Engineering Windows 7

Welcome to our blog dedicated to the engineering of Microsoft Windows 7

Delivering a quality upgrade experience

Delivering a quality upgrade experience

This is a little bit of a tricky post to write because we’re going to be asking everyone using our Windows 7 Beta to help us out, but doing so is going to take a little time and require a bit of a commitment to helping test the next milestone. This has been a remarkably valuable and beneficial testing cycle for Windows as we have had a tremendous amount of very rigorous testing and usage. We’ve had millions of people install and use the Beta since January and as we’ve talked about, the feedback and telemetry have been of tremendous value as we finalize the product. The effort of Beta testers has contributed immensely to our ability to deliver a high-quality product to hundreds of millions of customers. We continue to follow the plan we have previously outlined and this post is no announcement of any news or change in plans. Since we know many people are running the Beta we want to provide a heads up regarding the behavior of the Release Candidate (RC) as it pertains to upgrades. Of course we are working hard on the RC and following the schedule we have set out for ourselves.

A big part of the beta process is making sure we get as much “real world” coverage of scenarios and experiences as possible and monitor the telemetry of those experience overall. One of the most challenging areas to engineer is the process of upgrading one release of Windows to another. When you think about it, it is the one place where at one time we need to run a ton of code to basically “know” everything about a system before performing the upgrade. During the development of Windows 7 we routinely test hundreds of original OEM images from Windows Vista and upgrade them and then run automated tests validating the upgrade’s success. We also test thousands of applications and many thousands of devices as they too move through the upgrade process.

Many of you installed the Windows 7 beta on a PC running Vista. We received that telemetry and acted on it accordingly. We believe we’ve continued to improve the upgrade experience throughout the release. Similarly, based on our telemetry most of you did clean installations onto new drive partitions. Through this telemetry we learned about the device ecosystem and what drivers were available or missing. We also learned about PC-specific functions that required installing a driver / application (from XP or Vista) to enable support for buttons, connectors, or other hardware components. Together we get great coverage of the setup experience.

We’ve also learned that many of you (millions) are running Windows 7 Beta full time. You’re anxious for a refresh. You’ve installed all your applications. You’ve configured and customized the system. You would love to get the RC and quickly upgrade to it from Beta. The RC, however, is about getting breadth coverage to validate the product in real-world scenarios. As a result, we want to encourage you to revert to a Vista image and upgrade or to do a clean install, rather than upgrade the existing Beta.  We know that means reinstalling, recustomizing, reconfiguring, and so on.  That is a real pain.  The reality is that upgrading from one pre-release build to another is not a scenario we want to focus on because it is not something real-world customers will experience. During development we introduce changes in the product (under the hood) that aren’t always compatible with what we call “build-to-build” upgrade.  The supported upgrade scenario is from Windows Vista to Windows 7. Before you go jump to the comment section, we want to say we are going to provide a mechanism for you to use if you absolutely require this upgrade.  As an extended member of the development team and a participant in the Beta program that has helped us so much, we want to ask that you experience real-world setup and provide us real-world telemetry.

If you do follow the steps below, you might run across some oddities after upgrade. We experience these internally at Microsoft occasionally but we don’t always track them down and fix them because they take time away from bugs that would not only manifest themselves during this one-time pre-release operation. From time to time we’ve noticed on a few blogs that people are using builds that we have not officially released and complained of “instabilities” after upgrade. Nearly all of these have been these build-to-build issues. We’ve seen people talk about how a messenger client stopped working, a printer or device “disappears”, or start menu shortcuts are duplicated. These are often harmless and worst case often involves reinstalling the software or device.

We’re just trying to be deterministic and engineer the product for the real world. Speaking of the real world, many have asked about upgrading from Windows XP. There's no change here to the plan as has been discussed on many forums.  We realized at the start of this project that the “upgrade” from XP would not be an experience we think would yield the best results. There are simply too many changes in how PCs have been configured (applets, hardware support, driver model, etc.) that having all of that support carry forth to Windows 7 would not be nearly as high quality as a clean install. This is something many of you know and already practice. We do provide support for moving files and settings and will prompt at setup time, but applications will need to be reinstalled. We know that for a set of customers this tradeoff seems less than perfect, but we think the upfront time is well worth it.

