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