Saturday, November 14, 2009

One Windows 7 Upgrade down, two (maybe three) to go…


Been working on getting my own laptop upgraded from Windows Vista Home Premium x32 to Windows 7 Home Premium x64 (via Family Pack) just about all day long.

Too tired to post a full post-mortem on the job.  Suffice it to say it wasn’t so much of a technical-challenge as it was a volume-challenge due to my own configurations.

I had purchased a new Western Digital 320 GB laptop drive in anticipation of this day.  That was a needed upgrade over the 120 GB stock one originally shipped with the system.

I decided that I really wanted to do a true “clean install” rather than an in place upgrade.  And so I did.  In the end I had to do an un-activated clean install (custom) of Windows 7 on my bare drive (after some quick DiskPart work), then re-run the Win7 setup and do an “upgrade” install of the clean install. 

I know. Crazy, right? 

Once that was on (the second taking much longer than the first…even from the USB-based media I was using) and all the updates loaded, the update key worked fine.  For more on the technique I used see this Paul Thurrott post Clean Install Windows 7 with Upgrade Media.

Then most of rest of the day was spent copying my files from both the mounted VHD-based Win7 RC I had been using as well as the Vista sourced user-data files from the old hdd via a USB adapter cable.  I’ve gotten about 90% of the applications re-installed and set back up at this point.

I didn’t really have any terrible challenges. 

My Logitech SetPoint software still wouldn’t work (allow the custom click-button options to operate as set) until I configured it to run with administrator rights after login event under a “scheduled task” as I had done previously with Vista (despite downloading the Windows7 x64 software from Logitech).   Startup Program Unblocker (for Vista) might work as well but I haven’t tried it on Windows 7.

The only other “serious” issue I had was with the ImDisk Virtual Disk Drive app.  It is “supported” for Windows 7 as well as x64 bit deployments…only you have to jump through some hoops due to driver signing.  In my case I did all the tricks documented on the page, but it still would fail when I tried to mount supported files via the right-click context shell.  However, if I launched the ImDisk Control Panel applet, then used it to mount the target files, it worked fine.  Strange.  So for now, I just have a shortcut to that particular CPL icon on my desktop that am using instead.  No biggie but just not quite as convenient.  I’ll slay that dragon later.

update: finally got ImDisk working Sunday.  Had to re-download the test certificate from Olof Lagerkvist again and probably did overkill but imported it into multiple certificate store locations for good measure.  Collected even more links/tips/techniques regarding this as I expect x64 bit life will be a bit of a headache when it comes to loading/running drivers and the need for certificates….cv

In better news, the VHD Attach utility at Medo’s Home Page is working perfectly saving me from batch-file voodoo or using the storage-manager MMC snap-in to manage and mount the many VHD files I’ve got.  And both the ImageX GUI (GImageX) utility for WIM file handing as well as Je Jin’s DISM Tool for toying around with DISM-based hacking on WIM files work great as well so far.

I learned that for maximum Java compatibility, it’s best to co-install both the x64 and x32 bit versions concurrently. Sun provides two helpful posts: Which version of Java should I download for my Windows 64-bit operating system? and Why do I need Java 6 Update 10 and above for Firefox 3.6 and later versions? which may or may not help clear things up for you.

Also, there still is no Flash Player support on 64-bit operating systems though it may be coming very soon.

When I installed Apple’s Safari/Quicktime combo, the install failed.  However after I uninstalled it, and first installed the standalone version of Quicktime, then the standalone version of Safari, both worked fine.

For reasons unknown, it took me three uninstall/reinstall attempts to get 3.5 working.  It’s doing well, thank you very much.

