Comparing BIOS to UEFI Solutions

I’m just back from Microsoft Ignite, where 1E had a very successful event! One of the things causing a buzz at our booth was our BIOS to UEFI feature, included in 1E Nomad as part of the 1E Windows 10 Now solution.

Essentially, the 1E BIOS to UEFI solution contains two major components:

  • The ability to upgrade from Windows in BIOS mode to Windows 10 in UEFI Mode, within a single Configuration Manager “Refresh” Task Sequence. This may seem straightforward, but the ConfigMgr task sequencing engine makes some assumptions that make transitioning from BIOS to UEFI in a single Task Sequence very hard. We have figured out the steps necessary, so you don’t have to.
  • Also, we have added a custom Task Sequence step for OEM commands. If you want to convert from legacy BIOS emulation mode to UEFI with Secure Boot, all you do is enable that setting in our Task Sequence Property Page (shown below), and the 1E tool will run the correct steps on Lenovo, Dell or HP machines.

comparing-bios-to-uefi-solutions

One of the challenges with BIOS to UEFI is that it will convert the disk from MBR partitioning to GPT partitioning, and this is a destructive process: all data and apps on the local disk are wiped (you can’t use an in-place upgrade if you want to switch from BIOS to UEFI). We use USMT to archive your local data and settings, and 1E’s Peer Backup Assistant (another feature of Nomad) makes the process run efficiently using local peers for storage so you don’t need State Migration Points. As the applications are also wiped, you can use the Application Mapping feature in 1E’s Windows 10 Now kit bag to seamlessly migrate your applications to the new OS. Note that once we get to Windows 10 with UEFI and Secure Boot, we can then use Windows 10 In-Place Upgrade to upgrade the OS in the future.

Over the past few months, there have been a few solutions out there trying to solve the problem of BIOS to UEFI. Some are still in the prototype stage, and most only solve a small part of the BIOS to UEFI migration problem. Below is a summary of what’s available

  • 1E – 1E are the only vendor providing this functionality as a feature of a commercially available, fully supported comprehensive Windows 10 migration solution. The 1E solution has an installer that makes setup a breeze. No coding or scripting required. It takes you no more than a few minutes to incorporate the BIOS to UEFI steps, along with other Nomad steps, into an existing Windows 10 “Refresh” Task sequence! When combined with 1E Nomad Content Distribution, Peer Backup Assistant, intelligent application migration and self-service, it works as a full end to end solution. Learn more: https://www.1e.com/on-demand-webinar/automate-bios-uefi-secure-windows-10/
  • Adaptiva – Although it’s presented as a “Secure 10 Solution”, it’s a document, with some step by step instructions, provided as-is. It will require some coding and scripting on behalf of the administrator. Additionally, it does not provide the ability to migrate existing BIOS machines to UEFI in a single task sequence, since it requires a PXE boot after the firmware change is made. http://www2.adaptiva.com/l/139131/2016-07-18/j7lfk.
  • Jörgen Nilsson / Johan Schrewelius – We shared Jörgen’s blog back in July that describes a solution that uses a free tool from 1E along with a bootable media package that gets written to disk to handle the Task Sequence limitations. He has included some sample scripts to enable UEFI on HP systems. https://www.1e.com/blogs/2016/07/19/legacy-bios-uefi-solution-community/
  • Mike Beckel – Mike Beckel of Target has developed his own solution, and has provided some PowerShell scripts to help you code your own solution. Does not include any support for OEM steps, so you are on your own to develop the OEM commands. http://mikebeckel.com/Win10-BIOS2UEFI-In-A-Single-TaskSequence/
  • Nickolaj Andersen – Microsoft MVP Nickolaj Andersen has developed his own solution for BIOS to UEFI in a single Task Sequence. His solution does require some unsupported 3rd party tools to work. He only addresses Dell machines at this time for OEM support. http://www.scconfigmgr.com/2016/06/14/switch-from-bios-to-uefi-on-dell-systems-during-windows-10-deployment-with-configmgr/
  • Microsoft Configuration Manager Technical Preview – Microsoft has been working on several ideas for BIOS to UEFI, now ready for beta evaluation in “Configuration Manager 1609 Technical preview”. ConfigMgr 1609 addresses one specific problem: how to reboot into WinPE UEFI mode when running on WinPE BIOS mode. This solution should be available in Current Branch sometime in the next few months. However, Microsoft is not addressing any OEM steps, so you must script or code your own solution. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sccm/core/get-started/capabilities-in-technical-preview-1609

Thanks to Nickolaj for his shout out regarding the full 1E end to end solution (from his blog above):

“Before we start, I just want to mention that 1E has a great solution that can help you switching from BIOS to UEFI and for both Dell, Lenovo and HP. So if you are looking for an automated zero-touch BIOS to UEFI (for the refresh scenario), app-mapping and peer based USMT, then definitely take a look at what 1E has to offer.”

To summarize the solutions:

Solution 1E Jörgen Nilsson / Johan Schrewelius Nickolaj Andersen Mike Beckel ConfigMgr 1609 Technical Preview Adaptiva
Setup Automated MSI Package Manual install with code samples Manual install with code samples Manual install with code samples Reboot step is built in Manual install with code samples
Has OEM Support Yes: Support for Dell, Lenovo and HP. Sample PowerShell for HP Sample command lines for Dell only Sample PowerShell for Dell No OEM Support Sample command lines
Supports a Single Task Sequence Deployment Yes Yes Only for bare-metal Yes Yes No, requires PXE booting.
Requires Coding/ Scripting No May require some coding or scripting May require some coding or scripting May require some coding or scripting May require coding or scripting for OEM Requires coding
Cost Included with 1E Nomad Free Free Free Still in Technical Preview Free

 

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Keith Garner
Keith is a Solutions Architect at 1E, focusing on Operating Systems Deployment. Although Keith recently joined 1E, he has 20+ years of industry experience working as an IT consultant, and working for Microsoft. Keith has worked for the Windows Product Group, Surface Product Group, and the Configuration Manager Group. Additionally Keith has worked for Microsoft IT, where he help designed and implemented the Windows deployment system used internally at Microsoft. Keith was a Developer and lead Technical Program Manager for the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. Perhaps you have read Keith’s blog, or you have seen him presenting at various conferences. Keith’s role at 1E is about tackling the challenges of Windows OS Deployment, and making OS deployment better for our customers.