Windows 7 Evaluation

We are starting our evaluation of Microsoft Windows 7. The free download is available at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/download.aspx. Note this software will expire next summer, so plan to upgrade to the production version by then. When you download the .iso file the Microsoft web site will provide a license key, which you should save to disk or print.

Our virtual machine environment easily satisfies the minimum requirements, which are stated on the Microsoft web site as:

Here’s what you need to have:
  • Internet access (to download Windows 7 RC and get updates)
  • A PC with these system requirements:

    • 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
    • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) / 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
    • 16 GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20 GB (64-bit)
    • DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

    Please note these specifications could change. And, some product features of Windows 7, such as the ability to watch and record live TV or navigation through the use of “touch,” may require advanced or additional hardware.

What you need to know before you begin:
  • If you’ve installed Windows 7 Beta on your PC, you’ll need to back up your data, and do a clean installation of the RC. Then you’ll need to reinstall your programs and restore the files, settings, and other information you want to use for testing.
  • While we consider this a stable and high-quality pre-release version of Windows, the RC is not the finished product. It could crash your computer or cause you to lose important files or information.
  • You’re pretty much on your own as you test the software. You need to be comfortable setting up and troubleshooting a PC. If you have a problem, you can find a lot of help from other testers online, but we’re not providing formal tech support. Before installing the software please read these two documents for important information: Things to Know and Release Notes.
  • IMPORTANT: The RC will expire on June 1, 2010. Starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Windows will notify you two weeks before the bi-hourly shutdowns start. To avoid interruption, you’ll need to rebuild your test machine using a valid version of Windows before the software expires. You’ll need to rebuild your test PC to replace the OS and reinstall all your programs and data. (To learn more, see Frequently asked questions.)

So We downloaded the .iso, which took several hours on our 15MHz Verizon Fiber Optic line. The file itself was only 2.4 GB, so you figure it out: slow server or slow Internet. Whatever. With a decent Internet connection, such as the one we have here is supposed to be, and a file server that is using the Internet without introducing delay, it should take 2,400,000,000 bytes * 10 bits per byte (8 bits + 2 overhead) / 15,000,000 bits per second = 1,600 seconds / 60 seconds per minute = 26.66 minutes. Our machine was created on a quad core host running at 2.5 Gig with 8 gig of RAM, so we gave the VM two cores and two gig of RAM with a 20 gig HD. Love that VMWare.

Let the contest ...  Begin!

Let the contest ... Begin!

Elapsed Time, roughly 3 minutes — the time it took me to quickly upload the above graphic. Seriously. Microsoft has done a nice job improving the installation phase.

Windows 7 RC First Account Screenshot

First Irritation: VMWare asks for first account and license key information when creating the virtual machine, which we provided. However, we had to provide this information again during installation, so VMWare or Microsoft, or both, missed something here. ALSO, really irritating, we could not PASTE the license key into our VM. Of course, if you are installing on physical hardware, this is a non-issue: you must type the key anyway since you can’t possibly copy/paste it using an OS that is not yet installed. However, we found this unusual, and note that the business thrust will continue to move toward greater efficiency, security, and recoverability, so virtual machines sharing hardware is the future now.

The next screen asked for our preference concerning automatic updates, and we chose the recommend action — automatic. Then on the (next) time screen we specified our time zone, Indiana (East), and straight way we are installed and applying updates.

Windows 7 RC installed

I was really impressed by the apparent speed of the installation process. The entire process seemed to me to be mostly held up by my taking screen shots and uploading them to this blog, not by the Windows 7 installation. Some significant improvement seems to have been made in this category.

In the next blog, we will install some necessary software and start using our new Windows 7.

Note: this article is the writers personal opinion. It is based upon almost 40 years of experience in small computers and communications, but it is still an opinion.It is presented AS IS. All use is at your own risk.

One comment to this article

  1. kubulai

    on July 15, 2009 at 6:37 pm -

    2009-07-15 This just in from Microsoft TechNet:
    Notice: Downloads will end August 20

    Thanks for all your help building Windows 7. We are on our way to the last big milestone: Release to Manufacturing. Starting on October 22, you’ll see it on PCs and store shelves. As we gear up for that, it’s time to wind down the Release Candidate testing program.

    If you or a friend needs a download, you’ve got time. We’ll continue to offer the RC download until August 20, 2009. After that, you won’t be able to get the download, but if you have the bits, you can still install the RC and get a key if you need one. (To get a key, just go to the Downloads page (http://co1piltwb.partners.extranet.microsoft.com/mcoeredir/mcoeredirect.aspx?linkId=12228734&s1=3ae19bd0-b0b9-8964-2019-0c51e188ac45) and follow the instructions.)

    Tell us what you think. If you’re using the Windows 7 Release Candidate, we hope you like what you see. Let us know — go to http://input.microsoft.com and tell us what you think. You’ll be able to give feedback on various aspects of the operating system.

    Got the RC and need help? Experts on the Windows 7 Forum (http://co1piltwb.partners.extranet.microsoft.com/mcoeredir/mcoeredirect.aspx?linkId=12228736&s1=3ae19bd0-b0b9-8964-2019-0c51e188ac45) can help answer your questions. The forum also gives you a way to share what you’ve learned with other people.