Out with the DVD drive, in with dual booting
The original 200 Gb hard drive was no longer sufficient for my storage needs, so it was time to upgrade it to a 1 Tb (hybrid) drive. The DVD drive was swapped out with the 200 Gb drive to have Windows 8.1 as the dual boot option.
I have an older set of tools that generally work very well when dealing with desktop computers, but are inadequate when dealing with laptops (and smaller devices in general). It was time for new tools along with the Optical Bay Hard Drive Enclosure.
It was good. I followed the steps for the 'MacBook Pro 15" Core 2 Duo Models A1226 and A1260 Hard Drive Replacement' guide and essentially continued from step 10 of 'Installing MacBook Pro 15" Core 2 Duo Models A1226 and A1260 Dual Hard Drive' guide.
I cloned the contents of the original 200 Gb hard drive to the new 1 Tb (hybrid) drive FIRST! The new drive was connected via a SATA to USB connector. If anything was wrong with the new drive, it would've been MUCH easier to simply pack it up for an exchange/return to vendor without having to open up the laptop again. But since the cloning went without a hitch, it was time to put my new tools to use...
I already knew to proceed cautiously, but this was most emphasized when dealing with the hard drive ribbon cable, specifically, loosening the adhesive that secures the portion of the cable on the top of the (older) hard drive. The spudger that comes with the Pro Tech Toolkit was the best tool for this. I decided to leave this ribbon cable connected to the logic board so that I wouldn't have to deal with the adhesive that kept it on the metal plate (next to the left fan and ExpressCard connector). But in order to still have room to remove the old hard drive itself, I disconnected the sleep light and IR sensor connectors from the ribbon cable.
When reconnecting the SuperDrive ribbon cable to the logic board, I found that it can be tricky to get it plugged back in, but some patience and a close look with a flashlight can make it easier.
When it comes to installing Windows 8.1, Boot Camp is only needed to download the latest Windows support software. Make sure this software is put on a USB flash drive formatted in FAT16 or ExFAT; without this, the Windows installation will stall and go nowhere. With an external USB blu ray drive, it was just Option key away from installing Windows 8.1. As long as the older hard drive is selected for partition deletion(s) and reformatting, the Windows installation should go normally.