Installing Win7 using a DVD takes around 40 minutes or so, if you install Win7 using a USB drive (Thumbdrive), it can take less than 15 minutes. It is fairly simple, you do need to have a computer with a BIOS that allows you to boot from a USB drive, not all computers that can run Win7 support booting from a USB drive. Win7 will run with less resources than that required by Vista, which means that you could consider upgrading machines that are running Windows XP, although you do need at least 1 gigabyte of memory. As to the USB drive, I used a USB drive that didn’t support ready boost, but has 4 gigabytes on it. This won’t work if you can’t boot from the USB drive.
There are two ways to boot Win7 from your thumbdrive, using the files and not the ISO image, this is more time consuming than the ISO approach, but it allows you to use the remaining space on your USB Drive. The ISO approach consumes the entire space of the USB Drive.
Before you start preparing your USB drive, start the download of Win7 now from: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/download.aspx (at least till the download is pulled, if you have access to MSDNAA, then you could use that subscription).
The steps that you need to take are:
The Win7 RC is available for download from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/download.aspx, no charge!
Open the command window, at the C prompt type in diskpart
A new window will appear, type list disk to determine the disk number of your USB drive.
Type the following into the command line (ignore the bullets at the beginning of each line):
Note the format fs=fat32 /q, the /q is for quick format, thanks to Chris Tiller for his review! See the link for formatting switches!
It will take a few minutes for the format to complete, but it is likely you are having to wait for the Win7 to complete the download. So go to my other blog http://blogs.msdn.com/research and read it for awhile, then come back.
Add the Win7 Files to your USB Drive, for this you use the XCOPY command, the virtual drive letter is F:, the USB Drive on this computer uses the letter H:
You have two choices, use Robocopy or xcopy, I have included both. Robocopy is a faster and better way to go, it is included with Vista, Win7 and in the Windows 2003 Resource Kit (in case your version of Windows doesn’t have it). Xcopy comes in all versions of the OS. (A tip of the hat to Martin Schray for suggesting this!). Choose one or the other to do the copy, I have tested both versions, and Robocopy is definitely much faster.
To use Robocopy, at the cmd prompt, type the following and press enter:
Here is the command so you can copy it:
To use xcopy, at the cmd prompt, type the following and press enter:
Here is the command so you can copy it, in case you are used to using XCopy, it takes longer than Robocopy
The XCOPY does a bit by bit copy of the DVD, and again it will take a few minutes.
Or better yet you can use Robocopy
You’re on your own here, the process varies from computer to computer, and even computers that look the same from the same manufacturer can have different bios screens. I have taken a picture of my EEE PC bios set-up. Here are brief instructions, which may not work on you unique computer and are offered as a starting point of view:
To enter the CMOS Setup, initial startup sequence. Most systems use "F1," "F2," "Ctrl-Esc" or "Ctrl-Alt-Esc", "Esc," "Del:to enter setup. There maybe a line of text at the bottom of the display that says"Press XX to Enter Setup." Where XX could be one of the following: "F1," "F2," "Ctrl-Esc" or "Ctrl-Alt-Esc", "Esc," "Del
Upon entering the Bios setup, there will be text screens with options. Some of these are standard, while others vary according to the BIOS manufacturer. Look for something like the following:
If you have your bootable drive in one of the USB ports, you may get this type of screen when you boot. This is the one you want to use, not the next two.
Which one should you select from this screen?
USB:Single Flash Reader
If your computer boots to the BIOS setup utility, then you will see a screen that looks like this one.
Mouse over to the Boot Menu item and select it
That’s it! Have fun loading up all of those old computers with 1 gigabyte of RAM on them, but only if you are doing a clean install, otherwise mount the ISO on a DVD and install from there.
Martin Schray Chris Tiller!