Windows 7 Install May Take an Hour or a Day
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If Microsoft was hoping to ease PC administrators' planning anxieties over Windows 7 migrations, a blog post by one of its own teams may or may not help.
That's because recent test scenarios show that for many users, the upgrade process will be fairly painless, taking as little as 30 minutes. However, for some percentage of users it could take as long as 21 hours.
Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Chris Hernandez, who works on the Windows upgrade team, disclosed the results of tests his team ran on various PC and user configurations that simulated different levels of users migrating from Vista to Windows 7 this past Friday on a TechNet blog posting.
"The goal was to determine whether an upgrade from Vista SP1 [to] Windows 7 was within a five percent threshold faster than an upgrade from Vista SP1 [to] Vista SP1," Hernandez said. The Vista SP1 to Vista SP1 process was chosen because that's the most common installation option used by Microsoft Product Support Services -- a repair scenario where re-installation of the current operating system is the preferred procedure.
Hernandez presented the test results in a series of charts on his blog.
The team tested specific PC configurations, ranging from low-end, mid-range, and high-end hardware, against typical user scenarios that were based on questions such as how large a data set the user needs and how many applications are installed. Microsoft referred to them as medium, heavy, and super users. In their hierarchy of users, "medium" was the lowest level.
For instance, a high-end PC was defined as a 32-bit operating system on an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU running at 2.4GHz, with 4GB of memory, and a 1TB hard disk.
Meanwhile, a so-called "heavy" user would typically have 125GB of data tied up in documents, music, and pictures, and a total of 40 applications installed.
Performing a Vista SP1 upgrade to Windows 7 on high-end hardware with the heavy user's software, apps and data configuration took 160 minutes, or 2.7 hours. In comparison, a repair "upgrade" from Vista SP1 to Vista SP1 with the same hardware and user-level (heavy) took 176 minutes, or 2.9 hours.
The worst case scenario examined a mid-range hardware configuration with a 32-bit CPU, and a "super user" software and data configuration. It took 1220 minutes, or 20.3 hours. The mid-range hardware used 2GB of RAM, an Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor running at 2.60GHz and a 1TB hard disk.
The super user profile, meantime, was significantly heavier in terms of usage and data than a typical real-world heavy user. For example, the test team defined the super user as having 650GB of data and 40 installed apps.
On the lower end, a "medium" user, with 70GB of data and 20 applications, with a low-end machine comprised of 1 GB of RAM, a 2.2 GHz AMD Athlon 64-bit processor, and a slower 320 GB hard disk, would be able to do the upgrade in 175 minutes. More powerful hardware yielded generally shorter installation times.
There were also tests against 64-bit CPUs and the 64-bit editions of the two operating systems.
Microsoft didn't always beat that five percent goal Hernandez's team was shooting for. In one example, a clean installation of Windows 7 on mid-range hardware took 30 minutes while a clean installation of Vista SP1 took 31 minutes. However, none of the Windows 7 installation times were slower than the Vista times.
The question remains whether or not a majority of IT shops will listen to Microsoft's pitch and decide to move to Windows 7 earlier rather than later. Traditionally, most IT shops would wait for the first service pack before deploying a new version of Windows.
Microsoft is well underway trying to convince users to upgrade without waiting for Windows 7's first service pack.
Time is a resource that IT professionals horde -- so much so that Vista didn't catch on with most IT shops. So whether or they begin the move to Windows soon may hinge on whether they like the looks of Hernandez's time trials.