Windows 7 Upgrade Notes

image Since Windows 7 was released about 10 days ago, many of you may be upgrading the OS on your computers from that dog called Vista (lest I be sentenced to a sensitivity workshop, no offense intended to canis lupis familiaris). As the ENA (Evil Network Administrator) of a small law firm in Downtown L.A., I have to upgrade some laptops. This post will share my notes during the upgrade process. Hopefully some of them may be useful to you during your upgrade.

Windows 7 Installation Media

We have a Microsoft open license. Consequently, I downloaded an ISO file rather than receiving a DVD. I then used ImgBurn (there are other alternatives) to burn the ISO to a DVD containing the installation files. You can install using an ISO file or a bootable USB stick, but why complicate matters?

Device Preparation

I fully charged the laptop battery and plugged the laptop into a reliable power source. Belt and suspenders perhaps, but why take a chance on running out of power during an install?

I made sure the BIOS was up to date. It wasn’t. So I flashed it.

I also made sure I had a reliable wired Internet connection, rather than relying on WiFi. You should have an Internet connection during the install process, and wired is more reliable than WiFi. Indeed, as discussed below, I had some compatibility issues with my WiFi software and drivers.

Similarly, I used a USB wired mouse rather than a wireless USB or Bluetooth mouse. If you’re using a wireless keyboard with your desktop or slate MD/UMPC/Tablet PC, a USB wired keyboard also is advisable.

Of course, make sure you have sufficient remaining space on your disk. You may also want to check the disk for errors, and defragment if you have a HDD rather than a SSD.

I’m sure there’s other things to mention, like having your product key available, making sure you have enough free time and aren’t tired (and therefore prone to making dumb mistakes), wearing clean underwear in case there’s an accident (sorry, bad recycled joke), etc.

Starting the Install

I ran the setup.exe file on the DVD from Windows, as opposed to from a boot.

Checking Compatibility

I’ve watched enough eHarmony commercials on TV to know that compatibility is important. Here though the issue is whether your hardware and software are compatible with Windows 7.

The image at the beginning of this post shows the startup screen when I ran the setup.exe file on the DVD from Windows. You have two choices: (1) Check compatibility online, or (2) Install now. Resist the temptation to start installing. With OS upgrades, as with other issues in life, remember “sin in haste, repent in leisure.” So I chose Check compatibility online.

This choice directed me to download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. I downloaded, installed and ran the advisor. It pointed out some advisable software updates. I applied those updates.

The advisor also told me to uninstall certain programs, such as the WiFi software and driver, which I could reinstall after Windows 7 was installed. I did so, choosing the option to save my settings.

I then closed the install program, rebooted, and ran the advisor again to confirm I had a clean bill of health.


After confirming compatibility, I again ran the setup.exe file on the DVD from Windows, and this time chose Install now.

My first choice is whether I wanted to download installation updates or proceed directly to installation. I chose to download installation updates. No duh.

After the updates were download, and I accepted the license terms (e.g., Microsoft gets your first unborn child), I then had to choose between an Upgrade and a Custom installation. The latter involves a fresh install, requiring reinstallation of programs. A fresh install has its advantages, but my objective was a simple upgrade. So I chose Upgrade.

The setup program then checked compatibility. If you ran the Upgrade Advisor first, and implemented its recommendations, presumably nothing will be flagged here. At least for me nothing was.

Installation then started. Get a cup of coffee; it took me about 1 1/2 hours (YMMV). This is why you want to have a fully-charged battery and a reliable power source before you begin.

Installation, while lengthy, was uneventful.


Since we have a Microsoft open license, activation is different than if you have the key on a sticker on your installation DVD case. I’m using a MAK (Multiple Activation Key) instead of Key Management Services (KMS).

I used the usual Windows Activation applet. Wrong. I didn’t know that, the obnoxious and uninformative Microsoft help videos didn’t tell me that, and the Microsoft Helpdesk guy in India didn’t know it either.

But Google search is your friend. Evidently I wasn’t the only poor schnook who had run into this problem and pounded his head into the wall until he heard the mushy sound. The (relatively easy) solution:  In Control Panel > System, you have to first change your product key to your MAK key (which you don’t enter during installation). Then activate. That was fun.


Now I need to run Windows Update … a whopping 432.5 MB download. I also need to visit the unintuitive Dell Support site for Windows 7 drivers. Then I’ll see how much better my Dell Latitude XT2 runs under Windows 7.  But that’s another story.

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