For the curious, I’m just using the Windows 7 provided Firewall along with trying out Microsoft Security Essentials as my AV/AM solution for the moment.  Alex Eckelberry had kindly provided me some licenses for Sunbelt Software’s VIPRE Antivirus Software.  I’ve been using them on the XP Home system as well as both the Vista and Win7 RC loads (both x32 and x64) for quite some time now.  It has performed perfectly with no issues, and I have to confess it is my recommended non-freeware ($) AV/AM solution, hands down.  And don’t let me go evangelistic regarding the free response tool VIPRE Rescue they provide.

So why the switch?  I just really felt I needed to give it a fair real-use performance test now that I have migrated to a full Win7 install.  I may leave it or I may keep it.  Not sure.  Jury remains in deliberation requesting lunch from the bailiffs at the moment.

I haven’t done much system tweaking yet.  I did mod the login background using the freeware Windows 7 Logon Background Changer and used a modded FxVisor utility form x64 found under “Method Two” of this Shortcut Arrow - Vista Forums post.  I used FxVisor before on x32 Vista with no issues, but it crashed under x64 Windows 7 and the original site (Frameworkx) is now gone.  So that this version worked as expected was wonderful.  Alternatively you could try a more expansive tweaking tool like XdN Tweaker or WinBubble 1.76 or even Ultimate Windows Tweaker v2.  There also also the trial/$ tweaking tools of Stardock’s Tweak7 and Totalidea’s Tweak Windows 7 as well.  Me?  Those are great to have at hand, but for a simple tweak like changing the shortcut icon size, FxVisor does the job perfectly and has the pretty tiny blue styled shortcut arrow I have grown used to seeing.

I’ve been using a modified form of “super-folders” on my XP system at work.  By that I just make a folder on my desktop for a theme or project group.  Then I make shortcuts of all the related “actual” folders and put those shortcuts into the themed “super-folder”.  This way I just have to open up that folder and I have links to all the related folders/content they contain in one place.  A similar way exists in Windows 7 but is much more seamless and transparent.  This MakeUseOf post Windows 7 Libraries Explained – And Why You Want Them details just how useful and wonderful Libraries are.

Finally, as I get the other two laptops upgraded to Windows 7, I’ll probably be expanding our use and enablement of the Windows 7 “Home Group” feature. For all kinds of geeky technical goodness on Windows 7 Home Group features see this Engineering Windows 7  blog post At Home with HomeGroup in Windows 7.

That leaves the XP desktop system awaiting it’s fate.  I’ve already got the three available licenses of the Win7 Family pack allocated to our three laptops…but I might roll a Win7 RC x32 build onto the desktop system for now.  I’ve got a rogue driver again causing the hdd to lock up with disk-activity again.  That should take care of that issue and tide me over until March 2010 until the bihourly shutdowns kick in and then until July 2010 when it fully expires.  Then I can decide if I want to plunk down for a single upgrade box or even retire the system.

Is there an easier way? Probably.  I would have liked to try to use Lavie’s Vista Home Premium install to attempt an in-pace upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, but since I am going from x32 to x64 bit, that won’t easily work.  And Alvis’s laptop was completely paved to Windows 7 RC so it will be a clean-install of sorts as well.  Luckily, my WD 320 GB portable USB drive has more than enough space to handle all the file/folder migrations required for both systems.

So many systems….so little time…

Happy Upgrading.

Claus V.

PS: for more tips see this previous Windows 7 Resources – Hot off the DVD Presses! GSD post that gave me lots of material as I prepped for the rollout process….


Anonymous said...

I'm sure it's a question of wording on your part, but the lack of a 64-bit Flash Player is irrelevant in the sense that only IE has a 64-bit version and of the plug-ins only Java has a 64-bit version (as well as a 32-bit version). The end result is that browsing is almost exclusively done in 32-bit apps with 32-bit plugins, both of which work on 64-bit Windows.

Claus said...

@ Anonymous - "...the lack of a 64-bit Flash Player is irrelevant in the sense that only IE has a 64-bit version and of the plug-ins only Java has a 64-bit version (as well as a 32-bit version)."

You are very correct and make a great observation on my statement. I probably could have expanded that out a bit more for clarity.

