Post updated July 8, 2010 – Microsoft closed their student store – but you can still visit this site to upgrade to Windows 7 for students – same price $29.99.
I’d been looking into getting a student version of Windows 7 for my daughter’s computer to upgrade her from Vista. I purchased one this week and the options during the purchase were to download a file, or I could order a DVD for an additional $13 and wait a couple of weeks for it. I know the steps to burn a DVD from an ISO, so I went for the download from Digital River.
To my surprise, the download wasn’t an ISO, it was an .exe format (DLMWin7HP32US.exe). After downloading, there was an extraction process for the purpose of doing an in-place upgrade. An in place upgrade doesn’t wipe the hard drive – it just installs over what is there. Some people may like this, but I wanted to take this opportunity to wipe the hard drive as it’s been used for more than two years with no reformat. In order to do a clean install, I needed to boot from a DVD.
So I did some searches on how people had accomplished this. One site I found was called Windows 7 Forums. There I found a huge message board and instructions on how to create a bootable DVD. I read through that – it seemed too complicated! I then noticed there were over 60 pages of comments from folks. Lots of people had lots of problems following the instructions and having success. I skipped to the last page of comments and found the solution!
Gizmodo came through again. They published a short article with links to an ISO and instructions on how to burn a DVD from the ISO. They said that Microsoft recognized that people were having problems with Digital River and the whole process and had provided an ISO. I did some searches and couldn’t find anything on Microsoft’s site about this (does anybody else find searching Microsoft difficult?)
I was a bit uneasy downloading from the Gizmodo link, but everything turned out great. Below is a graphic of the icon and type and size of the file. The download took a little over an hour and then I had my ISO file. Then I burned my file to a DVD and booted from the DVD (to boot from a CD/DVD, do a restart and hit F12 as it boots up to change the boot sequence to your CD/DVD drive). The install went perfectly and quickly. We waited to activate until the install is completed per Paul Thurrott’s instructions on his blog site. I’ve done it three times with three different types of Windows 7 installs and it’s worked perfectly each time.
Backing Up and Restoring Data & Applications
Before doing the install, we used Windows Easy Transfer to back up all her data to an external hard drive. This was the second time I’ve used Easy Transfer and it’s worked great both times. It keeps all your settings, favorites, email preferences – even her previous desktop wallpaper came back. I highly recommend it. If you are currently using Vista, you have Windows Easy Transfer – not so for XP users.
Easy Transfer backs up everything BUT applications – for reinstalling applications, I found the How-To-Geek had the answer – Ninite! Ninite is a site that lists dozens of the more common web apps that many of us use, as well as even iTunes. Choose the apps that need to be reinstalled on your computer by clicking the check box and Ninite downloads an installer and quietly installs the programs in the background. Some examples of what’s available: Audacity, Firefox, Evernote, Picasa. They had nearly all the apps needed. We chose about three at a time to download and install with no errors. Then because we’d used Windows Easy Transfer, all the settings and preferences were loaded when the applications were started. It was wonderful!
I’ve got one more computer to upgrade and then our household will be all moved over to Windows 7. If anyone has other resources to share or would like to relate their experience on an upgrade, please leave a comment!