Windows 7 setup: fast!

Over the weekend I hauled a two-year-old notebook out of mothballs for some exhaustive comparisons of features in the different editions of Windows 7. This 200 GB hard drive is now hosting five separate editions:

5-way multiboot system-2

What was really remarkable was how quickly each version installed when using a USB key. (If you need instructions on how to copy the Windows 7 setup files to a USB flash drive and make it bootable, see this blog post by Microsoft’s Jeff Alexander.)

The setup time seemed to be roughly the same for each edition. I timed one clean installation just to see how long it took. From startup (booting from the DVD) to first logon took 15:59. Windows Update pulled down two drivers for devices that did not have inbox drivers on this particular model (the UPEK fingerprint controller and for the ATK ACPI buttons). That took less than a minute. Windows Update installed another 10 updates, including updated video and network drivers and some Windows 7 test updates. That took an additional six minutes or so.

All in all, the clean installation was complete and fully updated in a grand total of 22:50. That’s a huge improvement over Windows Vista—and, for that matter, over Windows XP.

14 thoughts on “Windows 7 setup: fast!

  1. That’s excellent! Vista seems to take about an hour for me.

    Of course, OS X Snow Leopard was already planning on having their upgrade time take 15 minutes, so this is just MS copying Apple again… 😉

  2. Good stuff. This will be great for fast installs on the go. Thanks also Ed for the link to Jeff Alexander’s post. Hitting the desktop ready to go in under 23 mins including drivers\updates is particularly impressive.

  3. Cory, stop trollin’. If Win7 will be out before Snow Leopard. They’re later in the development cycle, how are they copying Snow Leopard? And … speeding up installation is hardly something you can copy,,,

    1. Oh,

      I think you might have missed the wink at the end of Cory’s comment. It was pretty clear to me he was funnin’.

  4. Ed, any chance of you putting up your experience with Windows 7 from a performance perspective on this old machine, and specifically how it compares with XP on the same machine?

    1. Sorry, I don’t have the time to do XP installs and performance tests right now. I have a book deadline pressing!

  5. Ed, this was a great article, but I wonder if your installation time is atypical? I have installed Win 7 on three different machines. It took almost 53 minutes for each install to complete fully.

  6. Bill, note that I used a USB key to do the install. That dramatically improves the time for copying files to the hard disk and I recommend it for anyone who does installs more than a couple times a year.

    I’ve been keeping track of my DVD-based install times, which have typically been around 25-35 minutes on a variety of machines (updates not included). I think your time is actually atypical. I would be interested in the specs on that machine.

  7. I second the use of a USB key. You need a 4GB key to do it, but this isn’t as expensive as it was even a year ago. It cut the install time down to less than half, by my own estimates, and probably even more so on a notebook machine than a PC.

    Another thing which people haven’t mentioned yet: it is fantastic for recovery operations.

  8. The first time I installed Vista I was amazed at how much faster it went, than with XP. Win 7 has been even better, I did one in place upgrade, that took a while but the machine runs much better than it was with Vista.

    An interesting hack (the thumb drive) I will try this and install the Professional edition as it looks like the sweet spot for my needs.

  9. One improvement. In diskpart the format command can be run with the switch quick to speed up the whole process.
    format fs=fat32 quick

  10. @ OhHello
    Ed’s right, you missed the “all-forgiving-winky-smiley” 😉

    I just want to illustrate absurdity by being absurd. If I can beat them to the punch they’ll lose credibility.

    Although most Apple commercials are pretty absurd, so maybe I’m just copying them? 😉

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