Monday, October 26, 2009

Windows 7 Revisited

It didn’t take very long for me to change my mind about installing Microsoft Windows 7 on my now former Vista operated laptop computer. I had run into a problem or two last Thursday when my copy, which I had pre-bought for half price last spring, arrived.

I had ordered the wrong version and the one that came was not compatible to upgrade the version of Vista on my system. I could have done a full, clean install, but that would have required me to back up all my files, let my laptop get reformatted thus losing everything that was on it, and then starting from scratch including reinstalling all my programs.

I’ve reached an age where simple is better. I wanted to just upgrade Vista, which I thought I had read was possible. I apparently had misread because all versions of Windows 7 won’t upgrade all versions of Vista. As I said, all Windows 7 versions will do a complete clean install on a computer capable of handling it; but I wanted to keep my programs and files on the computer.

Backing up the data files wouldn’t be difficult; in fact, it is done daily. But I didn’t want to have to reinstall all my software even though I do have all the programs disks and all are totally legal and registered. But I had gone through all that with my XP operated computer not too long ago and it is extremely time consuming and intense. It’s not just putting disks in and letting the setup programs do their things. Drivers, upgrades, etc., all have to be picked up from a host of websites, too.

Since all the programs on my laptop were already Vista ready thus updated on schedules, the only thing I needed was a Windows 7 upgrade. So last Thursday I cancelled my order, the product key was blocked at the Microsoft site so it could never be used, and my credit card was credited with the cost. I had put Windows 7 behind me and felt pretty darn good about it.

A situation developed Friday which caused me to stay quiet and generally just at my computer. I needed to keep busy, so I called the Microsoft Store to discuss my options. “No problem,” said the person who answered. He said getting the equal version of W-7 to the version of Vista I had would solve the problem easily so I bought it.

Within a minute I had an email with the download instructions and new product key in my mailbox. I downloaded the program ran the suggested compatibility test. There were two problems, actually five, but three of them, the test said, would be corrected with the automatic upgrade after installation. The other two were Microsoft programs that W-7 doesn’t support and I don’t use, so they were easy…just uninstall them.

Even though all my data files are backed up daily on an external hard drive which is bootable and a Vista mirror of my laptop, I decided to make another file backup on a DVD. And now I was ready. If W-7 did screw up the computer, that external hard drive (using Bounceback Ultimate software) would restore it to its full Vista self easily. But there was no screw up.

Upgrading can be extremely time consuming and it took just over four hours to accomplish the task. Finally after a whole lot of automatic reboots and file installations, etc., my laptop booted into Windows 7. Everything, except three things, worked perfectly and all my files were still there.

As it had said, W-7 went out and found an upgraded driver for my non-Microsoft internet protection program and it now works. Two other items weren’t quite so easy.

Saturday I tried to print through my home network to my wireless printer. I couldn’t and Windows 7 couldn’t find a solution. So I went to printer’s home site to find a new driver and it did have one. Once it got installed, the printer now spits out stuff on demand.

My home network was the third problem, but after a little research which took only a couple of minutes, I found the solution. Even though my laptop was communicating with my wireless router, as was the printer, and I did have the internet connection, my XP computers refused to play nice. Perhaps it was the laptop that wouldn’t cooperate since the XP computers had been working all along.

Windows 7 wants everyone to be using W-7, but it is not required. It sets up a network group called "Homegroup" and assumes all other computers on the home network are in it. In my case, the others were in a "Workgroup". The help files said I could mix the two systems on the home network, but I had to change the laptop to a "workgroup" and eliminate the "Homegroup". I ran out of playtime over the weekend so by six Monday morning, I hadn’t made the change. I’ll be doing that later Monday and then I expect file sharing, etc., will have resumed.

Edited Monday evening to add: Networking my new W-7 operated system with XP has certainly become an enigma. I have not yet completed the task. It sure is a lot different from the Novell network I managed 15 years ago. But we'll keep working on it. (End edit.)

I’ve read that some people have already had trouble with Windows 7, but I found that upgrading an all-Vista laptop to W-7 was only time consuming. It was easy and flawless except for three exceptions which were easily resolved. So Far, I’m not unhappy.


Microsoft, Vista, XP, Windows and Windows 7 are all registered trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation. Bounceback Ultimate is registered to CMS Products.

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