How to install Windows 7 – What to do before start [Part 3]

Installing Windows 7

How to install Windows 7 — What to do before start: how to choose a version of Windows, 32-bit vs. 64-bit, custom or upgrade, etc. Alight, in part 2, you’ve learned how to protect your data in case the installation of Windows 7 doesn’t go as expected or you just want to rollback to a previous version of Windows. Now in part 3 there are some decisions you need to make before continue.

The installation of Windows 7 is based in the same process that was introduced with Windows Vista, which is totally different from Windows XP. The new process was designed with the goal in mind to run very quickly, and with minimum prompts, requiring less attention from you. In the following section, I’ll walk you through the most common scenarios that you may encounter when performing a dual-boot, clean installation or upgrading Windows 7.

As part of the Windows 7 installation process, the are several simple, but at the same time important decisions that you will have to make to save time and help avoid possible problems:

  • Which edition of Windows 7 are you planning to install? In most cases the edition you have purchased will be the one you’ll install; however, the retail Windows 7 installation DVD includes all 3 main Windows editions — Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate — as well as Home Basic and Starter editions, that are not intended for the end-user to install — one thing to notice is that you can install any of these editions for up to 30 days without entering the product key or activating the copy –. While for most users Windows 7 Home Premium offers everything they need and more, if you want everything that Windows has to offer, the Ultimate version is what you want to install. The Professional version is intended for business systems — remember that Windows 7 Professional lacks some of the features that are useful for home users such as Windows 7 Media Center, but it also include others that are great for enterprises. Here is Microsoft web page that shows you a comparison between the available versions of Windows 7.    
  • Which version of Windows 7 should I install: 32-bit or 64-bit? The Windows 7 installation media includes both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. In the case you download Windows 7 from the Microsoft store, you’ll have to choose either 32-bit version or 64-bit version to download. To help you decide consider the following, you need a CPU that’s capable of running 64-bit version of Windows 7. Most users will see benefits using 64-bit operating system, if they have a large amount of memory (RAM) in their system, typically 4GB or more. Because of the capabilities of a 64-bit operating system over a 32-bit version, a 64-bit machine can be more responsive when several programs are running at the same time and switching between them often.
  • Are you thinking on doing a custom Windows 7 installation or an upgrade?  If you perform a custom installation (most recommended) you are basically doing the so call “clean install”, in other words start everything from scratch. This process will wipe clean your hard drive, this mean bye-bye to all your programs, documents and any other files, including the Windows installation, before installing the operating system. Later when the installation is done, you have to re-install all your programs and restore your documents and settings, if any. In the other hand an upgrade retains all installed programs, settings and files, of course with the risk of coming across some compatibility problems. 
  • Do you want to dual-boot — install Windows 7 alongside another operating system? There are various reasons why you’d want to do this like, for example, application compatibility, you need to use some other OS like Linux, or it is hard to let Windows XP go, etc. Whatever it may be the reason, if you want to set up a dual-boot environment in your system, you’ll need to understand how different start-up files work, that way you can properly manage your start-up options more effectively (Here is an example of dual-boot How to Dual-Boot Windows 7 and Windows 8 step-by-step).
  • Do you need to change the layout of your hard drive? The Windows 7 installation process tool also includes a media storage management tool, where you can modify and organize your hard drive, you can use it to create, delete, format and extend (but not shrink) partitions inside of the hard drive. Having the knowledge of how to perform these tasks to properly prepare a disk to house the Windows installation files can really save you a lot headaches and time when installing Windows.

If you currently are running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, you can begin the installation process from Windows. But you can always start the installation from the DVD, USB drive, etc. You should keep in mind that depending on the installation option you choose, there are going to be some differences.

Running the installation from Windows

  • You can re-install Windows 7.
  • You can upgrade to another version of Windows 7.
  • You can run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from the setup screen.
  • You can install Windows 7 on the same partition as an existing Windows version.
  • You can upgrade Windows Vista, but it has to be Vista SP1 or later.
  • You cannot upgrade from Windows XP.
  • You cannot use the partition management tool.

Running the installation from the Windows 7 DVD

  • You can user the partition management tool to create, delete, and extend partitions.
  • You can install Windows 7 on the same partition as an existing Windows version.
  • You cannot upgrade an existing Windows version. You have to use the custom install option.

Wrapping up this three-parts tutorial series you’ve learned: from part 1, what are Windows 7 hardware requirements and recommendations to avoid software and hardware compatibility issues. In part 2, you’ve learned how to protect your data, from creating an inventory of all your Windows applications, backup your computer drivers, to performing a full backup of your system. And we finished with part 3, where we looked at how to choose the right version of Windows 7, what is the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit, and what you are able to do depending on the installation option you choose.

OK, this conclude the preinstallation process of Windows 7. In the next part of the tutorial there is not more preparation, now we are ready to pop that Windows 7 DVD in the computer and start the installation.

I hope this tutorial was a help, if you have any question or thought, please leave them on the comment section below.

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About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].