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Windows 7 Upgrade Option Requires Patience



img24As a TechNet subscriber I got my hands on the final release of Windows 7 on Friday and spent the weekend prepping (that means backing things up) and installing the OS. Although for my typical usage I much prefer to wipe things completely clean on a computer and start fresh, I thought I would give the upgrade option a shot, since some may be going that route. Well, if you are, make sure you set some time aside to complete the process.

I was upgrading an HP 2730p Elitebook Tablet PC running Vista Ultimate. It has 3GB of RAM installed. From start to finish it took just under 5 hours to complete the upgrade.

If you choose to upgrade, the installer will scan your drive and report to you if you’ve got applications that are not compatible. It will rate them for you and tell you if you need to uninstall the apps before the upgrade will complete, or if you might experience difficulty with the app when you’re done. In this case I had to remove the HP Security Suite before the upgrade would go forward.

Windows will hang on to your files and settings for apps that are compatible with the upgrade and put everything back in place once the install is complete. Every app I had installed (except for those that it flagged as incompatible and that I removed) was right back were it was supposed to be with all the settings intact and everything I’ve tested so far runs the way I expect it to. This feature may be quite handy for those who don’t want to loose a particular setup, but as I said before, I’d rather bite the bullet and start fresh. How you proceed depends on your needs.

The install process churned through its work dutifully. It required 4 reboots during the process and after the install was complete I was immediately prompted with a message that told we Windows Update had found some new updates ready to go. (Note that passwords and keys for wireless networks carried over intact.) Most of these were drivers, so that’s a good thing. But, (and I’m sorry I did not make good notes here) one update was not a driver update.

I have noticed that after the install, Windows 7 is not nearly as snappy as it was in the previous RTM and Beta versions. I can’t say with any certainty that is is because it upgraded on top of Vista, or if things are different in the final build. My hunch is this has to do more with using the upgrade option instead of the clean build option.Typically an upgrade over a previous OS is not as fast as a clean start in my experience.

I’ll be running this setup for a few days and then I’ll wipe things clean and do a fresh install. I’ll put up some comparison numbers once that is all done. But as for now, if you’re going to be doing the upgrade option over Vista, make sure you set some time aside. For you that may be time well spent. Once you start with a clean OS install, you do need to reinstall the apps you need to be back up and running and depending on how many apps you have lined up ready to install, one 5 hour or so push may be just the ticket.

Oh, and you also get some interesting wallpaper options with Windows 7, like the one pictured above.



  1. Fred Beiderbecke

    08/10/2009 at 8:58 am

    Yeah, I was a little creeped out by that wallpaper.

    A fresh install on my X60t took about 20 minutes from a flash drive.

    I am still reinstalling the apps and utilities though.

  2. GoodThings2Life

    08/10/2009 at 9:13 am

    Good grief, are you kidding me ?!?! Just under 5 hours?

    I formatted my 2730p and had it up and running in 30 minutes doing a from-scratch install, and that was time taken to download the 4 missing drivers from the HP site (Intel AMT, Intel SOL, Hard Drive Protection Manager, and QuickLaunch Buttons).

    Sure, I had to install my apps and settings by hand, but that only added 2 hours, and then I copied all my files back which was a half hour.


  3. Scott McB

    08/10/2009 at 9:23 am

    I tried a fresh install of Windows 7 RTM on my nearly 5 year old Tablet PC, an Acer Travelmate C302 (with a few upgrades).

    The original technical preview didn’t work with most things on my tablet, and the beta worked with everything but the video drivers.

    I’m pleased to say, the RTM version **works** with the old video drivers for the Intel 82855 chipset. Granted, there was a blue screen of death after I installed the drivers and rebooted, but the reboot after that seems to have fixed the problem.

    And I have to say, the performance on my tablet compared to Vista is noticable.

  4. Nick Y

    08/10/2009 at 10:52 am

    I did a clean install on my toshiba tablet. It was by far much easier than the clean install to Vista I did a few months back. I had no driver problems at all this time around, and I even got the biometrics to work again (which I lost on the vista install).

    I must say that I really like Windows 7. I can’t wait to install it on my primary machine.

  5. Mark (K0LO)

    08/10/2009 at 11:41 am

    If you do an upgrade install on an OEM tablet PC from Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, etc., you’re likely to carry forward all of the mistakes in the OEM build of the OS. Most OEMs are fairy incompetent at installing Windows properly. You can do better if you do it yourself.

    A lot of the comments you hear from people who have tried the Win7 Beta or RC and are impressed by how much faster their PCs run are due to the differences between an OEM build of an OS and a clean install. With a clean install you aren’t saddled with all of the buggy drivers and utilities, crapware, and errors introduced by the manufacturers, who are trying to throw everything but the kitchen sink into their builds in an effort to cover every conceivable user want or desire.

    Do it yourself!

  6. Kevin C. Tofel

    08/10/2009 at 12:54 pm

    I’m with the “clean install” crowd. I never upgrade a Windows machine’s OS because the few times I have done it, the system felt too bogged down as compared to a clean install. I have Windows 7 RTM on my Toshiba NB205 from a clean install and it’s pretty peppy. I actually take this to an extreme with most machines in general — I often wipe the drive (and all vendor-specific software), do a clean OS install and only add back the device specific drivers and software I need.

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