In past several years I have built several desktop PCs, most of them have been AMD systems. In near future I am likely to build an AM4 Platform based desktop with NVMe SSD. I am still a great fan of Windows 7 and as much as possible I want to continue to use it as my preferred OS until Microsoft withdraws the extended support.
Well Installing Windows 7 on AM4 platform (AMD Ryzen Desktop CPU) with NVMe SSD is not that straightforward. You have to take care of quite a few things. First of all you need to integrate USB Drivers so that your USB input devices like keyboard and mouse and USB pen drive shall get detected during installation. You also need to integrate NVMe SSD Drivers and optionally also the Microsoft Patches (KB2990941 & KB3087873) that enable NVMe drivers in Windows 7 64 if you wish to install NVMe SSD on your motherboard.
Fortunately various motherboard vendors like Gigabyte and MSI have released software utilities that make this task a lot easier. All you need to do is point to your Windows 7 setup and USB Pen drive and the utility does the full integration of all drivers and patches into the Windows 7 64 bit setup on a pen drive. Later using tools like OSCDIMG you can even create a bootable ISO file out of it and if required can also burn it on to a DVD for archival.
Using Gigabyte Utility I created such a slipstreamed Windows 7 64 setup and then created an ISO out of it using OSCDIMG tool. Now I needed to test it and in absence of real hardware I decided to try it out on VMWare Workstation Player 14. This version does support UEFI, Secure Boot and most importantly Disk Controller as NVMe that are necessary to try out the slipstreamed setup with MS NVMe drivers.
I created a new Windows 7 64 bit Virtual Machine and created a virtual NVMe disk. I configured the slipstreamed ISO as CD Drive and booted the system. I was hoping that Windows 7 would detect the NVMe drive and proceed with the installation. To my surprise after Windows booted it got stuck at Starting Windows screen with the Microsoft (MS) Logo. I thought being Virtual Machine it might be slow but despite over 30 minutes there was no sign of life in the setup. The Num Lock also did not work. Windows went into a hang. I was wondering what might be the issue. I changed disk controller to SCSI and windows booted and installed normally. There was a problem when VMWare Virtual Disk controllers were NVMe.
I decided to troubleshoot further. I refereed MS KB Article and followed the exact steps to integrate patches (KB2990941 & KB3087873) into the Windows 7 64 ISO. Still Windows 7 setup would hang when it detected VMWare Virtual Disk controller as NVMe.
The Windows 7 SP1 ISO that I had was the first release without the Media Refresh Patch. I searched the net and managed to find a Windows 7 64 SP1 ISO with media refresh patch and tried integrating the NVMe driver patches into it. Still it would hang at Starting Windows.
Later I just installed Windows 7 integrated with MS NVMe driver patches on a SCSI disk and tried to extract stornvme.sys file from the Windows folder. I used it as F6 driver during installation but it was rejected by Windows 7 setup stating it’s unsigned. This attempt also failed.
I explored the internet and found OpenFabrics NVMe drivers for Windows 7 64 as well as 32 bit versions. I tried those but again Windows 7 64 rejected them stating they are unsigned (64 bit drivers).
Then I tried 32 bit Windows 7 64 SP1 and 32 bit OpenFabrics NVMe drivers. Interestingly this time it detected the NVMe drive and loaded Windows 7 32 on it. However this success was short-lived because when it rebooted during installation after copying all files, it again got stuck at Starting Windows!!
Searching the net revealed that I needed to copy boot.wim from Windows 10. So while I slipstreamed the MS Patches into Windows 7 64, later I copied boot.wim from Windows 10 64 ISO into Windows 7 setup. This time it detected NVMe drive and proceeded with the installation but again this success was short-lived as upon reboot Windows would get stuck as Starting Windows.
It was very clear that somehow during clean install boot , Windows 7 64 NVMe drivers do not work well with VMWare Workstation Player NVMe controllers and go into hang at Starting Windows. This seems to be an underlying bug or some sort of incompatibility between the two that might not have been tested thoroughly.
How to install Windows 7 64 on VMWare Workstation Player with NVMe disk controller.
Well you have to use a Disk Cloning approach as follows