended up in with Windows Vista early because of software needs, but found the first 6 months to be frustrating until the hardware drivers got better. After that it was clearly better than XP.  I did Windows 7 much sooner and it was good.  I have not used Windows 8 even in pre-release this time.  I had read the mixed reviews, but as I expect to be back at Microsoft by January. I knew I needed to get up to speed. So decided to set up dual boot on my notebook.

I was dismayed that the packaging did not say “upgrade” anywhere in the branding.  Even the fine print about upgrading it uses the word “if”.  So after putting in a spare hard drive and doing a clean install over an old copy of Windows 7, I made the mistake of doing a custom set up and wipping the drive.  Again the box never said upgrade only, nor did the set up warn me that wiping the drive would create problems activating Windows 8.  After installing it and doing updates and putting a couple of hours into the process, I did an activation.  It failed with an error that I could not use my key for a clean install.  Trust me I have discs and keys for several older versions.  But there was no option to validate it this way either.  In the end I did find a trick out on the net that did work.  [not linking this trick, in deference to my ongoing association to Microsoft]

In the end after making some mistakes in playing with driver and software installs I decided to roll all my learning into a new install.  I was able to “update” my Windows 8 to Windows 8.  There is an option there to update and “Save Nothing” It does a pretty clean install.  If you have folders left by companies like Nvidia or HP in the root, they stay.  But all Windows and installed software related folders are moved to a folder C:\Windows.Old.  You can then use disk clean-up tool to delete that folder.  So you can do a clean install, but it has to be to a drive that has Windows on it when you start.

For me as someone who does work in marketing, I see the error as not being clear that Windows 8 Pro is an upgrade only package.  Sure if you know the new product versions you know that it is the System Builder version that is for clean installs.  But to me that’s like saying “Take a turn where the old gas station was before they tore it down.”  If you are not aware that “System Builders” are for clean install, there is no indication that you can’t do it on the Windows 8 Pro Package and no software warning as it lets you wipe a drive during setup up.  Microsoft needs to look at that, and I would be surprised if it doesn’t cost them some support calls and much harsher worded posts over the coming weeks.

About My System

I have an HP Elitebook 8440p that is fully loaded with Blue-tooth, WAN 3G card and finger print reader.  My other dismay was with HP.  I bought this machine in December of 2010 and it is by far the best notebook I have ever owned.  It even came with a three year standard warranty.  Except HP says on its website that is has no plans to update drivers to Windows 8 for machines bought before November 2011.  Really?  I have a three year warranty on a machine that HP is making a “driver orphan” after only 2 years.  The even sadder aspect is that with a few tricks I have all my devices working on this device perfectly.  The core drivers work fine with Windows 8.  Its the HP installers that do other things along with the drivers like installing complex security apps that have a problem.  I should mention that I am running Windows 64bit on all my machines at this time.  While I can see HP not doing a full software update of all the tools they add to the system, every core hardware device they sell with the machine should get a Windows 8 update.  From what I can tell it may just take some simplifying of the installs of the current drive set.

Getting Windows 8 Working on an HP 8440P Elitebook.

The clean install of Windows 8 works pretty well.  While HP is not updating their downloads officially to Windows 8 to make it easy for us.  It’s clear that the Microsoft driver library has nearly a full set of  drivers for this machine’s hardware. Right off the bat within an hour it was clear to me that Windows 8 is much more like Windows 7 in being ready to use unlike Windows Vista was.  There are a few small hiccups I will discuss, but the driver support is there and the release build is solid and stable.

What doesn’t work after Windows 8 is installed

After installing there were  a few “unknown devices” listed in Device Manager.  At some point in the future it would be nice if Microsoft had Windows change this to “unsupported NAME” and there were basic names like “card reader” or “blue tooth” to give us a clue.  Writing this from memory the three unknown devices that come up are:

  • The Ricoh based SD card slot
  • The HP Blue-Tooth adapter, that is based on Broadcom technology
  • The Validity finger print reader

Not listed in Device Manager, but not working / installed after initial setup.

  • HP um2420 internal 3G wan card
  • Some of the control buttons and hot keys for screen brightness etc.
  • While the Audio works fine, the mute button stays orange but works (it should only be lite orange when muted)
  • HP 3D drive protection, that parks the drive if it feels the machine start to drop more move too fast

Easy Driver/Software Installs

The first step is to visit the HP Download Site for the 8440P  I have not reinstalled all the software etc for the machine.  This machine ships with a lot of interesting pre-boot tricks etc. After the first few weeks I disabled those and have never installed when doing updates.  It also has some pretty complex security software.  For now I am not installing that, I will explain more later. Below are the devices and tools that install perfectly into Windows 8.

  • The Ricoh Card-reader driver
  • The HP IDT HD Audio Drivers   (This gives more audio processing features and fixes the “mute button always orange problem.”
  • HP 3D DriveGuard
  • HP Quick Launch Buttons
  • HP Wireless Manager OR HP Connection Manager (must use version 4.21 and this is only needed if you have a cellular card installed)
    [If you install the Connection Manager, do it AFTER you deal with the WAN Cellular card driver outlined bellow then come back to it]

Drivers That Take Creative Problem Solving

The Blue-tooth Adapter was a pain, but also was the one that taught me some tricks that I suspect will help with other Windows 8 driver installs.  Windows Update offered a driver for this that failed to install.  The error for one of my installs suggested I go to the maker’s site.  The HP install AND the Broadcom install both fail.  The most common error was “access denied”  The trick is to install the basic drivers and avoid the HP and other installs.  When HP installs an update it creates folders named SPnnnn under C:/Swsetup.  For the blue-tooth on my machine this was labled  sp46063 [Link]. To get the blue-tooth working.  After letting the HP install make the folder and fail. Uninstall the the device from device manager to clear out any fildercarb.  Then for my system I opened up the “Win64” folder under the SP46063 folder.  I ran the set up from that folder. It completed and I have a working blue-tooth adapter which I paired with my PCCARD slot mouse/pointer.

