Adventures in upgrading

posted at 8:05 am on October 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Hot Air readers if they would immediately upgrade from their current operating system to the newly-released Windows 7.  Only 16% said they would change operating systems immediately, while 37% said that they would keep their XP software until forced to change.  Surprisingly, 10% said they would stick with Vista, which has become a lot more stable, but is still a resource hog.

Because I’m either a tech geek or a fool, I decided to upgrade immediately.  I have a high-powered laptop that consistently underperformed, at least in my opinion, under Vista.  While I wrote that the experience of OS upgrades was as thrilling as “a Barack Obama speech on prime time, or a slow root canal with not quite enough Novocaine to cover the job,” I also got a lot of feedback from beta testers on Win7 that it was worth trying.  I decided to join the 16% that wanted to put Vista in the rear-view mirror immediately.

At the same time, I got contacted by Laplink, which wanted to know if I wanted to test their new PC Mover product.  Normally, this is intended for use when upgrading from an old PC to a new one, to move applications and data files more easily than in the Windows Vista system (and presumably Win7 as well) .  However, Laplink designed their latest version to also handle a Vista-to-7 upgrade process on a single laptop, which they offered to me for free with no commitment to discuss it, which I mention in the service of full disclosure.

The upgrade process is rather straightforward for both programs.  PC Mover only comes into play before and after the upgrade; it does not involve itself in the Windows 7 system upgrade (Home Premium, which I bought from Amazon for $119) at all.  The Windows upgrade on my Dell Studio 1737 (4 GB RAM, Intel Duo 2GHz processors) took somewhere around an hour.  It booted clean and fast after the upgrade.  Before the upgrade, I ran the PC Mover program to “pack” all of my applications (it counted 88 of them), which took roughly 30 minutes.  After the Win7 upgrade, it took about 2 hours to reinstall the applications, along with all of their licensing information.  That comes in very handy, especially since it would have taken me at least twice as long just to find all of my original software.  The only apps that had any trouble at all, at least so far, were Trend Micro, which has another Win7 compatible version, and Tweetdeck, which lost my login information — hardly a crisis.  All of my other apps have worked normally in Win7.

In fact, Win7 has been surprisingly good in the few hours that I have played with it.  For most veteran Windows users, the changes are subtle and mainly intuitive.  You may not notice many of them, in fact; I recommend going through the “Discover Windows 7″ videos to get an idea of how they have changed the behavior of windows and app-switching.  The system is undeniably faster, especially in the boot sequence, and thus far has thrown no error messages.  The User Account Control on Vista got so annoying that I wound up turning it off, but I’m leaving it enabled on Win7, as it seems much less intrusive.  It’s also scalable, unlike the on-or-off choice in Vista, but I’m leaving it at the recommended level.

All in all, I’m pretty impressed with both programs.  Of course, the test of the OS will come in the days and weeks ahead, when I eventually run all of my programs and use all of my peripherals.  I’ll keep readers posted on any interesting developments.

Note: Sales through links provide compensation to me.


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That makes us the fools who follow him. Now all we need to know is who’s the more foolish.

James on October 23, 2009 at 8:34 AM

Who’s the more foolish — the fool or the fool who follows him? — Obi Wan

Ok, now that we’ve got the true geeky statement out of the way…

I have also used Ubuntu and it is definitely worth a try. Use Xubuntu if you have older hardware.

Greek Fire on October 23, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Even better: Install the Xen version of Ubuntu and then install Windows 7 in a virtual. I’m running win7 right now inside CentOS 5.3 and it’s working like a charm. You’ll never need to reinstall the OS again — just make a copy of the virtual containers while the guest OS (Win7) is shut down, and you can replace a virus-infested copy instantly, or move it without change to the next more powerful machine you buy. Best of all, the solution is free. What’s the price of PC Mover? $39.95? Free—$39.95—Free… Hmm.

unclesmrgol on October 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Yea, Ubuntu. What’s that installed base, again? 1% and its free…

Oh, get an Apple. You know, no viruses. Gee, installed base there 8% on a good day?

Come on, man. Windows rules for a reason. As much as people like to bitch about it, it works for them.

Punditpawn on October 23, 2009 at 11:14 AM

I’ve been testing Win 7 for about 1 and 1/2 years and I never looked back. If you have problems installing something then try the “compatibility mode”

I dual boot 7 with my favourite Linux Distro Fedora. I don’t use Windows for intensive web surfing because of security issues. There isn’t any real way to secure any version of Windows from attack so those who say they have “security” in mind with any version of Windows are really out there.

TonyR on October 23, 2009 at 11:14 AM

To be honest I didn’t find Vista to be half as bad as people were making out – in fact when I think back to the year or so that I used it, I really had very few problems with it at all.

I think what happened is that opinions about Vista were pretty much dictated from the start by geek elites on forums and blogs. Normal people hear the “experts” savaging Vista and so they see that as the “correct” position to take. Pretty soon you’re made to feel like an idiot if you say anything positive about it.

