While Microsoft really wants everyone to test doing an upgrade install of Windows 7 from Vista, I don’t know anyone who has because all my friends are jaded Windows developers. Having installed Win 7 RC from scratch twice on my laptops, I was feeling quite lazy when it came to my desktop. While I’ve automated nearly all my application installs with PowerShell scripts it’s still four-five hours overall. As I hadn’t seen anyone else reporting how upgrade installs went, I thought I’d let everyone know that it went well for me. There were a few very small bumps so I thought I’d mention how I worked around them in case others want to try an upgrade install.

As with any upgrade, have a trusted backup before you start, in my case, that meant two, one in Home Server and one a system back up. I was upgrading my wonderful Mac Pro running Vista Ultimate x64 SP1which had the 2.1 version of Apple’s Boot Camp Vista x64 drivers installed.

I had to laugh when I first tried to do the upgrade. The last time I did an in place upgrade of an operating system without a fresh install must have been ten years ago so I rebooted the machine to start the install from the Win7 DVD. When I clicked on the upgrade link, it kindly told me that I needed to start the install from Vista in order to upgrade. Once I did what I was supposed to do, the compatibility report said that both SQL 2005 and the Apple Boot Camp drivers had some compatibility problems, but in the cas e of the Boot Camp drivers, I could reinstall them after the upgrade was complete. As I didn’t need SQL 2005 anymore, I uninstalled it and restarted the upgrade install.

The upgrade cranked away and after a couple of reboots, it looked like it as done. I wasn’t paying attention to the time at all so I think it was less than two hours. After logging in, it looked like everything was running pretty well.

As reported, the upgrade disabled some of the Apple Boot Camp drivers so the first thing I did was do a repair install, which stopped saying a there was a pending reboot and the install could not continue. I rebooted and still got the same error. It turned out that the HP printer I’m using doesn’t have Win7 drivers so something in the system was trying to delete one of the printer driver files every time I rebooted the machine. I deleted the printer, but still kept seeing the HKLMSystemControlSetControlSession ManagerPendingFileRenameOperations value getting reset to delete the bad printer DLL. Once I deleted the values in the REG_MULTI_SZ dialog, the Apple Boot Camp driver install went perfectly so my ultra thin Apple wired keyboard works great.

One odd problem I was having was that it seemed my Bluetooth mouse wasn’t responding very well. The mouse would move and click fine, but would stop and I’d have to shake the mouse to get it to respond. If I continually moved the mouse, everything was fine, but if I stopped using it for 5-20 seconds, it felt like the Bluetooth connection was lost. As the exact same mouse was working fine in Vista two hours before I was looking at a battery problem or something had changed with Win7.

A quick look in the Event Log, the go-to place for starting all Windows trouble shooting, showed a bunch of HidBth warnings saying “Bluetooth HID device (xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx) either went out of range or became unresponsive.” It sure felt like the Bluetooth device was going to sleep. Popping open Device Manager, I looked at the Apple Built-in Bluetooth Properties page, Power Management tab. The “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” check box was checked. I unchecked it, clicked OK, and haven’t had a Bluetooth mouse problem since.

As I opened the Event Log, I got an error in the default Administrative Events filter. On Vista there must be some additional event logs because using that filter pops up a “Query Error” saying it can’t find the following event logs:

  • Microsoft-Windows-Diagnosis0MSDT/Debug
  • Microsoft-Windows-Eventlog-ForwardPlugin/Debug
  • Microsoft-Windows-PrinterSpooler/Aux-Analytic
  • Microsoft-Windows-PrinterSpooler/Core-Analytic
  • Microsoft-Windows-PrinterSpooler/Core-Debug
  • Microsoft-Windows-PrinterSpooler/ISV-Analytic
  • Microsoft-Windows-Security-Licensing-SLC/Per

On a fresh install Win7 machine, those logs are definitely not there. I haven’t figured out how to edit the default query, if anyone knows I’d love to get this fixed.

Finally, as I find the Windows Media Player far too weird to use, I ran into my first Win7 application compatibility problem with Winamp. It would report some odd error in the skinning code and die. A quick search around the internet showed that the problem was the default “Bento” skin and deleting the C:Users<USER>AppDataRoamingWinamp directory allows you to reset the skin to “Modern” and it works. I’ve never quite understood why these music and video players are so problematic for both usability and stability.

I consider the upgrade install a success because I’m loving Win 7 on a big dual monitor machine. Did anyone else do an upgrade install? If so, how did it go for you?