So when you try to upgrade a pre-RC build you will find that you’re not able to and setup will tell you and you can then exit gracefully. You can install as a clean installation and use the Windows Easy Transfer feature as well (run this from your current installation of course) if you wish to move your accounts, settings, files, and more. To bypass the version check, the instructions below will use a mechanism that is available for enterprise customers (so we are also testing this as well). It is not a simple command line switch. We didn’t make it multi-step on purpose but wanted to stick to using proven, documented and tested mechanisms.

These instructions will be brief. Since everyone reading is a well-versed and experienced beta tester you know ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR MACHINE before running any OS installation and NEVER TEST AN OS ON YOUR ONLY COPY OF ANY DATA. Testing a pre-release product means just that—it is testing and it is pre-release. Even though this is a Release Candidate, we are still testing the product. We have very high confidence but even if an error happens once in 1,000,000 we want to make sure everyone is taking the precautions normal for a pre-release product.

One other related caution is INSTALL ONLY OFFICIALLY RELEASED BUILDS FROM MICROSOFT. It will always be tempting to get the build with the “mod” already done but you really never know what else has been done to the build. There’s a thrill in getting the latest, we know, but that also comes with risks that can’t even be quantified. For the RC we will work to release a hash or some other way to validate the build, but the best way is to always download directly from Microsoft.

Here’s what you can do to bypass the check for pre-release upgrade IF YOU REALLY REALLY NEED TO:

  1. Download the ISO as you did previously and burn the ISO to a DVD.
  2. Copy the whole image to a storage location you wish to run the upgrade from (a bootable flash drive or a directory on any partition on the machine running the pre-release build).
  3. Browse to the sources directory.
  4. Open the file cversion.ini in a text editor like Notepad.
  5. Modify the MinClient build number to a value lower than the down-level build. For example, change 7100 to 7000 (pictured below).
  6. Save the file in place with the same name.
  7. Run setup like you would normally from this modified copy of the image and the version check will be bypassed.

clip_image002

These same steps will be required as we transition from the RC milestone to the RTM milestone.

Again, we know many people (including tens of thousands at Microsoft) are relying on the pre-release builds of Windows 7 for mission critical and daily work, making this step less than convenient. We’re working hard to provide the highest quality release we can and so we’d like to make sure for this final phase of testing we’re supporting the most real world scenarios possible, which incremental build to build upgrades are not. At the same time everyone on the beta has been so great we wanted to make sure we at least offered an opportunity to make your own expert and informed choice about how to handle the upgrade.

We’re always humbled by the excitement around the releases and by the support and enthusiasm from those that choose to run our pre-releases. We’re incredibly appreciative of the time and effort you put into doing so. In return we hope we are providing you with a great release to work with at each stage of the evolution of the product. Our next stop is the RC…see you there!

THANK YOU!

--Windows 7 Team

PS: At Step 1 above many of you are probably thinking, “hey why don’t you just let me mount the ISO and skip the plastic disc”. We’ve heard this feedback and we deserve the feedback. We don’t have this feature in Windows 7 and we should have. So please don’t fill the comments with this request. There are several third party tools for mounting and if you’ve got a Vista image there’s a good chance your PC came with those tools on it.

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  • Please add 4 and 4 and type the answer here:
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  • Can you give me a little inside info here? I'd like to know if DirectWrite and Direct2D are going to be in the sp2 vista update?

    Thanks,

    Matt

  • My experience with Windows 7 beta has been very good since such point I feel part of my PC would like, me that the launching left the final version candidate to be able to have it in Spanish and a question cannot be made updates of a beta to the RC and as would be the errors that could give in case of updating, because to return to install Windows Vista SP1 I would not like to lose all my programs installed in my computer, would be something arduous for my, since I must be constantly connected to Internet

  • My experience with Windows 7 beta has been very good since such point I feel part of my PC would like, me that the launching left the final version candidate to be able to have it in Spanish and a question cannot be made updates of a beta to the RC and as would be the errors that could give in case of updating, because to return to install Windows Vista SP1 I would not like to lose all my programs installed in my computer, would be something arduous for my, since I must be constantly connected to Internet

    Ing. Richard

  • @Steven

    You said "These same steps will be required as we transition from the RC milestone to the RTM milestone."

    Does this mean that this will be a 'supported' upgrade path for the RTM?

    Thanks.

  • @ALL

    Happy Easter to all !

    and special thank's Windows Team for Windows 7 RC (is coming..)

    SUPER BEST WORK!

