Close encounters when migrating to Windows 7

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Close encounters when migrating to Windows 7

Post by shanaya on August 19th 2009, 6:24 pm

In last week's editorial, I talked about some of the common problems that you might run into when you migrate to Windows 7, based on my own experiences and those of my friends and colleagues.

It looks as if many of our readers are installing Windows 7 RC or RTM without any major problems, although as one forum participant, Keith, said, "The one issue that I dread most when changing an operating system is finding all the correct drivers to use with that new system." This can indeed be a problem, although it's less of a problem when going to Windows 7 from Vista than it was when going to Vista from XP. That's because there were big changes to the driver models between XP and Vista, but in many cases, the drivers made for Vista will work fine in Windows 7. It's also a little harder to find drivers for the 64 bit edition of the OS, but vendors are starting to come around and make 64 bit drivers easier to get.

Of course, hardware vendors have an incentive to drag their feet on creating drivers for a new operating system. I can't help but believe that at least in some cases, they're doing it to motivate you to go out and buy a brand new printer, sound card, or whatever instead of waiting around for the driver for the old one.

I did want to address the post from bobp, who said, "Regarding your suggestion to use compatibility mode to run SETUP programs that won't install under Win7 - this is likely to cause that program to install itself assuming it truly is on Windows XP (or whatever mode you select) which can cause problems due to the incompatible (or at least inconsistent) use of data storage, such as \Documents and Settings\Username\Etc vs. \Users\Username\etc. Probably best to select Vista, rather than XP if possible to avoid such issues."

It's always best, when you use compatibility mode, to use the highest version OS that will work. However, the problem mentioned above generally is not a problem, because Windows 7 (like Vista) has the old Documents and Settings folder path in the location where applications expect it to be, but it's not a "real" folder; it's a link to the Users folder where Vista and Windows 7 store the information. You won't see Documents and Settings unless you check the folder option to make hidden and system files and folders visible (in Folder Options | View | Advanced Settings). So if a program is installed in XP compatibility mode and looks for something in Documents and Settings, it will be redirected to the proper location.

Finally, cebarnes had a problem installing Windows 7 on a Dell Precision T3400 with an Nvidia Quadro NVS 290 video card. Disconnecting the second monitor during Setup solved the problem. It's always a good idea to let the Setup program look for updates before installing (this is an option that you get when you run Setup), but sometimes you'll still run into problems like this that are caused by buggy drivers. Luckily, the second monitor worked fine after the installation and a video update. I've found that with most hardware, Windows 7 handles multiple monitors extremely well. In fact, it's not as picky as Vista about requiring that all your monitors use the same driver.

Thanks to all of you who wrote on this topic!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor
Admin is da shiznit!
Admin is da shiznit!

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