Windows 7 installation how-to, step by step

If you're ready to take Microsoft's new OS for a spin, this guide can help

This article was excerpted from Microsoft Windows 7 In Depth with permission of Que Publishing, copyright 2010, all rights reserved.

It covers a new installation of Windows 7 onto a clean hard drive or from inside Windows, as well as multiboot installations.

Performing a New Installation of Windows 7

The three basic types of clean installation procedures are as follows:

• Install on a brand new disk or computer system

• Erase the disk, format it, and install

• Install into a new directory for dual-booting (see the multiboot discussion later)

If you intend to use either of the first two methods, be sure your computer can boot from a DVD (most newer computers support booting from a DVD drive). Doing so might require changing the drive boot order in the BIOS or CMOS, but try it first as-is. With no floppy disk inserted and a clean hard disk, try the DVD drive next. The Windows 7 DVD is bootable and should run the Setup program automatically.

Installation takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the speed of your machine. Refer to the following sections if you have questions about any steps in this process.

Note: Windows 7 automatically applies the NTFS format to any disk partition upon which it is installed during a clean installation.

Typical Clean Setup Procedure

If you're installing into an empty partition and you can boot an operating system that is supported for the purpose of Setup (Windows Vista or XP), just boot up, insert the DVD and choose Install Now from the resulting dialog box. Then you can follow the installation step-by-step procedure.

If Windows doesn't detect the DVD automatically upon insertion, you must run the Setup program, setup.exe, from the Start, Run dialog box (after opening the Run dialog box, type D:/setup.exe; on Vista use the Start menu Search box instead [using the corect letter for your DVD drive if it isn't D]). The setup.exe application is located in the Sources directory on the DVD. After the Setup routine starts, you can follow the installation procedure step by step.

If your computer has a blank hard disk or your current OS isn't supported, this process changes. You must launch the installation process from the Windows 7 DVD (this works only if you can boot from the DVD drive). Setup automatically runs if you boot from the DVD.

Yet another setup method involves the network. To initiate a network installation, you must create a network share of the distribution DVD or a copy of the DVD on a hard drive. The destination system must have network access, and the user account must have at least read access to the installation files. Initiate Setup by executing setup.exe from the network share. For example, from the Start, Run command, or the Vista Start menu Search box, type this path: \\\ \sources\Setup. Setup recognizes an over-the-network installation and automatically copies all files from the network share to the local system before the first reboot.

Tip: All versions of Windows 7, 32- or 64-bit, are included on the same DVD. The product key that you enter during setup determines which actual version of Windows 7 you end up with after the installation completes. Keep your Windows 7 DVD and product key in a safe location after you've performed your installation. It's useful for repairs of all kinds.

Next: Clean install from DVD, step by step

Windows 7 installation screen
Installing Windows 7 from an existing Windows installation.
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