Okay, from the title as you can guess this is going to be a cautionary tale, one you should perhaps heed. I should know better about being bleeding edge but last night I did something really, really stupid: I made the dreadful mistake of installing Windows 7 on perfectly good Compaq Vista laptop. It was so shiny and new I just had to take a peek and I had a perfectly good candidate to try the new release. Now I should tell you that I have two machines running Vista, that much maligned operating system that I have never had a serious problem with.

Wait, that can’t be right? Doesn’t Vista blow as per the Internet and popular media? No, if you threw enough memory I found it to be the best performing Windows to date (back off Mac boys) and I never experienced a BSD to date that I can recall on the almost two year old Quad processor desktop. Okay, the laptop had a couple of weird BSDs with the closing of its lid but those disappeared after an update and it too has also been running great.

Anyway I got my Windows 7 CD yesterday and for kicks and giggles I sacrificed my new HP Compaq CQ60-420 that ran Vista for the install. That wasn’t a critical production machine, I use it mostly for Word, Twitter and Bing searches,  so I didn’t give a second thought about the decision. After all, I knew I could lose everything on the laptop and still survive using my desktop. I popped it into the DVD drive and I answered three question and we off to the install. This was not a wipe and clean install but a true upgrade and I did have apps and data on the laptop. The upgrade took two and half hours with 3 reboots, no big deal and little interaction on my part other than waiting for a pot to boil. It started up after the third reboot and all looked well as I brought up a number of key applications including IE and Firefox. So far so good, right?

With my laptop I like to use a second external monitor and I noticed that I didn’t have two separate screens going and that the external monitor was just a mirror of the laptop. I had already created a scheme to support two monitors and I blithely right click the desktop to get to my scheme. Opps! New dialog box and worse none of my schemes made it through the upgrade. In fact Windows 7 had no clue what external monitor I had attached. Not a good sign since I had a very exotic Acer 22 inch LCD monitor attached (that’s a joke, there’s nothing exotic they are just cheap and work). Okay, I’ll tackle that in the morning after all how hard is it to create a new scheme.

Morning came and I booted the laptop up, signed in and went about having my crappy breakfast. I returned to the laptop and it was busily doing something and I was thinking that screwball indexing was it again. No problem, right click on the desktop and let’s create that new monitor scheme. Nothing. Tried again but more nothing. One more click and the desktop faded and a message was given about Windows Explorer having a heart attack. Not good!

Rebooted the computer and more of the same behavior. Yikes! My best guess it’s a video driver issue with the laptop. I went to the HP site and downloaded their Driver Robot. Whoa, not HP’s but some crapware or malware that is guaranteed to mess fubar your PC.  Be sure to go to the HP site and get the new drivers.  Let’s see if that addresses the issue.

So you ask why install Windows 7? It’s now and wow, shiny and new plus I’m in the business. I should add that I am not your average noob when it comes to computers. People who follow or stumble upon the blog know I am also a writer of a science fiction adventure trilogy called Flores Girl. Like most writers with the exception of Rollins and Stephen King, I support myself with a second paying job. In fact, for the past 20 years I have been a computer geek selling, marketing, developing and installing personal computers of the Windows persuasion to thousand of customers.

Besides my main source of income like most authors so I can afford shelter for my family I also wear a marketing hat for my novel. Publishers do less and less for authors and we novice authors really have to pickup the slack. Like most writers I have a novel web site, blog and I create the pages including the art work for everything. I ineffectively use a rendering program called Poser to create the Flores Girl Characters and I have created scenes from the next novel to be released with Sequel to Hell with Heroes. The Quad Core PC I mentioned earlier is my production machine and it does my rendering and runs my Photoshop.

The laptop is used as a portable computer to write the novel. It’s a HP Compaq CQ60-420, an inexpensive but not a cheap laptop. I got a deal for $349 and it replaces my 4 year old Compaq laptop that I used to write. That oldie still runs and is getting a second life with one of the kids so I had high hope for this laptop that is until I installed Windows 7 on it.

I’ll keep you updated with my ongoing travails regarding Windows 7. Hopefully, it’s just a video driver issue and not the beginning of some bizarre computer odyssey. My Ubuntu machine is looking good now and I can hear the Mac fan boys laughing right now!

Update:

10/28 – All is well in the world, just as I was ready to uninstall Windows 7 I did what I should have done right from the start and I went to the HP  site and install an updated video driver for Windows.  Its running fine now and I’ll give you some updates.

10/29 – Oops spoke too soon,  the Windows Explorer bug resurfaced and it continues to crash when it wants.  It runs fast, I just can’t get to the desktop.  Normally I don’t upgrade but stick with the original OS the computer came with which was easy to when XP had its 8 year run.  These are the pitfalls with an upgrade.   I know get a Mac!