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

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11. In the next dialog box, you are asked to supply a password for your user account (which you must reenter as a double-check) and a password hint to help you remember that string. After making your selections, click Next to continue.

12. In the Type Your Windows Product Key dialog box, enter the product key that came with your Windows 7 DVD. I recommend that you leave the Automatically Activate Windows When I'm Online option checked to take care of Windows Product Activation within the three days after the Windows 7 installation. After entering this information, click Next to continue.

You can also leave the Product Key box blank. If you do this, you'll be asked which version of Windows 7 you want to install, and you can select any version from Starter to Ultimate. You'll have to provide a valid product key, however, within 30 days for whatever version you install or else Windows 7 will nag you regularly and often about registration. (If you install a slip-streamed copy of Windows 7 Service Pack 1, or use the Windows Update service to upgrade to SP-1, you'll be reminded to register rather than receiving constant nags.)

You can use the no-key method to play around with different versions of Windows 7, but be careful if you select a version for which you don't have a key; you must perform a clean install every time you reinstall Windows 7, and you must eventually install a version for which you have a license, or erase it. You'll lose your applications and data every time you reinstall.

Caution: You should definitely not play with alternate versions if you are upgrading from an older version of Windows. After the first such install, there's no way to go back and repeat the upgrade with your licensed version of Windows 7.

13. In the Help Protect Your Computer and Improve Windows Automatically dialog box, you configure the base security for Windows 7. In most cases, you should select Use Recommended Settings. To make your selection, click it.

14. In the Review Your Time and Date Settings dialog box, select your time zone, daylight savings option, and current date options. Click Finish to complete the upgrade process.

15. In the Select Your Computer's Current Location dialog box, shown in Figure 2.17, tell Windows where you'll be using your computer. As with Windows Vista, Windows 7 configures your network adapters for DHCP and does not ask you what to do.

16. Windows prompts you one last time-after you click Start, you're finished with the installation.

17. After a few more minutes, you are finally presented with your brand new Windows 7 login screen, as shown in Figure 2.18. Congratulations, you've completed the installation of Windows 7!

Tip: If you plan to perform a clean installation on your computer that is currently running some earlier Windows version, be sure to get your data and other files off the computer beforehand. You can perform this process manually, or you can opt to use Windows Easy Transfer to automatically copy all your files and settings to an external hard drive or network location. After the clean installation of Windows 7 has completed, you can run Windows Easy Transfer again to reload your files and settings on the new installation of Windows 7.

Next: Clean install from inside Windows, step by step

Windows 7 location setup
Figure 2.17: The different location choices correspond to different levels of security on your Windows 7 computer.

Windows 7 log-inscreen
Figure 2.18: The Windows 7 login screen is much different than previous versions.
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