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Microsoft Windows 7 Beta Installation

I don’t think I should tell you in details how to download an installation image and burn it onto a DVD disc. You can read everything you need to know about the preparation stage on Microsoft’s web-site, where there is an entire section devoted to the new OS. Read carefully the release notes and description of known issues. Remember, that it is a beta version and not the final release that is why Microsoft doesn’t recommend installing it on your main home or office PC.

The installation procedure seems to have no noticeable differences from Windows Vista. The only thing that immediately catches your eye is the color scheme that has become blue instead of green.

However, the next window offering to choose the type of installation made me stop right there. As usual, I was about to format the system drive and install the new “clean” copy of operating system on it, however, I was offered to upgrade the current OS with the new one and to keep all my current settings, files and programs.

I doubt you will consider reinstalling the OS just because you are bored and have nothing else to do. You normally resort to OS reinstallation in case you encounter fatal issues that can best be resolved by “clean” install. I had Windows Vista that was recently replaced with Microsoft Windows 7 version 6956. It looks very similar to Windows 7 Beta version 7000, but it only lasted one week, because having got tired of constantly emerging error I decided to go back to stable Windows Vista SP1. So, this time I thought I should check out the update option instead of performing another “clean” install. In this case you should start Windows 7 installation from the existing OS. It will check the compatibility of existing programs and offer to remove those that may not work properly after upgrade.

I knew that Windows 7 was incompatible with Daemon Tools CD/DVD drive emulator; however, I was very disappointed to discover that it was also incompatible with Skype. Nevertheless, I found out later that this utility worked just fine. By the way, every time you try to launch an incompatible program you will get an error message like this:

If you check that the functions of your applications are working fine, then you can select “Don’t show this message again” in the lower left corner of the window to stop the error messages from popping up upon next program boot-up.  Windows Vista offers the same option, but I haven’t paid attention to it before.

But let’s get back to Windows 7 installation. It is carried out the same way as Windows Vista installation, with system reboots, and in the end you need to type in username and password. If you selected an upgrade procedure instead of “clean” installation, it will take a little longer, because several hundred thousand files will need to be updated. However, you will be rewarded for your patience with a fully operational system set up to your taste with the complete list of all your favorite programs.

There is one more interesting thing. If you install Windows 7 onto a hard drive with unpartitioned space, the installer will create two partitions at once. One will be 200MB big; it will be active but hidden. It contains the system boot-up files that take only 32MB of space. The second partition is a common system partition; this is where Windows 7 files are going to be saved. There is a lot of speculation online about the real purpose for this additional hidden 200MB partition.  And the correct answer is available on Microsoft web-site: to simplify drive encryption using BitLocker technology. If the system drive is encrypted and there is no free access to it, you will need a small unencrypted boot-up partition with open access to start the system. This partition is created automatically during Windows 7 installation that is why you will not need to repartition the hard drive later on when you enable BitLocker encryption.

To enable hard drive encryption using BitLocker technology your mainboard should be equipped with TPM (Trusted Platform Module), so many users will never actually use this additional hidden partition at all. To skip creating it altogether, you should install the OS onto a drive with all necessary partitions already created and no unpartitioned space. Or you may use an answer file that can be created using Windows Automated Installation Kit.

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