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Doug's Mailbag: Windows 7 Waiting Line, What About Bing?, More

Readers share their thoughts on the possible 20-hour wait some "super users" might experience when they upgrade to Windows 7:

So? From 2001 until December 2006, I re-installed Windows XP dozens of times (mainly because the system was choking itself) and NOT ONCE was I able to complete a re-installation of XP in less than three days! It is a long and painful process to wait for XP to install, then wait for its service packs and then its patches to install, let alone having to reconfigure the handful of applications I was absolutely dependent upon. These were not unattended installs, either; if you walked away from the system at the wrong time, you could return hours later (often the next morning) only to realize that the system had been waiting for a response from you since you walked away the night before.

Don't try to convince anyone that staying with XP is less painful than moving to Windows 7. It just isn't!

One of the biggest time-savers out there for migrating is keeping your data either on a separate partition or on a server. As far as upgrades are concerned, if the applications are compatible, Windows should be easily upgrade to Windows 7 with no hitches. Just make sure to use the Upgrade Advisor. Of course, going from a x32 to a x64 system would be a bit more involved. Personally, I do my homework first -- checking for updated software, x64 versions -- as well as keep all my data on a separate machine (also great for disaster recovery).

Twenty hours is a bit much, especially for a "super user." Were the applications he used downloaded when upgrading, or did he have the original disks? Maybe my machine is faster, maybe my applications are faster-installing, but I have MANY applications (from Office to Visual Studio to VMs), and can be done in just a few hours.

Yes, I agree an upgrade can take quite a bit of time, especially if you have a lot of data. The reason for this is that Windows 7 first performs a complete backup of your settings and data (including the program files and Windows folder), installs a new version of Windows, and then restores all the data and settings. The more data and custom settings you have, the longer it will take.

In my opinion, it is better to fully backup all your data and settings and do a clean install, unless there is a real compelling reason to upgrade (such as, you just don't have the time or will to recreate all your custom settings or you will not be able to reinstall software due to not having the disks). I have found that my machines that had clean installs performed much better than those I upgraded, and besides it only took me a few hours more to reinstall my programs and restore my data. Though it does sometimes take a few days to get around to redoing all your custom settings, the performance differences between upgrading and doing a clean install are worth it.

Upgrade hassles aside, these readers have installed higher-end versions of Windows 7 on their netbooks, and the world did not end:

I've installed the Windows 7 Ultimate RTM on my Acer Aspire One netbook with excellent results. It's no speed demon, but it performs well with the dual-core ATOM processor, even on this modest machine with only 1GB of RAM. I encountered no problems during the install (all hardware recognized) and I'm pleased with the results.

If users recognize that all netbooks will have some inherent limitations and adjust their usage to keep those limitations in mind, they should be as happy with a Windows 7 netbook installation as I am.

I've been running Windows 7 Professional on an Asus EeePC netbook for a week now. I've got no real complaints, and in fact am thinking of setting Windows 7 as the default OS (I set the netbook to dual-boot after upgrading the hard drive from 160GB to 500GB before the Windows 7 installation). When I got the netbook in March, I immediately upgraded the RAM to 2GB for performance reasons. I knew even then that XP Home would run better with the extra memory installed. I've got Office 2007 on the system, and I'm confident that it will run as well under Windows 7 as under XP. Application compatibility is always an issue with new versions of Windows, but so far it hasn't been a problem.

My user experience index on the netbook is only 2.2 with Windows 7, but that's because of the graphics subsystem. From a usability standpoint, it's just fine. I've got the Aero desktop running with all those bells and whistles. So far, my experience with Windows 7 Pro on the netbook has been very satisfactory. If anything unexpected shows up, I'll let you know, but for now I can only say that Microsoft has done a fine job with its latest and greatest on even the lowliest of platforms.

Doug has been asking readers for their thoughts on Bing for his son's writing project. One reader shares his experience, while another one shares his confusion:

Since you asked, I've been using Bing as my primary search engine since it came out as Bing (not MS Live Search). My reaction is that it's good, but no better than Google. It doesn't do a better job of giving me what I want in the first few results, and a search with the same terms gives very similar results, especially near the top of the list. If I didn't know better, I would assume that Bing was just a front end for Google. The search business must be lucrative.

As a Bing user, what the hell is happening with MS and Sun? Yesterday, I was installing Java Virtual Machine and it had an option to install the Bing Bar. But as I remember, Java and MS were not going well. In fact, they're not friends anymore.

Doug ruffled some feathers recently after he made a dig at Ann Coulter, but these readers don't mind mixing politics with IT commentary:

I saw the Coulter comment and laughed. Not because I am a Democrat (I'm not), but because it was close and it was humorous. I did think that you might get some feedback from others on it, but I wasn't expecting what I saw in the comments.

I know that right now, political fever is high, but if I ever lose the ability to laugh at myself, I might as well hang up my hat (which I don't wear, so no sweat). I do listen to conservative talk radio and sometimes have to turn it off out of frustration even though I consider myself a staunch constitutional conservative. Blind adherence to any party, movement or group is a quick way to lose your individual thought and voice. I do worry about you, though, saying that you can listen to Barney Frank all day...

Yes, stop the political comments, stop the comments about your kids and how many laptops you have, stop any way for us to think of you as more human than robot. It's not like there's a source out there for us to read that is completely impersonal...or is there? (Like the AP, USA Today...)

Finally, a week ago, Doug asked readers to share what they learned from 9/11. Here's Rich's take:

I just want to say thanks for remembering 9/11 in your newsletter every year. I read several IT publications on a weekly basis, and you are the only one who mentions it.

I made my usual commute from New Jersey to downtown New York that morning and walked out of the WTC at 8:36 a.m. Ten minutes later the first plane hit. My wife worked across the street from the WTC and ran several blocks to my job. We stayed there until noon (when we thought it was safe to leave).

The lesson learned? Don't take life for granted. Enjoy it. Be happy.

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on 09/18/2009 at 1:17 PM


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