I learnt Windows AIK because of my new ASUS Laptop

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I’ve recently bought a new ASUS G73jh Laptop. It’s a wonderful piece of HW with a Intel i7 720QM, 8GB RAM, 2x500GB HD, ATI HD5870 and Windows 7 PRO x64.

The only problem is that ASUS (same as other laptop assemblers) has gone into the path of installing the operating system with a bunch of applications that are totally irrelevant to the work that I want to do (some people call it crapware or more politely pre-installed sw).

This common practice would be ok if I was able to reinstall my computer in a clean way, however ASUS doesn’t provide a clean way to install the copy of Windows 7 that I have paid for. Instead, they have created a 20GB partition in the first HD that contains the recovery files. But guess what happens if you want to install your own SSD or you enable stripped volumes in Windows?

They allow you to create a set of DVDs with a tool in a very easy way (6 DVDs said in my case). But, before creating them, I went to play with the Disk Management and changed the partitions to look the way I wanted with stripped and mirror volumes. When I went to create the recovery DVDs… the tool failed even when the RECOVERY partition was still there because the type of disk had changed from Basic to Dynamic (in the documentation they don’t explain all this).

I wrote to get technical support and after 3 days they answered with this:

Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for contacting ASUS Customer Service.
Good morning, unfortunately, all our notebooks are preinstalled with OEM version of OS and don’t equip with the install DVD. If you want to do a clean install, I am afraid you have to purchase the installation disc from Microsoft separately.

So basically, get lost.

I answered to their email, really pissed off, saying that that didn’t help me at all and they answered back:

Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for contacting ASUS Customer Service.
Sorry, the notebook product package will not come with the RCD(Recovery CD) and ASUS DVD 6 in 1 from 2/4, please refer to the following page:
http://support.asus.com/news/news.aspx?no=595&SLanguage=en-us
If you need a recovery DVD, please contact ASUS on 1300 278 788 from Monday to Friday between 9 am and 6 pm AEST.
As for the AI Recovery, we are aware of an issue with the AI Recovery Burner not functioning correctly and are currently investigating the matter. This issue does not affect the normal operatin of the notebook in anyway.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result of this issue.

That’s even better!!! They have a tool to create recovery DVDs and it doesn’t work. I called the service and they actually were quite nice and they told me that I could go any time and they would restore the system to the original state without any problem. However, that would not help me much if I couldn’t set up the system the way I wanted.

I am EXTREMELY disappointed in ASUS and I feel that for them it is more important to make money than keeping the clients happy. I will never consider buying any more laptops from ASUS unless they change their strategy of control over the clients, even if I think that their HW is good.

To solve all these problems and to get rid of the RECOVERY (also called 20GB wasted space in my disk) I started investigating to see what these asus.swm, asus2.swm and asus3.swm files were. And after some reading I ended up installing “Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7” or (Windows 7 AIK).

With that set of tools, Microsoft allows OEM installers to POLLUTE the brand new computers (of FREE users that have paid for the Windows license) with an incredible amount of useless applications and not allowing the right to decide what applications we want to have in our clean system. So you are forced to waste 2 hours in front of the computer uninstalling unwanted pollution.

Note: After all the hard work, I recommend to uninstall all the applications that you don’t want and use. Do all the work in the partitions that you need and run Windows 7 Back up tools to create an image into either an external HD, DVDs or the network. Then you can create a system repair disk and every time you need to restore Windows to a clean state you can go directly to this image backup and get everything up and running in few minutes and without all the “pre-installed” trial applications.

Anyways, to solve this issue I’ve been working in a solution to make users a bit more free and I will be posting it soon.

1. The first solution I’ve been working on is for people that:

  • They still have the RECOVERY partition but it’s not bootable anymore and they can’t create a set of recovery DVDs
  • They want to delete the 20GB RECOVERY partition
  • They want to use Dynamic disks in Windows (stripped and mirrored)
  • They want to install an SSD as a primary disk
  • It uses 3 DVDs

2. I’ll be working in creating an image of Windows with the Out Of The Box experience but that doesn’t contain any pre-installed applications (or forced to have applications)

  • The steps will be very similar to the first solution but you’ll get a smaller version (maybe 1 or 2 DVDs)
  • I haven’t tried this but I hope it can be done.

All this is only to allow the owner of the computer that has paid for the Windows 7 License to create a more free way of installing it’s own computer or a way to create a system backup in case of system failure.

These instructions should never be used to install Windows in a computer other to the one that you have paid the license for (no license no install). Please read read your Windows license before following the steps.

It can be used as a tutorial to understand the process of deployment using Windows 7 AIK (the steps used here are taken out from Microsoft documentation and they are using the tools that MS has made freely available to users to deploy Windows in an alternative way to standard setup).

I take no responsibility of any errors in the scripts that I’ll be providing in the next post and I take no responsibility of the information that could be lost by using these steps. Please take your time to read the official Microsoft documentation about the tools and the risks of using them (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd744356%28WS.10%29.aspx)

Use the next post at your own risk.

One thought on “I learnt Windows AIK because of my new ASUS Laptop

    […] DVDs with Windows AIK (part 1) July 7, 2010 — Roberto Mencia This post follows the previous post in were I explained how I bought a new ASUS laptop with preinstalled Windows 7 PRO x64 OEM and they […]

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