Given that I’ve fully rebuilt my production laptop twice in the past week, I thought others might appreciate my story in case they ever get the crazy notion to run a release candidate OS on their primary machine.
Let me start at the beginning. Basically, my Thinkpad T61 laptop had been getting slower and slower over the past year. Vista was not helping. It only seemed to be sucking the life out of my once powerful machine.
With the recent release of Windows 7 RC, I thought I would give it a go and free myself from the clutches of Vista. After reading many positive reviews, I downloaded the Windows 7 install and went to work.
First I tried to install Windows 7 as an upgrade which leaves all of my existing applications intact. This seemed like the path of least resistance because the last thing I wanted to do was find all of my old application disks to reinstall them.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. The Windows 7 installer made it to about 75% then froze. I couldn’t move the mouse or do anything. After waiting for an hour and starring at the non-moving progress bar, I took the bold step of powering off the machine. I was expecting that my machine would be hosed (a technical term) when it came back up.
Luckily, it was smart enough to realize that the install failed and roll me back to Vista. So I was back at square one. The next day I tried the upgrade again. Don’t ask me why, I just thought it might work. It, of course, failed again at 75%.
So my options now were to just sit tight with Vista, or go for the fresh install on Windows 7. Given that I was already excited about having a new operating system (that’s what us geeks get excited about), I decided to double down and go for the fresh install.
I backed up everything to a USB drive and started the fresh Windows 7 install. The install itself was very straightforward. I booted from the Windows 7 disk and it finished the install in about a half hour.
After the my machine came up in Windows 7, it was beautiful. Everything just worked. There was no need to install any drivers and it was running fast! I thought that Microsoft had finally nailed this operating system thing. My celebration was premature…
On the first day, I began to notice some strange hard drive activity that would lock up the entire machine for about a minute. It was annoying but fairly innocuous because it only happened about twice a day. I could deal with it, but it seemed odd.
Everything else about Windows 7 was so good that I decided to press on and continue using it. I’m an optimist. Little did I know that the end was near.
After about a week of use my laptop with Windows 7, I was out at a client site just working like normal and it froze on me. The mouse stopped working and there was no way to get out of it. I had to power down the machine. I thought it was odd, but I was sure it would be fine after a reboot. I was wrong.
After it restarted, twenty minutes later it locked up again. Then forty minutes later, it locked up again. This was not going to work. I rolled back to old restore point and tried uninstalling software but to no avail. I had to conclude that Windows 7 RC was just not ready for primetime yet.
I didn’t want to go back to Vista, but I couldn’t stay with Windows 7 so I rebuilt my laptop with Windows XP. That’s right, an operating system from 2001 – it seems that Microsoft has not been able to make another solid OS. I’m hopeful that they will get the kinks out by the time it RTMs.
I also recently bought a mac mini in the that just happened to arrive during this week of windows chaos. I couldn’t help but notice the irony when I was rebuilding my laptop with XP (which seems so ancient) while the beautiful OS X was booting up right next to it….