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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