This afternoon, I finally got around to rebuilding my everyday notebook PC (a Fujitsu Siemens S7210) onto the Windows 7 release candidate (build 7100, 64-bit).
What follows are just a few notes that I made along the way:
- Just as for other recent Windows versions, installation was fairly swift (about 25 minutes from booting off the DVD to the initial logon screen). It did trample on the BCD though so I no longer have a dual-boot option with the Windows build I have on a separate partition… I should be able to put that back with
- I didn’t upgrade the existing build 7000 installation as I wanted a clean build. If you want to upgrade from older builds, there is a workaround – but it’s not recommended.
- My existing disk layout was a mess. I had a 200MB partition created by the Windows 7 beta (build 7000) installation, a 40GB partition with my original installation, a small amount of free space (from a mistake when resizing partitions…), my data partition, and another partition with a different version of Windows on it. Setup didn’t mind this and it let me delete the first three partitions (leaving the data and the second version of Windows intact and, when I selected the unassigned space for the new installation, it told me that “to ensure that all Windows features work correctly, Windows might create additional partitions for system files” and created a 100MB partition at the start of the disk (System Reserved, with 86MB free space). Incidentally, the 100MB space (down from 200MB in the beta) is reserved for EFI boot and BitLocker. It can be avoided by pre-partitioning the disk manually (e.g. with
diskpart.exe) but that may be a limiting factor later.
- Just like Vista (and XP I think) setup still made me create a new user… with administrative permissions (why can’t it be a standard user, or just use the Administrator… which exists, but is disabled).
- Setup did prompt me for my product keys and, although I could have skipped this, it’s worth making a mental note for the future (I looked it up using another PC!). It was also useful to run LicenseCrawler before wiping the old build (to take a record of the various Office product keys etc.).
- Setup let me join a wireless network and specify location.
- The release candidate has some great new wallpapers, but I didn’t seem to be able to select more than about 6 in a theme though… Ideally I’d have all the architecture ones, plus Stonehenge from the UK set and a couple of the others too.
- Windows is the easy part… a couple of webcasts I was supposed to be attending this arvo needed Adobe Flash Player, Real Player (urgh!), Java, etc. Then there’s Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office, Visio, Live Meeting, Office Communicator, VPN client, etc., etc..
- There were a few “banged out” devices in Device Manager but, whereas in the past I’ve had to track down 64-bit Vista drivers for Fujitsu-Siemens PCs from other Fujitsu websites, now that Fujitsu-Siemens Computers has become Fujitsu Technology Services (FTS), the drivers are on the FTS support website (hooray!). Vista 64 is still unsupported though… but I’m using these drivers on pre-release (i.e. unsupported) version of Windows 7 so that’s not going to bother me! The important thing is that I could get 64-bit drivers for all of my system’s devices and installing them was a simple process (letting Windows find them for me after pointing it to the folder that I had downloaded and extracted them to).
Tomorrow I’ll be in the office, so I’ll join the domain and start working using a normal (unprivileged) domain user account. The most important point from this exercise was that everything I needed installed without issue (drivers and applications) – even though this is a 64-bit installation. It’s inevitable that there will be some legacy applications that don’t work though – even though I have a pretty modern application stack, there are some legacy applications in my corporate infrastructure that might need me to revert to IE6, for example (using Windows 7 XP mode) and I’m also working out the best VPN option, as the Cisco VPN client is 32-bit only. Over the next few weeks, I’ll see how things progress but my initial impressions of the Windows 7 release candidate are extremely positive. This feels more polished than the beta – and way better than Vista. I’m looking forward to working with my customers to help them migrate from legacy XP desktops that really are no longer fit for a modern computing environment.