Windows

I upgraded to Microsoft Windows 7 and survived

Upgrading to Microsoft Windows 7 may sound like a horror story to some, but Senior Editor Mark Kaelin risked it on his personal PCs and survived.

Windows 7First a disclaimer: I am the Senior Editor at TechRepublic tasked with hosting the Microsoft Windows Blog. I have to install Windows 7 and use it on a regular basis. I have a compelling reason to upgrade from Windows Vista; you, however, may not.

That being said, I know many of you will (or did) install Windows 7 soon after the October 22 retail release date. I can report that, so far, upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 has been almost completely painless. Your mileage may vary, but I think Microsoft has done a very good job anticipating and thus avoiding common problems that occur when installing a new operating system.

Take heed

Over the weekend I installed Windows 7 on two PCs. One was a clean install on a notebook using Greg Shultz's handy tip for creating a USB installation drive, and the other was an in-place upgrade of my Alienware-gaming PC. From these installations I can offer some tidbits of advice:

  • Greg's USB installation-drive idea cuts the installation of a clean install to less than 30 minutes and is highly recommended.
  • For a clean, new install, back up your data, make sure you have all your application installation disks ready, and don't forget to save your browser bookmarks and your desktop settings.
  • For either, a clean install or the in-place upgrade, run the Windows update immediately after the initial install because there are several updates already available since the code was released to manufacturing.
  • Be prepared to install drivers for video and sound cards and other peripherals. Intel, ATI (AMD), and NVIDIA have published new drivers for their hardware since the RTM. For my gaming PC, I needed to install the nVidia drivers so I can turn on the SLI mode.
  • For the in-place upgrade, give yourself at least two hours to complete the installation -- moving the programs and settings takes much longer to do than I would have anticipated. So while it worked just fine, it took a very long time to complete.

For those reading this and preparing to lambaste me for doing an in-place upgrade, remember my initial disclaimer -- I need to experience it so I can get an idea of how it works or doesn't work. And, the gaming PC was the perfect candidate because the only applications installed on the system were easily reinstalled games.

Your plans

So what are your plans? Are you going to buy and install Windows 7 soon after it is released to the retail market? Are you going to do a clean install or are you going to try the in-place upgrade? How about a quick, informal, and notably unscientific poll:

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

31 comments
Danny Graham
Danny Graham

As a Microsoft Partner we have had access to the full release for a month or so. I thus made the move about 3 weeks ago to Win7 x64. I had one teething problem getting my Virus checker to bed into Microsoft's new security centre. And a nightmare installing SQL Server Express 2008 x64. I eventually gace up and installed SQ Server Express 2005 x86. Other than that - everything has worked. As a Software Developer that included installing Visual Studio and numerous associated tools - and they all just worked. So yeah - pretty painless. Its not just that Win7 is an improvement on XP. Win7 x64 is a vast improvement on XP x64 - which was not at all good. I suspect Win7 x64 is the first 64bit Windows platform worth the title.

bryanjam
bryanjam

Me too - it was easy. It took less than an hour and you have the option to save all your files and programs, which I did - several times out of anxiety. I was going for the virtual XP option but in the end decided to reinstall all my software - particularly as the saved Windows.old took up more than a third of my C Drive at 38GB. It's all very intuitive - I was reading and reading and in the end thought 'the hell with it - it can't be all that difficult!' - and it wasn't. I've been working on paid work with it today, not bad given that I only installed it last night. If you can, forget XP and go for re-installing your old software on 7 - you'll be surprised how much you don't need/want any more. The only thing that wasn't compatible (yet) was Virgin's antivirus protection but there is free security provided called Windows Essentials. Come on in, the water's fine!

dl
dl

I'd love to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 -- but for Windows 7 (like VISTA) making it impossible to achieve overscanning, aka, a pan and scan virtual desktop on my monitor with my ATI Radeon 4850 videocard (must use VGA, not digital cables). In Windows XP you can set the resolution in Display properties to 1600 x 1200 and in ATI Catalyst Control Center to 800 x 600 to give you a desktop that extends beyond your monitor's screen. You simply move your cursor to the edge of the screen to reveal additional real estate. It's great for opening desktop publishing, spreadsheets, and word processing apps full size -- and you rarely need to use scroll bars. But frustratingly VISTA and Windows 7 won't let you set different resolutions. I'm at a loss. I've grown so dependent on this productivity-enhancing feature of ATI cards that I can't live without it (even on a 25" monitor). So this attempt by Microsoft to totally control how you set your video may keep me from upgrading my small company's computers to Windows 7. Very frustrating.

completelift
completelift

Can TechRepublic send a link on upgrading to windows 7 from XP Home and XP pro? office geek

john3347
john3347

I have been using Windows 7 beta, RC, and now RTM since January. Although Windows 7 is clearly a step up from Vista, it does not compete yet with what XP has finally become. There are some performance improvements over XP but some Vista instability issues remaining (albeit less frequently), GUI negatives when compared with XP or Vista are greater with Windows 7. For instance, Libraries, which was supposed to clear up the train wreck that is Vista Windows Explorer only further muddied the waters. Windows (not Internet Explorer 8 this time) decided it had a problem and needed to close while I was typing this response. I am now typing this on an XP computer which will remain my primary OS for some time to come. Windows 7, tho clearly improved over Vista, is not "Vista FIXED" and exibits many of the same issues that earned Vista the reputation it so well deserves.

