Multibooting with Windows 8 on an Asus Laptop

I bought this laptop:

ASUS F55U-NH21 Notebook AMD Dual-Core Processor E2-1800(1.7GHz) 15.6" 4GB Memory 320GB HDD 5400rpm DVD±R/RW AMD Radeon HD 7340

It came with an OEM install of Windows 8, filled with garbage software, as usual. I am used to this--step 1 is always blowing away the junk OS ruined by the OEMs and installing my own.

Besides, I really wanted Server 2012, not Win 8. So I decided to dual-boot the thing.

I went into Disk Management in Windows 8 and found an empty DATA partition, so I shrunk that and made a 50 GB partition named Srv2012 to take Server.

I had a Server 2012 ISO from DreamSpark, so I made a bootable USB stick following these instructions:

Then I booted the ASUS from it, and tried to install Server, but got this error message:

The product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation. Enter a different product key

Apparently the OEM Win 8 product key is stored in the BIOS and prevents you installing anything else.

I found these instructions and Microsoft's KB 2796988 which say the problem can be solved three ways:

Unfortunately, my ASUS completely ignored the PID.txt and EL.cfg files, even though that apparently worked for other ASUS users.

So I had to make the autounattend.xml file.

I started from

these instructions, but was able to skip steps 8 through 18, because I wanted to control the partitions manually.

I also skipped steps 20 through 24.

I saved the file as autounattend.xml in the root of my USB stick, and it worked! I ended up with a Windows 8 / Server 2012 dual-boot.

The only remaining problem was that it installed Server Core, without the GUI, and did not let me choose anything else.

So I just added the GUI back in using these powershell commands.

It was a lot of work, so I'm saving it here to guide others, and also so I can remember it myself.

Posted April 19, 2013, 10:27 PM by Sam Bowne