BUG: Windows 7 Installer Won’t Install From IDE CD/DVD Drive, Asks For CD/DVD Driver.

Windows Vista Logo

This is a known bug that I unknowingly escaped twice by installing the RC from a USB drive and upgrading to a SATA DVD drive a mere 4 months before Windows 7’s final release. The USB key thing was just something cool to do, and the DVD drive was replaced because something went wonky with the tray’s track, requiring a bent paper clip at all times.

The best explanation I could find was over on Tom’s Hardware where, after much dickery, someone finally offered up a plausible cause: If your BIOS reports the SATA controller first, the Windows 7 installer won’t load an IDE ATAPI driver for optical drives. This would explain why some people can use an IDE drive and others can not.

But I also noted something weird, and a definite way to tell if you’re about to get boned way before the installer starts loading. First is an obscenely long boot time. If you’ve never installed Windows 7, though, you won’t know what the wait time should be.

Windows 7 Loader Custom Console Font

Win7 Loader With Custom Console Font

Windows 7 Standard Boot Splash

Windows 7 Standard Boot Splash

This is the combo most people are used to seeing. In fact, you may recognize the first screen if you’ve recovered an OEM PC, ran an OEM’s diagnostic, ran chkdsk, or booted into Safe Mode, because Vista uses that exact same font.
Windows 7 Loader -- Standard Console Font

Win7 Loader With Standard Console Font

Windows 7 Fallback Boot Splash

Windows 7 Fallback Boot Splash -- AKA Vista

This is what I got to see. Anyone the works with PCs extensively, or at least Windows 2000, will notice that Windows is now using a standard console font. The Windows 7 boot splash reverts to Vista. If you recall, the reason for the sparse Vista boot splash was that Microsoft was having some trouble with some legacy video cards. Obviously, it’s still around as a fall-back.

There are several solutions if you get bit by this problem.

  1. Run setup from inside a working copy of Windows. Yes, you can do a clean install this way. This will load the setup routine onto your HDD for booting instead of from your IDE DVD drive.
  2. Install from a USB key. This requires a working computer with Vista or 7. See: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dd535816.aspx
  3. Temporarily install a SATA DVD drive. Kinda silly, but you won’t even have to remove your IDE DVD drive.