Tech_Monkey
Tech_Monkey

I think Microsoft should give us Vista Ultimate users a free upgrade, or at a extreme discount. I also bought two laptops for myself and spouse earlier in the year, but doesnt qualify for free upgrade since it before June 2009.

Tom Verrijk
Tom Verrijk

To move all your user data, settings etc. across to the new Windows 7 installation use Windows Easy Transfer....works quit well

felicia
felicia

Here in Bangkok, I just upgraded to W7 10-days ago & the only negatives I have are that I don't care for W7's windows explorer as I can't modify the toolbar and other downside is the look and feel of the 'start bar' program selection. Aside from that it boots real quick and runs all my graphics plus audio & video editing apps a lot faster than XP.

charl0s
charl0s

i did an inplace upgrade and had no major issues. it did take a while to complete, but i accomplished it while doing other work. that being said, i am running into issues with nvidia drivers (using the latest Windows 7 approved release). Currently i am not able to extend my desktop to multiple monitors and have not been able to find a solutions.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What are you plans for adopting Windows 7 for your personal computers? What about at the corporate level - do you plan to upgrade with new PCs?

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

I see no big gottcha's in Win7 32 or 64 bit. I also did not expereince any problems with Vista, other than vendor drivers being non-existant for many fairly modern components. I still say most of the issues were caused by component mfg's looking for a free-lunch during the economic downturn. I reinstalled many components, under windows 7, which had been impossible to run under Vista (32 bit) - surprise, surprise... they worked. guess it wasn't as difficult to develop drivers after all. OK, there was that pesky UAC problem, but - increased security is not a problem, although there may be challenges when you are asked for your passport at every border crossing, going from every tiny country, province or village - at least know you are aware off that the rules may have changed and can act accordingly. It could be a nightmare for less informed users, but - IT staff could have fixed most of those nags without breaking a sweat...if they had tried! Many complaints against Vista should be reevalutated - The fault is not in the stars, it is in ourselves. The vendor's need to be beaten with a wet noodle, sent to bed without any supper. XP-pro was OK, after it was patched and powdered. But I'll be proud to take Windows 7 to the dance ... its the belle of the ball.

nick
nick

Using the MS RTM W7 I upgraded my Vista Business and it went well. Much faster than Vista and reliable. Then I came across an XP Pro Laptop (1gb memory, integrated ATI graphics). I did not fancy the clean install so I did in-place upgrade to Vista Business (I had a DVD hanging around). I did not activate Vista. I then did in-place upgrade to Windows 7 Pro. Yes it was slow, but mostly unattended. Works a treat! Tried it again on a Dell Desktop, same method. Please note both starter PC's were degunged first! Best of luck. PS, Sadly W7 slows down after a week or 2.

tonyprodger
tonyprodger

I tried to upgrade from an existing Vista but although it went through the routine it hung at the last and when I rebooted it rolled back to my original Vista installation. Probably it is because I have too many files to move over. Any comments.

slatimer76
slatimer76

Then there is no way to accomplish this. You have to do a fresh install to go from XP to Windows 7. MS has posted this several places, including on a blog on Tomshardware: ?I can confirm that customers will be able to purchase upgrade media and an upgrade license to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 - however, they will need to do a clean installation of Windows 7,? a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to The Register. ?This requires the user to back up their data, install Windows 7, re-install the programs and restore their data.? (http://www.tomshardware.com/news/windows-xp-7-upgrade-vista,6965.html). You will need to do a fresh clean install.

carlsf
carlsf

Win7 Ult 64bit. Reasons Raid problems, Dont like the new UI, Libraries, Start, and the fact I cannot get the "CLASSIC" interface back I am now reformatting the HDD, and asking my supplier to swap it for a Vista, (that worked) and am going to attempt to ask MS toallow me to use the WIN7 key for a Vista install. I will be skipping WIN7 unless I can get the XP/Vista CLASSIC interface back. MS's LOSS if it ant broke the leave it alone.

Trotter516
Trotter516

MS is already offering the upgrade version at a discount. True, it is not a HUGE discount, but it is not as expensive as the full version, either. If you have a .edu address, or are taking a course at a local college, take advantage of the student upgrade program.

PeterM42
PeterM42

I have taken my main machine back to XP - 'nuff said!

bckerr
bckerr

I received my copy of Windows 7 Ultimate on October 9 and have it installed already. I did a clean install, which was fast and flawless, while copying a few games and applications to the new installation. I must say that the process is really easy and relatively fast.I love Windows 7 Ulitimate and threw a party at my college with the IT students and we had a great time wit it.

