WinRE: Media Install of Windows 8.1 (and Partition Problems!)


Now its time to understand what happens to WinRE when I run a clean install.  By default WinRE is located at C:\Windows\System32\Recovery\WinRE.wim.


Windows 8.1 Enterprise Install on BIOS MBR

My first test was with the following configuration

  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise Volume Media
  • Hyper-V Generation 1 (BIOS MBR)
  • 127GB Unpartitioned Drive

And the results?

  • 350MB NTFS System Partition was created automatically
  • WinRE was enabled and in the System Partition

7-9-2015 12-47-04 PM

Now I didn’t mention if this was x86 or x64 . . . it didn’t matter, the results were the same.  WinRE.wim was removed from C:\Windows\System32\Recovery\WinRE.wim and placed exactly where it should be, in the System Partition.


Windows 8.1 Enterprise Install on UEFI GPT

Next test . . .

  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise Volume Media
  • Hyper-V Generation 2 (UEFI GPT)
  • 127GB Unpartitioned Drive

And the results?

  • 300MB NTFS Recovery Partition was created automatically
  • 99MB FAT32 System Partition was created automatically
  • WinRE was enabled and in the C Drive

7-9-2015 12-56-39 PM

Changing Windows Explorer to view System and Hidden Files shows me that my WinRE.wim is not where it should be

7-9-2015 12-59-04 PM

It should have been in the Recovery Partition (Partition 1).  So now let’s check to see what is in my Partition 1.

7-9-2015 1-00-46 PM

So great . . . I have a useless Recovery Partition with nothing in it!  Hope Windows 10 works better than this.


Well I don’t want to give up yet, so I head over to Technet Sample: Configure UEFI/GPT-Based Hard Drive Partitions by Using Windows PE and DiskPart and copy the Diskpart script.  Then in WinPE I have it create my partitions.

7-9-2015 1-16-38 PM

Then configured Windows Setup to install to Partition 4 (OSDisk).

7-9-2015 1-17-17 PM

And in Windows 8.1, looks like WinRE did not go to C:, it went to my Recovery Image Partition (Partition 5) instead.  And yes this is Partition 5 since we cannot see the MSR Partition (Partition 3).  FML.

7-9-2015 1-25-21 PM


So back to WinPE and this time I don’t create a Recovery Image Partition (Partition 5).  Now back to Windows Setup and again I tell it to install to Partition 4 (OSDisk)

7-9-2015 1-29-48 PM

And again, WinRE is back to C:\Recovery\WindowsRE\WinRE.wim

7-9-2015 1-37-47 PM


And before I give up, I decided to change Partition 1 and follow my own recommendations that I posted here on Partition Sizes, and made Partition 1 984MB.

7-9-2015 1-44-17 PM

And wouldn’t you know that succeeded in having my WinRE.wim in the WinRE Partition 1

7-9-2015 1-50-22 PM


Further testing shows that the 300MB Windows RE tools Partition is too small for Windows OOBE to use.  I did the same test on a 350MB Windows RE tools Partition and it moved WinRE to the Windows RE tools Partition.

7-9-2015 2-06-09 PM

So apparently the Microsoft Partition Team didn’t consult the Microsoft WinRE Team and the Microsoft OOBE Team to know that they need a 350MB Partition or larger for Windows RE tools to automatically put the WinRE.wim in place.

Also know that 300MB is used in MDT (ZTIDiskpart.wsf) and OSD (Task Sequence) as the default size, and apparently this is bad news.  So before you get too deep in UEFI implementations, you need to get the proper size for Windows RE tools.  Time to submit this as a bug to Microsoft????

7-8-2015 12-25-27 PM

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