Installing Windows 8.1 on a Dell XPS 12 with UEFI and a GPT Disk

I picked up a Dell XPS 12 yesterday and was momentarily stumped by trying to install Windows 8.1 onto it by booting from a USB key.

I made a bootable USB key from the Windows 8.1 ISO image, stuck it into the side of the Dell, booted it and tried to get into the boot options to cause it to boot from USB.

Not happening.

I managed to get into the Setup for the system (what I’d have once called the BIOS) and played around with all kinds of options including disabling UEFI secure boot (no joy) and then enabling “Load Legacy ROM” (no joy) and then a few more options until I hit the point where I’d disabled all the UEFI bits and was legacy booting.

At that point, the machine managed to see the USB key at boot time and I booted from it and got to the point of installing on a partition when Windows came back and said something like “I can’t install onto that partition, it’s a GPT disk”.

I figured at that point that I was heading down the wrong road so I backtracked.

I finally came across this article which worked a treat in that it told me that my problem wasn’t with having UEFI enabled per se but was, instead, because my USB key was formatted NTFS.

The process then ran something like this;

  1. Disable secure boot in the ‘BIOS’.
  2. Leave UEFI boot well alone – no need to play with any of those settings or enable legacy modes or any of that.
  3. Make a UEFI bootable USB key with Windows 8.1 on it formatted as FAT32.

and then the machine will show me the USB key as an option at boot time, it’ll boot from it and it’ll install Windows 8.1 from it.

Thanks to John for the original article – saved me a tonne of time here once I’d realised I was lost and needed to search for it Smile