Home > Uncategorized > Windows 7 is making an impression on me right out of the box…

Windows 7 is making an impression on me right out of the box…

October 25, 2009

(This post is just about “how did 7 handle something going wrong with the installation process”.  I’ll be posting a review of 7 itself this weekend.)

Start with a new computer: Gigabyte S-series motherboard, Intel Dual-core, 2gb RAM, and a Western Dirigible 500 gig drive.  The only DVD drive I had laying around was pretty old, but seemed functional.  I booted off the DVD, partitioned off a hundred gigs, and started the installation.  Windows said it would create a second partition for some system files and I’m all, “Sure, that’s fine”, and off we go.

Every OS installation involves a large file copying operation.  If your DVD drive is old and can’t copy all the files, a message appears:

“Unable to copy file.  Error Code 0×80070570.  Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart your system. Changes to your system will not be saved.”

The system then fails to respond to Ctrl+Alt+Del or indeed any keyboard input.  But eventually I got it shut down.  After borrowing a DVD drive from another computer I was ready to try again.

No dice.  Windows got as far as looking for a boot manager, couldn’t find one, and said; “Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart your system.”  This is the dreaded “boot loop” where a process fails and the only exit is to reboot, and there’s no way to bypass the process.  It’s as if, in the multi-$billion development process, nobody at Microsoft asked; “What if the file copy process fails out?  Can the installation recover?”  I tried all the usual fixes, including adjusting the device boot order in BIOS and so forth, but nothing would break the cycle.

Sigh… Boot off a Linux CD, go to Gparted, remove the two partitions Windows set up, switch back to the Windows DVD, and try again.  Linux to the rescue, once again.  Shouldn’t Microsoft be embarrassed or something?

This time it worked, but the installation process involves a whole lot of staring at a cute blue background with a tiny green twig and a white hummingbird hovering next to it.  But no progress messages; your system sits there with no DVD activity, no HD activity, just doing nothing.  After five minutes or so, it’ll spring to life and you continue the installation.  Then go back to just sitting there.

Finally it came time to type in the product key – 25 random digits, the dyslexic’s nightmare.  But I’m not exactly new at this game; over the years and thousands of Windows installations, I’ve learned strategies for accuracy on typing this code.  I wasn’t too concerned when it wouldn’t accept the code; I must have made a mistake.

Nope, I typed it correctly, verified six ways from Sunday including getting someone else to compare the product key sticker with the numbers on screen.  It simply won’t accept the key that shipped with the disk, and there’s no chat line or phone number to call for a solution. 

So that’s where I’m stuck.  When I blanked out the number, it let me finish the installation process but I don’t dare waste time installing applications until the validation is fixed – in case I need to start over again from scratch.  So far I’m two hours into the installation process with no end in sight.  Anyone have a number I can call at Microsoft?


  • Over 80 percent of Gizmodo readers report a smooth installation

  • Half the time when an error message was on screen, it wouldn’t respond to keyboard input.  That’s weird, because it’s a plain-vanilla Logitech.  Mouse too.
  • I read somewhere that software quality is measured in “MTBC”, or “Mean Time Between Cursing”.  The longer the MTBC, the better the software.
  • Ars Technica has a big review of 7: Hasta La Vista, Baby.
  • Microsoft’s website says if the number doesn’t work I should buy another one.
  • Update: attempting to enter the number post-install gave more substantive information.  It says; “That number’s for upgrades only, bub, not for clean install”, the exact opposite of what I was told by the campus tech store. And it doesn’t say anything like that on the disk or packaging.  I guess I’ll nuke the drive, install Win XP, and then attempt an upgrade.
    • That worked!  Now the system has validated Windows 7 on it, and the install only took about five hours.  Boots real fast, and I just installed MS Security Essentials too.  Now to begin putting on all the usual apps.
  • Go ahead… ask me why I’m installing Windows.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 25, 2009 at 17:29 | #1

    Silence from this end.

  2. Dan J
    October 25, 2009 at 20:02 | #2

    Okay, George. I’ll bite.

    Why are you installing Windows on that machine?

  3. no one
    October 25, 2009 at 20:11 | #3

    The only DVD drive I had laying around was pretty old, but seemed functional. I would think about that.

  4. October 25, 2009 at 21:15 | #4

    Dan J – Because the user is one person I have difficulty teachin’ new software to.  Better to just give her what she’s familiar with, and keep it runnin’.

    No One – Sure, the old DVD drive was the cause of the first installation error.  But that’s not the point.  Failure to copy files is an (extremely common) error that can be caused by a bad drive, a bad disk, even a fingerprint.  Installation routines should be able to recover from it. Every version of Windows ‘til now could recover from it no matter what installation stage it happens.

  5. October 26, 2009 at 00:11 | #5

    Deary, deary me.  And here I’d heard something good about Windows 7.  Should’ve know it was too good to be true…

    BTW, never bother calling Microsoft.  I have.  They are one step below useless.

  6. October 26, 2009 at 07:00 | #6

    Actually, 7 is looking pretty good now that it’s installed.  Reasonably clean and WAY faster than XP.

    Windows installs very easily if everything goes right. My beef here is with the lack of error-recovery and with the uninformative error message.  And the fact that they didn’t print “upgrade only, no clean install” on the package.  That alone would have saved me about two hours.

  7. October 26, 2009 at 08:11 | #7

    I clunk along with my old XP machine (desktop). Once it dies (and don’t they always, one way or the other?), I’m going Apple.

    I have an old Apple laptop, slow but sure.

    Daughter just bought a MacBook Pro, snappy and sure.

