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Can I Go Solo With Windows 7?

Posted on 27th May 2009 at 12:25 by Antony Leather with 27 comments

Antony Leather
Have you tried Windows 7 yet? One of my plans for the bank holiday was to do one of my bi-yearly reinstalls of Windows to clear out the crap and maybe try a different RAID setup. I'd been running XP for a while after I gave up on dual booting it and Vista, dumping the latter because I didn't really play any DX10 enabled games, got thoroughly peeved with its clunky interface and interfering antics compared to XP, even after SP1, and, well XP was all I needed really. I guess I'm just set in my ways when it comes to operating systems.

However, given that the recently announced Windows 7 RC1 will stay operational till next year, I thought I'd give it a stab hearing glowing reports and also the fact I could get a 64bit version to make use of my new 4GB of RAM to help with the pretty demanding photo editing I've been doing recently which saw my 2GB RAM all used up. The question is, could I get away with using it alone or would I need to dual boot with XP again? Maybe I'd even be sick of it within 30 minutes like I was with Vista. This is a bit of a risk too as it's a release candidate but I was inclined to believe the glowing reports it had received and went for it.

Downloading was a breeze and after saving all my files to an external backup I wiped everything, got rid of my RAID 0 and RAID 1 arrays and set my three hard disks up to have the OS on one, programs on another and data and the pagefile on a third (the latter a bit of fore-thought as I'm itching to get an SSD to replace my C drive).

Having burned the ISO, I rebooted and began the installation only to find it took 15 minutes to get anywhere. Then, out of no where it said a CD/DVD drive driver was missing and needed to be installed. Excuuuuuuse me? For a second I thought it might be referring to a RAID driver, but I wasn't running RAID this time round purposely to avoid any issues. I tried the chipset driver from my motherboard CD, and the driver that came with my LG Blu-ray drive but it threw both back at me being not what it was looking for.

After an hour or two's fiddling I Googled from my laptop and found quite a few people with the same issue, but unfortunately there were about seven very different and very complicated solutions. After about three hours of trying various things, I came across another thread with a much more logical solution - download the file again and burn at the slowest speed possible. Nah, that can't be it, it's too simple! With nothing else left to try I gave it a whirl, and blow me it worked. For some reason the RC1 ISO seems to be very picky.

With this little hiccup out of the way, the rest of the installation was breeze. After installing various drivers and playing with Windows 7's new taskbar and toolbars, I started to copy my files from my FireWire backup drive to my storage drive. This seemed to go fine, except it was going to take 15 hours to copy 200GB. Hmmm, I knew Vista was slower than XP at file transfers but that's ridiculous! I did another Google search and sure enough, FireWire had been playing up on more than a few systems. Luckily the solution was simple and involved switching to a legacy FireWire driver as Windows 7 appears to default to one that results in a tardy transfer speed of 5MB/s.

With this sorted and my transfer speed up to a much healthier 40MB/s , I continued setting up a few more programs. Unfortunately the first one I tried - Folding@home - refused to work and was either unable to connect to the servers to download work or flaked out entirely saying my machine was unstable. I'm still not sure why it's having issues - there have been quite a few people reporting issues with the Stanford servers and work units in the last few days which could be something to do with it but after disabling Windows Firewall, UAC and tweaking other settings, I'm still no further forward getting my machine folding.

Can I Go Solo With Windows 7? Can I go solo with Windows 7?
The new taskbar takes a bit of getting used to but it adds a great deal of functionality

Apart from Folding, the FireWire issue and the trouble with the installation, I've also had issues with Photoshop locking the entire system but everything else has been fine. Clearly with these issues bugging quite a few people, and lots more issues out there besides, I wouldn't give it an A+ yet and I've only used it for a few hours and don't have all my programs installed. However the good news is that so far, I haven't felt the need to go back to Windows XP, or even dual boot, although if I can't get Folding to work and if Photoshop or any other programs continue to give me grief the latter may change! I love its rapid startup and shutdown, I like the little tweaks to the taskbar and how snappy it feels. In fact, for someone who thought he'd always have Windows XP on his system, I'm actually impressed.