Having said that it wasn’t exactly a fantastic OS and Windows 7 is far better. But if think about your Vista experience honestly and it is working fine for you, I see no real reason to upgrade unless you really need the new features it offers.

Sharke on October 23, 2009 at 11:22 AM

I have huge problems installing new programs and upgrades on the Vista OS computers in our house because Vista generally requires you to log on as an administrator to make changes, which is counterintuitive and a real problem when you’re inside a program.

I can’t even access the administrator setting on one of our computers, which was a returned computer purchased at Best Buy, because there is no way to change the administrator password.

My Windows 7 upgrade should arrive tonight. I hope it fixes these problems.

Jimbo3 on October 23, 2009 at 11:37 AM

One review of a mainstream PC publication claimed any speed increase would only be seen on 64 bit machines, not 32-bit.

Ed, which is yours?

JDPerren on October 23, 2009 at 11:44 AM

BTW, anybody with a .edu email address can get Win 7 Home Premium (32 or 64) for $29.99 and Office 07 Ultimate (basically every Office 07 product except Visio) for $59.99. You can start here. In case you are wondering, if your Alma Mater provides you with a lifelong email, you will qualify as long as it has an edu extension…

TheBigOldDog on October 23, 2009 at 9:08 AM

Thank you! Almost forgot about one of the few great perks of being a university student. Last year I got Office 2007 for $15.00, and now a new OS for $29.99? Yes, please!

KellyBomelly on October 23, 2009 at 12:03 PM

I have been running Win7 RC 7100 for a while now and I love it. I pre-ordered Win7 HP upgrade in June from Amazon for just $50. Unfortunately the free shipping doesn’t send it out until the 26th. But oh well, the RC will be fine until it arrives.

metric on October 23, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Congrats, and I toldja your laptop’d eat 7 and shit awesome!

McGurk on October 23, 2009 at 12:12 PM

TonyR — you can secure windows the same way you secure linux: run as a normal user and think before elevating (UAC/sudo).

McGurk on October 23, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Ed: counting your time and the expense of replacing applications, it cost you over $1000.00 to ‘upgrade’ to Windows 7. And that is before the test time you will have to put into it after all the installation and conversions.

The trade magazines report that Win 7 only ‘approaches’ XP speeds after you have tweaked and diddled with it. Otherwise, it is noticeably slower.

So what benefit have you gained from this ‘upgrade’ that is worth over $1000?

landlines on October 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM

One review of a mainstream PC publication claimed any speed increase would only be seen on 64 bit machines, not 32-bit.

Ed, which is yours?

JDPerren on October 23, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Whoever said that doesn’t know what they are talking about. The speed increases are due to artchitectural changes and to removal of unneccessary components (bloat). A 64-bit OS let’s you address more memory, which always improves performance, but that’s true on any OS.

DaveS on October 23, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Ed: counting your time and the expense of replacing applications, it cost you over $1000.00 to ‘upgrade’ to Windows 7. And that is before the test time you will have to put into it after all the installation and conversions.

The trade magazines report that Win 7 only ‘approaches’ XP speeds after you have tweaked and diddled with it. Otherwise, it is noticeably slower.

So what benefit have you gained from this ‘upgrade’ that is worth over $1000?

landlines on October 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM

You’re being absurd. If you want to use decade-old technology, go for it. Just quit bitching when software written in the modern era doesn’t work. The rest of us have moved on. And if you think XP is “faster” you clearly don’t understand where computing is headed and probably shouldn’t be chiming in.

DaveS on October 23, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Thanks for the recommendation Ed, followed the link and purchased PC Mover just now. With Windows 7 coming out I’m sure I’m going to be using it on many of my client’s computers.

I have been using 7 for a few months now and love it to pieces.

29Victor on October 23, 2009 at 1:53 PM

This just in. Burger King in Japan introduces a massive gut-busting 7-patty 1000 calorie burger in honor of the release of Windows 7.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/microsoft/6417027/Burger-Kings-Windows-7-Whopper-burger-1000-calories-seven-patties.html

Sharke on October 23, 2009 at 3:02 PM

I’ve had windows 7 since pre-release and haven’t had any issues with it. But I didn’t upgrade–this machine has had only win7 on it. I’ll be keeping XP on my older machines.

zoyclem on October 23, 2009 at 3:22 PM

My brother got a free upgrade to Windows 7 on his new Asus laptop from Best Buy but hasn’t yet installed it.

He’s going to let their Geek Squad handle the install as he has not the patience nor tech savvy to remove all the unnecessary bells n’ whistles on these microcrap systems.

All the more reason why I love my Mac.

The Ugly American on October 23, 2009 at 4:24 PM

I wasn’t planning on upgrading from XP, but Microsoft has a deal for college students where Windows 7 Home Premium is $29.99.

