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Win. 7, but WHICH version...?!


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All of my hardware in the other thread has been ordered. I have one more major purchasing decision to make, and that's which version of Win. 7 to buy.

I have spent close to two hours scrutinizing what Microsoft has supplied, and I'm more confused than ever.

I want to keep this simple. All I want is the Win. 7 operating system and have it supplied on a DVD. I am planning on using OpenOffice for creating all of the business-related documents from here on out.

The product descriptions for all of the Window 7 variants are LOUSY.

Over here Old Version link it talks about the "Old" version of a "System Builder." What the heck is a "system builder?" Is it more rudimentary than a typical OS? Do I have to have Win. XP already installed on my hard drive, or can I install this "Old" build of Win. 7 on a fresh hard drive?

And how is this "Old" version different from the "Full" version? The "Full" version states that it has SP1 already integrated into it, but if I get the cheaper "Old" version, will I still be able to use Windows Upgrade to get all of the latest updates, including SP1 and others? With MS' history of security issues, I sure hope so!

And one more product to bring up, and no, what I'm about to say is not a contradiction, that's if one keeps in mind the severe budget constraints we have. I'm a teacher, and my school district has a special deal worked out whereby I can get Windows 7 Professional Upgrade for $80, which is a substantial savings. I may only be able to get it as a direct download, but at that price, I would do it.

That said, my concerns about going with the Professional Upgrade are these:

---do I have to already have Win. XP installed, or can I install it on a fresh hard drive?

---or do I have to have the "plain" version of Windows 7 installed first?

My hope is that the Professional Upgrade already has the regular "plain" Win. 7 operating system on it, along with the enhanced content.

Whatever the case may be, if I do the direct download route, can I save it on a flashdrive, and use that to put on my hard drive, or do I have to burn it on a disc? Please note that I can only burn CDs on my CD/DVD player, so if the direct download is too large to fit on a CD, what options do I have?

I'm assuming that like the "Old" and "Full" versions of the regular Win. 7, that the Professional Upgrade version is also "OEM." Well, what exactly does "OEM" mean? I've read several very brief descriptions of it, simply stating that "OEM" does NOT already include drivers for likely devices. Which is fine by me, as long as the solution to this is as simple as I think it is: simply look up the latest BIOS and drivers for each piece of equipment that's to be installed in one's system, download it in advance of the day of the build, and have said BIOS/drivers ready to install from a flash drive. Is my thinking on this correct?

I apologize for all of these specific questions, but to me, the writeups I've encountered for each of these products is severely lacking. Any light you could shine on this too-gray situation would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance!


Mar. 31, 2011

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This site has one of the most comprehesive breakdowns.


In the comparisons, ignore Enterprise because you have to have open licensing for it or Open value which require 10 licenses since it is for businesses.

I used to work for an OEM so here is my recommendations and explanations.

I would go Windows 7 home premium 64 bit OEM unless you have some odd ball non game program that you have to use that does not work with Windows 7. Then go professional as xp mode will allow you to create a virtual windows xp load inside of windows 7 complete with it's own name, networking ect. It however does no 3d accelleration so if it's a game, your still out of luck.

OEM - No included MS support / susposed to go to where you bought it for support - Cheaper - Only 1 disc included so go with 64 bit - Legally only valid for your 1st pc although we all know it will work on any replacements -

SYSTEM Builder - usually a pack of 3 oem disks and a system builder disc for setting up windows 7 the way you would like to distribute it, then returning it to a customer pre-load state that goes through a mini setup asking there name, company, ect and product key. That is called "sysprep". It also resets the security identifier and activation. This is also downloadable from MS for free but has no real use to most consumers.

RETAIL - Inludes 32 and 64 bit versions of O/S - Also includes some free MS Support and a cheesy booklet. How many times have you actually had to call MS... we should do a poll on it lol.

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Hi Kyle, as you know gone through a budget build myself recently and went with Win7 64bit OEM, just as Roco recommends. Being 64 bit and not having the virtual XP, hasn't been any real problem. My only though is do you have much 'educational' software you want to use on this pc, given your job? They tend to have a slower development cycle than general public software (browsers, media players, graphics packages). At home or work you may even have discs lying around that were designed for Windows 98huh.gif . May have some compatibility issues with these, but going to Ultimate and Retail does add many $ for items that you have a good chance will not need for a home pc. Sorry that didn't help at all did it?

Your last link on the 'professional upgrade' was down so can't comment on that. But in general, are you able to access some 'home computing scheme' for students and educational professionals? don't know much, just a thought, worth asking at work maybe? I was able to get Office for the price of just P&P through the health service here in Britain, but nothing on the OS...

