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.

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 6 and 5 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • I've been running Windows 7 for about 3-4 months now. I recently clean installed over my 7000 build with 7077- I've been eating the hype like a junkie, and just had too . Although I feel everything runs faster, and it feels nicer, I still feel there is a fair bit MORE that needs to be done for it to be the unified, solid product that it should be. I'm going to list the things I think need to happen for it to be the best it can be, and you should feel free to add on to this list, or challenge the points made.

    1. Re-do all icons to match the new style. At the moment, like many other parts of the operating system, its a mess. You've got icons from Vista- Hell, there are even some around from XP if you dig hard enough- and if Microsoft want's 7 to be as untarnished as possible upon release, an overhaul of the icons to this new style IS a nescessity.

    2. There's been a lot of discussion about a new theme for 7. Reading about it, I've come to three logical conclusions:

    -There's nothing particularly wrong with Aero, it looks great on 7

    -Not everybody like's glass

    -Aero is too closely associated with Vista

    To fix this, I think that Microsoft needs to evolve Aero, rather than revolutionize it- a blending of Aero into the borders, as seen in Office 2010, would be a great start. Feel free to expand upon this.

    3. The basic theme direly needs an overhaul. Some people will never see it, as their computers will run Aero off the bat. However, many, many people either won't have access to Aero or their drivers won't instantly work. Whatever the cause, some people will see this theme and it needs not to be disgusting. Even a straight port of Aero without transparency would feel like a godsend. Whatever they do, they need to do it.

    4. Unified Control Panel. When I jumped from 7000 to 7077, I really liked how much cleaner the Control Panel's GUI felt. However, after reading a comment about it on windows7taskforce, I actually went through pretty much every icon in the Control Panel- and found that it is a garbled, confusing mess. I found it hard to get to what I wanted to get too, and there were links everywhere for mostly thinks that weren't even associated with what I was doing. Frankly, it's just confusing. I use Leopard on the other side of my Macbook, and the unifed Control Panel is so easy and clarified to use in comparison. Something like this would be great.

    5. The Installation Process has had a great improvement from Vista. The Clean Install of 7077 ran fast, and was ready to go as soon as I'd finished. However, many things just don't seem to fit, and some things definitely need to be streamlined. The reminiscent green from Vista is apparent throughout, and it just begs the question, why? The flat greenish-yellow loading bar along the bottom is ugly, and unescessarily so- a blue, glossy loading bar would fit much better. As well as this, the sort of mystical start up animation style would be nice- glowing colours. Again, if they want to draw away from Vista, incorporate more of 7's colours into the OS and the Installation Process- blue and white. It would look much cleaner.

    6. The Logon Screen. As simple as it sounds, for the love of god, remove the Vista glass bevel borders around the User Pictures on the Logon screen. It looks ugly. There must be a better way to distinguish the Pictures from the Background- perhaps and Aero Box, with rounded versions of the User Pictures inside it, with a box for password appearing inside the Aero Box when you click on the User Pictures?

    I'm sure there's more, but hitting these six points alone would leave me feeling immensely satisfied. For a long time I solely used OS X. XP, I have to say, I have large qaurels with. Often I'm forced to use it at school, and sometimes just how outdated it is really shows. I used Vista on Boot Camp for a while, and felt that it had some nice feature and a nice GUI, but really needed tightening up.

    When I installed Windows 7, I was hooked from Day 1. I really would like to see Microsoft release this on the strong foot, but to do so, they have got a fair bit further to go.

    Thanks .

  • I do hope it is easy to go from Beta > RC > Final Release.

    http://sevenuser.com

  • Hi,

    I have been trying to get into the Microsoft Connect web site to download the WDT 2010 Beta to help install Windows 7 on a different computer I have. I have been trying to get in there again for at least 3 days with no luck. Is anyone else having this problem?

    Thanks,

    Tyserman474

  • Sorry, that should have been, MDT (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.

  • I don’t get step no.2. so i should copy the whole image to my current beta drive and edit it then copy it to the cd? or how?? Pls help! Can I just extract the files with winrar, edit the files, and burn it?

  • Today I have upgraded my Windows 7 beta to Windows 7 Rc (I got a copy somehow).

    I had a lot of apps so I didn't want to start from scratch. I agree that this should be done in severe necessity only.

    It was a good experience with few hiccups (resolved later).

    Pre-upgrade :

    ---------------

    1- I extracted ISO file but setup didn't want to launch.

    It extracted to

    "7100.0.090421-1700_x86fre_client_en-us_Retail_Ultimate-GRC1CULFRER_EN_DVD"

    I renamed folder to "7100" and this worked.

    2- After launching , Setup complained that upgrade is not possible so I followed workaround here.

    3- While setup was detecting compatibility issues , laptop kept shutting down (just shuts down) so I figured out that some applications may need to be uninstalled first. I installed some including :

    - Video codecs.

    - Iso files mount applications.

    - Applications from non-famous vendors.

    I kept a lot more apps : Thunderbird ,Itunes , firefox ,  Nokia PC suite , Vmware , ALL MS apps , AVG Free AV

    After that compatibility check completed and warned about "SQL server 2008 express". However , I continued with uninstalling it.

    Installation

    =============

    Guess went as charm becuase I went to sleep and woke up in morning to find windows waiting for product key (I skipped that).

    Post upgrade

    =============

    1- All devices were recognized except my Broadcom WLAN which didn't work with device manager complaining that it can't initialize device.  After few retries , resolution was to uninstall driver with "delete the driver software for this device" then refreshing devices later.

