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I'm attempting to reinstall Windows 10 on my system in an attempt to clean up my partitioning scheme a bit. I've created the installation media for Windows 10 using the Windows Media Manager, and am able to boot to the installation screen. I'd like to install Windows 10 on partition 4, but I'm getting the following error:

"Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI systems, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks."

One thing in particular strikes me as confusing bout the above error message: I had Windows 10 installed on the same disk (different partition) earlier, so clearly it's possible. I was expecting to be able to reinstall Windows 10 on the partition, have it nuke the bootloader and then I'd just reinstall Grub from a live boot of Ubuntu.

Some forums on the internet suggested changing some settings in the BIOS to turn off legacy support and enable UEFI boot only, but then the SSD that I'm booting from doesn't show up. I was still able to boot from the USB stick where the Windows 10 installation media is, however, but the same error as above persisted.

Any thoughts on how I would be able to install Windows 10 without nuking my Linux partition?

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  • Yes, install in MBR mode, not EFI. Keep legacy mode enabled in the BIOS. When you get to the boot device selection screen there should be two for USB - 1 will be UEFI and the other will be legacy/MBR. There is no advantage in this case to using UEFI. – Appleoddity Sep 3 '17 at 20:58
  • By the way, this isn't an "EFI" system. It might be UEFI capable, but your disk drive has been setup in legacy/MBR. – Appleoddity Sep 3 '17 at 20:59
  • What do you mean install in MBR mode? There doesn't seem to be an option in the installation to choose which mode Windows installs in. Could you point me to some documentation? – Vasu Sep 3 '17 at 21:04
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    It installs in whatever mode you boot in. The boot media has both MBR and UEFI boot components. So, if you boot in MBR mode setup will install in MBR mode. If you have legacy mode enabled in the BIOS then you will see at least two boot options when you press F12 or whatever key gives you the boot menu at power on. One will be legacy/MBR and the other will be EFI. That's if you have both the EFI and Legacy boot options enabled in the BIOS. – Appleoddity Sep 3 '17 at 23:32
  • Got it to work, thanks @Appleoddity. Didn't realize that there were multiple boot options for the boot media itself! – Vasu Sep 4 '17 at 0:56
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Rewriting @Appleoddity's comments as an answer.

Yes, install in MBR mode, not EFI. Keep legacy mode enabled in the BIOS. When you get to the boot device selection screen there should be two for USB - 1 will be UEFI and the other will be legacy/MBR. There is no advantage in this case to using UEFI.

It installs in whatever mode you boot in. The boot media has both MBR and UEFI boot components. So, if you boot in MBR mode setup will install in MBR mode. If you have legacy mode enabled in the BIOS then you will see at least two boot options when you press F12 or whatever key gives you the boot menu at power on. One will be legacy/MBR and the other will be EFI. That's if you have both the EFI and Legacy boot options enabled in the BIOS.

The two modes referenced above show up as two separate boot devices, one (for me) labeled with EFI USB, the other simply USB. The latter option (just USB) is the one I needed in order to boot into legacy/MBR mode and install Windows without hassle.

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If you don't care about any of the data that is currently on the partitions, you can delete all 4 partitions, then create new will automatically build the correct partitions on the disk. Note** the BIOS will need to be set to UEFI in order for the disk to be partitioned properly during OS setup. If you want to keep the Legacy BIOS and use MBR. Simply go into the BIOS and disable UEFI keeping the legacy structure in place. However, for Windows 10 to make use of its enhanced security features UEFI and GPT are a requirement.

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