By Neil McCormick
Hello Vista veteran, does the idea of installing a new version of your operating system of choice fill you with fear? Perhaps the mere idea, has set you off in a cold sweat and the need to lie down in a darkened room? Maybe you have suffered a post traumatic flashback to your attempts and more likely failed attempts to get Vista up and running on day one? No drivers, inability to get devices working, sound familiar?
Well fear not, read on as I inform you of my ventures into the frontiers of Windows 7. I should explain from the start, I am not a pc expert by any manner of means, I am your “average joe”. To me a computer is a computer, it does what I need it to do, its not that I am not interested in how it gets there, I just want my devices to work without a hassle.
Firstly you can relax, it was a hassle free dream to install. Let me take you through my experience of installing Windows 7. .
I think I should explain what my set up was prior to moving to Windows 7,
Processor :- Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q8200 @ 2.33GHz, 2331 Mhz, 4 Core(s)
Memory: – 4 Gigs of Ram
Graphics Card:- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260
Operating System :- Windows Vista 64 Bit
Display :- Connected via HDM to a 40 “ Sony Bravia LCD TV
Before you begin, it really should go without saying, do a system backup, you do not want to lose anything, if something should go wrong. Not that I am saying it will go wrong. You do not want to be without a precious memory tucked in a photograph, or a crucial document if it should get lost in the ether of your hard drive due to something being off kilter with your install. Anyway you should have been backing up on a regular basis, so this should be no great hardship to do.
In my case I was installing Windows 7 Ultimate. This gave me 2 options, as it comes with 2 disks. I could either go with a 32 or 64 bit version of the operating system. As I said im your “average joe”, whilst I should have known which version of vista I had I was not sure.
There are two ways on vista to find out what version you are running. You can either go to the System window in the control panel. The operating system is displayed as follows:
· For a 64-bit version operating system: 64-bit Operating System appears for the System type under System.
· For a 32-bit version operating system: 32-bit Operating System appears for the System type under System.
The other method is to View System Information window.
Click Start, type system in the Start Search box, and then click System Information in the Programs list.
1. When System Summary is selected in the navigation pane, the operating system is displayed as follows:
o For a 64-bit version operating system: x64-based PC appears for the System type under Item.
o For a 32-bit version operating system: x86-based PC appears for the System type under Item.
Depending on your current operating system, you are faced with two options either to do a clean install or upgrade. Clean install means reinstalling all your drivers , and install disks for your devices, graphic card etc. Upgrade as it suggests is simply upgrade your existing operating system. Unfortunately if you are coming from XP you will have to do a clean install.
So how do you decide what version and method of install? Microsoft takes the load off, for you, download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from their website at the following address:-
This scans your pc and advises in a report if your PC can run Windows 7 and if there are any known compatibility issues. If an issue can be resolved, you’ll get suggestions for next steps. For example, it may let you know that you need an updated driver for your printer and where to get it from.
When I installed and ran the advisor, it informed me that the minimum system requirements for Windows 7 are:-
CPU – 1 GHZ
Ram – 1 gig for 32 bit or 2 gig for 64 bit
Hard drive space – 16 gigs spare space for 32 bit windows 7 or 20 gig for 64 bit Windows 7
Windows aero compatible.
My computer passed all of the tests. I would be able to install the 64 bit version of Windows 7. The only thing it suggested, I may have a problem with was iTunes, however after 3 weeks of use, I can say I have not noticed any problems with Itunes at all.
So with what would turn out to be unfounded trepidation, I put the 64 bit disk into the pc. The Wizard popped up and I clicked yes to install.
At this point the system copies the temporary files it requires and acquires via your internet connection any important updates for install. Not sure if it is standard, but my system proceeded to download a 1076kb update file, and during this time upgraded my direct x to the latest version.
Once this was completed, the Microsoft licence terms appeared on the screen, this had to be agreed to in order to proceed with the upgrade. Once completed, the option to choose to upgrade or do a custom install appears. As I was told I could do an upgrade, I chose the upgrade option.
The system informed me that there would be 5 steps involved with upgrading:-
Copying windows files
Gathering Files, settings and Programs
Expanding windows Files
Installing Features and Updates
Transferring Files, Settings and Programs.
