Posted in Technology by
Anthony Hortin

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you would’ve no doubt heard that Microsoft Windows 7 was recently released to the retail market, on October 22. If you know me even the slightest, you’ll know that I’ve been hanging out for the Win7 release purely so that I could finally rid myself of Windows Vista.

Well, the day after the release I purchased a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.

Overall, the installation went extremely smooth. Being a bit of a fanatic, I decided to perform a clean install rather than simply upgrading my existing Vista build. I wanted to make damn sure that there weren’t any traces of Vista left on my system. 😉

The Win 7 OS install is extremely fast, even compared to Windows XP. It took approximately 30 mins from the time I first booted up using the setup disk to finally booting into the installed Operating System. This also included performing a Hard Disk Format during the installation process. The install is much like other Window’s installs, in that you only have a few simple questions to answer during the process.

First thing after completing the install was to check for and install any Windows Updates. After that it was time to fire up Internet Explorer and use it for the only thing it’s good for, to download Firefox. Once Firefox was installed, the next priority of course was to install Seesmic Desktop, so I could start tweeting again.

After completing these two very important tasks, the next step was to start re-installing all my applications (the only downside to performing a clean install, as opposed to an upgrade). All my important data was also backed up on a spare 500GB SATA Hard Disk that was connected to my machine via an eSATA connection. It was just a simple matter then of copying from one drive to another.

The only hiccups I had during the install was with iTunes & my iPhone. (not sure if this is ironic or not 😉 ) My PC is fairly new as I purchased a new one earlier in the year. When I purchased it, they pre-installed Windows Vista on it. If you’ve ever looked at the Windows Vista/Win7 file structure, you’ll know that your “std” Documents/Images/Music folders (among others) are stored in the c:\User\<username> folder. On my new Win7 build, this folder is c:\User\Anthony. On my old Vista build, they had apparently set it up with a username of “User”, so the folder structure was c:\User\User. The first problem I encountered was when I copied over all my music. iTunes could no longer find the files. I could’ve simply reimported all the music from the new location but I didn’t want to lose all my song ratings. Instead, I needed to actually rebuild my iTunes library. To do this, I needed to edit the Music Library XML file (“iTunes Music Library.xml“). Each song tag within the XML file had a key specifying the location of the physical file. There was also a key up the very top of the file, specifying the location of the music folder. I needed to make a global search & replace that replaced the old file location with the new file location. After performing the global search/replace I copied this file to my Desktop (or any other folder will suffice). I then deleted the “iTunes Library.itl” file. Once this is done, you start up iTunes and select File > Library > Import Playlist. When prompted, navigate to the folder containing the iTunes Music Library.xml and select it. iTunes will then start to recreate your Library, including all your Star Ratings and play count data.

The other problem I had was when I had to resync my iPhone to this new build. I was prompted about whether or not I wanted to copy all the applications from my iPhone, across to this new workstation. Since the apps on the iPhone were the lastest Sync, I said yes. What it did though instead, was to delete all the apps from the iPhone! Needless to say, I wasn’t very impressed. Unfortunately, there is no way to simple way to re-download all your previous purchases. I had to manually find all the applications within the iTunes App Store and then re-download them again individually. Quite a time consuming process and one which Apple should rectify, IMHO.

After finally resolving these two issues, it was then simply a matter of reinstalling the rest of my applications. Again, another time consuming process. Once I was happy that everything was working properly and all my applications and data was restored, I then used an application called Macrium Reflect to create an “image” of my hard drive. This effectively takes a “snapshot” or backup of your hard drive. Very useful if you need to restore your computer due to corruption or hard drive failure.

Overall, the install went very smoothly, apart from a couple of little hiccups with iTunes. Windows 7 in general is a HUGE improvement over Vista. As mentioned in a previous post about why Windows Vista sucks, previously my workstation took approximately 10 minutes to bootup (including loading all the “startup” applications such as Outlook, Windows Live Messegner, Skype etc.etc..). Under Windows 7, loading exactly the same applications, the Bootup process has dropped to approximately 4 minutes! Worth the upgrade alone! There are also a significant number of Vista “features” that have been fixed.

I find that applications are also considerably more stable as well. For example, to keep track of my income/expenses for my business, I use Quickbooks. The Australian version of this app is not supported under a 64bit OS. Previously I didn’t have to worry, but when I moved to 64bit Vista earlier in the year, I had all sorts of issues and the application was becoming almost unusable as it was constantly crashing. Even when set to “XP Compatibility mode”. Under Win7, the application has been working remarkably stable and *touch wood*, hasn’t crashed once. Under Vista I would also constantly see applications displaying “Not responding” in their Title Bar. With Win7, I still see it occasionally, but nowhere near the same sort of frequency. If you’re currently on Vista, then I’d highly recommend the upgrade. The speed improvements, improved memory management and overall stability are definately worth it.

Have you upgraded to Windows 7? Let me know if you have, I’d be interested to hear how your installation went.   🙂