Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Solution for Updating the BIOS on Windows Vista x64 Machines

As I blogged about the other day, one of the biggest frustrations I've had with Vista x6 has been with updating the BIOS on my Ferrari 5000. BIOS providers haven't realized that BIOS upgrades happen on 64-bit machines too, and have apparently been in a a hole for the last 5 years. I tried a whole bunch of things, including downloading 3 separate DOS-based flashers by Phoenix Technologies. When my Windows 98-based USB boot keys didn't work, I knew I'd have to bring out the big guns.

So here, for your reading enjoyment, is the Definitive Guide to creating a Windows Vista Bootable USB Key. You'll need a key with a minimum of 256MB to make this happen.

  1. Download and install the Windows Automated Installation Kit.
  2. If the key is not already formatted FAT32, then do so.
  3. Copy everything in the "C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\x86" directory (except for the "EFI" folder, ESPECIALLY if you only have a 256MB key) to the root of the key. This is IMPORTANT. "bootmgr" must be in the root, and "boot" muse be a 1st level folder.
  4. Open an Administrative command prompt, navigate to the USB key, and run "bootsect /nt60 X:", where X is the letter of the USB key. This will initialize the Vista boot loader on the USB key.
  5. Create a folder on the USB key for the 32-bit Windows-based flash utility, and copy all the BIOS files to it.
  6. Make sure there is at least 64MB of free space left on the key. If there is not, redo steps 2-5 on a bigger key.
  7. Reboot your computer to the BIOS settings menu and adjust the settings so you can boot to the USB key.
  8. Reboot again, and select the USB key as your boot device.
  9. After several minutes, you'll be presented with the Aurora background and a command prompt. Drive X is the WinPE environment. Your USB key will be the next in line after your hard drives and DVD, respectively. Navigate to the Windows flashing executable, and run it.

If you have a bigger key, you can add other utilities to it, as long as they are stand-alone apps. I'm still working on an easy tutorial for installing a full-fledged copy of Vista to a microdrive. More on that later.

Anyway, there you have it. Now you have a 32-bit solution for BIOS updates on 64-bit machines. Thanks to for the basic instructions that led me on the right track.

Posted on Feb 17 2007, 01:57 AM by Robert McLaws
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  • peconi said:

    Thank you! Very good tip. Featured on my site :)



    February 17, 2007 9:39 AM
  • Bryan Powell said:

    Try as i might, I can not get this to work.  The cmd prompt gives me an error stating I do not have permissions:

    "Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects:

       Access is Denied"

    February 26, 2007 2:29 PM
  • MvdP said:

    Run bootsect from your harddrive instead of the USB-stick and you shouldnt get the Access is Denied error.

    February 28, 2007 7:10 AM
  • 64-Bit Support Solution for Updating the BIOS on Windows Vista x64 Machines (Robert McLaws) Steve Gibson's

    March 24, 2007 11:46 AM
  • sk said:

    very good

    March 31, 2007 7:33 AM
  • mkliao said:

    I tried to run the bootsect from C:\ and it finally got rid of the access denied crap...however, after I restart with the usb key, it shows 0xc000000f error "Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause...The boot selection failed because a required device is inaccessible" on my Ferrari 4000 machine...Please Help! TIA~

    April 4, 2007 4:53 PM
  • nm said:

    I am having the same exact problem on a dimension e510.  Any help is much appreciated.

    April 11, 2007 4:13 PM
  • GlennR said:

    Anyone successfully update their BIOS? Two Intel updates have come and gone and I'm still trying to figure out an easy way to update my Bios. Anyone tried bootable CD-R?

    April 15, 2007 11:52 AM
  • JayC said:

    I tried and tried and tried to get this to work, and I simply couldnt.  I would either get access denied trying to create teh bootsector or get a Missing OS error.

    I found a set of intructions very similar to these, but with a couple twists, namely the use of the copype.exe tool.

    I found them here:

    its essentially the same setup with different steps.

    May 14, 2007 5:25 PM