27 Comments

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Paradigm Shifter 27th May 2009, 12:57 Quote
Quote:
Nah, that can't be it, it's too simple! With nothing else left to try I gave it a whirl, and blow me it worked. For some reason the RC1 ISO seems to be very picky.
That's the first thing I check with any burned disc. It's the most basic issue there is, and 99.9% of the time, it solves the problem. In fact, I've had it happen so many times with linux or Windows betas that I rarely burn ISOs faster than 2x. Sure, it takes a while but it's better than getting issues like you experienced. ;)

I've not tried Firewire with Windows 7 yet, though. Will give it a try and see what happens.
Hamish 27th May 2009, 13:34 Quote
installing off a usb thumb stick is definately the way to do it imo
dvd sucks :\
DragunovHUN 27th May 2009, 13:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamish
installing off a usb thumb stick is definately the way to do it imo
dvd sucks :\

I just mounted the image using Daemon. That's about as easy as it gets. Well, assuming you have an OS already installed somewhere.
mclean007 27th May 2009, 14:05 Quote
Yup - the way forward is always to make an MD5 hash of the downloaded ISO (do a web search for the hash and hopefully it will match with those posted by others for the same file!) then burn the disc at its slowest, rip it to an ISO and hash it again. If the hash is the same (you'd be surprised how often this isn't the case...), you can pretty much guarantee you have a good disc.
Aracos 27th May 2009, 14:12 Quote
What's the moral of the story? BURN OPERATING SYSTEM DISCS AND CRUCIAL DATA AT MINIMUM SPEED! God I don't know why people don't do it, my LG burner burns at 16x CD speed and only takes 5 minutes to burn and DVD's at 4x take about 10-15 minutes, that's not a long length of time. Anyway I'm interested in Winblows 7 for my games but tbh I won't use it till I get a DirectX11 card in about 2 years because I'd rather use 4770's in triple crossfire :P and Vista can go to hell, I couldn't care less about DirectX10 and nothing could get me to use vista in a lifetime so XP and Linux for me ^_^
Skiddywinks 27th May 2009, 15:48 Quote
I wouldn't be so quick to blame the ISO itself when it comes to your primary installation problems. That kind of thing happens regardless of the file. Like everyone else has more or less said, just burn anything important as slow as you are willing.

As for Firewire, Photoshop and F@H though, I have no idea. Although I am unsure as to why you would be using firewire in the first place, the Photoshop and F@H issues seem to be rather big for someone with your interests.

Luckily, I installed 7 almost as it was released to public, and I have loved it so far. The new "superbar" is much better (after getting used to it), and everything just seems much more tuned. Clearly MS decided to actually listen to the customers.

All I really do is play games, browse the web and play music, and I have not had a single problem. I hope for your sake that the solutions to yours are quick and simple.
ch424 27th May 2009, 15:51 Quote
Also, buying cheap CD-Rs is a bit of a false economy...
phuzz 27th May 2009, 16:46 Quote
What was different in the Vista interface compared to XP? The first thing I do on an install is stop the themes service and then even vista looks like win95, or as near as damnit...
I assume Win7 is the same, not had the chance to test yet. anyway, it's still M$, I'll upgrade when SP1 comes out.
haddow64 27th May 2009, 18:33 Quote
Ive been using it for the last few weeks, and I have to say I'm impressed, I had forgotten that Microsoft can actually make good software. The only thing worrying me now is the price, really hope they don't overprice it and allow it to flop like Vista.
thehippoz 27th May 2009, 18:47 Quote
Quote:

I came across another thread with a much more logical solution - download the file again and burn at the slowest speed possible. Nah, that can't be it, it's too simple! With nothing else left to try I gave it a whirl, and blow me it worked.

lol yeah that's why I burn with nero.. check verify the disc and it will go back over the data afterwards and give you a thumbs up or down

glad to hear you like windows 7.. apple will change your mind before the year is up :D
dullonien 27th May 2009, 18:57 Quote
Never had a problem burning an OS disc at maximum speed, must have been lucky.

