Installing Windows 7 RC on Lenovo X300
Having installed Windows RC (Build 7100) on my home desktop, and being happy with what I've seen, I thought I'd give it a try on my Lenovo X300 as well.
I popped in the DVD, rebooted my PC and started the installer. Just after loading all the files and asking for your region settings, the following error prompt came up:
"A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, please insert it now.
Note: If the Windows installation media is in the CD/DVD drive, you can safely remove it for this step."
The immediate irony is that Windows managed to boot from the DVD and load all its files just fine, why does it need a driver all of a sudden? I imagine the reason for that is due to different operating modes, i.e. the installer loader probably uses some form of low-level DOS driver whereas the installation environment is running as a different OS with different abstraction layers and a different driver architecture...
Regardless of the reason, this error prevented me from continuing the install. I rebooted back into Windows XP and started looking for a solution. Going to the Device Manager, I disvocered the X300 Ultrabay DVD drive is a MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ-844 (another irony right there). Googling around revealed many people have issues with these drives, and many people are looking for drivers, but apparently MATSHITA drivers, and especially UJ-844 drivers, are non-existant.
The best I was able to find was a firmware update ISO image on this Lenovo support page. I burnt the image and restarted my PC into the update utility but apparently I already have the latest firmware. Great, another coaster for the collection.
I also tried entering the X300 BIOS and changing the SATA Controller Mode option from AHCI to Compatibility mode, which is how I got the Windows XP installer working. No luck unfortunately.
As a last-ditch effort I tried copying the Windows XP drivers listed in the Device Manager onto a USB and trying to load those in the W7 installer. This obviously didn't work.
In the end I gave up trying. If anyone finds a solution to this or a Vista driver for MATSHITA UJ-844 that works, then please let me know!
I realise RC 7100 is an unsupported beta, and that the RTM version will likely be bloated up with more device drivers. I really hope this one will be in the final list. Ubuntu 9.04 managed to install without issues and detected all my hardware. It would be embarrassing if W7 couldn't do the same.
UPDATE: Problem Solved!
Believe it or not, the issue was caused by a currupt Windows 7 image :-( I re-downloaded the RC build 7100 from the MS site and tried the installer again. This time the whole process worked without a hitch. Not only that but Windows detected all my X300 hardware devices, including the finger-print scanner, and also gave me the option to update the bluetooth and Intel integrated video card drivers to the latest versions via Windows Update.
You can enroll your finger-prints natively by going to Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Manage your fingerprint data. Once enrolled, you can swipe to login/unlock windows just as in XP with the custom Lenovo software.
The top-two buttons above the trackpad also work as expected now (in Windows XP they freeze the cursor for about a second every time you press one).
Can't comment on performance much yet but so far so good. Haven't noticed any slow-down compared to my XP build. Will be interesting to see how it copes when I install all my development environments and services.
I'll also be keeping a very close eye to see if my laptop still freezes every now and then, as it does in XP. If Windows 7 fixes this problem, and continues to run as well as it's running now, then I'm completly sold!