Bit the Bullet and installed Windows 7 64-bit

October 23, 2009

win7After doing my usual obsessing over whether or not to install Windows 7 and then whether to install the 64-bit OS version, I finally decided to bite the bullet and install Windows 7 64-bit OS on my main desktop PC. I’ve always wanted to upgrade from a 32-bit to 64-bit OS (primarily so I can gain access to more than 3 GB of RAM memory), so I saw this as my change to do so. I didn’t expect any noticeable speed improvements going from 32 to 64-bit for my individual applications (as my current 32-bit Vista machine was working just fine), but I often run 5 or more applications at the same time so having the ability for the OS to use more than 3 GB of RAM was a really good thing for me.

Since I wasn’t having any big issues with running Vista, it was harder for me to decide on doing the upgrade to Windows 7. From what I could tell during my beta testing of Win7, it was basically an “improved” Vista OS. It wasn’t as earth shattering as when I upgraded from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. I understand from what I’ve read that Win7 has been re-written, tuned up, and is more efficient than Vista, so that was a very slight reason for me to do the upgrade. Eventually I would upgrade to Win7, so why not do it now?

So, I threw caution to the wind and began the process of upgrading my main desktop PC (home-built Intel Quad 2 Core machine with 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB 7200 RPM disk drive, and 256 MB Video card). Since I was planning to do a clean install (where all the data on the main hard drive would be wiped out), I copied all my user files over to a 2nd external drive for safe keeping. Once that was done, I inserted the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade Install DVD in the DVD-ROM drive and booted up from that device. I then followed the steps to delete the existing partition on the main 500 GB hard drive and begin installing the new 64-bit OS. From the time I booted up my machine with the install DVD to when I was able to log in after the OS installation, only 15 minutes had past. So, I was able to do the complete install in only 15 minutes, a real world record when it comes to Window OS installations! Read the rest of this entry »


Windows 7 64-Bit OS not for me?

October 21, 2009

I had big plans to upgrade my main desktop PC to a 64-bit OS when Windows 7 came out (which is tomorrow). I currently have Vista 32-bit OS installed on it, with 4 GB of memory (although the system can only utilize 3 GB currently under the 32-bit OS). More memory, possibly faster execution was the main reason to go to 64-bit. Also, 64-bit OSes (Windows and Vista) have been around for a significant number of years now, so you would think now is a good time to jump from 32-bit to 64-bit. In fact, all Dell systems that have more than 2 GB of memory seem to come installed with Vista 64 (and now Windows 7 64) bit OSes.

So in preparation, I download and ran the Windows 7 Advisor program supplied by Microsoft which scans your current computer (and attached peripherals)¬† and reports back which devices are compatible with Win7 and which are not (for both the 32-bit and 64-bit OSes). I discovered through this program that my CanoScan 30 scanner does not have a 64-bit driver available (and Canon isn’t planning to release one). Also for my Hauppauge WinTV PVR-150 TV Tuner card, the provided 64-bit driver will only work on machines that have less than 3 GB of memory. For some reason there’s a hardware/firmware limitation which causes the tuner card to operate erratically if the system has 4 or more GB of RAM!

Since I use my home PC to record TV shows on a daily basis, this is a real consideration to NOT upgrade to a 64-bit OS. It makes me wonder what other hardware issues I might have if I jump to the 64-bit realm. And how much benefit will I gain going to 64-bit? I have a feeling not so much, considering I would have to probably get a new scanner and TV Tuner card.

So the real issue isn’t upgrading from Vista to Windows 7, but upgrading to the 64-bit OS. So my big plans of making the switch have been shot down, and I’m going to stay in the 32-bit world for now. Maybe in a few years when my TV tuner card fails and my scanner conks¬† out I’ll make the switch, but for tomorrow I’m staying with the trusty 32-bit OS.

Here’s a link to a posting that has some good information regarding the 64-bit OS upgrade.

So if you’re planning to do the big upgrade, I highly recommend you use the Windows 7 Advisor program to scan your system and give you a prediction to what devices you might have issues with after the upgrade.


Thursday is a big day…. Windows 7 released!

October 19, 2009

win7Being the big nerd that I am, I’ll be getting Windows 7 Professional on Thursday to install on my main desktop system. I’ve tested the release candidate a few months ago on my old Dell D610 Latitude laptop and it ran pretty good, so I’m certain it will be an improvement over my existing Vista installation. I’m also going to install the 64-bit version, since my PC can handle it and I already have 4 GB of RAM memory installed.

I’ve decided to go with the “Professional” version rather than the “Home Premium” because I like Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection implementation. In my opinion, it’s much better than the alternatives (i.e., logmein.com, realVNC, uVNC, etc.) and it works great in my home network and outside network environments. I know that someone will probably come along with a hack to add this feature to the Home Premium version, but I just want it working now, out of the box.

So, my plan is to first hit up my local Costco store when it opens at 10 am and hope they have the Pro version available (It should be selling for $10 less than the retail price). If they don’t have Win7 available I’ll next visit my local OfficeDepot store followed by Staples. One of those three should have Win7 available. If I totally strike out, I can always try my local Fry’s Electronics (albeit, the drive will be 30 miles round trip) or I might simply order it via Amazon.com and wait until next week to install it. Read the rest of this entry »


Remotely connecting to your PC

October 15, 2009

remote_desktopOften I need to work from my kitchen table because I have to keep an eye on my young son or new Labrador puppy from wrecking the house. As such, I use my trusty Dell Latitude D610 laptop to remotely connect to my office desktop PC (located upstairs in my home). What that means, is that I’m controlling my desktop PC from my laptop running applications, etc. just as if I was sitting in front of my PC.

