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OK, this time's for real: Vista to Win7 Ultimate Upgrade

At about 10 this morning, I started working on the upgrade from Windows Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate. As always, my efforts began with an image backup, so that in case anything went wrong, I could get myself back to where I started without too much muss or fuss. This time, I used the built-in Vista image backup facility: I know from repeated experience that I can use it in tandem with an install disk (of which I have a surfeit at the moment, thanks to my recent work on a spate of Windows 7 articles and a bunch of chapters for a book) to put my system back into action even when the system drive won’t boot.

Surprisingly, the JMB36X driver issue that the standalone Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor flagged as a potential problem (see my previous blog) wasn’t flagged when the upgrade compatibility check ran, nor did it warn me about potential problems with the version of Visual Studio 2008 I’ve got installed on this test machine. It did, however, puke at IntellType 7.0 and at PerfectDisk 10, both of which I had to uninstall before I could proceed with the upgrade install for Windows 7. IntelliType vanished without a trace, but I had to delete the Raxco directory (where PerfectDisk and its install files go by default) as well as uninstall the program to get an “all clear” from the installer. Fortunately, I did some work for Raxco last year and got my favorite tech support person on the phone when a simple uninstall didn’t do the trick, and he pointed out that the installer probably scans the hard disk to look for potential offenders and was still seeing the PD10.exe file, even though it was no longer runnable. Deleting the whole PerfectDisk directory tree did the trick.

Getting those preliminaries taken care of took about an hour. Then I started the Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade install. Because of the numerous programs on this test system (Revo Uninstaller and Programs and Features both report 66 applications installed) rather than taking half an hour to complete — as it typical for a clean Windows 7 install — it took about 75 minutes to get through the process, much of which occurred while a splash screen reading “Upgrading Windows” was the only GUI information available to my curious but soon glazed-over eyes. When the upgrade process concluded, the installer automatically launched for Windows Live Messenger, which apparently needed to be reinstalled once Windows 7 was up and running. Also, the first time I ran Internet Explorer 8.0, I once again had to go through the initial configuration steps, as if I’d just installed it for the first time. Total time consumed so far at this point was about 3.5 hours.

Then I started checking drivers. I’m pleased to report that all of them came through the upgrade unscathed but that’s probably because I’d made sure all the drivers were current for Vista just before I ran the upgrade install. That said, I’m starting to see a whole slew of Windows 7 drivers show up on vendor Web sites, and have recently grabbed new Windows 7 drivers for RealTek (networking and audio), JMicron (JMB36X RAID controller), Logitech (SetPoint 4.80 is out and works with Windows 7 thought they still claim not to support the Windows 7 RC and RTM isn’t yet officially “out”), and even Microsoft itself (new versions of IntelliType and IntelliPoint are out and ready for Windows 7). Total time elapsed to make the upgrade was just under 5 hours: not at all bad considering the same move from XP to Vista regularly takes me more like 10-12 hours (but then, drivers are totally different between those two OSes, and Vista and Windows 7 use the same driver model and by and large also run the same drivers).

I’d have to rate this exercise a success, if still not completely simple and straightforward. Sure beats previous upgrade experiences, and all my applications appear to have survived the translation unscathed. Yippee!

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