Monday, September 07, 2009

Preparing Windows 7 on an alternate laptop did not work

I want to install Windows 7 RTM on my primary laptop with minimal down time.

It currently has Windows 7 RC installed on it, done as an upgrade from Windows Vista. Unfortunately I found that Camtasia is unable to produce an Avi from the source camrec file under this environment. I have confirmation that Camtasia works fine under a fresh install of Windows 7. This is not a fault of Camtasia*, but simply points out the need for a fresh install rather than an upgrade.

Because I use the laptop so much, I wanted to minimize down time. I purchased a new laptop hard drive, placed it in a slightly older laptop, and did a fresh Windows 7 install on that laptop, hoping to transfer the hard drive to my primary laptop with minimal fuss once it was set up to my satisfaction. Since both laptops are Dell models, I was confident that it would work well.

I installed all my favorite applications and all Windows updates, taking several days to accomplish this between other tasks. Today was the moment of truth, as I carefully unscrewed the existing hard drive on my primary laptop and inserted the newly prepared hard drive. Windows 7 appeared with the pieces of the Windows logo flying in from the screen outer regions, looking familiar, then suddenly a flash of blue screen and and the Startup Recovery screen appeared. I tried every option and none managed to get me to a working Windows 7 system. Time to punt, format the primary partition and start over, this time on the actual hardware.

And thus it stands this evening. Practicing my software installation skills when there is much else I would rather be doing. At least I have the new hard drive and can switch drives as needed until I am fully migrated to the new drive.

What is the lesson learned? If you choose to follow my example and try to install Windows 7 on an alternate machine and new hard drive to minimize down time, be sure to install the drive in the destination machine and verify that Windows 7 will boot, before spending much time installing all your applications. Resist the temptation to optimize the hardware drivers for the setup laptop; that can be done after the drive is completely set up.

Hope that helps.

Joe Kunk

* Camtasia is a copyrighted product of TechSmith located in Okemos, Michigan. Camtasia, and it's better know sibling Snag-It, are fantastic products for screen capture & recording. I highly recommend both products.

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