Before installing any operating system, you need to ensure your hardware meets minimum requirements. Typically that means CPU, hard drive and memory need to be strong enough to support the OS. Microsoft provides minimum requirements for these items, but you should consider these to be similar to minimum speeds on the highway. Who does the minimum? You usually want to go as fast as the maximum allows, right?
However, just to have a reasonable understanding of Microsoft's minimum requirements, they include the following:
- 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
- 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2GB RAM (64-bit)[md]we always recommend 2 or 3GB RAM for 32-bit and 4 or more GB RAM for 64-bit
- 16GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
In addition to those requirements, make sure you have additional items that are Windows 7-ready. Make sure you have drivers for sound cards, network cards, video cards, and so forth. More than likely, however, if it worked in Vista, it will work in Windows 7. That includes software as well. Whatever worked with Vista is likely to work with Windows 7.
Depending on how you install an OS, you might have a DVD or an ISO file for a local install, perhaps a USB drive, or you may connect to the install files over a network share. In all cases, you will eventually come to the first Install Windows dialog. Our instructions begin at that stage.
- Select your Language, Time and Currency Format, and your Keyboard or Input Method (Figure 1.1). Then click Next.
- You will come to a very attractive install screen with a big blue button next to the words Install Now (Figure 1.2). Click that button.
- The License Terms display (Figure 1.3). When you're finished reading them, if you wish to proceed, check the acceptance checkbox and click Next.
- Choose the type of installation you want (Figure 1.4). You can choose Upgrade or Custom (advanced).
- You choose where you want to install Windows 7 (Figure 1.5). You are shown a disk drive (or disk drives, depending on your hardware configuration). Here you can configure drive options and perform more advanced tasks to configure your system drives. Select your drive and click Next.
- At this point (Figure 1.6), the files extract and the installation proceeds without any assistance on your part (reboots occur automatically).
- The final phases of the installation include choosing a username and computer name (Figure 1.7). Then click Next.
- Optionally, you can provide a password and password hint (Figure 1.8).
- You can supply your Product Key (Figure 1.9) and choose to Activate your copy of Windows 7 (or not). Click Next.
- You can determine whether you want to enable and begin working with Windows Update (and to what degree). You can choose to Use Recommended Settings or to Install Important Updates Only' or you can simply choose to Ask Me Later. Personally, I like to enable Windows Update and use the recommended settings so that I can get the latest security patches and improvements. The choice is yours, so make a choice to move to the next dialog (Figure 1.10).
- Ensure the correct Time Zone and date and time is listed (Figure 1.11). Click Next.
- Choose you network location: Home, Work or Public. Home and Work are pretty much the same in that they offer you a more open configuration. Public locks you down for your protection (Figure 1.12).
- If you selected Home, you might be asked if you want to create a Homegroup (Figure 1.13). If you know what a Homegroup is, you might create one now. You can always create or join an existing Homegroup later (after the installation process). Click Next.
- The system completes the install, prepares your desktop, and brings you to your Windows 7 desktop (Figure 1.14). Congratulations.
- Check your Device Manager to ensure all your devices have been located and that your device drivers are working correctly. You might want to upgrade those drivers to the latest versions (if available).
- Run Windows Update to ensure you have all the latest security patches and so forth. You can find this item shortcut by clicking the Start orb and typing Windows Update in the instant search dialog.
- Install all your software and make sure it's working well. Don't forget to attach all peripherals (like your printers) and test these out as well.
If you want to upgrade, you need to start it from within your existing operating system. Keep in mind that Windows XP doesn't allow for an in-place upgrade. So, only a Windows Vista system can upgrade to Windows 7. In some cases, you cannot upgrade to Windows 7 from Vista. For example, you cannot upgrade a Windows Vista Ultimate Edition system to a Windows 7 Professional Edition.
Obviously, installing an OS is only half the battle. Now you should do the following:
Whew! Next, depending on your tastes and the time of day, go get yourself a cup of coffee, gin and tonic, and/or a glass of wine.