I recently purchased the Asus Zenbook UX31A which came pre-loaded with Windows 8. Later I installed Linux Mint over the original Windows installation (not partitioned along side Windows). After messing around with Linux, I've decided I want Windows again, but after much effort I have yet to be able to install Windows back onto this Asus laptop. So far this is what I've tried:
1. Created a bootable USB flash drive with Windows XP, hoping to simply upgrade my way to Windows 8 after the install. BIOS did not recognize the flash drive as a bootable option. Linux Mint however could see the mounted drive and I could access it just fine when I was booted into the OS.
2. Created a bootable USB flash drive with Windows 7. BIOS could see the flash drive as a bootable option, which I set as the first boot option. But when it booted, it ignored the flash drive and booted directly into Linux.
3. Used an external DVD drive, but BIOS did not recognize it as a bootable device.
4. Created a bootable USB flash drive with Windows 8, but once again, BIOS does not see it as a bootable option.
In my BIOS settings I've tried disabling Legacy Support. I've disabled/enabled Secure Boot and Fast Boot. I know booting from USB works because I have successfully loaded Linux Ubuntu and Linux Mint from flash drives onto this laptop, and BIOS did recognize the flash drive as a bootable option when I had Windows 7 loaded onto it.
I've used various programs to create these bootable flash drives, all which do work and are well known throughout technical communities. For the Windows 8 bootable flash drive I used a program called WinUSB for Linux.
So I'm out of ideas. I don't know what else to do. Microsoft and their partnered hardware vendors locked down their shit so tight you can't even get their product back on the thing.
UPDATE: external DVD drive is no longer an option. Only USB flash drive (or other methods). Any ideas/solutions would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
So after days of investigating, I finally found a definitive answer that relates to my Asus Zenbook UX31A.
In order to see your USB flash drive as a bootable option, you must disable Secure Boot (in the security tab of BIOS) and enable CSM (in the boot tab of BIOS). CSM stands for Compatibility Support Module, and basically allows technology that is not compatible with UEFI to run an emulated legacy BIOS. Anyway, once you've done all that, you should see your flash drive in your boot options.
If you are trying to install windows 7 on a USB3 only Zenbook (you can tell if they are 3.0 by the color of the USB port. 3.0 will be blue.) from USB flash drive or external DVD drive, your Windows setup is going to fail. This is because the BIOS loads the Windows boot image, but when the Windows setup program starts it doesn't have USB3 drivers and can't read the setup files.
The workaround to this is downloading the USB3 drivers from Asus, extract the driver files (from the folder containing the .sys and .inf files) and use dism.exe to load these into a Windows boot image. Tutorial: http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/32302-How-to-i...(FAST-installation!)