Diablo 3 arrived today, and I’m reviewing it for Joystiq.com. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually work with the version of Windows XP I was running on my PC (because I was running a pirated version, that didn’t have any of the Service Pack updates on it). So this afternoon, I went out and did something I’ve never done in my life before: Bought a real, legitimate copy of Windows. I figured it was time — after more than 30 years of using Windows computers, I probably owed Microsoft at least a little something.

Here’s how you install an Apple OS (which I’ve done a few times now, always legitimately):

1) Spend $29.99 on the App Store.
2) Download the upgrade, which might take about an hour or two.
3) Let it install for about 20 minutes.

That’s it.

The Windows process, however, is a little rougher. Because I’m upgrading from Windows XP, I have to do a clean install — completely wipe my hard drive, erasing everything I’ve got on there, and install the OS anew. Fortunately I have most of my stuff saved in the cloud, and almost everything I run on the PC can simply be re-downloaded and reinstalled.

But the instructions for installing Windows 7 look like a pain. And so, to share that pain with you, I’m going to liveblog the installation. Here goes.

1:28pm Apparently, before I install Windows 7, I need to make sure my computer can run Windows 7, as per Microsoft’s instructions. So I have to download a Windows 7 upgrade advisor from their website, and then run that so it can tell me if I’m good to go or not.

When I download it, I’m also recommended some other “useful software,” including Internet Explorer and the Office Compatibility pack. Keep in mind that I’m already wiping this hard drive, because I have to do a clean install. So thanks Microsoft, but no — even if I wanted to install that stuff, I’d be deleting it right away anyway.

1:30pm The Upgrade Advisor program is actually an installer, so I’m now installing an app that will let me know if I can install Windows.

1:37pm Good news, my computer is compatible! Can’t say I’m that surprised. Windows also tells me that most of my programs are compatible, but there are quite a few that won’t work directly with Windows 7. Not that it matters much, because, you know, I’m wiping the hard drive, but whatever.

The one thing that the Upgrade Advisor doesn’t seem to tell me is what I would like to know: Should I install the 32 or the 64-bit version? It says both will work, so I’m guessing 64 bit is better. I will try that, I guess. Putting the disk in now!

1:49pm Took me a while to get my BIOS to figure out how to boot from DVD. It kept rebooting back into the XP install. “Windows is loading files” now.

1:52pm I have a screen of some kind! There’s just a cursor there now, though. I presume we’ll get a window with install options at some point. Right?

1:54pm Whew! There it is. Yes Windows, I would like English please. There’s an Install Now button, and I just hit it. “Setup is starting…”

2:00pm My DVD drive is spinning and stopping occasionally, so that’s probably the bottleneck here. At any rate, Windows finally asked me whether I wanted an auto or a custom install, so I picked custom. I pulled up my HD partitions, chose the one with XP on it, hit Delete, and boom, there goes all of my files and programs from the past few years. Thank goodness for cloud saves, right?

Suddenly I have about 300 gigabytes of free space on that HD partition, so I choose to install Windows 7 on there, and Windows tells me “That’s all the information we need right now. Your computer will restart several times during installation.” I decide to let it go — back to playing Diablo on my Mac.

2:10pm Restart number one. I haven’t touched it at all, just letting Windows setup do its thing. I’m kind of impressed that it restarted on to the hard drive directly without me having to mess with the BIOS again. There’s a meter at the bottom of the screen, and it’s about at 75%. Keep on rolling, Windows!

Oh hey — it finally picked up on my screen’s actual resolution (1920×1200, I think?). Nice job!

2:14pm: Another restart. This time, I’m pulling up the BIOS myself just to make sure it’s set to boot back on to the hard drive rather than the DVD again. Hopefully, Windows can handle it. I guess we’ll find out.

2:16pm: I ignored a prompt to press a key to boot to DVD… And yes, “Setup is preparing your computer for first use”! Windows has almost won me over just in the last few minutes here — once Setup actually started rolling, it was surprisingly painless.

2:17pm Inputting a user name, a password, and a product key. This is the first time I’ve owned a legit copy of Windows! I guess this means I’ll be able to get upgrades and real support now, right?

I even set it to “Activate when online.” Because I have nothing to hide now!

2:21pm My desktop is being prepared…

2:23pm And that’s it — I have installed Windows 7! I guess other updates are being installed right now as well. Those may take a while, and probably require more restarts. But I am impressed — only about an hour, and despite all that nonsense at the beginning, surprisingly smooth.

In fact yup, it just asked me for a restart due to the updates. Not a problem.

Now begins the long process of reinstalling all of my stuff — browser first (I was thinking of switching to chrome full time, but I will probably install Firefox just for the heck of it, because all of my bookmarks and settings are already saved there), and then drivers, then Diablo 3, and then everything else. Priorities!

So there you go. Relatively painless — not quite as easy as Apple’s process, but what is, really? And from what I’ve seen of Windows 7, it actually runs well — even without my video and sound card drivers in, everything seems to be working. I believe with my last Windows XP install, I actually had to put Ethernet card drivers on a USB just to get on the Internet. So far, so good.

Thanks for reading!

Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 at 4:30 pm. Filed under general.
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