Windows 7 RC 7100 Upgrade from Vista


Well I figured since the RC was generally available – I’d test the upgrade process from Windows Vista to Windows 7. I chose my ThinkPad T61p as the victim. This is my fully loaded portable dev environment including BitLocker encrypted volumes - and I was a little sceptical at first. A new OS usually means re-paving the machine, but I thought I’d try the upgrade and see how it went.

Get Ready

After a complete system backup to a removable drive I launched the setup program from the DVD – from within Vista (not via a booted DVD). Windows 7 setup reported MagicISO, LifeCam, and Skype as software that might not work after the upgrade – so I uninstalled these first. BitLocker had to be disabled as well (not volume decrypted – just disabled). SQL Server 2005 was also on the list of ‘might not work’ after upgrade, but I decided to try upgrading to SQL 2008 Developer Edition afterwards.

Make Yourself a Coffee

First word of advice – make yourself a coffee – grab some donuts too – and find something to read, or watch. The upgrade took over three hours to complete. The ‘Gathering files, settings, and programs’ stage took over an hour alone. At 18% of ‘Expanding Windows files’ – the PC rebooted and continued to expand files – but not before 30 minutes of ‘Gathering additional information before expanding files…’ Transferring files, settings and programs – 1,138,187 files, settings, and programs to be exact – took another hour (and two reboots). Incredibly – it worked! First Impressions I’ve not been following the Windows 7 story that closely – but most of the reviews report performance improvements, and I like the new task bar and general UI improvements a lot. Will be interesting to see how it goes over the next few days of general use and abuse. A couple of noticeable changes though – disabling Windows Search – also removes the search function from the start menu – it didn’t used to. Also Superfetch – which was on my list of disk thrashing culprits, is enabled by default – and so I’ve turned this off again (the I/O at start-up because of Superfetch was horrendous in Vista – will have to experiment to see if it’s any better in Windows 7)

UPDATE: If you’ve upgraded from Vista as I have – and have previously installed a LifeCam VX-700 – uninstall the LifeCam software before the upgrade and be sure to delete the following file as well C:\Windows\inf\OEM16.INF (check that this is the LifeCam driver inf file) – otherwise the installation of the LifeCam will fail in Windows 7 when it finds the previous LifeCam inf file. More soon…



I followed the same process myself, because I didn't want to go through the process of cataloguing all my apps, only to install them all over again.

It worked out to be the same amount of time as well, although, admittedly my user files are thin as I keep them on Windows Home Server.

Not sure - haven't tried any games yet - although after four days of full-time use, all of the previously installed applications are working fine: Visual Studio 2008, Adobe CS4, Office 2007, my Nikon apps - Nikon View NX, Nikon Capture NX 2, even Avira's free anti-virus software is fine. Upgrading to SQL Server 2008 required a re-install of VS 2008 SP1 (even though it was already there) - but that, along with the Web camera were the only glitches I've seen so far.

The big differences are in performance. Windows Search actually works now (in particular when searching mail in Outlook), without causing the amount of disk thrashing seen in Vista. Explorer actually remembers the view chosen for a particular folder now and is almost useful again. The new task bar is also a real improvement - bordering on innovative.

System backup has been 'improved' as well - including an option to 'Create a system image' - which was previously called a 'Full system backup' - and was potentially confusing for average users since this was really a disk image. It now does what it says on the tin. Bitlocker is also improved with an easier UI and support for encrypting all volumes - not just the system volume (although this could have been done on Vista but was complicated).

A clean install on another desktop PC I recently setup for a friend was quick and easy too - although I'm still impressed that an upgrade from a fully loaded Vista PC worked fine as well.

If MS would just drop the market driven "Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional" malarky - they'd have a real winner on their hands.

I have played EVE online on Windows 7, and it's absolutely fine, apart from scorching my thigh from the heat my laptop generates! :)

Most of the mainstream vendors have already released updated drivers for Windows 7, so I don't think you'll have any real problems. Even if there isn't an update, there shouldn't be any reason why it won't work 'straight out of the box'.

@Anthony: I think that the general public would only see the home premium and professional editions, and buying one version would mean access to higher versions through their upgrade program. For example, upgrading Home Basic to Ultimate would give you, amongst other features, IIS 7, without you having to go and buy another CD, or download Windows again.

Hi Dan - understood. And they appear to be simplifying things a little in this respect. I just question the need for any difference in version label at all. OS X is just OS X, Ubuntu is just Ubuntu - why not just have Windows 7 - and then allow the user or corporation to enable/disable features as required. They would further simplify the management of SKUs in the process as well as simplify the message to the customer.

I'm updating to windows 7 64bit right now on my laptop from vista 64 and it rebooted @ Expanding Windows Files 18% and now back right to the same screen but it seems stuck at 18% for 40mins now. Is this normal?