    THANKS

  • Thanks Team Win 7... I'll do a slew of vista upgrades with various installations of softwares to see how they pan out.  Excited to see the RC.  

  • For folks running the Beta, will that expire or will we be able to hang on without having to go through the RC and hence two conversions?  Each conversion causes multiple problems with non-Microsoft software activation issues (the need to get new activation codes due to an additional replacement installation).  Can we elect to keep running the Beta until we do a complete new re-install with the RTM?  In other words, please don't do a forced Beta expire until the RTM is available.  Thanks.

  • Happy easter to all & especially to the Windows 7 Development Team.

    What a great product you are making! I cannot wait to see and use the final version of it.

    However (I realize this has been brought up by many people, and I want to add to their weight):

    THERE IS STILL SOME WORK TO DO! You have seen this URL in many comments and are probably getting sick of it, but here it is again: http://www.windows7taskforce.com. Much of the stuff there is as serious as it should be simple to fix. I am a developer myself. For anyone familiar with the code a lot of the requests could certainly be done in minutes.

    See for example the crucial http://www.windows7taskforce.com/view/1854 which has the potential to save every laptop user 30 seconds of time when shutting down - much more than can be gained by any elaborate startup optimizations.

    For all critics of the Taskforce:

    I myself would very much perfer if the Taskforce was run officially by Microsoft. This way I could be sure that the ideas are seen by the right people. However, referring to the official boards as the "right place to go" is NOT and adequate criticism of the Taskforce, as they certainly cannot be compared to it in terms of sheer usability and transparency.

    I beg you to take the people on the Taskforce seriously. Their number may be very small compared to the entire Windows user base of hundreds of millions, but the problems they address are common annoyances for all of us.

    Thank you for reading, I appreciate your work and this block greatly.

    Jovan Cormac

  • I can see now that windows 7 now has the most stupid feature just like vista. When this feature is used correctly it works but if you don't have a flash drive it does not work. I'm talking about "ReadyBoost". In vista I could install it and get everything right and the thing would still suck back gobs of memory to like 900 megs of memory then after a few min fall back to 400 megs of memory. I KNOW WHY BECAUSE WHEN READYBOOST DOES NOT HAVE A FLASH DRIVE IT USES YOUR SYSTEM MEMORY INSTEAD!!!.

    Now in windows Vista if you went into HKEY-LM-CCS-Services-Ecache you could turn off the ReadyBoot Feature this made my Vista boot in 7 sec compared to 15 sec with the dame thing on. Memory usage a mere 387 megs not 900 megs.

    Now I'm in windows 7 testing it out and I noticed that the thing is sucking back 900 megs of memory again which means that the Readyboot feature is stuck on. So basicly now I boot up it uses 950 megs of memory at boot wait about 3 min and it drops to 389 megs of memory. So its now using 450 megs of wasted memory!!!.

    I tried to turn off this service and all I got was a blue screen of death. Great Windows 7 was looking so good till you added this stupid feature. Back to my 7 sec vista now because now 7 takes longer to boot with that feature forced on.

  • Just one RC will be release?

    Which .NET framework will be included Windows 7 RTM ? what about Windows Server 2008 R2 ?

    Please write about .NET and future of it.

  • You have to goto this value in the registry.

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\rdyboost\Parameters

    You have to Delete the "BootPlan" Binary value then create it again and give it a value of "00"

    After I did that WOW what a differnce in boot up speed 6.1 sec to desktop and only using 367 megs of memory. Now I can live with windows 7.

  • Just tested Windows media center on the latest build. It found my WinTV HVR 1250 Perfect and Now runs TV. I can't belive my eyes. It works. Every other build I tried it would just lock up and freeze.

    Thank you....

  • Sounds like we're getting really close to RC or RTM.

  • I have to say that the upgrade is a pleasure.

    Did this again this afternoon, install was 12 minutes...Transfering in files and settings around 10 minutes then the backup restore was only 20 minutes.

    I have a system that out performs anything that Linux or the neutered BSD on the Mac platform can offer.

    I am more than pleased with the OS so thankx for the hard work, this is starting to feel finished.

  • Hi, developers

    Why did you remove check/uncheck option "Keep the taskbar on top" from taskbar properties? It was very convenient in Windows XP, I used it sometimes to avoid bugs in fullscreen (maximized the window instead of going fullscreen). I found the absence of it irritating... Will it be included in the final build?

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