Windows 7 is most probably Microsoft's easiest to install operating system. It seems that the company has learned from past mistakes and now almost everyone can install Windows 7 on their computer by themselves, provided that the computer complies with the minimum system requirements. In this blog post, I will share with you the best Windows 7 installation guides that can be found on the internet. Apart from installing Windows 7 from scratch, there are situations when you will want your new operating system to run in parallel with another one, be it Mac or Ubuntu Linux. In this post I will cover the following installation scenarios: installing Windows 7 from scratch, upgrading from Windows Vista or Windows XP, as well as dual-booting with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X Leopard and Ubuntu Linux.
Installing Windows 7 from Scratch
A clean install is the term used to describe a situation in which you install Windows 7 on a clean partition, or on a partition that you plan to format. If you do have data on that partition, be it an old operating system or other files, you must know that this data will be lost during the process. About.com's Guide How to Perform a Clean Installation of Windows 7 takes you through all the necessary steps when installing Windows 7 from a DVD.
It goes from inserting the DVD and booting from it, through deleting the partition (if it is occupied by another operating system), the actual installation process and booting Windows 7 for the first time. It's a great 34-step guide and it shares everything you should expect to see during installation and what to do when you see it. As long as you have another computer on hand to show the guide, you're all set and ready to go.
The funny thing is that some users have discovered a while ago that there is a workaround that allows you to perform a clean install of Windows 7 by using an upgrade disc, thus saving up to 100$ by not paying for the full version. If you think you're up to it, this guide called Clean Install Windows 7 with Upgrade Media: The Answer provides the way to do it. Even more, Microsoft has confirmed that this workaround is perfectly legal, in certain situations. There is an article called Clean install with Windows 7 upgrade media? Get the facts! on Zdnet, that details all of these situations very well. Even if this is relatively easy to do, if you work for a company, the Business Software Alliance just might pay you a visit. The article tells you the situations in which it is OK and legal to install a fresh copy of Windows 7 like this. Basically, if you purchased a computer with Windows XP or Windows Vista pre-installed, you qualify for the upgrade. On the other hand, if you have a Mac and want to install it using Boot Camp, if you want to run Windows 7 in a virtual machine, you want to dual-boot Windows 7 with Windows Vista or Windows XP, or you made your PC out of separate parts and want to install Windows 7 this way, you don't qualify for an upgrade.
Upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7
This is quite an easy process, Windows 7 being the "next in line" after Windows Vista in terms of Microsoft operating systems. This is why Microsoft provides the easiest to use guide for this procedure. It is a two step guide, called Upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 and it explains the process in all of its stages. Of course, they also tell you to print out the guide, in case you don't have another computer that's connected to the Internet somewhere close.
This guide also tells you which Windows 7 version would be suitable for you, depending on the Windows Vista version you're running. The good side of upgrading this way is that you get to keep your files and most of your settings. It's a smoother transition.
Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7
We know that there are a lot of people out there who still use Windows XP. There can be a lot of reasons for this, but some of these people would like to move to Windows 7. That's not a possibility that Microsoft offers. Fact is that so many things have changed since Windows XP's heyday that it would have been too complicated to do it: registry settings and even the kernel (the core of the operating system) are so different in Windows 7 that it just didn't seem to be worth it.
Of course, there would be a way to get from Windows XP to Windows 7, but it involves upgrading to Vista first, and we don't know if it's worth the effort. A clean install would probably be a better option. If you insist of upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 directly, the CNET guide called Upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7 tells you how to do this. It's a step by step process, but it is not an easy one. You are warned to backup your whole hard drive and to have install disks of your essential programs in your proximity. So make sure you follow it closely and listen to all instructions.
Dual-boot Windows 7 with Windows XP and Windows Vista
Maybe you're still not certain that you want to completely make your transition to Windows 7 from your installation of Windows XP or Windows Vista. That's fine, we got you covered. We found this great guide (hailing from the beta days of Windows 7), that tells you the steps to dual-boot Windows 7 with Windows Vista or Windows XP. It is called Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP/Vista in three easy steps. Since things tend to be quite different in terms of partitioning in Windows XP and Windows Vista, this guide explains the process of creating a new partition, so that you're covered, no matter what Windows version you're using.
If you have programs that only run in Windows XP and you want to run them in Windows 7, you must take into account that Windows 7 has a very handy feature called Windows XP Mode and you can find all of the details you need about working with it on 7 Tutorials, in this article, called How to work with Windows XP Mode. Also, you'll get references to other related articles which will teach you all there is to know about it.
Dual-boot Windows 7 and Mac OSX Leopard
This might not sound like the easiest of tasks, but assuming that you really want to use both of these operating systems on your PC, you'll just have to go through a few steps (and backup everything before you do that). We are talking about Mac OS X Leopard, Apple's latest offering in terms of operating systems. A thorough Google search will provide you with some guides to install previous versions, too.
I found a great guide to do this on thegadgets.net, called How To: Dual Boot Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Windows 7 on a PC. You'll need to repartition your hard drive, and Mac OS X Leopard will be the one to be installed first. The good news is that no hacks are required. If you've installed Apple's operating system, you should be just fine. If you need a guide to do this, I found one for you on Lifehacker, called Install Snow Leopard on Your Hackintosh PC, No Hacking Required.
Then, you will have to install Windows 7. After that, you just have to boot into Windows 7, download Easy BCD and use it to dual-boot Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Windows 7.
Dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux
The most thoroughly explained guide can be found on Lifehacker. They have an easy step-by-step guide which will get you through the whole process without any problems. You just need a backup (as always), a CD of the latest Ubuntu Linux, your Windows 7 installation DVD and about two hours of your precious time. The guide tells you what to do if Windows 7 is already installed on your system, or if you want to start it all from scratch.
It is not as easy as dual-booting Windows 7 and Mac OS X Leopard, but if you print out the instructions and follow them closely, you shouldn't have any problems. Still, backing up is very advised. The fantastic thing about this guide is that, even more than allowing you to use the two operating systems, it allows you to share files and folders between them, even Firefox profiles. And all of this without any conflicts. Dual-Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu in Perfect Harmony is the name of this very thorough guide.
To sum it all up...
As you will see from these guides and your own experience, Windows 7 is Microsoft's easiest to install operating system. Even if you want to make it work alongside other operating systems, Microsoft-made (Windows XP, Windows Vista) or not (Mac OS X Leopard, Ubuntu Linux), the procedure is not that complicated.
Before I close this article, I would like to know how was your Windows 7 installation experience. Did it go smoothly? Also, have you found any other interesting guides that you would like to share with others?