Wednesday, May 27, 2009
How to Install the Windows 7 Release Candidate - Step 01
Tired of reading about the Windows 7 Release Candidate? Start using it instead! But first, take the time to read our complete guide for a safe, easy installation of the new OS.
With a smaller footprint, better performance, multitouch support, and even some eye candy, the Release Candidate of Windows 7 is garnering tons of praise. In my hands-on analysis of the OS (also referred to as build number 7100), I wrote "Quicker to install, more polished and customizable, and easier to use than earlier builds, the Windows 7 Release Candidate (build 7100) is a nice step towards finalization of the operating system."But enough talk! You're ready and eager to give it a try yourself! So how to get started? Let me walk you through the decisions you need to make before installing the new operating system, and the steps you need to take to ensure a seamless, trouble-free experience.
STEP 1: MAKE A PLAN
Before all else, make sure you know where you'll be installing the OS and how you plan to do so. There are three common scenarios: Installing fresh on an older PC, partitioning your hard drive and setting up dual-booting, or upgrading a Vista (or earlier Win7 beta) partition. Do you have an older PC that you want to play around with? Or will you be making space on your current PC? Let's look at each scenario.
Clean installation If you've got an older system, it's probably running Windows XP, and you're probably planning on erasing that system and starting from scratch. Good plan. A clean install is the most trouble-free option and should probably cause you the fewest problems.
Upgrade You can't upgrade an XP installation, only a PC running Windows Vista. And you can't upgrade an existing Windows partition if you boot from the Windows 7 disc. Instead, you'll boot and run the Windows disc from within your current partition, following the instructions in the auto-run app.
Partition To enable the partitioning features built into the Windows 7 Release Candidate installer, you need to boot from the disc. But be forewarned: You can't simply shrink your current partition using the tool (although you can partition from within Windows Vista). The Windows 7 partition tool is really designed to work with raw disk space, meaning it will let you delete and recreate partitions, not resize existing ones. Alternatively, you can use third-party software to resize a partition; I like Paragon Partition Manager, but there are several options available.
Stop to think about your time frame here as well. The Windows 7 Release Candidate will stop running on June 1, 2010, at which point you're going to be forced to buy the darn thing. But don't worry about writing that date down: Microsoft warns that "starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every 2 hours. Windows will notify you two weeks before the bi-hourly shutdowns start. To avoid interruption, you'll need to install a non-expired version of Windows before March 1, 2010." Some people would label this "annoyingware." But can you really fault the company for giving you a full year of free usage?