    I think, over time, I’ve spent almost as much to “protect” my Windows machine as I did to buy it.

    And, yes, I have some complaints about Apple. Fewer than I have about Windows, but I haven’t had to spend a penny to live with them (as I have with Windows).

  8. October 26, 2009 at 09:09 | #8

    “I think, over time, I’ve spent almost as much to “protect” my Windows machine as I did to buy it.

    SO true.  That should be in a parody of the PC ads.  Windows needs to be constantly watched, propped up, pampered, and protected.  Hope 7 will be better, but…

  9. October 26, 2009 at 19:52 | #9

    My install of 7 was flawless, but I wasn’t upgrading. Fresh install always makes things easier.

    I also laugh every time I have to fix Windows with Linux. I think that’s why BartPE was created. So then someone could say I fixed Windows with Windows.

  10. EdK
    October 26, 2009 at 21:09 | #10

    You can do a clean install of 7 upgrade without installing XP first, it’s just a little convoluted.


    Officially MS will say you should have bought the full install license (at about 2x price).

    There is also a way to extend the 30 day trial period four times to give one a little extra time to evaluate whether they want to activate the license.

  11. October 26, 2009 at 21:26 | #11

    Officially MS will say you should have bought the full install license (at about 2x price).

    Yeah, they can officially bite me, too.  I transferred a legitimate XP Pro license to that machine, and then legitimately used the upgrade as it was intended.  Maybe I should send them a bill for my time, since they didn’t package the materials in a way that would let me know it would be necessary to do that.

    I’ll be doing a review of 7 this weekend.  So far, aside from installation problems, I’m rather impressed with it.  Not gonna change over from Linux on my machine, mind you, but I won’t feel bad recommending 7 to a Windows user over Vista or XP.

  12. October 27, 2009 at 15:40 | #12

    Ironically, I’ve been enjoying the first-ever (for me) successful upgrade of a couple of Fedora Linux computers from 10 to 11. They’ve been running for months now, with no problems that weren’t due to hardware. I waited until all the things I needed had been ported to Fedora 11, but even so, once the packages were there, the upgrade was flawless.

    In many ways, Linux seems to get better, while Windows is standing still.

  13. EdK
    October 27, 2009 at 21:03 | #13

    Wasn’t implying you were doing anything “wrong” with your install, what you did is actually the way MS wants you to upgrade.  The “clean install tricks” are what MS officially claims are subversions of an upgrade license.  The fact that they tolerate it is probably an indication that they really don’t care.

    I removed Vista Basic from my laptop and put PCLinuxOS on it.  Absolutely no problems, wireless and all.

  14. October 27, 2009 at 21:40 | #14

    Sometimes Microsoft does seem a bit full of themselves.

    By this time a year from now we’ll be supporting 400+ Win7 machines in our labs and classrooms and 500+ by March of ‘11.  So the four of us are trying to get some experience with it. That’s not my main reason for the user affected by this post (see above) but my work laptop will be 7+Ubuntu by next week and my work desktop by the week after that.

    EdK… I have not looked at PCLinuxOS before.  Do you think it would run well on 760mb RAM?  I have an old IBM laptop I’d like to put back in action and it can’t quite handle Ubuntu.  Xubuntu had driver problems too.

  15. October 28, 2009 at 07:15 | #15

    On my IBM X31 I installed Windows 7 worked just fine, minus a couple driver issues which were resolved by downloading the vista driver. You might want to give it a try. Also Ubuntu just released their new OS if I’m not mistaken. I haven’t tried it, but 9.10 might work better.

  16. EdK
    October 28, 2009 at 21:52 | #16

    PCLinuxOS seems to work fine with 1 GB.  I like it because it just works, without much tweaking.

    As much as I try to wean myself off MS, I wound up pre-ordering a couple copies of 7 Home Premium.

  17. 1centwiz
    November 2, 2009 at 05:38 | #17

    Hey George, and why is it that she won’t go Linux? It’s not that different from Windows so I’ve found anyway. My clients are loving it! those that I’ve dual booted that is…

    I’m not investing anymore money in any windows programs. At this rate I’ve got until 2014 to go completely linux and that’s ok with me.

    Unfortunately, I’ll have to learn win7, but I’ll wait till some dummy tries to upgrade and can’t and then I’ll tackle it… hee hee… on someone elses dime that is.

    Thanks for the heads up with the upgrade though. I’ll be checking back for more info later.
    PS. still can’t get the action tec to work on my laptop with Ubuntu 9.04. I’ve put in a request for help at the forum there, but no bites yet… you mentioned that you found issues with that particular modem, what modem would you then suggest I get? Linksys?

  18. November 2, 2009 at 06:52 | #18

    You’ll have to ask someone more knowledgeable than me on the modem issue, 1centwiz. I write about the experiences I have with the software I use but can’t claim expertise.

    She’ll go to Linux if I push the issue, but then I have to teach her how to use it.  And my track record teaching stuff to family members is not exactly great.

  19. 1centwiz
    November 2, 2009 at 14:20 | #19

    Yep got that same situation with the Dh. But lucky for me, he doesn’t know windows either… so ta da! Here’s how you get on the internet and he’ll only have Linux as a choice. Lucky me… I think I’m going to print out the Pocket Bible for Linux and let him read it at his leisure. Then I won’t get in trouble or frustrated for “showing” him how to do things.

    Why can’t people just catch on like we do at times? And then again, why can’t we just slow down at times and learn at a pace that is more “normal”?

    Oh the quandary of living inside the “normal” box still…

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