Last weekend I was asked to downgrade the Samsung NP355-E7C of a family member to Windows 7. Even though this wasn't the first time I had to do such a thing and though Samsung provides quite detailed instructions on how to get this done, it took me about 4 hours to get this done. This does not include any backing up of data, any personal setup or anything similar.
The instructions start with telling you, how to go to the BIOS to set the boot order and also, as this notebook comes with a UEFI-system rather than a BIOS, you need to tell it, that the upcoming OS doesn't feature a native UEFI support.
Then you can start the normal Windows 7 Setup routine using a DVD or an USB-stick. That routine runs through just like expected, the only problem is, you need to delete ALL preconfigured partitions, this includes the recovery partitions. Next up, configuring the main user account, everything works as expected, until you get to the first boot.
The first boot
When the system first starts up, you will be greeted by a message that says:
"Some drivers could not be installed".
Well "Some" drivers is an understatement as in fact Windows is unable to find drivers for almost any of the main components, except the graphics chip. I connected an ethernet-cable to the laptop, yet it told me, it didn't have any network connectivity.
Next step: Opening the Device Manager
Opening the Device Manager is even more deflating, as Windows blatantly shows you that you won't have any possibility to get data in and out of this laptop except optical media.
- No USB
- No Ethernet
- No WiFi
But thankfully I had a device to create optical discs at my disposal.
The odyssey begins
Okay, I thought, no drivers, great, well thankfully I can get them from the Samsung website. So I navigated to the support page for the laptop, went to the download section and was presented with lots and lots of manuals. Not a chance to find any drivers wherever I looked. But then I saw the link to SWUpdate.exe, the downloader Samsung provides to get drivers for their laptops, not great I thought, but okay, I'll give it a chance. No sooner said than done, I downloaded the software, burned it to a CD, hoping it came with a basic set of drivers for the laptop, installed it, but no such luck, still no connectivity whatsoever and the software won't work without an internet connection.
Okay, more websearching, seemingly the problem was quite known across the web. After some time I found a tip on a web forum telling me, where I could find the wifi-driver for the laptop. So I downloaded that, burned it to a disc, installed it and was suddenly sitting in front of the first PC I know which had WiFi before it understood USB.
Then I started up the downloader again, and oh wonder, it works but here come the next disappointment, I looked through the software they offered and there was every single piece of junkware Samsung puts on their laptops before delivery. But hey, I got my drivers and I could continue setting up the laptop.
How all this could have been prevented
- Samsung provides a downgrade path, on their website, and it starts with "Go to the BIOS and change this and that setting". Okay, but the whole thing (containing about 14 steps) does not mention the fact, that you need to backup the drivers using the "Create a recovery disc"-assistent. That was the first mistake.
- The second mistake was not providing the drivers on the Samsung website, or just mentioning, which components were used in the device in the first place.
- The third mistake, though that is kind of understandable, was not including a basic version of the drivers with the SWUpdate.exe-setup.
- And the fourth mistake was integrating components that don't work with the basic drivers Microsoft provides with every version of Windows.