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Doug's Mailbag: Windows 7 Migration Stories, More

Michael is skeptical about whether any of Gartner's analyses -- including it's most recent one about Microsoft's relevance (or lack thereof) -- should be taken with more than a grain of salt:

You're wrong in taking Gartner somewhat seriously, but then we've got to talk about something don't we?

I remember reading many years ago the Gartner report predicting OS2's success over Windows. What would be very interesting is an evaluation of the reliability of predictions from the likes of Gartner, Forrester, etc. I suspect that the result would be similar to the reliability of the prediction for the 10th day in a 10-day weather forecast -- most but not all the time will it be wrong and only as good as a random guess across reasonable possible outcomes.

Here are more thoughts on XP Mode, including a tip for a reader who wrote in last week to wonder why his computer wasn't enabled for it:

I work for a small water utility. We use a handful of legacy apps to manage our water infrastructure, automated meter reads and billing. Some of those legacy apps don't have viable alternatives, and up until a couple of years ago required Windows 2000 to work! Needless to say, those same apps won't have a Vista/Windows 7 version available for years. XP Mode is a game saver for us.

I am using Windows 7 on a 3-year-old Dell laptop with XP Mode running fine. For Chris, your PC probably run XP Mode since it's a quad-core but you may have to turn virtualization on in the BIOS, as I did.

I like the ability to use USB drives in a virtual environment and I have loaded a few apps that run in XP without having to buy an upgraded version.

Finally, readers share their Windows 7 migration stories. While none reported having the same issues a few Vista users had last week (endless reboots, anyone?), some installations went better than others:

Updated from Vista yesterday. Went great! One hour and 45 minutes. Put in the CD, answered some questions, waited, put in the license code, waited. All was done. No data loss. No problem.

I also had Windows 7 installation woes, but unlike most complaints I've heard about, I knew I had to install clean since I was using XP on my desktop.

I installed another hard drive in my computer, made it the primary boot drive in the BIOS and proceeded to install from DVD. I experienced the same type of install stoppages with the install hanging at about 62 percent. I tried various versions of Windows 7 and different DVDs from my TechNet RTMs but got the same results. Finally, I changed the hard drive from the Seagate I installed (and which was working fine with XP before it was wiped) to a Western Digital. Install breezed through the routine in about an hour. Don't know why it worked but all is fine now. I also reinstalled XP on the Seagate and that works fine when I select it for boot via the motherboard BIOS.

After the second try, all went smoothly. Key for me was that I had forgotten to disable my firewall and anti-virus. Maybe that's a hint for others. Good luck.

I purchased the Windows 7 Pro upgrade (download) and burned it to disk from the ISO file. I attempted to install it to a blank, new hard drive. I kept waiting for a prompt to point to the Vista install or to insert the Vista disk to upgrade from, but it never came. The install kept going and going until the very end when it prompted for the product key. All it returned was an invalid key error with no explanation. A call to Microsoft support told me that wouldn't work and I'd have to install it over my existing Vista installation. Sorry, no way was I going to do that, so on to Plan B.

I had Windows 7 RC installed on another drive. I put that one back in and ran the upgrade again. It came back and said I couldn't upgrade but would need to do a clean install over the existing Windows 7 RC, so I tried that. Like magic! Everything worked just as expected! It was installed on an 80GB drive so I just ghost drive-to-drive to my new 500GB drive, and all is well.

My Ultimate clean install was flawless -- and included a RAID 0 setup. Since getting rid of Vista, I now have old programs working that didn't.

I was upgrading a Vista Ultimate 32-bit to Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. I knew from the outset that I would have to do a custom install, but from what I had read, all I needed to do was insert the 64-bit disk and select Custom from the installation menu. After inserting the disk, I got the message that I would have to boot from the DVD to install the 64-bit versions of Windows 7. I shut down the computer and restarted to enter the BIOS Setup to change the boot order and boot from DVD, inserted the DVD and restarted, booting from the disk. Installation began then seemed to freeze at the blue screen with the white dove. Removed the disk and booted to Vista. I thought I could install the 32-bit and then install the 64-bit. Started the 32-bit DVD and received an error message that Windows 7 could not identify the drives on my machine. Rebooted and tried again, same error. Went to the Internet and searched for the error message.

Recommended fix was to run System File Checker as Administrator and if corrupted, do a reinstall of Vista. Ran SFC, found corruption, reinstalled Vista. While searching the Web for the solution, I ran across an entry which says that the install process spends a lot of time at the "blue screen with white dove" before continuing the installation process. Back to the boot from DVD, blue screen with white dove, and went to dinner. Came back and install was completing normally. Now I'm the proud owner of Windows 7 64-bit.

I have done several clean installs of Windows 7 Enterprise and they all have gone very well. In general, it takes 20 to 30 minutes. Last night, I upgraded my home machine from Vista Home Premium 32-bit to Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, and it took awhile but went great. The process was: Boot from the Windows 7 x64 DVD, choose Custom Install, follow prompts. It took 45 to 60 minutes.

When done, I could log in to Windows 7 x64 and my User, Program Files and Windows were in Windows.old. Windows 7 found all my devices and downloaded drivers for them. The only one it had any trouble with was on old generic modem (which I had even forgotten was in the machine), which it simply could not identify. My machine is running faster and I'm quite happy.

My install went fine. How did I do it? Well, I fell for the Apple commercials that said since I was moving to a new OS from XP, it was just as easy to go to Mac. See, my Lenovo X60 tablet is getting long in the tooth: The screen is VERY dim compared to new systems, it's been really slow lately and it runs really hot on my lap (talk about chestnuts on an open fire). Plus, I've read how people have MacBooks that are 5 years old and still run like champs.

So last week I got fed up and picked up a MacBook Pro 2.53GHz (twice my tablet's 1.2GHz processor) with 4GB RAM (which I also have on the tablet but can't use because the system only supports 32-bit processing) and a 250GB drive (versus my tablet's 320GB). I loaded Bootcamp and VMware's new virtualizer, then loaded Windows 7. What a difference! The screen is bright and crisp, the bottom doesn't get hot at all on my lap, the system is really thin, and apps just fly. Oh, and I got a free wireless scanner/printer combo, to boot! I did buy the One-to-One training because it will take awhile to get this veteran Windows user over to the Apple environment, but in the meantime, I have Windows 7 as a backup. But who knows, maybe I'll just stick with Windows 7 and not worry about the Apple environment at all.

Watch this space for more Windows 7 migration stories on Wednesday! Meanwhile, share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or sending an e-mail to

Posted on 11/02/2009 at 1:17 PM


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