Month: October 2014

The trick to the sound driver with Win8.1 on a Macbook Pro

I took the opportunity to upgrade my work laptop over the long weekend here in Sydney. The early 2011 13″ Macbook Pro has worked well for me so far, however there are times when the machine is feeling its age – namely on boot and any point where a reasonable amount of disk I/O is required. Since we had one lying around after a change to an internal project, I took the opportunity to pull out the original 320GB hard disk and slipped an 240GB Intel 530 SSD into it instead, and decided to run a fresh install of Windows 8.1 instead of my previous Windows 7 operating system.

The surgery went fine, SSD in and the machine booted fine afterwards. My issue came shortly after the install of Win8.1 – no sound.

Now as a bit of a backstory, I decided that I was going to forgo the standard Bootcamp method of install and save myself the few gigabytes. If I need OSX for updates and firmware upgrades, I can just option-boot the laptop from a USB key. So I decided I would install directly to the hardware without OSX and Bootcamp, and just use the Bootcamp support pack to install the required drivers.

Because USB-key installs are what I do these days, I prepared the Win8.1 Pro ISO and made a bootable USB key. I then inserted it into the MBP, booted it and went through the install process. The install went fine, and then I added a second USB key with most of the required software to get it up and running – 7-Zip, the Apple Bootcamp 5.1 support pack, plus a few other small utilities. I installed 7-Zip, then unzipped the Bootcamp support pack, and ran the installer. All went fine, rebooted and started adding WiFi settings…. hang on. No sound device installed.

A check of the Device Manager shows a ‘High Definition Audio Device’, with a driver reporting as installed, however the device properties show:

This device cannot start. (Code 10)

{Operation Failed}

The requested operation was unsuccessful.

After looking around online, there seems to be much weeping and gnashing of teeth over the issue. Microsoft have a KB article for the problem, and many people are experiencing this directly via a Bootcamp install as well which seems like a major bug to me.

After reviewing all these posts and trying all the various ‘driver fixes’ such as Cirrus Logic drivers, Intel HD4000 drivers, and even various Realtek drivers, I appeared to be getting nowhere. After swallowing my pride and starting the download of Win7 Pro, I noticed one of the posts mentioned that booting to install via a USB key gives an EFI install rather than a legacy BIOS install, and that installation from optical media gives you a legacy install which then supposedly works.

After a quick burn of the Win8 ISO and install, I went through the process again, but no worky-worky. Same problem.

As the Win7 ISO download completed and was burning to another DVD-R, I was pontificating on the fact I was about to go back on my plan and remain in a Windows 7 world, then a thought hit me.

Windows 8 install media have an EFI boot partition on them!

This time, I went for the option-boot of the machine, which gave me choice of two optical boot images – an EFI-enabled one, and one simply marked ‘Windows’. I chose that, removed all the old partitions on the SSD from the failed installs and let everything run through. This time, the sound driver took and I had audio!

It appears that when direct-booting the Win8/8.1 media, the EFI-enabled Macbook Pro prefers the EFI-enabled boot partition on the optical disk and in fact gives you an EFI-based install no matter what. The only way is to option-boot the media onto the standard Windows partition and install from that instead.

I hope this helps someone, I lost a whole 24 hours of a long weekend to what is just an annoying bug. Now, hopefully the optical bay converter arrives in the next week so I can get a 500GB Western Digital Black HDD into it, then we start looking at 8GB or 16GB of RAM to really make it fly.

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