Setting Up Windows

As we mentioned briefly at the beginning of this chapter, the setup program in Windows 7 is based on the architecture introduced with Windows Vista and is unlike its Windows XP predecessor. The re-engineered process is specifically designed to run very quickly, with an absolute minimum of attention required from you. In this section, we'll explain the ins and outs of the most common scenarios you'll confront when installing or upgrading

Windows 7 on a single PC . We assume that you have a bootable DVD containing a full copy of Windows 7, suitable for use in a clean installation or upgrade.


Windows 7 is sold in a variety of packages, and not all are covered in the scenarios we discuss here. For a discussion of the different types of licenses and installation media available to you, see "Activating and Validating Windows 7" on page 53 .

As part of the setup process, you need to make a series of relatively simple but important decisions:

• Which Windows 7 edition do you want to install? The edition you choose will normally be the version you purchased; however, retail copies of the Windows 7 DVD contain program code for all three Windows editions available through the retail channel—Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate—as well as the Home Basic and Starter editions, which are not intended for installation by end users. As we explain later in this section, you can install and run any of these editions for up to 30 days without entering a product key or activating your copy of Windows 7.

• Do you want to perform a custom installation or an upgrade? A custom installation starts from scratch; you need to reinstall your programs and re-create or transfer settings from another system . An upgrade retains installed programs and settings, at the risk of creating some compatibility issues

• Do you need to adjust the layout of the system disk? The Windows 7 installation program includes disk management tools that you can use to create, delete, format, and extend (but not shrink) partitions on hard disks installed in your computer. Knowing how these tools work can save you a significant amount of time when setting up Windows .

• Do you want to install Windows 7 alongside another operating system? If you want to set up a dual-boot (or multiboot) system, you'll need to understand how different startup files work so that you can manage your startup options effectively. Understanding these details is especially important if you plan to use Windows 7 and Windows XP in a dual-boot configuration .

If the system on which you plan to install Windows 7 is already running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, you can start the setup program from within Windows . As an alternative, you can start the system from the installation media. Depending on which option you choose, you'll notice some important differences .

If you run setup from within Windows

• You can upgrade Windows Vista (SP1 or later), provided that the new Windows 7 edition is the same as or higher than the Windows Vista edition For details about supported upgrade paths, see "Upgrading a Previous Windows Version" on page 40.

• You can reinstall Windows 7 . (You can also use this option to upgrade from one edition of Windows 7 to a more advanced edition; however, the Windows Anytime Upgrade option, described later in this chapter, is far preferable .)

• You cannot run the 64-bit setup program on a PC running a 32-bit version of Windows, or vice versa .

• You can run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from an option on the startup screen .

• You cannot perform an in-place upgrade of Windows XP.

• You can install Windows 7 on the same volume as an existing Windows version. (You'll find step-by-step instructions in the following section .)

• You cannot make any changes to the layout of a disk; you must use existing partitions, and the setup program will not recognize or use unallocated space on an attached hard drive.

If you boot from the Windows 7 DVD

• You cannot upgrade an existing Windows version . Your only option is a custom install

• You can delete existing partitions, create new partitions, extend an existing disk partition to unallocated space, or designate a block of unallocated space as the setup location

• You can install Windows 7 on the same volume as an existing Windows version.

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