How I do this, is by using an application called Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) which is provided by Microsoft with their Windows XP Professional and Vista Professional OS. A small server is running on my desktop PC, and I can make a connection to it from any PC or laptop on my home network using RDC. Since my home network connection is pretty fast, I see very little response delay using this setup.

Unfortunately, Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows 7 Home Premium both don’t have the Remote Desktop Server software to use the RDC feature. You will need to get the Professional version of either OS package to have the Remote Desktop Server software. As such, I decided to look into other similar alternatives, as I use the RDC feature quite heavily for my own personal use. Read the rest of this entry »


Dell’s Instant Upgrade to Windows 7 Promotion

October 11, 2009

Dell has a current promotion where on select models that are scheduled for delivery on or after Oct 22nd (the release date for Windows 7), they will preload the Windows 7 OS for you in place of Vista Home Premium so you don’t need to do it yourself. That’s pretty nice, since the customer won’t need to bother with the upgrade and all the device drivers should be in place and working (in theory).

dell_win7_upgrade

For example, I ordered a Dell Inspirion 11z this afternoon with the Vista Home Premium 32-bit OS, and since it isn’t scheduled to arrive until Oct 27th Dell will preload it with Windows 7 instead of Vista so I don’t have to do the upgrade after the fact. Sweet! You can’t beat that for service. I hope they also provide me with the Windows 7 restore CDs as that can come in handy in case of hard disk failure.

Now, this applies for select computer models so check before ordering if you want to take advantage of this promotion. Of course, Dell is doing this because they don’t want customers to hold off buying their desktop and laptop machines until after Oct 22nd to get Windows 7 on their machines, and it makes perfect sense.

So what happens if they finish my Dell 11z early and it ships sooner than estimated? Will it have Win7 loaded on it, or not? I’ll let you know if that happens…


Update (29 Oct 09) – Apparently, this was a false promotion on Dell’s behalf, as my Dell 11z arrived on Oct 28th with the Vista OS installed, not Windows 7 as they had advertised on their web site. I called Dell Support about this, and all they kept telling me was that I needed to register to receive the free Windows 7 Upgrade DVD in the mail. Another Dell support person told me I was mistaken when I read their web site ad, but clearly I didn’t as you can see from the image snippet I have displayed at the top of this posting. I should have saved a complete screenshot of their web site showing this so I could fully prove it. Whatever the case, this has put a black mark against Dell in my book as false advertising, and I hope others also voice their opinions against Dell for be deceptive.

 


Windows Mobile OS — On Its Last Breath?

August 30, 2009

ripArguable, the Apple iPhone is one of the most successful smartphones on the market. Its slick, flashy user interface and tie to the Internet for data retrieval are its most attractive features. Its only downfall is the exclusivity on the slow and spotty AT&T Network.

Other phone developers and cell phone carriers are following suit, creating smartphones that run a similar iPhone operating system (e.g., Google’s Android OS and Palm’s WebOS). Touch screen, finger flicking, swiping, and pinching, full web browser, etc. are all typical features that users expect from these high-end smartphones.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS has been around for quite a while, and compared to the iPhone, Android, and WebOS devices seems archaic. It is very apparent that the Windows Mobile OS is based on the Microsoft Windows Operating system with its popup menus and standard dialogbox screens. I’ve been using a Motorola Q phone (with Windows Mobile 5 OS) for a few years now, and it routinely hangs when I try to access an application, screens don’t display properly, and I’m forced to pull the battery out and restart quite often. Definitely not as slick or user-friendly as the more modern touch screen OSes. Read the rest of this entry »


64-Bit or 32-Bit Operating System?

August 30, 2009

32bit_64bitIn the past, it seemed that the 32-bit operating system was the dominate OS among most personal computers. Microsoft Windows, Apple Macs, and most flavors of Linux/Unix ran on 32-bit systems. With the modern CPUs now having 64-bit capability, I’m seeing more and more use of the 64-bit OS. Recently, Apple released their Snow Leopard OS which is apparently completely 64-bit (for the Intel processors). Microsoft offers 64-bit for both their Windows XP and Windows Vista OSes, with the same for the upcoming Windows 7 OS.

I started using Windows XP 64-bit for the first time on my company’s work laptop, and it does seem to run fine. The biggest benefit, is that I’m no longer restricted to 2 GB of memory per application (the 64-bit OS can use all the installed memory). The only issue I have, is that some applications and device drivers won’t work properly. For example, I have a 32-bit version of a PDF creator software that simply crashes when I try to run it. My only recourse, is to find an equivalent 64-bit version or try a different application. It can be a pain, since you don’t know if the application is crashing because it is incompatible or if you’re missing something from the OS installation.

Recently I ordered a new Dell laptop for my son, and I noticed that Dell is installing Windows Vista 64-bit OS on their machines that have more than 2 GB of memory. This seems to be a new standard policy for Dell, since all of their Intel CPU machines are 64-bit compatible. Thus, it appears that the 64-bit OS is now considered a mainstream commodity.

With Windows 7 about to be officially released in 2 months, I’m contemplating whether to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version. I have 4 GB of memory on my Desktop PC (running a Intel Quad 2 Core processor), so my hardware could certainly make use of the 64-bit OS. My only concern is that my existing software won’t run on the machine. Critical software includes my Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 compilers, recorded TV video processing tools (e.g., DVRMSToolbox), TV Tuner card and IR Blaster devices, and Palm WebOS SDK. That’s why I’m leaning a bit toward the Windows 7 Home Professional version, since it has a “Windows XP Compatibilty Mode” which should run applications designed for the WinXP under Windows 7. Whether this will also take care of older 32-bit applications, I’m not sure.

In any case, the distribution CD for Windows 7 comes with both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, so if the 64-bit OS doesn’t seem to work out for me I can always drop back down to the 32-bit version.