Oreamnos_americanus
Oreamnos_americanus

Personal I have a laptop which came with the 'get Win 7 upgrade when it's released' coupon. Will do a clean install. I also have a two year old desktop that's due for replacement, will buy a new one with Win 7. Old desktop will become the new XP 'play with stuff' machine and the current one will become the 'Play with Linux' box. Corporate We ditched the Upgrade to Vista project a year ago and decided to wait for Win 7. We run a fairlty locked down desktop image on 12,000+ machines so this is a major effort.

rlyons
rlyons

I want to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as I can afford it. I plan to stick it on my recently custom built machine, that didn't come with a free upgrade unfortunately (I wish it did). In our company we are donning XP Pro, and plan to stick that way. We have a lot of delicate custom software that we NEED to run daily on machines within the company. We might end up building a test box and trying stuff out, but our FD is pretty tight with money. Eventually, we might go to 7, but not for a while yet for sure.

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

Installed Win7 Ultimate Signature Edition on Friday night. Did an in-place upgrade that took approximately 4.5 hours to complete. I have a ton of apps on this system and I only had about 53GB of free space on my drive when I began the installation. Almost 3.5 hours of that time was spent gathering and transferring files, settings, etc and applying the latest patches. Upgrade worked perfectly with all devices (including USB headphones/mic, webcam, printers, dual display, etc) performing flawlessly. It also freed up another 50GB of space with the removal of all of the Vista Ultimate Extras.

PeterM42
PeterM42

Why do Microsoft claim that their latest OS release is "Windows 7"? It's NOT - it's Windows 6.1 (ie: a service pack or patch release for VISTA. If you don't believe this from having just compared the two, then go to Windows Explorer - Help - About and check the version number.

rasilon
rasilon

I've already installed W7 on my personal machine (RC & RTM) and on my work computer (RTM). I eliminated Vista completly from my personal machine. My work machien can dual boot to XP, but I haven't done so for weeks now... I *REALLY* like W7. I find going backto XP on work machines (I administer a network at an upstate NY Hospice) "annoying"... :-) We will *NOT* be ugrading any of our computers at work. The cost (time & money) can't be justified. However, I suspect that new machines purchased next year will have W7 on them.... BTW, I am not a fan of upgrading *ANY* OS, especially on a workstation. Clean installs are the only way I support (and do). One thing that you overlooked in the article that makes a clean install *much* easier is the "Windows Easy Transfer". This utility will save the user a *LOT* of time....

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

do a search with Windows search. Type in "startup" and perss see what happens :^0 oops -- I guess a patch fixed it :( -- not as funny now. It used to shutdown the system.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

when I do build my next one, in a few months, it will likely have win7 on it (at least one drive). Not too thrilled, but it does utilize multi-cores better, and gaming should be better as well. Aside from that, my XP and Linux boxes are my primary machines for now (but the XP box needs another friggin rebuild).

jck
jck

Personally: I have a laptop with the free Windows 7 Upgrade. 2 hours though? Astonishingly long upgrade timeframe. I also have to back up the hard drive as-is with Vista 64-bit in case 7 doesn't work well with the laptop. Corporate: As far as I know, we're sticking with XP Pro 32-bit right now. After the IT guys in hardware make an analysis of things, we might start letting new PCs come in with 7. Not real sure.

ninja67555
ninja67555

and thats the way it will stay for probably 2 years until i know for sure that win 7 is not just vista with just some of the crap removed. Microsoft knew that vista had DHCP issues but did nothing about it. They suck so much. Not 1 cent of my hard-earned will help to improve their bottom-line. i might acquire a copy for a second machine just to play with but i will not be kicking myself in 6 months time for actually spending money on crap. time will tell

yschoo1
yschoo1

I had Windows 7RC with Ubuntu 9.04 wubied into Windows before. Clean installation time is comparable to Ubuntu. My next move is to wait until Ubuntu 9.10 is out on the 29th this month. The question is to wubi or not wubi, any suggestions?

Timespike
Timespike

Thanks to Microsoft's wonderfully generous MSDN Academic Alliance program, I've got Windows 7 pro running on my PC at home. Before I installed it, my system was an XP machine (and I still have it installed; I prefer to do one OS per HD - it's tidier that way) but it didn't take me long to stop booting into the XP drive. I'll pick up a copy of Windows 7 whenever I build a new system. Until then, I'm going to be enrolled in classes and therefore I'll just keep using a free copy per semester.

DamianB76
DamianB76

We have already started giving people laptops with Windows 7 installed. So far everything is going great with it. We only have 1 compatibility issue with one of our software vendors. With a fix coming soon we see Windows 7 being company wide by end of first quarter next year. As for personal. I will have it on all my home PCs Oct 25th.

MrRess
MrRess

I installed Windows 7 pro this weekend, and like it so far. I did the "custom" install from XP. It didn't like my webcam, but I never really used it anyway. I have an old generic one I can use if I need it. I can't get Second Life to work., I've been playing around with the compatibility settings, but no luck so far. No other hardware issues so far. I don't have the latest and greatest of anything, old Gateway e4000 p4, ATI Radeon HD 2400 Pro AGP with the pre-release WDDM 1.1 driver, and a Lexmark X1240 printer. LOL, something just crashed and reset while I was writing this. It reset in about 20 seconds, and I don't seem to have lost anything. It was probably the video.

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