Well, after fiddling around with the Windows 7 Release Candidate on my MacBook Air for the past several months, I took the plunge--over the past two weeks--upgrading three of our home PCs with the official Windows 7 package. In the words of Monk, "Here's what happened..."
- First up was my partner's PC, a six-year old Dell desktop running the latest XP. According to the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, apparently I was kinda screwed. I only had 512MB of RAM, versus the recommended 1GB, and my graphics card wouldn't provide the appropriate Aero experience. I did a bit of research (and talked to my brother, who works for Microsoft), and discovered that numerous people have gotten 7 running fine on 512MB RAM, as long as you're keeping things relatively simple. So, since my partner basically surfs and does email (no high impact gaming), it was worth a shot. I hooked up an external hard drive, and the Windows Easy Transfer was, in fact, quite easy. I ran a clean install, re-transferred the single Easy Transfer file, and then went to Ninite.com, which allows you to create a single install file for a number of common free apps (Firefox, iTunes, Windows Essentials, etc). Fired it up for the final reboot, and we had two issues. First (and most critical) was the fact that the unit would not recognize the Belkin wireless-G adapter--and, of course, being cut off, I couldn't simply go online to find a driver. I called Belkin, and the nice gentleman who answered the phone explained that drivers for 7 would be ready "in two or three weeks." Good gods. I took a chance and downloaded and unzipped the Vista driver to a flash driver, and then used that on the Dell. Success! Second issue was easier to fix--I had to go online to get an updated driver for the audio card. Now it works fine--it even kept the old Firefox bookmarks.
- Next up was the MacBook Air. This would be slightly more complicated, as there is no easy way to upgrade from 7RC to the final version; I've seen a method described online, but it seems a bit outside my comfort zone. So, I got a full copy of Vista from my brother, backed up the files on my Windows partition, and started from scratch. Turned out to be a little more complicated, as I had to re-start the process when I discovered I hadn't created a large enough partition to install Vista and then install 7 on top of that. Once I fixed that problem, things seemed to go rather well, so we can mark that unit "up and running."
- Finally, the big task--my own desktop. It's a six-year-old HP Pavilion running XP. Fortunately, my RAM and memory card were green-lit, so first step was running Easy Transfer--which took quite a bit longer given the number of files and settings being backed up. Once 7 was installed, things were...rocky. First issue was 7 not recognizing my display's widescreen aspect ratio; after poking around online for an updated driver, it turns out that a second reboot fixed everything. Second issue--as yet unresolved--is the disappearing taskbar. For all the wonderful things I've heard about the taskbar, it only shows up about 1/4 of the time; when it disappears, the Windows start button remains (rather Cheshire-cat-like), but the rest of the bar is gone. I can right-click on the start button and control properties--auto-hide, location, etc--but nothing worked. A call to Microsoft is in order soon. Finally, my iTunes library is royally fragged; part of the issue may have been the fact that, while I had been maintaining my library on an external drive, I still had some files on my C drive, so I tried a consolidation. Also, when I first plugged in my 20GB 5G iPod, iTunes asked if I wanted to transfer some content off my iPod back to my PC. The bottom line? I have numerous songs with two listings--that both point to the same file. I'm considering simply uninstalling iTunes and starting all over again, but it sounds like others are having similar issues, so perhaps an iTunes fix is forthcoming. Everything else--wireless keyboard, sound, graphics--is working fine, though.