Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Installing Windows 7 Ultimate on a netbook

A very young friend of mine has a HP Mini 110 which came with Windows 7 Starter already installed on a 160 GB HDD. Well, for some reason, as yet unexplained, the same HDD stopped functioning. Luckily, however, I had paid for a three-year all-accidents insurance deal when I bought it for her. So, proved very useful now.
The repaired computer came back today in full working order with Windows 7 Starter reinstalled. As, this version of W7 is somewhat limited, and I had the Windows 7 Ultimate iso, I decided to see if I could install this, along with the Starter version on the HP Mini.
First I needed to make a suitable partition on which to install W7 Ultimate so I tried my trusty Parted Magic pendrive that I have used on several Asus EeePC 901 netbooks over the last couple of years without any problems.
However, it just wouldn't work on the HP Mini. Parted Magic booted but stopped dead about half way through the boot without any explanatory error message.
Luckily, Windows now has its very own partitioning tool called Diskpart which is available free. This is very similar to Parted Magic although it's more CLI than GUI based. Nevertheless, it's simple to use once you know the available commands.
Then I tried to create a bootable Live USB for Windows 7 Ultimate using Unetbootin as outlined here. However, although Unetbootin seemed to do everything correctly, the resulting pendrive just would boot for me on the HP Mini.
Nevertheless, it is possible to use Diskpart to and the existing Windows 7 Ultimate iso to create a bootable pendrive as outlined here.
This worked perfectly and the resulting pendrive booted as expected.
I therefore installed Windows 7 Ultimate to a 50 GB primary partition on the HP Mini and this went without a hitch.
When I booted the machine after the install, I was presented with a menu offering two versions of Windows 7 without any indication as to which was the Ultimate and which the Starter version.
However, the menu options are easily editable as described here (I used the BCDEdit function).
To reduce the wait time before the default menu option boots, just go to msconfig>>boot tab and make the appropriate change.

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