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Windows 7 outperforms XP on Old Hardware

I just installed Windows 7 on an 8+ year old machine I had laying around my house and I was surprised to see that it runs as well as it does. In fact, it runs better than the XP installation I had installed on the old PC before upgrading it to Windows 7. To be fair, the Windows XP installation was a few years old and probably suffered from disk fragmentation and memory being consumed by the random applications and services that had been installed.

Hardware that I had difficulty with in Windows XP was automatically recognized and had the proper drivers installed. Even the cheap-o USB wireless stick I bought a few months back was recognized during the installation so I could setup my wireless network before even booting into the full operating system. On my windows XP installation, I had a bunch of problems getting the USB stick to work and had to get drivers directly from the manufacturer. With 7, everything was automatically recognized and installed.

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Tech

Windows 7 on Virtual PC 2007

windows7_vpc2007_2009-06-15_2322I downloaded and installed Windows 7 as a guest OS in Virtual PC 2007 SP1. I’m running Windows Vista Ultimate as my host OS and recently downloaded Virtual PC 2007 SP1 from the Microsoft website for testing some older OSes and browsers. I’ve been hearing a bunch of hype about Windows 7, I’ve seen the youtube videos, and have even seen some in person demos but I was finally ready to take a look at the OS myself. The whole process did take over two hours (over half of it downloading the 2+ GB ISO), but because it was all virtualized I continued using my computer to surf the web in the background.

The installation was pretty straight-forward, but from what I read you should make sure you have the latest version of Virtual PC. I created a new VHD and used the Windows Vista settings. I have 4 GB of physical RAM in my laptop, so I opted to use 2GB for the guest OS. The installation process seemed to run fairly slow and I’m not sure if this is due to running it in a virtualized environment or because I was installing it to a laptop hard-drive, but I figured it would speed up once I actually got into the OS.

I was sad to find that the OS was running really slow when I first booted into it, but after reading a few more posts on the internet I heard that installing the Virtual Machine Tools would help speed things up. I did notice that before installing the tools, my video adapter was only showing 4MB of memory available from within the guest OS. After installing the Virtual Machine Tools, the Windows 7 is running much faster and all the visualizations (spinning wheel) are running much more smooth.

I probably should have taken a few screenshots of the whole process, but for now you’ll just have to live with a screenshot of the OS virtualized post-installation.

PS. the virtual machine tools also enable a number of features (such as the ability to move the mouse from guest OS to host OS without the right-alt key press)

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Tech

VirtualPC 2007 – Test Machine

As you may already know, I’ve recently been doing a bit of Sharepoint design work. As part of this, we need to be able to test the system in a number of different environments. This is more than just needing to be able to test a number of different browsers, as I’m aware that there are a lot of options out there for installing multiple browsers.

We also need to be able to test different configurations of versions of Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, and a number of other factors. While different members of my team are running slightly different versions of software on their machines, we needed a consistent way to be able to test (and retest) environments. At one point, we had confiscated a number of intern laptops from the previous year and used those to set up the environments. It was somewhat wasteful on a number of different levels and it was also somewhat inconvenient. We set up the laptops so we could remote into them from anywhere on the network, but it still wasn’t the best setup.