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  • BIOS or UEFI? That is the question

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 7 Questions: Windows 7 BIOS or UEFI? That is the question

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      • #2174492 Reply
        Rhino
        AskWoody Plus

        My laptop, HP Envy, which I bought in 2015, should have had Win 8 installed when I bought it, but I decided to upgrade to Win 7. I am trying to determine whether it is using BIOS or UEFI. I have searched on-line of course, and it would seem to be simple enough, but…

        The first option was to look for BIOS Mode in System Information > System Summary. I did that, but there is no mention of BIOS Mode. There is a BIOS Version/Date which is Insyde F.67, 06-June-16

        The next option was:
        1″In Windows Explorer, navigate to C:\Windows\Panther, you will see a file named setupact.log.”

        So I looked at Windows\Panther\ and there is no such file. I searched for it: found two of them. One in Windows\ Setupact.log which was all AudMig…… The other in Windows\System32\sysprep\Panther\IE\Setupact.log to which I was “denied access”.

        Does it have to be so difficult?

        David

      • #2174519 Reply
        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        I can’t say for sure, but if your laptop came with a Windows 8 license, it probably has UEFI.

        If you’ve been working on computers for any length of time, you will be able to tell whether it is BIOS or UEFI simply by going into Setup and looking around. In fact, there will probably be an option on one of the screens to allow you to choose between BIOS and UEFI. If you see that option, you definitely have UEFI.

        I know you didn’t ask this, but with a Windows 8 license, you could install Windows 8.1 and get about three more years of support from Microsoft (till January 2023). If you install Classic Shell in Windows 8.1, you can configure Windows 8.1 to look and feel exactly like Windows 7. That’s how I have both my Windows 8.1 laptop and my Windows 8.1 VM set up.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #2174533 Reply
        Carl
        AskWoody Plus

        If I were to venture a guess I would say UEFI. In July of 2015, HP released security related updates for HP PCs with UEFI Firmware. This list includes a bunch of HP Envy models that were impacted.

        HP Security Bulletin

        Usually, you can go into the BIOS to determine this. A UEFI GUI (mouse support) generally looks nothing like an old school BIOS interface. Most older motherboards with UEFI support could also be switched to a BIOS compatibility mode. In fact, the computer I’m using does just that. I don’t know how locked down the firmware is on HP’s though.

        Another clue is that it originally had Windows 8 installed. That’s when OEMs began switching to UEFI en masse.

        Darn – you beat me to it MrJimPhelps.

        • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by Carl. Reason: Addition
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2174540 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        I know with Dell machines when you ordered the downgrade to Win7 they shipped it as mbr not uefi. Best way to check is in BIOS. Hit either DEL, F2 or F12 key on boot.

        • #2174573 Reply
          bbearren
          AskWoody MVP

          I know with Dell machines when you ordered the downgrade to Win7 they shipped it as mbr not uefi. Best way to check is in BIOS. Hit either DEL, F2 or F12 key on boot.

          Windows 7 can boot UEFI when configured.  No need to use MBR.

          Also, Microsoft required OEM’s to spec their machines for Secure Boot, and that only comes with UEFI.

          Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
          "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
          "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

          • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by bbearren.
          • #2174584 Reply
            anonymous
            Guest

            Yes, I know win7 works with uefi, I have a bunch. What I said was with Dell machines when you ordered the Win8 or 10 machines with the downgrade to Windows 7 they shipped it as mbr. I have about 30 machines that were shipped that way.

        • #2174590 Reply
          Carl
          AskWoody Plus

          Windows 7 supports UEFI (earlier revision), but does not support Secure Boot.

          I’m getting senile so I may be off my rocker. If I recall correctly, the OS partition could not be GPT, but had to be configured as MBR (master boot record). I have one older Win 7 machine with an MBR boot drive and a large separate drive array with spinning rust (GPT?).

          • #2174794 Reply
            EP
            AskWoody_MVP

            If UEFI is a “Class 2” version, then yes Win7 will support that one
            But if UEFI is Class 3, then it’s a NO

            https://wiki.osdev.org/UEFI

            • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by EP.
          • #2177968 Reply
            GoneToPlaid
            AskWoody Plus

            The partition can be GPT, but you have to jump through a couple hoops when installing Windows 7 to use both UEFI and GPT.

      • #2174603 Reply
        Rhino
        AskWoody Plus

        The question should have been is the BIOS Legacy or UEFI

        David

      • #2174605 Reply
        bbearren
        AskWoody MVP

        I bought a Dell Latitude E5420 in 2011 with Windows 7 Pro configured for BIOS/MBR.  It also had firmware for UEFI/GPT.  I converted my BIOS/MBR Latitude to UEFI/GPT.

        No Windows OS can boot directly from GPT, but it can boot from a small EFI partition into a Windows installed on GPT.  And yes there was a period when Dell shipped PC’s and laptops with both BIOS and UEFI firmware.  I don’t know that they still do.

        My guess is that any OEM PC/laptop that was Windows 8 capable had firmware to support UEFI/GPT and/or BIOS/MBR.

        Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
        "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
        "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

      • #2174645 Reply
        Rick Corbett
        AskWoody_MVP

        Copy/paste the following one-liner into a PowerShell command window (it doesn’t need to be elevated):

        (Select-String 'Detected boot environment' C:WindowsPanthersetupact.log -AllMatches ).line -replace '.*:s+'

        Example result:

        BIOS-or-UEFI

        Hope this helps…

        Attachments:
        • #2174998 Reply
          RetiredGeek
          AskWoody MVP

          Rick,

          Your one liner returned an error on my machine.

          Panther-Error

          Here’s a PS script that will hopefully return the correct values (I’ve tested it on 3 different machines.

          Get-PCFirmwareStatus.zip: Get-PCFirmwareStatus

          Unzip the file and run the program in powershell, ex:

          [d:path]Get-PCFirmwareStatus.psi

          Results: PCFirmwareDialog
          The program also does some error checking and will provide dialog boxes for that also.

          HTH :cheers:

           

          May the Forces of good computing be with you!

          RG

          PowerShell & VBA Rule!
          Computer Specs

          Attachments:
          • #2175046 Reply
            Rick Corbett
            AskWoody_MVP

            Hi RG – It appears that MS are not consistent with the ‘usual’ stored location of the C:\Windows\Panther\setupact.log file hence the error.

            I notice others report the same… so the QAD method I used worked for me on several devices (both Win 10 – see previous post – and Win 7 – see below)… but possibly more through luck than judgement.

            firmware_type_oneliner_win7

            I suspect it may be to do with the difference between a clean OS install and an upgraded install… but I don’t have any upgraded devices at all to test. (I always ‘clean install’.)

            Your method is much, much better – I saw it somewhere but cannot remember where.

            firmware_type_legacy_bios_result

            However, the GetFirmwareType API call only works for Windows 8 and above. This is still be an issue for some, like the OP who wanted to determine the firmware type of a Win 7 laptop.

            I saw a third method on MSDN which just outright failed on a Legacy BIOS… but I ignored that as too clunky (even for me… 🙂 ).

            Hmm… it looks like the MSDN link has fallen foul of MS’ absolute determination to remove any technical info that might help tinkerers – I mean, developers.

            Attachments:
      • #2174682 Reply
        Rick Corbett
        AskWoody_MVP

        Gah! The forum software removed the backslashes in the PowerShell one-liner. Here it is again:

        (Select-String 'Detected boot environment' C:\Windows\Panther\setupact.log -AllMatches ).line -replace '.*:\s+'
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2175123 Reply
          RetiredGeek
          AskWoody MVP

          Rick,

          Those pesky back slashes! That fixed the problem.

          I went in and looked at the file to see what was there and here’s another way:

          PS> (Select-String 'Firmware Type' C:\Windows\Panther\setupact.log ).line.trim() | Select -First 1 
          Firmware type: UEFI
          

          BTW: your original now returns just EFI on my machine.

          HTH 😎

          May the Forces of good computing be with you!

          RG

          PowerShell & VBA Rule!
          Computer Specs

      • #2174745 Reply
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Win R, msinfo32

        Under System Summary (first screen) look for “BIOS Mode”.

        cheers, Paul

        • #2174796 Reply
          EP
          AskWoody_MVP

          The “BIOS Mode” entry is only shown in the Win8.x & Win10 versions of the MSInfo32.exe tool, Paul T.

          It doesn’t exist with the Win7 & older versions of MSInfo32

          • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by EP.
          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2174813 Reply
        steeviebops
        AskWoody Lounger

        You can also check the partition style of your boot drive in Diskpart as Windows only allows BIOS to boot from MBR and UEFI to boot from GPT. So that would be a dead giveaway.

        • #2175009 Reply
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          You can also check the partition style of your boot drive in Diskpart as Windows only allows BIOS to boot from MBR and UEFI to boot from GPT. So that would be a dead giveaway.

          It’s my understanding that even though some Windows 7 machines shipped with UEFI, they were still typically set up with MBR/legacy boot.  UEFI systems usually have the capability of booting from MBR setups.

          When 8 came out, I believe that MS required PC OEMs to use secure boot, which in turn requires a GPT boot.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.18.5).

      • #2175039 Reply
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Using BCDEDIT should work.

        1. Open a Command Prompt as admin.
        2. Type: bcdedit

        Look for the the “path” information.
        UEFI = winload.efi
        BIOS = winload.exe

        cheers, Paul

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2175059 Reply
          Rick Corbett
          AskWoody_MVP

          Nice one, @paul-t – The BCDEDIT method works in both Win 10 and Win 7.

          Just need to write a KISS wrapper so the query is run elevated and the relevant result is displayed in a simple MsgBox without the bucketloads of extraneous other info.

      • #2175091 Reply
        Rhino
        AskWoody Plus

        OMG what a can of worms I’ve opened up. Firstly, thanks for the many responses, I’ve worked my way through them one by one. Finally the BCDEDIT suggested by Paul T brought up:

        “Path : Windows\System32\winload.exe. Thank you Paul. Now I shall go and lie down in a darkened room with a cold beer. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have the energy (foolhardiness?) to dig deeper into this dual boot business.

        David

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