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Fresh Windows 8 Install, "Your PC needs to be repaired," 0x0000428

Asked by Michael F.Nunziata on 11/10/2012 at 4:38 AM
Hello, I've just attempted to install Windows 8 Pro via a USB key. It was a "custom" install, the kind that dumps everything into a Windows.old folder and is otherwise a fresh install. The screen I get when trying to run it reads as follows:

"Recovery

Your PC needs to be repaired

The Digital Signature for this file couldn't be verified.

File: \Windows\system32\winload.exe
Error Code: 0x0000428

You'll need to use the recovery tools blah blah... blah."

I've gathered that this has something to do with the boot record being screwed, and I've tried the following:

Running the Automatic repair from the USB key - failed.
Running the automatic repair on a windows 7 CD - failed.
bootrec /fixMBR, /fixboot, /rebuildBCD - failed, the last one failing to note the existence of any windows installs on the drive. 
Both of the methods suggested in this question. (in the first, I used X:\ rather than f:\) - failed and failed. 
Re-attempting the entire install - failed.

Sometimes it seems like I have no operating system at all, other times I'm asked to choose between two windows 7 and two more windows 8 installs, all bafflingly co-existing on the same partition. 

I could probably format the drive and be done with this in 10 minutes, but I didn't bother to back anything up because I've installed and reinstalled Windows 7 no fewer than a dozen times without a single issue. The idea that something could go wrong literally never occurred to me. I really, really need the contents of that Windows.old folder. 

I'm thinking about booting from a small Linux install on another USB key, tracking down my stuff, dumping it all onto an external drive, and proceeding with the reformat. It'll probably work, but it would be really lovely if something could be done that would make the operating system  actually work the way it's supposed to instead. 

Any assistance would be appreciated.

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