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It looks like I'm going to purchase a digital download at college students' rates of Windows 7 Professional Upgrade. I can get it for $65 (a huge savings!), and I'm eligible since I'm a student who is taking a very tough Macroeconomics course.

I found out that as long as one has Win. XP, one's system can be upgraded to the new Win. 7 OS, but the installation process is quite involved, and requires wiping out all of the previous files. Once can also upgrade Win. Vista, but for Vista, previously created files are not wiped out.

I called MS Support and spoke with a woman there who assured me that the digital download can be redownloaded at no penalty, provided as one doesn't lose their License and Product Numbers. I was very clear on asking this, in case there are any future hardware failures or upgrades.

I downloaded the .pdf on how to upgrade Win. XP to Win. 7, and it's 17 pages long, and they warn that it could take up to 2 hours to do.


So, I'm starting to backup all of my files tonight, and I'm going to start downloading the latest BIOS and drivers as well. Being proactive will hopefully save a lot of confusion later, as well as speed up the build process.

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a Bit late to add my comments but,

as ROCO said, you probably only need 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium

Personally I would recommend a clean install, Back up all old files, format hard-drive, install windows 7

Yes it is initially a big pain ensuring have backed up all the old files and then setting up email and profiles stuff but it ensures windows 7 is running fresh with no baggage carried over

A fresh install of win 7 should only take about 30 minutes it's a very nice and slick O/S install

Windows 7 installation feedback thread - how did it go for you ....

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For the digital download. If i remember, but don't quote me as it's been a while, if you don't put a key in, it will do a full install as a trial, then you reinsert your dvd and then you upgrade it to windows 7. That way you don't have to take a very long XP load. If you have the college discount, that will be the cheapest route although fresh install is always better. Also i am betting the digital copy is only 32bit so it will only use 2gb of ram for the games and programs you install. The reason i say this is i don't think (But don't quote me on this part) you can upgrade from xp 32 bit to 7 64 bit.

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I looked up Windows Professional Uprade, and time and again I see the following features listed:

# Requires 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor

# Requires 16GB (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit) hard drive

# Requires 1GB RAM (32-bit) or 2GB RAM (64-bit)

# Requires DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or later driver

So, I'm assuming that one can select whether or not one wants to install a 32 bit version or a 64 bit version. Am I mistaken on this? The site from Digital River doesn't list any details on whether or not the version they're selling is "32 bit only" or "64 bit only."

How I hope that it's not just the 32 bit version.

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It looks like I can install the 64-bit version of Win. 7.

Here's the details page: My link

The most pertinent parts read...

The Student Offer has been extended for those customers who wish to install the 64-bit version of Windows 7, but are currently running a 32-bit Operating System. Microsoft’s offer now includes a downloadable ISO file of Windows 7.

and this...

Installing Windows 7 using a bootable DVD

To install the 64-bit version of Windows 7 on a computer running Windows XP or the 32-bit version of Windows Vista, you must launch setup by first booting from the Windows 7 media. The most common way to do this is to use the Windows 7 DVD.

1. Insert the Windows 7 DVD into the DVD drive of your computer.

2. Cancel any auto-run of the installation program and restart your computer

3. During the restart you should look for the message "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD…" Tap a key and enter Windows 7 setup.

What I was also pleased to read was this:

Note: You cannot install Windows 7 from the ISO file until you copy it to a USB flash drive or DVD. You will need an application to accomplish this. Creating a DVD will require a DVD burner connected to your computer.

So, I can write the ISO to a flash drive, and run it as the boot disk from there. Nice! It's been years since I've tried burning anything from my CD/DVD player, I was a bit worried that it wouldn't work if I had to burn a DVD to install it.

Feel free to correct me if I'm reading this wrong, but this certainly looks like a VERY generous 64 or 32 bit offer via Digital River for college students!

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That's cool!

The 64 bit is definately the way to go. Most peeps don't realize their OEM keys work for 32 or 64 bit because they only come with 32bit software when you buy it as 32 bit. Looks like they are giving you the option to download either which rocks. You will definately be happy with the 64 bit version :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

it should run more than fine from what i saw you rolling out on that build advice topic you started :P but i gave my gigafreak suggestions :P and the processor i posted is the cheapest on on the LGA 1336 socket, there are better ones.

oh if it openrefuses to work (BIG rarity), right click the Ghost recon.exe in program files>red storm entertainment> ghost recon.

than click properties, compatability, tick the run in compatability mode for... then choose windows XP service pack 3 from the drop down menu. then okay it and off you go

Edited by Zeealex
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