I'm guessing, at least for now, most home consumers of Win7 still won't be considering the x64 bit flavors quite yet for daily consumption. So this will be even less important and the realization that x64 Windows has both x64 and x32 bit flavors a moot issue.

For the folks in the know, such as you succinctly summarized, they will continue on with the current x32 only supported browsers and the x32 Flash version for now, and by the time x64 browsers are more common-place, Adobe will have delivered the x64 Flash version long before then.

BTW, I noticed that when I downloaded iTunes, the page offered to serve me up a x64 branded version of it "iTunes64Setup". However when I went to add a shortcut to my RocketDock launcher, I found it not under the "Program Files" folder but the "Program Files (x86)" I'm not sure if that was just some creative file labeling and OS sensing or if there actually are any native x64 elements to iTunes.

According to Process Explorer, all the iTunes processes I see are reporting as 32-bit image types.


Thanks for taking the time to clarify my statement for me!

--Claus V.

Anonymous said...

@ Claus - I'm not sure 64-bit Windows isn't going to be mainstream in the sense that many consumer models of the big PC manufacturers (Dell, HP, Sony) are coming with a 64-bit version of Windows 7. Hopefully (I'm a big fan of 64-bit Windows, especially when using virtualization) its market share is soon big enough for hardware and software makers to reasonably have to support it.

Having said that, if the 32-bit version of something works well enough (and with the exception of anything relying on Windows drivers (basically a special kind of Windows service), such as hardware drivers and security software, it usually does), there isn't a great incentive to produce a 64-bit version.

That probably explains why a major part of the 64-bit version of iTunes is 32-bit; it may however need 64-bit drivers, thus necessitating a seperate 64-bit version. Sysinternals's Autoruns has a Drivers tab; any 64-bit Apple drivers should show up there. Drivers themselves do not show up in Process Explorer.

Claus said...

@ Anonymous - Great tip referring me to Autoruns.

Turns out that there are just a few applications there that are calling to the main 64 bit program folder. All others are to the 32 bit one.

Apple Inc.
c:\program files (x86)\itunes\ituneshelper.exe

QuickTime Task
Apple Inc.
c:\program files (x86)\quicktime\qttask.exe

iTunes Mini Player DLL (64-bit)
Apple Inc.
c:\program files\itunes\itunesminiplayer.dll

Apple Software Update
Apple Inc.
c:\program files (x86)\apple software update\softwareupdate.exe

Apple Mobile Device
Apple Inc.
c:\program files (x86)\common files\apple\mobile device support\bin\applemobiledeviceservice.exe

Bonjour Service
Apple Inc.
c:\program files (x86)\bonjour\mdnsresponder.exe

iPod Service
iPod hardware management services
Apple Inc.
c:\program files\ipod\bin\ipodservice.exe

Bonjour Namespace Provider
Apple Inc.
c:\program files\bonjour\mdnsnsp.dll

From which this exercise kindly reminded me I need to go and uninstall both the Bonjour and Mobile Devices helper apps as I only use iPods and no other Apple hardware or network services....

Another thing I found curious (but not surprising) was that since I installed both the x32 and x64 versions of Sun's Java, there are two verision of the jusched.exe updater running at the same time as observed in Process Explorer and monitored by Autoruns:

Java(TM) Platform SE binary
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
c:\program files\java\jre6\bin\jusched.exe

Java(TM) Platform SE binary
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
c:\program files (x86)\java\jre6\bin\jusched.exe

I appreciate your dialog with me! We don't use x64 (yet) at work and as such home is the only place I have the opportunity to get my feet wet and get a better chance to work out x64-related Windows experiences.

It's kinda fun!

Now I've got to deal with that nagging 64-bit driver signing thing that comes with Windows x64 life... I think I figured out the ImDisk driver loading some more experimenting to do, but collected some more utilities and linkage in the learning process.


--Claus V.