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Getting Windows 7 Running on a Lenovo Thinkpad T410 with no CDROM Drive and no OEM Software

This is a continuation of Creating Windows 10 Boot Media for a Lenovo Thinkpad T410 Using Only a Mac and a Linux Machine. I figured out that Windows 10 isn't supported on the Lenovo Thinkpad T410, so I decided to focus on getting Windows 7 running on it, which is what it came with. I know it's a security risk, but I figured it'd be okay if I locked down the firewall, installed a virus scanner, and limited the apps installed on the machine. There's nothing on this laptop that we can't afford to lose.

Remember, one of my challenges was that the laptop doesn't have a CDROM drive, and I didn't have any installation media at all. I just had a Mac to work with.

Attempt 24:
    I bought a license key from g2a.com.
    I was hoping to download an ISO either from them or from Microsoft.
    It turns out Microsoft wouldn't let me download the ISO since it was an OEM license.
    I also bought a copy of McAfee AntiVirus Plus at the same time.
    I never figured out how to apply that license.
Attempt 25:
    Important: I found dellwindowsreinstallationguide which had a direct link to download the ISO.
    Important: I found this link for downloading drivers.
    Important: I found Lenovo System Update.
    I found this guide on creating a bootable USB with Windows 7.
    I tried formatting the USB and copying the files over.
    It didn't boot.
Attempt 26:
    I tried Microsoft's Windows USB/DVD Download Tool.
    I was following the instructions for doing it manually with tools built in.
    I tried to do it from my Windows 10 VM.
    It only works if you have a BIOS, not UEFI.
    I switched VMware to use a BIOS instead of UEFI.
    My Windows 10 VM wouldn't boot.
Attempt 27:
    Important: I tried this guide from Make Use Of.
    This guide was key.
    It required an OS with NTFS.
    My Mac didn't have that.
    However, I had a Windows 10 VM that did.
    Part of the guide requires running: d:/boot/bootsect.exe /nt60 e:
    That comes from the Windows 7 ISO.
    It wouldn't work on my Windows 10 VM.
    In order to create Windows 7 USB boot media, I needed Windows 7 :(
Attempt 28:
    I created a Windows 7 VM in VMware Fusion using the Windows 7 ISO I downloaded.
    I tried to run USBRecoveryCreator from Lenovo.
    I had to create a Lenovo account.
    It ended up just crashing.
Attempt 29:
    I tried to make use of this guide from Lenovo.
    I can't remember what happened, but it didn't work.
Attempt 30:
    Important: I went back to the Make Use Of guide.
    I used VMware to connect the ISO to the VM's virtual CDROM drive.
    I couldn't get the VM to recognize my USB thumb drive.
    It turns out my USB thumb drive was USB 3, and Windows 7 wouldn't recognize it (I think).
    I had to scour the house for an old USB thumb drive, which I eventually found.
    I ran: d:/boot/bootsect.exe /nt60 e:
    It said: Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects: Access is denied.
Attempt 31:
    Important: I did the same thing as administrator.
    That worked.
    I was able to boot the laptop into Windows 7.
    My son wanted to dual boot with Ubuntu, so we left some space while partitioning.
    It wouldn't let me use the laptop's own license key because it didn't match what I was booting.
    I was able to reuse the key from the VM and then delete the VM.

At this point, I had Windows 7 running. However, I was missing key drivers, including the drivers necessary to get an internet connection. Bear in mind, I don't spend a lot of time on Windows. This was my first foray into what I knew was called "driver hell". I was really hoping to get WiFi working so I wouldn't have to keep downloading things on my Mac and transferring them to the Lenovo laptop using a USB thumb drive.

