Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Windows 7 Beta Testing - Test one: upgrade from Vista

Well, just last week I got my laptop back from being wiped and serviced (bad fan caused mobo and hard drive failure). Coincidentally, the windows 7 public beta has been made available at the same time.

Since I've really got nothing to lose, I decided to try and install the Win 7 (64-bit) beta on my laptop. I'll let you all know how it goes, in liveblog format (indexed by minute)

The machine in question is an HP Pavillion DV9830, with a dual core 1.83ghz core 2 duo mobile, 4 gigs of DDR2, a discrete Nvidia 8600gs with 512m of discrete vram (feeding a 17" screen at 1440x900), a 320 gig 7200rpm hdd, discrete Intel A/B/G/N/bluetooth wireless, and a bluray drive.
00: Begin upgrade procedure. Installing as an upgrade not as clean, jsut to try it out. I'll probably reinstall as clean in a few days to see if it's any different.Also I had it update install files from the internet.

05: Compatability checking ran for five minutes, before starting copying windows files; listed as approximate 3gb. Accurate status and timing indicators (a miracle for MS)

12: File copy took approximately 7 minutes. Install began at the 12 minute mark.

24: "Gathering files and settings" portion of the install reporting 50% complete

27: "Gathering files..." complete, moving on to "Expanding Files"; but I get no status indication for about two minutes; when it comes alive at 2% and moves quickly from there.

30: Expanding went quick to 18% then stalled. Indicates 548mb of 3gb of data to decompress.

32: Rebooted without warning

34: Restarted in under two minutes to a respmnsive desktop. Restarted to the same 18% mark from before the reboot. Startup screen is considerably more attractive than vista or XP.

41: Expansion process finally shows a status indication after 7 minutes stuck at 18% with no status indicator

47: File expansion finally completed, but again became non responsive for about 2 minutes. Moved on to "installing features and updates".

51: Reboots again, without warning this time.

53: Again, reboots to a responsive desktop in under 2 minutes. 1:25 actually. It restarts the process then freezes with no status indication again.

57: Looks like it installed the proper video driver, as I'm now at full resolution after a few black flickers; but again, no status update or counter or taskbar change.

58: Status indicator finally changes from 18%, and it starts copying the over 300,000 "files and settings" it copied over earlier in the process.

78: Reboot

80: Responsive again, and the upgrade resumes with indicators around the 60% mark.

89: Reboot again, this time with a shutdown sound. Status indicators didn't change the entire 9 minutes.

91: Responsive again around 1:30 reboot time. I'm actually really impressed with the reboot times here, as compared to Vista.

92: The install process does a video performance test, then drops me into the interactive portion of the install, to enter my product key. It already has my localization settings since this is an upgrade, so I don't have to go through all that again.

93: 1 hour and 32 minutes from upgrade start 'til completed upgrade to a responsive desktop.
I have to say, this is the cleanest upgrade procedure I've seen for a windows version upgrade. It captured everything, didnt require any unusual input or workarounds, and it seems that almost all my settings were preserved and all my applications and data are working properly.

I have a concern over how long it took. 90 minutes is FAR longer than either Vista or XP took to either upgrade or install. Admittedly, they also dropped a lot of data on the floor in their upgrade processes, but it's still a long time.

Also, the inaccurate and non responsive status indicators could be an issue. At one point there was no update to the status for about 20minutes; and if I were less experienced I may have thought my system had frozen, and given it up as a bad job.

Unfortunately, inaccurate status indicators are something of a hallowed tradition in OS installs; and MS is no worse a violator than anyone else (actually I think Sun is FAR worse. Try installing Solaris 7 on a machine that isn't plugged into a functioning network with a DNS server and see how long it takes you to complete an install).

Now it's off to the races so to speak. I'll report on my findings as I go.