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Excellent Alternative to Windows 8 for Those Coming From Windows XP
on April 21, 2014
I was forced to move up to Windows 7 Professional from Windows XP because of Microsoft ending XP support even though I was happy using XP. My desktop PC is a 2008 Dell Optiplex 740. I need a new computer and will buy one with Windows 7 Pro as soon as I can work it into the budget but for now I have to use this machine for a few more months.
After researching my options using customer reviews here on Amazon and elsewhere online, I determined that I did not want to go with Windows 8 and opted for Windows 7 Pro. I learned from reading one review about the OEM version and decided that was the one to get and I bought a copy. My girlfriend was in the same boat with her own Dell Optiplex 740 XP PC so she also bought Win 7 Pro OEM.
I successfully installed the Win 7 Pro OEM on both PCs between 4/7/14 and 4/9/14, activated them and installed most of our daily use software and we haven't had any problems so far except for a glitch in my Camtasia Studio 3 (caused by a missing Adobe Flash Active X component, which I was able to fix by downloading a copy from Adobe.com and installing.) We are both happy with these Windows 7 Pro OEM installations and find that Windows 7 is not all that different from XP as far as the user interface goes. It also seems to boot up, load and run faster on our computers than XP did.
I have been using Windows operating systems since 1992, when I installed Windows 3 on my little 16 megahertz Packard Bell 386SX PC running Microsoft DOS. I have installed multiple versions and instances of Windows (3, 95, 98, ME, and XP) on several computers over the years. These installations of Windows 7 Professional OEM 64 bit (on two older Dell PCs) were the easiest, quickest and most glitch-free Windows installations I have ever experienced and that helped motivate me to write this review.
I'd like to address a couple of issues here for the sake of those who are thinking about buying Windows 7 Pro OEM on Amazon. The first is, always be aware that some customer reviews are written in haste while the reviewer is angry and frustrated and hasn't done the due diligence necessary before buying or after installing. So the reader of the review should read as many reviews as possible, look at comments left for reviewers, weigh all the opinions and possibilities, and then go elsewhere online to research further if necessary.
The second thing I recommend is that each potential buyer of the software do the due diligence prior to purchase to make sure it is the right decision before you buy. What do I mean by "due diligence"? I mean one needs to make sure that Windows 7 Professional OEM 64 bit software from Microsoft and sold by Amazon.com will work on the buyer's PC. It takes a little time and effort but will save the buyer a whole lot of aggravation and headaches in the long run.
So, to help the potential buyer do that due diligence, I will lay out here the steps I took before and after we purchased Windows 7 Pro OEM 64 bit for our Dell Optiplex 740 XP desktop PCs.
1. I researched on Amazon and elsewhere online to learn about Windows 8.0, 8.1 and 7. From my research I decided that I wanted Windows 7 Pro.
2. From reading some good customer reviews on Amazon, I decided to go with the Windows 7 Pro OEM 64 bit version.
3. I read the documentation that came with my Dell Optiplex 740 to see if it was 64 bit compatible and it appeared to be.
4. I wanted to be sure my Dell could run the Win 7 64 bit OS so I researched a bit more online and learned about the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor" software which I downloaded, installed and ran and it verified that my computer could run Win 7 Pro 64 bit.
5. I bought the software, received it in the mail and got ready to install it first on the girlfriend's PC (somebody has to be the guinea pig tester) and then after that on mine.
6. I backed up all essential files, software and settings onto flash drives and external hard drives (I did miss a couple; make sure to backup your "user/application data" folders in your "Douments and Settings" folder). I booted up the first PC and went immediately into the BIOS Setup to set the boot sequence to "Boot from CD" (on these Dells it is an "F2 - Enter Setup" command entered while the machine is booting up just before it loads Windows.)
7. I tried to install the the Win 7 Pro 64 bit OEM System Builder OS on the first PC thinking that it would reformat the hard drive and then install the OS but it didn't. So I went online with the other PC and did more research to find out that I would need to perform a "clean installation" of Windows 7 Pro which would require me to "wipe" the hard drive of ALL files prior to installing Win 7. More online research led to several recommendations to use "Darik's Boot and Nuke" to do the hard drive wipe so I went to dban.org and downloaded the software (or the disk image of it) and then I burned that to a CD-ROM disc.
9. I placed the "Boot and Nuke" disc in the CD drive on the girlfriend's PC and rebooted (BIOS again set to "Boot from CD"), the software loaded and I just started it up without any selection of which type of wipe to perform. The default selection seemed to work okay but it took about 2.5 hours to complete on my girlfriend's machine and nearly 4 hours on mine (I had a lot more files.) During the wipe, I left the computer running and went off to do other things.
10. Now that the hard drive was wiped clean I was ready to install Win 7. I inserted that disc into the CD/DVD-ROM drive and tried to get it started (again with the BIOS Setup still set to "boot from CD") but it wouldn't work. I went into the BIOS and tried changing settings but nothing worked. Eventually I figured out I needed to put the Win 7 DVD into the other DVD drive (I still don't know why the first DVD drive didn't work but with computers it is always trial and error). I then changed the boot sequence in the BIOS so that the second DVD drive was first in the boot sequence. Bingo! Windows 7 began installing.
11. When it came time to activate the software, I had the same problem as others have had with the minute type used for the authentication key. Having been warned about this I simply got out a magnifying glass and deciphered the smallest print you have ever seen in your life (watch out for those "Bs" that are really "8s" and "Gs" that are really "6s") and, after two or three tries at entering the correct alpha-numeric characters, I entered the correct key and was able to successfully activate and install Windows 7 Professional. Remember, if you do not enter the authentication key characters EXACTLY as printed on the DVD sleeve next to the key symbol, you won't be able to activate and install the OS. I think most of the negative reviews for this product are being left by people who have not entered the correct key characters. I have 5 sets of 5 alpha-numeric characters on my DVD and I have to use a high quality magnifying glass to read them. Even then, it is hard to tell "Bs" from "8s" and "Gs" from "6s". Don't mistake improper authentication key character entries for non-genuine software.
12. Once the installation was complete, I began installing the software that we use every day.
It was a bit of a job doing two computers over about four days but it worked and I'm glad we went with this OS. I do have to warn you that there are many, many Windows updates during the first few days that will download automatically after you try to shut down and then install when you start up the computer. But be patient. They do wind down and cease after about a week.
So, if you're worried about buying and installing Windows Professional 7 64 Bit OEM Version from Microsoft and sold by Amazon, don't be. As long as you make sure to do your due diligence about your computer's compatibility and you take the right steps in backing up files, wiping your drive, booting up in proper sequence and deciphering the key, you shouldn't have any real problems.
Good luck and enjoy the new OS!