The Finger Print reader is a different issue. The HP driver appears to install fine.  Then you can install the HP ProtectTools and all seems fine.  But at least with the machine tied to my Live.com Microsoft account.  I could not get fingerprint log-on to work.  That is the main thing I do with the reader for now on this machine.  I was able to set up the fingerprint pre-boot security just fine.  But I still had to type my password in to log-on to windows.  This is even though after HP sets up it up it acts like there is a fingerprint log-on option, but it doesn’t work.

To get the fingerprint logon ot work, don’t install the HP version of the drivers.   Go to the Validity site and download the 4.3.100 Windows 7 driver. And install everything, you need the digital persona software to enroll the finger prints.  It is not marked for install by default for some reason.  What you will notice is that this install activates the Windows Control Panel Biometric control.  The HP install suppresses this as you are suppose to use their ProtectTools to manager the reader.   After teh driver is installed.  Turn on the logon function in control panel, enroll your finger prints, reboot and then you will see a small Sign-in option link under the password. here you enable for the account, finger print logo on.

HP um2420 Celluar Modem Card, based on the Qualcom GOBI 2000 chipset was much easier because of what I learned from the bluetooth adapter.  Download the Qualcom drivers from the 8440P drivers page.  Start the install so it creates the SP53068 folder.  I went into the Qualcom folder and tried to run the GobiInstaller file.  I got an error saying it couldn’t access a file.  So I dragged the Qualcom folder to my desktop and ran the GobiInstaller from there and it installed perfectly.  The WAN connection option showed up under the network connections options (you llist from the systray icon).  But I had no settings for how to connect.  So then I install the HP Connection Manager 4.21.  That let me choose a provider and try to register.  [I am not quite ready to pay Verizon $35 to activate since I can tether my phone]  But I was able to get the WAN modem talking to the registration pages over celluar wireless..  So we have success there.

See below for info on free data program from HP.  HOWEVER, I have learned that once you turn off power using Connection Manager 4.21, you may not be able to turn it back on inside the program.  Workaround is to keep HP Wireless Manager installed OR in Connection Manager preferences set it to power on all devices when it starts and then fully exit CM and restart.

Final Tips and Thoughts

For now if you have the version of the 8440P with the Nvidia chipset.  Use the drivers Microsoft provides.  The Nvidia beta drives will not play videos in the App Mode versions of Netflix or XBOX video App. I am seeing problems with the screen shimmering after it sleeps in the Microsoft drivers.  This was an HP issue a driver update in Windows 7 fixed, which is why I tried the beta.  I am hoping Nvidia will get the new Windows 8 drivers ready soon and they deal with the shimmer issue.

Some things I will try later. 

I like the HP Support Assistant.. so may install and test that.  I would like to get the fingerprint reader set up to fill in web passwords.  So I will look to see if the HP ProtectTools will run along with the version of the drivers that allow Windows Logon via fingerprint.  There is not much more of the HP software I really care about.  I have to say that after a couple days playing with Windows 8, I am liking it more on this non-touch machine than I thought I would.  This may well end up being the main OS I keep on this machine as long as I get all my odd Astronomy and Telescop tracking tools to work with it too.

Since Windows Vista stablized with the hardware makers getting the drivers right, my opinion of Windows 8 is the same as I had for Vista and Windows 7.  In general if your machine is working with what you have,  no need to upgrade.  If you are looking at a machine with Windows 8, I think you will like it. However there is about a 1 -2 hour intial period where long-time windows users will question the the UI changes, but its not as bad as some of the rants on the Internet would lead you to believe and I am now finding it is faster for somethings.

I will write more later is week if I have time.  But I felt that sharing my Saturday’s worth of trial and error would help others looking to upgrade to Windows 8 on this HP Notebook and I suspect several other machines.

[I am sure there are typos I will fix later.. Promisde to go to the market today so amposting my first draft here]

UPDATE: 

The Nvidia 306.97 WHQ Driver from the Nvidia site which is release is the best choice.  It works with App based video AND after being installed about a day and having several hours of off time, reduces the hard shimmer coming out of monitor sleep.  There is some but it goes away much faster with this driver.  The Windows 7, posted fix for this talks about powering down the machine and even taking the battery out for a few hours this seems to help with the new driver too.   For some reason the auto-detect on the Nvidia website offers the beta not the release, driver.  Do not install the beta driver.

FREE CDMA 3G/4G Broadband!!

HP um2420 / Gobi 2000 Is working great with Windows 8.  HP it appears heard its customer frustration with the poor support for its internal 3G/4G adapters (um2400/2420/2430).  Providers have silly activation costs, extreme price premiums over tablets etc. for doing the same thing.  So HP has created HP Datapass that is a prepaid system offered over the Sprint Network.  The good thing is that for the first 10,000 that sign up, before end of December 2012 get a year of 100MB per month free, no credit card needed cellaur broadband. 

I can tether my phone in most cases would use my shared Verizon data that way vs pay the silly $20 a month + $35 activation.   But if the battery for my phone is low, or I need to talk to someone while online.  I can use my free data and even add some pre-paid data off the HP Datapass.  If you have played with your Gobi card like I did but never completed a registration, the data may need to be reset.  The HP Datapass support line is excellent and have a tool to reset the line.  If you have this function but never turned it on because of the cost.  Try this new HP data program.