Hi all, after reading about 'bricked' boards here, I've done a carefull read of the methods of flashing offered by Intel and have noted that the path one should follow or the best method to use may require some carefull attention to the detail.
Gone are the days of using a bootable floppy and pure dos environment. The files are too large to fit on a floppy and most m/b's dont support a native floppy drive anyway.
As far as methods are concerned, I have always sought to use the most 'native' environment possible.
For the current crop of boards, it seems that using the boards built-in flasher [F7] is possibly the best way to go.
I have flashed from the desktop [.exe] before and it has worked fine, though it gives me the jitters!
I've never flashed via bootable usb before, though I can see that one may need to be carefull about how they go about creating a bootable usb drive, but maybe it's not critical anymore.
The days of making sure you had a pure dos non-protected mode [no system drivers] evironment may be long gone.
But then you have to be confident that the usb interface and current bios that's driving it will 'get it right' and that there won't be any compatability issues between your flash drive and the pc.
As for bootable cd's, they have their own challenges. It's quite easy to create a bootable emulated floppy cd, but you won't have the space in the image to add the bios file and flasher [iflash2.exe]
Yes, you can add them outside the image, but they won't be available at the A:\ prompt. You need to switch to the D:\ drive to get to them, but that means you have to also create a autoexec.bat and config.sys file to load cd-rom extension drivers, [e.g mscdex and oakcdrom.sys from the old days], to make D available.
But the old mscdex extension and oakcdrom.sys driver won't work on current gen chipsets like the c600 with sata dvd drives.
I have found updated drivers on the net that do work over the c600 controller with sata dvd drive, but it's something of a mission to work through the menu's offered to find what works on your board.
Once you have found the menu path that works, if you want, you can then pluck out just that extension and system driver that works, create your own autexec.bat and config.sys files to load them and away you go.
btw. the default drive letter assigned with those files was Z, but you can easily change that to be D if you want. Just something to be aware of.
As for the update path one should follow, even this is not clear cut anymore. It's only after you drill down into Intel's website that you may find a flowchart like this one http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/CS-033076.htm http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/CS-033076.htm for you chipset/cpu config, which specifies what version bios you must first upgrade to, before flashing a later version.
Jumping ahead too far may create a 'brick'!
Whilst I do have quite a lot of pc/bios experience, I'm no expert on the current boards and all comments, advise, experiences, better methods and techniques are warmly welcomed.
This is a great message to pass on, you can see my own thread on the matter for a specific example to realise why.
Like the OP I too have experience from way back updating the Bios on systems and remember the 'floppy disk days'. Using the most 'native' environment method is my preference too.
Intel support for various methods is very good, there is lots of information available. But care and a bit of research first is the best way to go.