Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 Reformat Guide

10/4/2017 Update: I was just in the bios and I tested the touch screen. It works for pretty much everything on the screen!

Check the end of the article for updated information about Windows 10.

Objective: Format the drive, install Windows 8.1, install minimum drivers and let Windows Update do the rest.

I bought the Tablet 2 in early 2013 but didn’t use it as much as I wanted because of it’s slow speed and inaccurate digitizer. A year and a half later I was ready to give up on it. The specs are low. I thought it would be impossible to ever be fast. After using Linux daily for many years I forgot the benefits of a clean Windows install. At the end of the day, my TPT2 is faster than it ever has been. In fact, it feels like a different machine.

You will need a few USB accessories: keyboard, mouse, flash drive, USB hub. You need the hub! Without a USB keyboard you will be unable to set the boot device or install Windows.

This is guide wasn’t intended to walk you through each key stroke or click to format your first computer. If this is your first time you will need some supplemental guidance from a begginer’s guide.

Write down your Windows 8 product key. You can use the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder, it is free.

Download Windows 8.1 iso. Don’t use the Microsoft upgrade program to download it or you will end up with a Windows 8 iso instead of 8.1. Instead find the torrent of the MSDN iso here. Don’t worry. You can verify it with the sha1 hash against MSDN’s to make sure you are getting the real thing. I used Windows 8.1 with Update (multiple editions) (x86) – DVD – MultiLang. Make this into a bootable flash drive. You can use a DVD if you have an external DVD drive available.

Boot from the USB drive. To get into the bios: press the power and volume up buttons at the same time.

Windows setup. Delete all the partitions. Create a new one with all the free space and agree when Windows setup says it may setup some extra partitions. You will need to use a Windows 8.1 generic key for the installation process. Don’t worry. After setting up the drivers to get WiFi working you can enter your Windows 8 key.

Setup minimum drivers to get Windows update working. Save the drivers on a flash drive. Download them from here. It maybe helpful to use the drop down menus to filter out the other choices. Install one at a time and reboot after each one if prompted.
1. Chipset => Intel Platform Driver for Windows 8.1
2. Networking: Wireless => Broadcom Wireless LAN driver for BCM4330 abgn for Windows 8.1
3. Mouse and Keyboard => WinTab Driver for Windows 8.1 (This is the driver and calibration software for the pen. It is Wacom specific so I suggest you install it.)

Activate Windows. Go ahead and try to activate. It will say your key isn’t valid and give you the option to enter a new one. Provide your original Windows 8 key.

Run Windows Update. Running this for the first time is excruciatingly slow. You will feel like it is stuck at 0% forever. You will think that something is not working. And even though I am telling you this, it is so slow that you will still think that something is not working correctly. Leave it for at least an hour or two and you should have a list of updates. Go ahead and select everything and install. Again, this is very slow. It will look stuck on 0%. Give it 2-3 hours and it should be nearly done.

Enjoy. Reboot and check Windows Update again. You should be done with the major stuff and have a bloatfree tablet. There will be two unknown items under unknown devices. I don’t know what they are. After using the new setup for a week I have not noticed anything missing or not functioning properly. In fact, I really love using the tablet now and I don’t really mind that it runs Windows!

A few last notes… I don’t recommend installing any of the other Lenovo software. On my first attempt I let Lenovo’s update program install everything it recommended and it slowed the tablet down. Like WAY down. The second time I did what I described above and if I was to do it all over again, I would do it the same way. Don’t forget to calibrate your screen using the Wacom tool in the control panel.

Consider installing Classic Shell. It is a free Start menu replacement which used to be open source. Then head over to Ninite to grab a customized installer to install all your programs. Last but not least, don’t forget to grab your free copy of OneNote. Note: The new free version does not properly import notebooks from Onenote 2007 that have PDF printouts with notes written on top. The first few pages of the section look okay. Scrolling down will reveal your writing progressively shifts up and is no longer aligned the way you wrote it on the printout.

Update 1/26/2015: In Windows power management you may notice the options are limited to one setting, balanced. To get even more performance you can install some registry patches that restore options under advanced power settings. So far I have added processor power management, wireless adapter settings, PCI express and created additional power profiles like high performance and battery saver.

Update 7/16/2015: Please read the comments below for some more helpful hints. Rick said he was able to create a Windows 8.1 clean install media straight from the tablet that includes all drivers and is activated. Roger was also able to help us figure out the two unknown devices, one being the Broadcom GNSS geolocation driver and the other is Atmel touch debug port driver boot bridge peripheral driver. Thank you kindly, gentlemen!

Update 8/4/2015: Windows 10!

It is possible – but my experience was sluggish compared to an already lackluster Windows 8.1. Here’s how I did it… By the way, I only ran it for a day, then returned to Windows 8.1.

Use the Media Creation Tool to setup the Windows 10 installer to a USB drive. I went with Windows 10 Pro 32-bit, as I currently have Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit installed.

Boot from the USB drive. (Power and volume up buttons at the same time. Then set the USB drive as the first selection.)

Select “custom install” and then delete all partitions.

Select “Drive 0 Unallocated Space” and click next. The next part will take about 25 minutes until the next user input is required.

After you choose your settings and Windows finishes setting itself up, install the drivers.

For the chipset, I used the Acer Iconia W3 Windows 8.1 driver package. Run setup.exe from the “MI” folder. It is a bit newer than Lenovo’s – which did not provide functional drivers for everything under Windows 10. You will also need Lenovo’s Broadcom Wireless LAN driver for BCM4330 abgn, Broadcom GNSS Geolocation Driver, Atmel Touch Debug Port Driver, WinTab driver. For any devices remaining with a question mark, update their driver from a location on your computer, pointing it to the “MI” folder. If I recall correctly, that should take care of any remaining devices, or Windows Update will.

Windows Update will take some time to get going so be patient.

I ran some benchmarks and the results are as follows:

PassMark: 202.9
CPU Mark: 625
2D graphics mark: 81.5
Disk Mark: 187.5

If you were able to find a way to get the performance up to par – then please let us know! When I tried playing back 720p video on VLC, it was laggy and unwatchable!

Update 8/20/2016: Windows 10

I tried the free update to Windows 10 and it still felt sluggish. Went back to Windows 8.1!