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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Journey from 32Bit Win7 Beta to 64Bit Windows 7.

imageIf you are reading this post and your machine keeps shutting down every 2 hours, you might be running a Beta version of Windows 7! :)

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That was almost me about 3 weeks ago.  I got this notification from my system tray followed up by an official email from Microsoft (** on the bottom) letting me know that my beta version of Windows 7 (that I had been running gleefully for about 7 months) was about to EXPIRE.  Oh and yeah, beginning March 1st, the machine would shut down every 2 hours!  Nice!  To further complicate matters, there is no LEGIT way of upgrading from a Beta copy to a Released version of Windows 7.  It is recommended to wipe the machine and start from scratch.  Although there were some hacks to upgrade the Beta version, I took the opportunity to wipe the machine and go from a 32 bit Beta straight to 64 Bit Production! :)

I personally am always nervous to wipe my laptop and start from scratch in fear of screwing up my productivity.  As a consultant, I use my laptop as my primary machine and use it everyday.  I have tons of little tweaks and programs that I never remember until I need them.  Here are three solid practices I used this time around for a successful wipe and rebuild.

1) I P2V’d my laptop to an external USB drive.  This worked out great for me.  I had a 320 GB passport USB drive that was fully capable of storing my 250GB Laptop image.  After P2Ving the machine, I wiped the laptop, installed the new OS and immediately installed VMware Workstation.  With the base OS and Workstation running, I was able to fire up my P2V’d Laptop Virtual Machine directly from the USB drive and copy things from the VM to the REAL laptop.  This also gave me an opportunity to ‘remember’ how I had everything set up and what programs I had installed.  A great reference for me to use while rebuilding the machine.

2) I bookmarked all the cool utilities/programs/tweaks I found using Delicious.com.  Although I started this practice a little too late, I had been bookmarking all the neat things I installed on my laptop with Delicious with the tag of REBUILD.  The idea behind this one is clear.  After rebuilding my machine, sign into Delicious and begin downloading all the programs again.

3) I never used the Windows Settings Transfer Wizard.  Rather than having all the junk from my old build dragged into my new build, I leveraged the P2V’d image.  For many applications, I took the defaults for the installations and then just overwrote the Program Files Application directory with it’s equivalent from the Virtual Machine.  This worked great for many applications that I had done a lot of customizations on.  Firefox is a perfect example.  All the Add-ons and tweaks are stored in the file structure so after the initial install and copy, the application was back exactly the way I wanted it.

So after a couple of days of reinstalling programs, copying down documents, and changing things around, I am now 100% back to my 80% productive self. :) 64 Bit no less!

On a side note, I don’t really notice much difference between my old 32bit version of Win7 and my new 64Bit Win7 – Even with the FULL 4GB RAM now.

** Here is the Microsoft Email I received prior to my upgrade.

It’s time to upgrade from the Windows 7 Release Candidate

While most people who tested Windows 7 have now moved to the final version, some are still running the Release Candidate. If you haven’t moved yet, it’s time to replace the RC.
Starting on March 1, 2010 your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Your work will not be saved during the shutdown.

The Windows 7 RC will fully expire on June 1, 2010. Your PC running the Windows 7 RC will continue shutting down every two hours and your files won’t be saved during shutdown. In addition, your wallpaper will change to a solid black background with a persistent message on your desktop. You’ll also get periodic notifications that Windows isn’t genuine. That means your PC may no longer be able to obtain optional updates or downloads requiring genuine Windows validation.

To avoid interruption, please reinstall a prior version of Windows or move to Windows 7. In either case, you’ll need to do a custom (clean) install to replace the RC. As with any clean installation, you’ll need to back up your data then reinstall your applications and restore the data. For more details about replacing the RC, see the Knowledge Base article KB 971767. For more information, visit the Window 7 Forum.

Thanks again for helping us test Windows 7.

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