Well, I have been using Windows 7 beta for 2 days now and I'm pretty impressed to say the least. This post is about the installation and setup, including driver issues encountered. I will post again about the UI and Application compatibility.
As a tester of Vista during the beta stage I was expecting the experience to be pretty similar. I was expecting that there would be quite a lot of bugs and Win 7 wouldn’t really be that usable. How wrong could I be……
The specs of my box are pretty good, it’s an Apple Mac Pro with 2 Dual Core Xeon 5150’s, 8GB DDR2 ECC Fully Buffered RAM, an ATI Radeon X1900 and 4 SATA HD’s of varying sizes.
The first issue I had was nothing to do with Windows, it’s due to Apples piss poor EFI/Virtualised BIOS implementation which they used, which doesn’t allow keyboard input during the boot stage. This problem only affects x64 versions of Vista SP1 and Windows 7, because they are the only ones with the capability of EFI boot. So, the first thing I had to do was extract all the files out of the ISO into the [win7source] directory and use the oscdimg.exe command like so:
oscdimg.exe -n -m -bC:\[win7source]\boot\etfsboot.com C:\[win7source] C:\Win7noefix64.iso
For info, the oscdimg.exe binary is part of the Windows Automated Installer Kit which is a 1 GB download, but you can download the oscdimg.exe binary (zipped) here.
This creates a nice new ISO image which will get past the limitations of Crapple’s shoddy programming.
Once that was done I could start the install and I installed it onto a nice new 500GB SATA drive which I bought for the occasion from PC World of all places for the sum of £30. It was an unbranded drive in the store and the Hitachi Deskstars were all £49 or more, so considering what I was going to use it for I bought the cheapest, and it actually turned out to be a Hitachi Deskstar when I opened the box. :-)
Install of Windows 7 went without a hitch, probably took about 20 mins all told.
First boot into it and all good, I joined it to my AD domain, rebooted…then logged in with my AD user account…all worked fine, folder redirection works properly redirecting your folders into the Libraries…which is a nice feature.
I then installed the Boot Camp drivers for Windows Vista x64. The install went perfectly, but the Realtek Audio didn’t work. I downloaded the latest and greatest Realtek HDA zip driver from their website and attempted the install, which failed. I then attempted to install it from the device manager using the Update Driver > Browse function……which worked perfectly. I then had sound.
The other thing is the graphics were a bit glitchy and there was no Catalyst Control centre.
So, I tried the Radeon driver available in Windows update, which fucked up and turned the Aero off. So, I rebooted…no joy. So I decided to install the Vista 8.12 Catalyst Drivers, which also didn’t work. But, when I rolled back the driver in the device manager, the MS supplied one started working again and was interacting with Catalyst Control Centre. At this point it was late, I had work the next day and it was pissing me off because I found a bug with Windows Media centre as well, so I put it to bed for the night.
Next day, after work, I started on the graphic problem again. Having read on the interweb that the Catalyst 8.12 Drivers were shit, even in Vista, I decided to try the 8.11 drivers instead. However, 8.12 would not uninstall in any way. So, I remembered I’d had a similar issue on a box years ago and used the Catalyst uninstaller to blow the shit away and have a nice clean start. So, I ran that and it did the trick.
I installed Catalyst 8.11 for Vista x64, rebooted, and hey presto, graphics were much smoother.
As yet, I have not found a driver that does not work with Windows 7 x64 which works on Vista x64 which means that the Windows Kernel Team need a big shoutout for making it as compatible as possible with Vista.