Martin's excellent Windows 7 RTM adventure

Installing the released version of Windows 7 had its ups and downs

As I've noted before, I have been testing Windows 7 through the beta cycle on two computers: one desktop (as a secondary multiboot option) and one laptop (as the primary OS). Now I have the released bits (aka the Windows 7 RTM build) installed on both machines as the primary OS. The process was not without pain, but the results are fairly good.

I was disappointed to discover that the RTM installer refused to upgrade release candidate (RC) installations. On my desktop, I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade my Vista installation to Windows 7 and reformat the partition that held the Windows 7 RC; on the laptop, I did a custom installation that moved all the old programs and files to a Windows.old folder.

[ Get InfoWorld's 21-page hands-on look at the next version of Windows, plus deployment tips on security, Windows Server 2008 integration, and Windows XP migration, all from InfoWorld’s editors and contributors. | Read the Test Center review of Windows 7 RTM. Follow these seven steps to better Windows 7 security. ]

The desktop installation preserved my documents and programs, but it took several hours. The length of time wasn't too surprising considering that the installer needed to examine more than a million files and settings. In the end, I had to uninstall Acronis Backup, CodeGear Rad Studio, and the Asus motherboard utilities; I also had to upgrade Skype to the latest version. While the installer had warned of incompatibilities with SQL Server 2008, it was a false alarm, as I had already upgraded that to the compatible SP1 version.

I knew from the release candidate that the scanner drivers for my HP Officejet Pro L7590 all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax would not install under 64-bit Windows 7. I hoped that when the Windows 7 installer saw the HP Vista drivers for the all-in-one already installed it would leave them in place, but in fact it trashed them and installed its own printer and fax drivers, leaving the scanner unsupported. (I hope that HP will have Windows 7 drivers for this device available by the official retail ship date in October. Meanwhile, I'll have to scan to one of the other computers in my office.)

On the laptop, the actual installation was much quicker -- a matter of half an hour. The downside of this was that I had to manually retrieve my documents and favorites from the Windows.old folder and reinstall all my applications. I still haven't finished the reinstallation: I'm taking the lazy approach and deferring each reinstallation until I actually need the application on the laptop. So far, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Seesmic Desktop are installed, but Microsoft Office 2007 and my developer tools are not.

After a few update and reboot cycles, Windows 7 on the laptop eventually found all the drivers it needed. I'm happy to say that the "screen driver stops responding after waking up from sleep mode" issue I had with the Windows 7 RC was fixed in the RTM bits.

Overall, I'm happy with Windows 7, at least as compared to Windows Vista on the same machines. Preston Gralla has written about the improvements in detail, but here's a short summary: To me, Windows 7 looks better, feels snappier, and doesn't get in the way as much as Windows Vista.

Note: Your mileage may vary. :)

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