Next I was advised that the computer may need to restart several times during the install process – it does. In all according to my notes, there were 2 restarts during my installation. The first restart occurred after expanding the windows files (2,888kb). The second occurred after installing features and update.
So after 1 hr 53 minutes, Windows 7 was now installed on my pc. On now to tweak it to my liking.
Windows 7 had identified, without me having to select, that it was being displayed on a Sony Tv and set the resolution for me. However it was not quite right, all of the text on the screen was too small. Probably perfect if you are sitting directly in front of it, but as I said previously, I have my pc hooked up to my tv, so I am at a distance from it.
In case this should happen to you on Install day, it is easily remedied. If I can do it, you can easily do it. All you have to do is Click Start, and in the handy search box key in the word “text”. Just choose the first option that comes up “Make text and other items larger or smaller” When you do this you will face 3 possible options, the default, smaller (100%), medium (125%) or large (150%). In my case none of the 3 were right. Instead I had to click on the left hand side of the page “Set Custom Type Size” At this point you can either drag the pointer on the ruler or type in the box a suitable percentage. In my case 140% is perfect. Then click apply. In order for your settings to take effect, you will be asked to log out.
I have to give praise, the search box in Windows 7 is brilliant, with this one item, you can do so much. Want to change settings?, maybe search for a document?, or you can not remember where you have an mp3 or avi file saved. No problem, Microsoft claim if its on your computer, the search box should be able to track it down. And I can assure you in all my searching it has not let me down. Simply click the windows logo on the left side of your task bar, in the search box type what you want to find, it will list all possible alternatives, and choose the one you want. Click on it and it takes you straight to it.
Ok, I now have windows 7 installed, next thing I want to do is customise the theme. Windows 7 comes with 7 Aero themes pre-installed:- they are Windows 7, Architecture, Characters, Landscape, Nature, Scenes and the final one is a local one which is determined by your geographic location. In my case its the United Kingdom. Having tried all of the pre-installed themes I tend to use the United Kingdom or Landscape theme. The picture’s used are a delight to the eye, the Giant’s Causeway picture looks stunning. I am led to believe the Microsoft Development team are currently working on an Irish aero-theme.
All you have to do is click on the theme you want to use and, windows 7 applies it for you.
So simple. Maybe however, none of these themes are of interest. Simple matter, on the same page top right click “Get more Themes Online”. This will take you to a Windows page to download more themes.
One final feature, and probably I have saved the best to last, is the fact you are able to pin specific programs to the task-bar, for quicker access. There are two ways to do this, either drag the program onto the taskbar, or right click on the program with your mouse and choose “pin to taskbar” Now all you have to do to open the program is simply click its icon on the taskbar. Like wise it is just as easy to unpin a program, simply hover your mouse cursor over the icon on the task bar, then right click and select “Unpin this program from the taskbar” Mac users have had this option for a while, so its good to see Windows catching up.
I have been running Windows 7 for about three weeks. Its great, its the little things that set it off. Things I now take for granted, but have made things so much easier. Lets face it life is so busy these days, we want things to be easy. For example getting connected to wireless networks is so easy compare to before. Simply click the wireless icon on the bottom right of your taskbar and it lists all possible networks, and more importantly indicates how secure they are. You do not need to search for the networks, windows 7 does all the hard work behind the scenes for you.
Windows 7 is, in my opinion, probably the most important release of a Windows operating system in quite a while, probably up there with the move from Windows 3.1. Lessons have been learnt from consumers, bad experiences when they upgraded to Vista. The company needs this to be a success. However one of the main obstacles that needs to be removed, is the legacy of Windows XP. It’s success undoubtedly cast a detrimental shadow on Vista. There was no noticeable incentive for users to upgrade so uptake was marginal. Microsoft will need to clearly demonstrate the benefits and reasons for switching.
Despite the cautionary paragraph above, I personally believe Windows 7 should succeed. My own experiences have shown to me that, if I had not have upgraded, my computing experiences would have been a paler version of what they are now. Life in a Windows 7 world seems somewhat easier – it is more user friendly than ever. If you are scared to upgrade do not be. If you do not upgrade , you are the one missing out.
If you want more information , you should visit http://www.microsoft.ie/windows7
Windows 7 is released on the 22 October 2009 in Europe.