    2- My Cisco VPN client didn't work , a reinstall took care of the issue.

    3- Warning about "AVG AV is on but is reporting its status to windows security center in a format that is no longer supported"

    ---------------------------------------------------

    All in all : I like IE8 , windows media player new look. Windows restarts cleanly now after hanging sometimes before (maybe uninstalling some apps helped).

  • Correction for previos post :

    I (UN)installed some including :

    - Video codecs.

    - Iso files mount applications.

    - Applications from non-famous vendors.

    After that compatibility check completed and warned about "SQL server 2008 express". However , I continued with(OUT) uninstalling it

    -------------------------------------------

    Good work team

  • I attempted to upgrade my Vista Ultimate x64 install to Windows 7 RC (twice now) and the installation seems to come close to finishing but then informs me the upgrade was not successful and rolls back into Vista and gives me a similar message but no reason why.

    I then tried a clean install, launching the setup through Vista and had exactly the same problem.

    I'm tempted to just boot from the DVD and install that way but what if that doesn't work?! Any suggestions here?

  • Mohan,

    Why don't you let us know where we might be able to somehow get a copy of the RC release.

    Thanks,

    Tyserman474

  • After spending a lot of time, initially trying to upgrade/install my Vista x64 to Windows 7 x64, I have discovered that the problem was my Gigabyte RAID Controller, GBB363, Windows 7 dislikes the driver which I find quite strange - why is this?! And why couldn't Windows 7 Setup tell me this before it went ahead?

    Part of my analysis involved breaking and recreating my RAID0, so clearly, no way to roll back into Vista. I have now switched RAID off and installed Windows 7 onto one hard drive, it's not ideal, but I suppose the other disk can be used as a dedicated page file!  

  • First - Excellent work Windows Team.  This is by far the best pre-release experience I've ever had.  The stability and performance of Win7 is fantastic.  Thank you for listening and for opening the doors to your process and feature input.  I have one small request if its not too late...on a laptop, it would sure be great to automatially disable my wireless adapter when docked or when on a hard line.  This is incredibly annoying to have to do manually.  I realize that there are third party/OEM apps that cover this but it would be nice to be "out of the box".  Thanks again - I am eagerly anticipating RTM!

  • I'm really suprised that there seems to be no way to leave feedback from the RC version.  I did a win7 upgrade of one of my corporate vista laptops I use.  I found some issues (noteably the Cisco VPN issues that someone mentioned previously) that were not detected by the upgrade compatability check.  There appears to be no way for me to inform Microsoft about what's broken after the upgrade.

  • imagine a cluggy desk with papers all around, and windows7 beeing a box with papers...

    That pretty much describes my install of windows7 (build7100)

    i'm a bit unorganized and verry technology-happy,

    so the day it came out on technet i downloaded burned and wacked the dvd into my main machine, wich HAD windows XP SP3 and vista on it... i disliked vista a whole bunch because i had failures of hardware (nvidia drivers) and unsupported hardware of allsorts... so i let windows 7 install over vista and shoving vista aside... i allready deleted vista off my bootlist. so windows 7 now has a XP/7 multiboot menu... well all this info is just meant to draw you a picture that windows 7 isn't as pickey on what harddrive what partition and what state of drive you are installing...  i mean what i did to my pc is a nightmare for software. (and i know it) so in a way this is stressstesting win7 all the way imho :)

    i'm shocked, positively shocked that the new windows finally REALLY works... as i tried the "new" vista for 2 weeks before giving up on it...

    3 x but:

    1: the installation went fast and all BUT, not everything is installed..  (like DirectX9 runtime) yes i know most games check DX install but hey it would be nice to update it with the first connection with internet.

    2: UAC is still there... but less annoying...

    3: search uses a lot of resources in the first few days when your hard drive is cluttered and fragmented like mine. during install i'd like a check for partition fragmentation and defragment if state is unacceptable..

  • It seems that the build number for the 64-bit Win7 download in the .ini file from the Windows 7 site is actually 7077, not 7100. Is this what it should be?

  • I figured extracting the files to another drive would be a bit much to me just to change two numbers in the entire ISO, ("7077" to "7000") so I experimented a bit. Since an ISO is just all the files on a disk condensed into one large file, I decided the characters would just be the same in the ISO file. Here are the steps I went through trying to do this easily.

    First, I opened up notepad. I thought since the characters would be the same, I could just use notepad's "find" feature and look for "7077". Notepad's response: "The C:\Users\BillyBob\Documents\7100.0.090421-1700_x64fre_client_en-us_retail_ultimate-grc1culxfrer_en_dvd.iso file is too large for notepad.

    Use another editor to edit the file.

    No chance for that, apparently. I then remembered one of my hex editing programs (like all hexadecimal editing programs) had a text string search feature. Another thing about hex editors is that they can open just about any file size, which is pretty useful.

    I used the most basic, freeware editor I had ("HxD.exe", lol) and opened the file. I then went into the search dialog, typed in "7077", selected "text string" and voila! Within a few seconds, (took me about 7, times may vary across systems depending on disk transfer rate) the searching bar had disappeared, and left me at the exact section of the file containing the .ini file. I just replaced "77" with "00" and saved.

    The save took a bit, considering it makes an entire backup of the file under a .bak extension despite the fact you only change two numbers. Once it was done, I just burned the image. I still have yet to test the upgrade, so I'll let you guys know.

    Just offering this as an alternative to the steps 2-6 they offer.

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