I've been running Windows 7 for a while, currently running a vlited version of RC1 and haven't come across many problems. Photoshop CS4 is running perfectly for me, and all my programs install and run great. The only small glitch comes from having the taskbar at the top of my screen, it seems to have an extra half the taskbar width of 'aero' blurred effect below the taskbar again. It's a bit odd, as the beta copy of 7 handled the taskbar fine at the top of the screen.

I think Windows 7 should change peoples mind about windows aero, as people really have nothing to complain about. Unlike Vista, 7 is less recource hungly and feels snapier to use than any version of windows before. I still can't understand how people can still prefer the ugly out-dated look of windows 95/98/2000. I spend most of my time on a pc, in work and in my spare time, so I want something nice to look at.

Microsoft have come through well with Windows 7. Just a pitty Vista wasn't like this! Even the UAC works as it should!
UncertainGod 27th May 2009, 19:28 Quote
That's odd, I have no issues with having the taskbar at the top.
Combatus 27th May 2009, 20:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dullonien
Never had a problem burning an OS disc at maximum speed, must have been lucky.

Me too, never ever had an issue burning at 16x and it was the fact the install worked but just asked me for some random driver that totally threw me that it could be anything to do with a dodgy burn! Nothing appeared not to work if you see what I mean. Still, lesson learned.

@ Skiddywinks - I'm using FireWire with an external Maxtor backup drive as I've found it outperforms USB2.
thehippoz 27th May 2009, 21:52 Quote
still test driving sp2 here on vista.. seems better than ever =] I might have to skip win 7 just because of the money end of things right now.. I wish I had a firewire backup- only one rig has firewire though :|

I bet there was dust on that disc- I has a horsehair brush to dust them off before they go in
azrael- 27th May 2009, 22:43 Quote
This blog post seems to affirm my intentions of doing an XP 32bit/Win7 64bit dual boot setup. Most likely XP won't see much usage, but it's nice to have in case it's needed and with hard drives being so cheap these days I can hardly find an argument against doing that dual boot setup.
Dreaming 28th May 2009, 23:42 Quote
Have to say if you didn't like Vista I'm surprised you like 7, they're effectively the same (with a few tweaks!). Also, IIRC isn't Vista faster at network traffic than XP, especially if it's Vista-Vista or Server 2008 machines?

Also from a pure theoretical perspective, I think Vista's approach to use unused resources to accelerate the GUI or prefetch progarms was the right idea, but potentially implemented poorly due to the negative feedback it received (though I never had any bad experiences).

On windows 7 now and it just feels the same as vista really, its a bit more swish but no significant differences in speed that I can notice?
kenco_uk 28th May 2009, 23:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz
lol yeah that's why I burn with nero.. check verify the disc and it will go back over the data afterwards and give you a thumbs up or down

That's what I do, too. Not had a problem yet.
Paradigm Shifter 29th May 2009, 00:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreaming
Also from a pure theoretical perspective, I think Vista's approach to use unused resources to accelerate the GUI or prefetch progarms was the right idea, but potentially implemented poorly due to the negative feedback it received (though I never had any bad experiences).
Superfetch was a great idea implemented poorly, agreed. Its real problem (or at least what irritated me about it the most) was the fact that it was a bit overzealous... as soon as Windows was loaded, it'd start thrashing my HDD to load stuff into RAM. In Windows 7, it seems a little more sedate... I don't get the mad flurry of disk activity I do in Vista.
BLC 29th May 2009, 12:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Combatus
@ Skiddywinks - I'm using FireWire with an external Maxtor backup drive as I've found it outperforms USB2.

In the real world, you rarely notice the difference. However FireWire does have advantages over USB2 - the first and most important is that your PC (and it's OS resources) controls the data transfer for USB2, but FireWire devices control the data transfer themselves. Subsequently, FireWire can achieve sustained high-speed transfers, whereas transfer speeds over USB2 will peak & trough (which you'd probably notice with a backup drive). As I mentioned this isn't a problem for most people, but it's critical in some applications; you try getting 24 simultaneous channels of 96kHz 24-bit audio over USB2 ;).

