Is Windows 7 Ready for the Mainstream?

Is Windows 7 ready for mainstream?  The short answer is yes (IMHO), but make sure you do all the right things in your upgrade or fresh install.  In this article, I describe my upgrade experience of upgrading from Vista to Win7.

Being a Microsoft Partner MicroNet Technical Solutions, my company, obtained an official release copy of Windows 7 prior to the official release date of October 22nd.  I have been an avid Windows XP Pro user for many years, and only recently, this summer, bought a new HP TouchSmart Tx2 laptop with Windows Vista Ultimate x64.  I adjusted nicely to Vista’s interface and actually liked some of the interface features, but the quirks in Vista drove me nuts.  Therefore I was a little reluctant to load the release version of Windows 7 on my HP laptop.

I was wary, I was nervous, I was cautious, and I was diligent.  Diligence saved me, but movie night delayed my effectiveness.

The first thing I did was to research how Windows 7 upgrades from old versions, and then determine if I wanted an upgrade or a fresh install.  First thing to figure out is to check if your current version of Vista is directly upgradeable to the desired version of windows 7.  As an example Windows Vista Home Premium can only upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium.  You can not mix and match.  If your versions don’t match, a fresh version of Windows 7 is required.  My plan was to upgrade from Vista Ultimate to 7 Ultimate, no issues there.

Running the Windows 7 upgrade preparation tool, I found that there were few applications that were incompatible, and they could be updated to become compatible.  Then I researched and downloaded the drivers available for my laptop.  After all of the prep work was complete, I decided to go for an upgrade and hopefully save all the time needed to configure my personal settings and restore my data files.

Friday afternoon on October 16th I started the upgrade process with good, although somewhat complicated, results.  I had to stop the upgrade process due to some warnings that popped up during initial stages of the upgrade wizard.  The warnings indicated I needed to remove the incompatible software prior to upgrade to avoid problems.  After removing the incompatible software I went through the upgrade process, and everything upgraded smoothly.

Next on my plate was to update all the drivers with the ones that I had downloaded specifically for my laptop.  Friday night was movie night so I had to leave my newly upgraded laptop alone for a while.  This is where I ran into some problems.

Monday morning came around and I fired up the laptop and found that I was able to load the updated versions of the previously uninstalled incompatible software.  After installing and configuring the updated software I ended up getting busy with real work stuff.  The laptop ran great, the Windows 7 interface was mostly intuitive, and I was able to perform my work adequately with little learning curve.  I was happy.  

Then I undocked my laptop to go to a customer site.  Blue Screen of Death…dang.

Not sure what the problem was and not having the time to figure it out, I went on to my customer meeting.  After the meeting I docked my laptop, fired it up, and went back to work.  A day later the laptop blue screened again (again during the undock procedure), and I started to get a little worried about the stability of Windows 7.  Then I started thinking, what is almost always the problem when a computer blue screens.  Answer:  the drivers.  I had a full on Homer Simpson “doh!” moment when I realized that I hadn’t updated the drivers after the upgrade.  You might recall that Friday night was movie night…

Enough was enough, time to load the drivers.

Once I installed the drivers I had no further issues with the stability of Windows 7.  In fact, I am truly enjoying the user interface, and I am finding all sorts of neat little shortcuts and niceties of the operating system.  The only bug that I continue to encounter is that Internet Explorer 8 shuts down on occasion, but that has nothing to do with Windows 7.

Is Windows 7 ready for mainstream?  Yes…with one caveat, make sure all of your hardware has Windows 7 drivers available or the driver is built into windows 7 directly.  With some research and preparation you should enjoy your new Windows 7 experience.  From my perspective Windows 7 is a “go” as long as the programs you use are Windows 7 capable.  If not, then you might want to do more research to understand the consequences of upgrading.  If you need help I do this for a living, so feel free to reach out to me for assistance.

Happy Computing!

Mike, a SmallBiz Computer Wiz!
MicroNet Technical Solutions

This article was republished from my blog; used with permission.

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