Might just have to pull the trigger…

nickj116 on October 23, 2009 at 5:17 PM

I tried it out as well. However, I always use a VMWare virtual machine to try out new stuff. My live system is unaffected that way until I choose to upgrade it. I can use the VM to test out compatibility or configuration options or just about any other aspect of the new OS safely.

I tried out Vista that way and simply deleted the VM after deciding it was a dog.

Oh, and did I mention that VMWare can be used at home for FREE!

MJBrutus on October 23, 2009 at 6:33 PM

That sounds encouraging.

TheSitRep on October 23, 2009 at 7:54 PM

Still sticking with Linux for myself and Mac for Mrs Federalist. Not getting back on that MSoft roller coaster if I can help it.

AZfederalist on October 23, 2009 at 7:58 PM

When I moved my XP machine to Service Pack 3, it took one of my Excel templates and turned it into trash. It would no longer run at all. Backing off to SP2 brought it right back.

As I depend on that template to do some of my work here, I will stick with XP for the foreseeable future. If I had a .edu address I’d set up in dual boot and give 7 a whirl, but I’m not gonna spend even 100 clams at NewEgg to find out I bought something I cannot use. I already did that with Office 2004 for the Mac, which proved useless. And yes, to the smartalecks, I DID load it on a Mac. Its level of compatibility with its sister suite on the Windows platform is unacceptably low. (I do a lot with macros).

Speaking OF Mac, I like mine a lot, and it is my platform of choice. But I am not a fanboy, I just like how the various apps I have handle. It just feels cleaner, I do not have nag balloons popping up in the corner all the time, etc. I don’t on my PC either, since I edited the registry to get rid of them.

friendlygrizzly on October 23, 2009 at 9:05 PM

For a quick reinstall of your choice of major programs after installing Win7 (or after a factory refresh of WinXP or Vista), check out ninite.com. It covers most of the apps I’m in the habit of installing.

I’ll be upgrading to Win7 64-bit Home Premium, on a clean install. My data is already backed up. I’ve been using it at work for over a year, and at home on a few test machines. I can’t wait to jettison Vista.

sulla on October 23, 2009 at 10:13 PM

Thanks Ed.

Last week, I ordered a new Dell Desktop system with Win7.

I currently have a Dell XPS 410 that is over 3 years old. It’s on XP.

I’m getting sick of getting mauled by baddies in Arlington, VA in Fallout 3 with them materializing less than 20 feet from me. Sniper rifle ain’t good when you can’t see them.

As I gaze out on the post-nuclear radiated world, I will sing “Hear comes the sun……and I say… it’s alright.”

Sapwolf on October 23, 2009 at 10:43 PM

I installed Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit (OEM) just yesterday. It would have installed in 15-20 minutes had not something in the install process diverted the video signal from the DVI port out through the HDMI port. The next 7 hours were spent finding out why I was seeing a black screen where Windows login should have been. Other than that, everything else installed and functions has it should. I have a TV card and Windows Media Centre is now able to detect New Zealand’s DVB-T Freeview channels which it never could in Vista. Another pleasant surprise: I have an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink motherboard and all its component devices were detected and drivers found for them. That’s the first time I’ve never had to install chipset drivers for a Microsoft OS.

Other things I like:

1) Microsoft has raised the ceiling for its “Windows Experience Index” from 5.9 in Vista to 7.9 in Windows 7. 5.9 was easy meat, but nothing I have hits 7.9.

2) The background wallpaper slides are stunning. Man, I wish I could take photos like those.

3) I thought Windows Mail had been dumped. It’s now called Windows Live Mail which has to be downloaded separately. That means five years of email and newsgroup correspondence are still at my fingertips and more to come. :-)

4) I like the way tasks associated with an app are referenced from a single button in the taskbar and hovering the pointer over each of its instances pushes the corresponding window to the forground.

Windows 7 is a nice OS. I guess it’s time to say “Sinara Vista Ultimate”.

Tony.

FierceGuppy on October 24, 2009 at 4:22 AM

Sapwolf on October 23, 2009 at 10:43 PM

Last week, I ordered a new Dell Desktop system with Win7.

I currently have a Dell XPS 410 that is over 3 years old. It’s on XP.

I’m getting sick of getting mauled by baddies in Arlington, VA in Fallout 3 with them materializing less than 20 feet from me. Sniper rifle ain’t good when you can’t see them.

I hope your new Dell PC is built for gaming. The vast majority of brand name PCs are at best half-arsed performers in the area of 3D graphics rendering which is why my PCs are always roll-your-owns. How far are you into Fallout 3? Found your dear ol’ dad yet?

Tony.

FierceGuppy on October 24, 2009 at 4:49 AM

Just make sure your needed programs have a W7 version, if so DO IT! After installing on my lap top it was almost like getting a new one. Easy to learn and very efficient OS.

moyeti on October 24, 2009 at 8:44 AM

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