Back to the point, what impresses me most with Win7 is how much quicker it feels than Vista, even on slower hardware.
Skiddywinks 31st May 2009, 02:51 Quote
Well, that sucked. I tried booting up my 7 partition the other day, and just toally out of the blue and random, failed start up. Hanging at the "Loading..." screen for Windows. Tried it a few times, and nothing. All that I could do really was reformat and start again. Which I did.

No idea what caused it. I am incredibly careful about keeping my PC secure from infections and the like (I have had one in the last year, and that was through no fault of my usual procedures), and the computer was 100% clean two days before hand (at least according to Spybot S&D, Ad-aware and avast!).

At least on the plus side, all the old installation is saved to windows.old, meaning I can copy out any files, work, saves etc I want before removing the folder (through Disc Clean Up, I do not suggest just deleting it!). If this is a new addition, then I am very much impressed. Brand spanking new install with the old files saved just incase. What's not to love?

I was incredibly annoyed at first, but when I found all my old stuff safe and sound, I have to admit, I was surprised and impressed.
boiled_elephant 31st May 2009, 04:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
This blog post seems to affirm my intentions of doing an XP 32bit/Win7 64bit dual boot setup. Most likely XP won't see much usage, but it's nice to have in case it's needed and with hard drives being so cheap these days I can hardly find an argument against doing that dual boot setup.

That's exactly my current setup, and as you guessed, XP is seeing very little usage. I thought I'd keep Win7 on the side as a toy, but it's turned into my main OS pretty much overnight. I love it. Absolutely love it; for the first time in my living memory, Microsoft have really impressed me. Probably because it's the first time in anyone's living memory that Microsoft have actually listened to customer input and feedback.

Oh, it's every bit the release Vista should have been. I can't wait. Hell, my feelings towards it are so warm, I might even pay for it when the time comes instead of being a torrent Scrooge...
azrael- 31st May 2009, 15:48 Quote
I'm impressed with Win7 also (unlike Vista). There're still 2 points that irk me somewhat.

First, under the hood Win7 is actually still slower than XP. You just don't realize it, since the UI responds way faster, which in many ways probably is more important.

Second, the whole Vista DRM subsystem is sadly still in there. And before anyone argues that this is unimportant and not a problem; just because it's dormant most of the time doesn't mean it isn't there. And it does take up unecessary resources and it has had an impact on the design of several other Windows components. I'd have loved to have Microsoft shift all that into a special media center edition, so the regular Windows versions would have been unencumbered by it.
thehippoz 31st May 2009, 16:35 Quote
saw a desktop with kubuntu and gnome recently looking up an old friend.. makes me want to boot win7 and linux- but really win7 is vista with gui and some memory tweaks

the embedded vm looks like a pretty cool addon and can't wait for the new dx11 cards, see what's up with that.. it looks like anyone who buys a vista bundled with a new computer from july 1, 2009 to jan 1, 2010 get a free upgrade to win 7 too
The_Beast 31st May 2009, 20:54 Quote
azrael and boiled_elephant I have the same setup, XP 32 and Win 7 64 in a dual boot, and just like boiled_elephant said I thought it was going to be a toy but Win 7 is my new favorite OS


My only problem with Window 7 is that AOL 9.0 doesn't work, I've tried downloading AOL 9.1 and 9.5 but since it's AOL it hasn't worked
boiled_elephant 1st June 2009, 01:16 Quote
It ought to work; have you tried the older version in compatibility mode? Compatibility mode set to Vista SP2 tends to make everything work.
The_Beast 1st June 2009, 01:19 Quote
from what I've read 9.0 doesn't work with vista either but I can always try
ZERO <ibis> 12th June 2009, 03:40 Quote
The real problem with burning or even reading at max speed is that there can be a higher chance of jitter. Most drives do not have good jitter reduction and therefore you need to burn at low speed to prevent corruption. If you look at how audiophiles copy music it is always at the lowest speed and is even read twice to account for jitter. They also spend big bucks on cd players that have extensive anti jitter technology allowing music to be played in real time without needing to worry about the quality.
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