By October 27, 2009

My Microsoft Windows 7 upgrade installation

I’ve run Windows XP for a very, very long time. To be honest, it was a great operating system, aside from having to reboot after installing driver or most patches. I passed on Vista for the first two years of its life until a Black Friday retail special hooked me at $79 for an OEM copy of Vista Home Premium.

I liked Vista, for the most part. It seemed stable enough, and I had to reboot less. I think coming into the OS two years after retail launch colored my experience in a much more positive light than those who started with Vista on day one. I particularly liked the new implementation of the taskbar. I liked being able to hover over an open item and seeing a thumbnail of whatever was open.

Vista wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though. I had tons of compatibility problems when trying to run three monitors. The operating system seldom remembered window preferences. When I finally yanked my secondary video card out, the window for StreamRipper was forever lost where monitor three used to be. It was like phantom limb syndrome, but for computer desktops. I hated the implementation of User Access Control, and disabled it as soon as I could figure out how.

About the same time I was struggling with my triple monitor display the release candidate beta for Windows 7 went public. I played around with it, but the stability was lacking for a multi-monitor, multi-display card setup. I chalked it up to immature video drivers and went back to Vista. In the meantime, I suffered an unrecoverable operating system corruption, and my recovery disk made in Acronis TruImage failed to restore my system. I reinstalled Vista and waited for Windows 7.

I purchased the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade because I needed some of the networking options that were available only in that version of Windows 7. I knew ahead of time that there were two ways to upgrade my OS: one that essentially patched the Vista operating system and left my files and settings intact, and one that deleted everything from my hard drive and started me over from scratch.

I never liked the idea of upgrading an existing operating system. I think my bad experiences upgrading a Windows 95 machine up to Windows 98 scarred me for life. I backed up my My Documents directory and went full speed ahead.

Halfway through the installation I realized I didn’t back up my Google Chrome Web browser bookmarks. Oh well … it would be an interesting way to figure out what sites I really did want to visit, and which ones I visited only because they were on a menu somewhere for when I was bored.

The install itself was extremely easy. I have installed Windows 3.1, 95, 98, 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, and Vista, and I have to say the Windows 7 install was the easiest of them all. One weird thing was the occasional lack of a progress meter. I came back to the office after getting a cup of coffee — and all I saw was a desktop wallpaper with no icons and no progress bar. I was a little nervous that my computer had crashed until I remembered a similar experience with Vista and the Windows 7 RC. I waited patiently and sure enough, the install chugged right on along.

I was asked fewer installation questions before, and I believe the system only rebooted once. That last part may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes my home-assembled computers don’t like soft resets. I had to hold down the power button until the machine shut down completely, then pressed the power button again. I don’t have that problem with my current setup, but the less rebooting, the better.

Installing vendor-specific video drivers and Windows Update patches was easy and did not require a restart. The only software or patch so far that’s required a reboot is Grisoft’s AVG
anti-virus software. I’m not sure why.

Stability has been great, with one weird exception: Windows’s native .zip decompression software crashed less than three hours into my Windows 7 use. The crash took down all of my Windows Explorer instances, and I had to reboot the system. I always use WinRAR anyway, so I haven’t had a repeat of that problem.

I never put my second video card back into my desktop. I have an ATI 5770 card on order, which will allow me to run four displays off of a single card. I won’t find out if the retail version of Windows 7 fixed my various issues with a multi-card, multi-display environment.

Overall, I’ve been happy with Windows 7. The easy installation process certainly helped. It bested Ubuntu Linux as the easiest OS install ever, in my opinion. Unlike the most popular version of Linux, Windows 7 ran all of my hardware out of the box, and I can still use my favorite software from the XP days, like KeePass without scrambling to find software dependencies.


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2 Comments on "My Microsoft Windows 7 upgrade installation"

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  1. Erin says:

    I’ve enjoyed Win7 for the most part as well. I had been using Vista on my work laptop and to be honest, found it to be better than what most had been saying about it.

    Glad you’re enjoying it. My only complaint…Media Center is a drag. I have video files with varied formats and the work-around to play those is a pain in the ass.

  2. Gremlin says:

    I personally think Vista was just a stop gap money maker like ME was. I’ve got one Vista machine at work, everything else is XP. I’ll probably upgrade to 7 just to get rid of Vista.