[AI] How to instal windows 7 on a netbook

Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Sat Apr 10 02:24:11 EDT 2010

You can install Windows 7 on a netbook by booting from an external DVD drive,
since these mini laptops lack an internal one.  But it's cheaper to use a 4GB
USB drive.  This will also be quicker and more convenient.

Even with Microsoft's brand-new USB/DVD Download Tool ( bit.ly/lq2tc), you can't
just copy the contents of your Windows 7 DVD on to the USB drive and boot from
it.  Before you even think about copying Windows 7 to the USB drive, you must
give it an active partition and make it bootable.  Since many people will be
upgrading to Windows 7 from XP, we'll use this scenario and prepare a USB drive
on an XP-equipped PC.

Note that because Windows 7 can't be installed as an upgrade over XP, you'll
need to use the 'Custom' installation option.  This means all your programs and
data will be lost.  Be sure to back up all your data, programs, email and
configuration settings first.

Format the USB drive 

Because Windows XP sees a USB drive as a removable device, the Disk Management
console won't let you partition it, nor make a partition active - that option
will be greyed out.  It won't even let you format it using the NTFS file system.

The easiest way to format the USB drive and give it an active partition is to
use HP's USB Disk Storage Format Tool (download it from bit.ly/3eet6x).  This
can format your USB drive using the NTFS file system, and it also automatically
makes the formatted NTFS partition an active one.

To use it, simply select your USB drive from the Device list, change the File
system to NTFS, select Quick Format and click Start.  The whole process will
take seconds.

Confirm the format 

To confirm that your USB drive has been correctly formatted, right-click My
Computer, click Manage and then Disk Management.  Your USB drive should now be
listed with a 'Healthy (Active)' status, and it should say NTFS next to the

Before we formatted the USB drive with HP's tool, the status simply read
'Healthy' and the file format was FAT32.

Make the drive bootable 

Now the drive has an active NTFS partition, it's time to make it bootable.
You'll need a Windows 7 DVD, and you'll have to get your hands dirty in the
Command Prompt.

Windows 7 uses a loading program called Bootmgr.  The active partition on the
USB drive needs to have code written to its boot sector that is compatible with
Bootmgr.  This code can be written to the USB drive by using the bootsect.exe
program that is present in the Boot folder of the Windows 7 DVD.  To extract
this code, we have to use the Command Prompt.  From the Start menu select Run,
type cmd and press Enter.

Once the Command Prompt is open, switch to your Windows 7 DVD by typing the
drive letter for your DVD drive (usually D).  Then you must type the following
line: boot\bootsect /nt60 j:

In this line, we are telling bootsect to use the /nt60 command to write the
compatible boot code to our USB drive, which is the J drive.  Substitute the
letter of your own USB drive for j: in our example.

Copy Windows 7 to the USB drive 

Now that the USB drive is prepared, all that remains is to copy the contents of
your Windows 7 DVD to it.

The root folder of the Windows 7 32bit DVD contains five folders and three
files, and the entire contents takes up 2.32GB.  This will take approximately 7
mins to copy, depending on the speed of your computer and the USB drive.

Change your boot device 

In order to install Windows 7, your netbook will need to boot from your USB key,
rather than its hard drive.  To change this, you need to enter the Bios and
alter the boot settings.  This procedure varies depending on the make and model
of the netbook.  To get into the Bios you'll have to press either Del or one of
the Fn buttons.  Look for a message onscreen when you first switch on the

Windows XP restricts your partitioning options for removable devices - those
options will be GREYED OUT netbook.  There will be an indication of which key or
key combination you should press in order to enter the Bios.

Plug in your USB drive and switch on the netbook.  Once in the Bios, go to the
Boot menu and look for the Boot Device Priority' setting.  Change the '1st Boot
Device' option to USB.  On some netbooks (such as the MSI Wind we used for this
workshop), it may even give you the name of your USB drive.

Once you've changed the boot device, save your changes and exit the Bios.  The
netbook will now load from the USB drive and proceed to install Windows 7.  When
the installation reaches the point where it restarts the system, be sure to
remove the USB drive, otherwise the netbook will boot from the USB drive and
restart the installation.


Dual-booting Windows 

If you've decided to make the move to Windows 7 but aren't convinced you'll be
sticking with it, or are concerned about possible program compatibility issues,
a dual-boot option is probably wisest.  (Note, however, that Microsoft has done
far more than it did when Vista launched to ensure program compatibility, and
anything you can currently run on your PC should also run in Windows 7.)

To dual-boot a PC you'll need to partition your hard drive using a program such
as Partition Magic ( partitionmagic.com).  You need to create an NTFS partition
and will require at least 20GB of available hard-disk space if you wish to run
two operating systems alongside each other.  Remember that you'll also need to
retain a comparable amount of space for your existing XP or Vista system.

Once you've got a suitably partitioned drive, boot back into Windows and you
should find a new drive in My Computer.  Double-check you can open it.  To
install Windows 7, insert the disc as soon as the PC starts up or insert the
disc while your existing version of Windows is running.  When the screen appears
asking where you want to install Windows, ensure you choose the partition
matching the drive letter you've just created.  Because that partition is empty,
Windows 7 will perform a clean installation.

Should you subsequently decide that you want Windows 7 for keeps, it'll probably
be easiest to delete one of the partitions, first ensuring you have all the
drivers, documents and your programs backed up.  We outline exactly what you
need in Hassle-free PC (see Helpline).  A useful tool for reinstalling your
programs on the upgraded PC is ninite ( ninite.com)

Alternatively, if you're forsaking one PC and buying a new Windows 7 laptop or
PC, you'll want to use either the Windows Easy Transfer tool (
tinyurl.com/easytransfer) or a third-party program such as Syncables or LapLink
pcMover that help with the migration process.

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