Microsoft Ships Fix for Student Installation Woes

Microsoft is shipping a fix for problems experienced by users who had signed up for a low-cost Windows 7 upgrade for college students — but who instead found themselves with failed installations.

The problem stemmed from users who purchased the $30 copies of Windows 7 in hopes of upgrading from 32-bit Windows to 64-bit Windows 7 — evidently not an upgrade path that Microsoft had anticipated them taking.

Participants in the discount program didn’t receive a standard ISO file — a popular format for delivering a burnable “disc image” in a downloadable file — with their purchase. Instead, users downloaded a self-extracting .exe file.

But Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) upgrade version wasn’t designed for users seeking to move from 32-bit to 64-bit installations.

As a result, many who tried to use that file to do just such an upgrade found themselves facing a failed installation and, often, trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of automatic reboots.

On Microsoft’s support forums, more than 8,300 users had viewed a discussion
thread on “Windows 7 — Install Message — Upgrade Unsuccessful,” ostensibly looking for a patch for similar problems.

Now, Microsoft says, that problem has been fixed.

“For those customers of the Student Offer who wish to install the 64-bit version of Windows 7, but are currently running a 32-bit Operating System, there is now an optional downloadable ISO file of Windows 7 64-bit to allow for install,” a posting states on Microsoft’s Answers forum.

However, it isn’t that simple.

“If you want to move from Windows Vista 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit, or if you are running Windows XP, you have to do a Custom or Clean Installation that must be started by booting off the Windows 7 64-bit DVD,” another Microsoft support post said — indicating that users must burn the ISO to a DVD before attempting installation.

Microsoft’s college promotion , available to U.S. students, lets users with a valid college e-mail address choose from two higher-end upgrade editions — Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional.

Pre-orders began in the U.S. on Sept. 17 and in the UK on Oct. 1. Both promotions will run until Jan. 3.

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