A customer had just upgraded to Windows 8.1 and after he did, the computer would no longer boot. A blue screen appeared, in same color as the Windows 8 blue screen of death, but with white lines and blocks instead of anything readable.

Some drivers do not upgrade properly to Windows 8.1. An often overlooked driver is the one the antivirus program uses. The ultimate problem was the version of McAfee that came with the computer was not compatible with Windows 8.1. (Not that I was surprised that McAfee was the cause of problems.) I had to remove McAfee in safe mode.How I discovered that McAfee was the problem was I successfully booted into safe mode. By default, Windows 8 foolishly makes it very difficult to get into safe mode. But after 2 unsuccessful boots, you can the option to boot into safe mode in the Windows 8 recovery console. I went ahead and used the command prompt to enable the F8 key again using the command bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy so that I wouldn’t be waiting for two failed boots to boot into safe mode. By the way, while you are in the Windows 8 recovery console, you should go ahead and run the chkdsk command just for good measure.

Once I booted into safe mode, I used the device manager to remove the video card driver, making sure I choose the option to delete the installed driver. Thinking the video card was at fault, since all I saw a messed up blue screen, I rebooted. That is when I saw the new Windows BSOD, which I hate because it is less helpful. The video card driver was partially at fault, but not the cause of Windows 8.1 not booting.

The fixed BSOD gave the error KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED. In the older, more helpful BSOD this is STOP 0x1E. Telling someone 0x1E is a lot easier to remember than the entire BSOD code. This STOP code and STOP 0x8E KERNEL_MODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED are essentially the same. Fortunately, this BSOD gave me a file that was causing the problem, and it was a McAfee file.

So I booted back into safe mode. This time I enabled the Windows installer in safe mode using the commands below:

reg add “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Network\MSIServer” /VE /T REG_SZ /F /D “Service”

reg add “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal\MSIServer” /VE /T REG_SZ /F /D “Service”

net start MSIServer

Then I uninstalled McAfee. Once I did, Windows 8.1 booted successfully for the first time. Now it was just a matter of installing the latest video card drivers, the latest version of Classic Shell, and a different antivirus program to finish the job.