Windows 7 – The agony and the glory

Well it’s been a long night but I’m finally starting to get my install of Windows 7 whipped into shape so I thought I would share some of the pain and agony of my installations of Windows 7 Beta. I should say first off what I did most Windows gurus will be clawing their eyes out and the path I took is not the one any average user should take.

Right off the bat this was installed on my main machine .. well my only machine so you can bet I’ve definitely got my figures crossed for a RTM release before August. I’ve always said people need to put there money where their mouths are and in this case given I’ve said that we will now see a late summer release I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

From the beginning I had always figured I would go the upgrade route since I was already running Vista Ultimate with SP1 installed and really didn’t foresee any problems going that route. Little did I know what I had in store for me. Now I had been trying hard most of the afternoon to try and download this sucker. At one point I had three different pages open all with different download link options. Every 5 minutes I would cycle through them hoping that one would catch. Finally one did and I was away to the races.

Now I haven’t been this excited about a Windows release – let alone a beta – in a very long time but I was definitely impatient for the download to finish up and once it was I was equally impatient to get the upgrade under way. Once I had the ISO burned and spinning in the dvd-rom I was finally settling down with the expectation that I would soon be playing around in Windows 7.

I will forewarn you though – if you go the upgrade route it is going to be painfully long so you might as well start the pot of coffee while you’re downloading and pick yourself out a good book.’cause you’re gonna need both. So in-between flipping pages and sipping a coffee I watch the progress meters and the checkmarks as the install progressed and everything was doing fine until ….

ARRGGG! A frikken BSOD right in the middle of the last step.

Win7 wallpaperI will say though that the OS rollback works really smooth with no input from the user. Really smooth, which is a good thing because I wasn’t feeling really too happy at that point especially since the BSOD screen had flashed by too fast to make out what might have caused the problem. So while my machine rolled back into the land of Vista I tried to figure out in my head what possibly could have been the problem. The only thing that I could think of was that possibly during the install when it is doing its thing, one of those things is to check the hard drive status. I seem to remember reading somewhere that somebody had mentioned that as a problem they had had.

So once it had rolled back and with nothing left to lose I disconnected the two secondary drives thinking that if I just left the main system drive (a fairly new SATA) I should be pretty safe – after all what could go wrong then – right?

Once more I start up the upgrade and watch the pretty green progress bars as they ever so slowly millimetered their way forward. Then as they reach the crash point from before I crossed my fingers and whispered a few words to the sky. Well no-one must have been listening because once more it went BOOM! with another BSOD. What to do now you are probably thinking to yourselves, just as I was trust me.

Now this is the point when all you regular type users should leave the story because what follows is a prime example of what you shouldn’t do.

I was now left with a choice – stick with the rolled back Vista install or go for the gusto and just do a fresh install. Well I was already pissed so fuck it Fresh Install Coming Right Up. Oh sure I could have gone the dual boot route but I have a problem with little spare space on the main drive and the other drives are old and flakey as hell. Nope – if it was going to be anything it was going to be a fresh install. So I spent the next hour backing up data using the Backup Wizard that comes in Vista with the hope and a prayer that the same thing in Windows 7 would be compatible.

Finally everything was ready. Backups done. Coffee ready. Smokes ready. It was time to shit or get off the pot. Re-boot and away we go into the full Windows 7 install. Well I only got two cups and one cigarette into me and it was done and with no BSOD’s – Praise Bob. I had a working install of Windows 7 up and running – I was the King once more … neener neener.


Anyway .. usually the first thing I install after I finish praising Bob is the video drivers but given how badly nVidia had screwed up after Vista had been released I figured I’d see what the native Win7 video had to say for itself. It actually turned out pretty good. The default handling for dual monitors is much improved over even Vista – which really was pretty good. I still may need to install the nVidia drivers but I think that will wait for morning.

As far as installed programs on a fresh build. Well first came Google Chrome, then FeedDemon and the Windows Live Essentials because there was no way I was going to be without Windows Live Writer. That was followed by Cropper (screen capture app) and Paint.NET with some great plug-ins. Then for the final set of apps I installed GTalk, Skype and Twhirl – so in other words I was ready for the morning at least.

taskbar2 My general impression of Windows 7 so far is basically this. As soon as TigerDirect in Canada is taking pre-orders I’m jumping in on that line. I am sure that more than a few people will have negative things to say about it but in the 20 some years that I’ve been using Windows products this is really the first one in a long time that I really like. Where I would discourage people from using Vista I would in turn encourage them to use Windows 7.

I still have a bunch of stuff to learn of course and days spent just playing around and tweaking the install but all in all – good job Microsoft – good job.