Attempt 32:
    I tried to use the laptop to get the original OEM software from Lenovo.
    I never got anywhere with that.
Attempt 33:
    I tried to use the Lenovo System Update.
    I used a USB thumb drive to download it on my Mac and transfer it to the Lenovo.
    It wasn't very useful without an internet connection.
    I'm a little bit unclear at this point, but I don't even think I had ethernet at this point, let alone WiFi.
Attempt 34:
    I tried to download useful-looking drivers one-by-one using my Mac from Lenovo.
    Installed this WAN driver.
    HUAWEI EM660 Wireless WAN
    c:\DRIVERS\WIN\WWAN-HUAW
    It installed some HUAWEI DataCard driver.
    c:\Program Files (x86)\HUAWEI Modem Driver
    I searched for the device, but couldn't find it.
Attempt 35:
    I tried installing Leadcore 5730D Wireless WAN driver for Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit), Vista (32-bit and 64-bit), XP - ThinkPad Edge 11, Edge 13, Edge 14, Edge 15, Edge E10, Edge E30, Edge E31, Edge E40, Edge E50, T410, T410s, X100e, X201, X201 Tablet.
    c:\drivers\wwan-leadcore
    In device manager, I kept scanning for hardware changes, but it's not helping.
Attempt 36:
    I tried installing Intel Wireless LAN (11abgn, 11bgn, 11ac) for Windows 8 (32-bit, 64-bit) - ThinkPad.
    c:\drivers\win\wlanint
    Scanned for hardware changes in device manager.
    Ran the Intel PROSet/Wireless Control Panel Applet.
    The Proset thing seems useless for me.
    It just offers to import a profile.
Attempt 37:
    I tried installing ThinkPad 11b/g/n Wireless LAN Mini-PCI Express Adapter II for Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit) - ThinkPad.
    c:\swtools\wlan\6iws25ww
Attempt 38:
    I tried installing Ethernet driver (Intel PRO/1000 LAN adapter software) for Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit) - ThinkPad T410, T410i, T410s, T410si, T510, T510i, W510, W701, W701ds, X201, X201i, X201s, X201 Tablet.
    c:\drivers\win\ethernet
Attempt 39:
    I tried Rescue and Recovery® 4.52 for Windows 7.
    It didn't actually look like it was going to help.
Attempt 40:
    I looked at the hardware ID of the network controller.
    That lead to driveridentifier.com.
    That lead to this page.
    That device is some WiMAX thing.
Attempt 41:
    Important: I decided to just plug in an ethernet cable and hope.
    The only cable I had laying around was a crossover cable.
    However, it actually connected!
    I'm not sure if I always had ethernet working or not.
    Obviously, I should have tried that first.
    I ran the Lenovo System Update utility.
    It installed:
        Intel Management Engine Interface 6.2 and Serial Over Lan (SOL) Driver
        Ricoh Multi Card Reader Driver for Windows 7 and Vista
        Thinkpad Video Features (NVIDIA NVS Optimus) -7
        Thinkpad Integrated Camera Device Driver for Windows 7/XP/Vista
        Conexant Audio Software for Windows 7, Vista, and XP
    I ran it again, and it offered to install:
        ThinkPad BIOS Update US.
Attempt 42:
    I still don't have a driver for my WiFi.
    I did a scan in Device Manager.
    It offered to install new drivers.
    Perhaps it's different because it finally has an internet connection.
    Or maybe it's different because some other drivers has been installed.
    I think it's trying to find a driver for the network controller.
    It never found a driver.
Attempt 43:
    Let's try this recovery key thing again.
    It made me log in.
    It said there are no active orders, and gave me the chance to create one.
    This led to another USBRecoveryCreator.
    This again had me log in.
    This again led me to the website.
    It's trying to figure out my serial number.
    It downloaded Lenovo Service Bridge.
    Running it doesn't seem to do anything.
    I still have a network controller with a missing driver.
Attempt 44:
    I searched for it by hardware ID.
    I ended up on some site downloading something called DriverSupport One.
    c:\Program Files(x86)\Driver Support One (or something like that)
    You have to create an account to get started with their service.
    I created an account.
    I ended up on the account portal.
    They want $9.99/month.
    Groan.
    I actually signed up.
    I made sure to use PayPal so they wouldn't have my credit card number.
    I think it's installing a Lenovo Intel Wireless LAN Driver (Network Controller).
    There were a few other drivers, but none looked as important.
    I installed them.
    After installing one driver, it said that a newer version of that driver was already installed.
    I was installing some Intel chipset driver it said I needed.
    I ended up with a blue screen of death.
    My network controller is still not supported.
    I did some cleanup and removed:
        Intel Network Connection Driver
        Intel PROSet/Wireless Software
    DriverSupport One crashed again while installing a monitor driver.
    Now DriverSupport One won't even start!
    I cancelled my plan.
    I also cancelled it on the PayPal side.
    I uninstalled the software.
Attempt 45:
    I used Device Manager again and just searched for software updates.
    Important: It installed Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6250 AGN.
    Finally, all the devices are supported!
    WiFi is working!
    I did some cleanup and removed:
        Lenovo Service Bridge
        Huawei DataCard Driver
    I rebooted.
    I checked that all my devices were still supported.
    I removed Intel Management Engine Components:
        It showed some piece of hardware missing.
        I told it to update software drivers.
        It reinstalled the Intel Management Engine Interface.
    I looked at all the programs installed, and the list looked reasonable.
    I went to scan something (???), and now it won't shut off properly.

Conclusion

I hope to never do something like this again. I spent about 3 days all told trying to get a laptop that was end-of-lifed many years ago to run an OS that also was end-of-lifed many years ago.

I bought this laptop off a buddy for $200. It was very old, but it had 8 GB of RAM and an SSD drive. It runs Ubuntu reasonably well. However, I thought installing Windows 7 would let my son run a few things he wanted to run that only ran on Windows. I figured the original video card driver for Windows 7 would run better than the one for Linux. He said that Minecraft is actually running more smoothly on Ubuntu. C'est la vie.

At the end of the day, it just wasn't worth my time. I should have paid more for a newer machine. Obviously, dealing with Macs is easier because you're less likely to end up in driver hell, but installing Windows without having access to the OEM ISO is a particularly frustrating experience.

It's done, but I feel a bit guilty that I could have spent those 3 days actually engaged with my 8 kids. A few days later, I was about to play around with installing Arch Linux in a VM. I decided, "Nope. I have better things to do with my time."

Comments

jjinux said…
My son ended up wiping his laptop several months ago, and he wanted Windows 7 again today. Thankfully I still had the USB drive with Windows 7 on it.

This time around, I figured out that attempt 38 was key. I started by Googling for "lenovo t410 drivers windows 7". This lead me to this ethernet driver. I downloaded it using another laptop and transferred it using a USB drive.

After that, I was able to plug into my router using an ethernet cable. Then, I opened Device Manager. I clicked on unrecognized hardware and then pressed the Update Driver Software button. Much smoother.

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