Installing the Windows 7 RC experience

The day draws closer for the general release of Windows 7, the next version of Microsoft’s operating system for PCs.

The Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) was made available on May 5. A ‘release candidate’ is a version of a computer program usually considered to be pretty close to the final version.

I installed it last night on my Dell XPS 420 desktop PC. I’d installed the Windows 7 beta in January in a separate partition on this machine; it was a simple matter to format that partition and install the RC as a fresh install, which is what you must do if you have the beta already installed.

So the Dell now lets me choose which operating system to run: Windows 7 or Windows Vista.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then this Animoto video may be a good teller of my story in installing Windows 7 RC.

You can also see the screenshot images at Flickr.

I do plan to test Windows 7 RC and post a review or two on my tech blog, and may well end up installing it on the Dell as the primary OS. I’m not likely to upgrade from Windows Vista; rather, I’d do a fresh install.

I have plenty of time as the RC doesn’t expire until June 1, 2010, just over a year away. The final release version is due much sooner than that, though: some speculation is it could be sometime in October 2009.

I have two specific points about the RC that I want to mention in this post.

1. Both the download of the ISO image on May 5 and the actual installation yesterday were a breeze.

I’m especially impressed that on the first run of Windows Update after the install completed, one essential update was a hotfix for a serious bug described in KB 970789.

There’s quite a bit of commentary and opinion about this bug and its fix.

Ok, so a bug managed to get through the beta testing phases. The key point is that the bug was found and a fix rapidly delivered.

Remember: ‘Release Candidate’ isn’t the same as ‘Release.’ Expect things like this to happen; treat this RC still as unfinished software.

2. AVG is right on the ball concerning AVG Internet Security, while Symantec sucks with Norton Internet Security 2009.

A bit of a strong opinion, for sure, but it reflects the disappointment I experienced when I tried to install the Symantec product – all I got when trying to run the installer on the installation CD was a bald error message saying “This product requires Windows XP or Windows Vista. Setup will exit.”

And that was it. No “let’s take you to our friendly website where we’re sure you’ll find the version you need.” Not even a message saying “Win 7 version coming soon.” That sucks.

Still, a link to firewall/anti-virus app vendors from Windows 7 RC brought up all the usual suspects including Norton. But Windows 7 is conspicuous in its absence from the system requirements description for Norton Internet Security 2009 (incidentally, I am testing this app courtesy of Edelman).

Contrast that with AVG’s welcoming message to Windows 7 users regarding their AVG Internet Security product.

I downloaded and installed a 30-day free trial. What will I do when 30 days are up, I wonder.

Anyway, the Windows 7 RC is installed and ready to go.

More experiences in due course over on the tech blog.