easy2boot gets better and better

Be safe. Stay home. While working longer days now, COVID-19 has given an opportunity to brain dump topics I have been meaning to properly document.

Case-and-point: easy2boot is wonderful. You can boot literally anything off a USB stick. Windows 10 unattended? Yes. Name-your-partition-ISO? Yes. Tivo MFS Tools for hard drive cloning? Yes. Linux flavors? Absolutely. Random PCs that only do BIOS updates via ISO? Yes. And the list goes on… I use it almost daily and support the developer.

Hard to believe its been almost 5 years since relying on easy2boot. 2015 Post: easy2boot & WSUS Offline; a must-have USB stick for Technology professionals

In the past few months, easy2boot can now UEFI Secure Boot a Windows 10 Recovery Environment from a FAT32 secondary partition, from there you can swap in an .imgPTN file (now .imgPTN23), reboot, and now load whatever OS you choose from UEFI Secure Boot. Brilliant!

The easy2boot site does a superb job in documenting technical details however that is partly the challenge; its a lot to understand. My use case: an all-power bootable USB stick for Windows installations and WinRE to swap in-and-out different versions. I prefer two identical USB drives for redundancy. Two 64GB USB3.0 all-metal key-chain drives.

  • Download the latest version (as of writing: Easy2Boot_v2.00A_password_is_e2b.zip)
  • Make a new USB stick.
    As of v2.00, “The main change is that when you make a new drive, it will now download the agFM files and copy them to the second FAT32 partition (if present). This allows UEFI-booting to the agFM grub2 File Manager system. All thanks to ‘a1ive’ for developing his grub2 branch and agFM.”
    Make_E2B.exe and Make_E2B_USB_drive.cmd – downloads agFM if 2nd FAT32 partition is made. If drive is <128Gib then 2nd FAT32 partition of approx 500MB is automatically made.
  • Because my USB drives are 64GB, I resize (enlarge) the secondary FAT32 partition to ~1.2GB in size to handle the WinRE image [next step].
  • Add nodelay
  • Add “No key (choose a version to install).xml” to the _ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10\ and _ISO\WINDOWS\WIN7\ directories if not already present. These answer files allow for the “Repair” option.
  • Copy Win10 ISOs (I always keep a few builds handy; both x86 and x64 combo)
  • Copy Win7 USB3 ISO (if you have a reason; helpful still for in-place upgrades for activation)
  • Copy Windows 10 x64 v1909 Injected.imgPTN23. The .imgPTN23 file extension is important. Follow the Adding UEFI/.imgPTN images guide carefully; specifically the “To convert an ISO to .imgPTN file for UEFI-booting” section.
  • Copy Win10XPE_x64.ISO to the root of your secondary FAT32 partition. This is what you can UEFI boot. You have to make this .ISO file; use Win10PE utility to do it.

Enjoy easy2boot! Its quite wonderful and actively developed. Please support the developer who probably spends a good percentage of their life on this project.

Remove & disable the “Get Windows 10” icon shown in the notification area (tray)

10/27 UPDATE: Microsoft continues to push Windows 7/8.x updates nagging and deceptively trying to upgrade them to Windows 10. A good overview here from ZDNet.

The best solution is  now a utility called GWX Control Panel which combines the registry changes, Windows 10 hidden install files, and the ability to restore the update all into one simple-to-use program. Download here directly from the developer; confirm MD5/SHA-1 checksums to verify. See here, thanks to Raymond, for why and how to use MD5/SHA-1 checksums.

8/1 UPDATE: Now that Windows 10 is out, the best method is to disable ‘Get Windows 10’ using a registry update.

You must be logged in as an administrator to be able to do this option.

This option will show you how to enable or disable to show the Get Windows 10 icon on the taskbar notification area for all users on the PC.

This way the Get Windows 10 app is not removed from the PC when disabled, and you will be able enable it again to use it when you like in the future.

The .reg files below will add/change the DWORD value in the registry key

0 or delete = enable tray icon
1 = disable tray icon

Steps to disable GWX  (Get Windows 10).

  1. Download the registry file here: Disable_Get_Windows_10
  2. Extract the .zip file to a reasonable location (e.g. your Desktop)
  3. Double click/tap on the “Disable_Get_Windows_10.reg” file to merge it (you can use the “Enable_Get_Windows_10.reg” to re-enable GWX if you want to undo disabling it).
  4. If prompted, click/tap on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK to approve the merge.
  5. Restart the computer to apply.

Original post based on this superuser.com post

Thank you Optmet.  I packaged his scripts into a .zip file and I modified the .bat file to automatically elevate (run as Administrator).

Save, extract, and launch the “BlockWindows10.bat”.  Hit “Yes” to allow the script to run as an Administrator.

Per the batch file as of 2015-06-02, the script removes the following KBs that are not specifically for a Windows 10 upgrade:

  • KB2952664 – Compatibility update for upgrading Windows 7
  • KB2990214 – Update that enables you to upgrade from Windows 7 to a later version of Windows
  • KB3022345 – Update to enable the Diagnostics Tracking Service in Windows
  • KB3035583 – Update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1

It also hides the above KBs from reinstalling through Windows Update.
If you want to uninstall/undo the Windows 10 blocker script, Google “Restore and install hidden updates” or use a tutorial such as this one to restore (unhide) the KBs listed above.