At work to day I found myself replacing a dead hard drive in a clients computer and re-installing windows. OF course this is an older computer that’s running Windows 7. I inserting the disk and watching the progress bar go for what felt like an eternity. It was a start contrast to the two installations of windows 8 I’ve done over the last few weeks. I had hopped to do a post about the process, using my the upgrade of my work computer as the basis for screen shots and just a source for the overall feel. Unfortunately when the time came to do the upgrade, I found myself doing two or three things at once and forgot about documenting the process.
So instead of a thought out review of the process I thought I’d share my thoughts of it compare my move to windows 8 with the setting up the windows 7 on a fresh hard drive. Before you say an upgrade isn’t the same as a new installation, I should say that on both my computers I did a clean install not an upgrade. So there is a pretty good base for comparison. Of course today I was using a Dell system restore disc so so of the options were already selected for me.
The way I see the process is that after my computers rebooted for the first time to start installing windows, is similar to the first time the windows install reboots. The files needed to do the work have been placed on the hard drive, and the ground work has been laid for the install.
With windows 8 it felt like the longest part of the installation was the pre-install check of the system. It reviewed all the Hardware and Software that was installed in the system and gave a report about what would, and what wouldn’t work after the upgrade. Since I did a clean install in both cases it wasn’t that imported. But if I was doing an upgrade it would have been helpful. With windows 7 I booted with the install CD and pointed it to the newly installed drive and let it go. It took a while to format the drive, but once it did the installation was pretty quick.
After the first reboot it was pretty smooth sailings, what surprised me with the windows 7 install was that I wasn’t prompted for the network configuration. It seems that the network card wasn’t recognized by Windows and I had to install the drivers separately after. This made me wonder if some of the other components would have been recognized during the install and setup with later drivers if I had network access.
Once the Windows is installed and you are provided with a log-in prompt the fun begins. You need to a start setting up all the applications you’ll need on a day-to-day. For my computers this isn’t a big deal, if I forget one, I just install it myself when I need. At my clients, I have to get everything setup, because they can’t install it themselves. The most important install is of course the Anti-Virus, for a while now I’ve been using Microsoft Security Essentials, and with Windows 8 that’s been baked right in. On windows 7 I had to install the commercial software our client has purchased. Then I made sure that the basic hardware was recognized. Of 2 computers running windows 8 I didn’t have any issues with the hardware. With my Windows 7 there was a bit of an issue with the Video Card and the network card. Though of course dell provided a disk with all the drivers I needed. Then it’s updates, I suppose it’s not fair to compare a 3-year-old OS with a new OS on the number of updates are needed right after install. Though both did need updates. Windows 8 had core OS updates as well as updates to the Metro Apps that come pre-installed. Of course the windows 7 box had a lot more to get, and it seemed I was waiting all afternoon for it to finish.
For year’s I’ve felt that Linux vendors were on to something with their installs, with their live disks that ran installs in the background while you used the system, to their simple prompts that set everything up. When they worked they were great, easier than most windows installs. The problem was when they didn’t work. When you had to go in and change something beyond the few options the installer allowed for. Still on most computers the setup of Linux was easier and usually faster than most versions of windows. Not as pretty but easier. With all the installs of windows over the last 3 weeks has shown me, is that Windows might be a little more user-friendly, but it is slower too. With the last few versions of Windows Microsoft has done a lot of work on their install. With windows 8 particularly the entire process of upgrading was designed to be simple and straight forward. I’m looking forward to writing more about the windows 8 next week so stay tuned.