Microsoft to ease Windows 7 upgrades to netbooks with USB key solution

Microsoft to ease Windows 7 upgrades to netbooks with USB key solution

Summary: Remember the rumors earlier this year that Microsoft was going to deliver Windows 7 on a thumb drive? Well, the rumors were correct -- sort of... On October 22, Microsoft announced it will enable netbook users who want to upgrade from XP (or Vista) to Windows 7 to use a special version of Windows 7 preloaded on a USB stick.

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Remember the rumors earlier this year that Microsoft was going to deliver Windows 7 on a thumb drive? Well, the rumors were correct -- sort of...

On October 22, Microsoft announced it will enable netbook users who want to upgrade from XP (or Vista) to Windows 7 to use a special version of Windows 7 preloaded on a USB stick.

(I have no idea whether this has any connection to the rumored "StartKey" project I wrote about back in 2008. StartKey, the way it was originally portrayed to me, was more of an initiative to put Windows and Windows Live settings on a USB stick.)

Microsoft officials confirmed to News.com that it will make available an online tool, starting on October 22, "that will walk users through the process of moving a downloaded copy of Windows 7 onto a USB drive, be that a memory stick or portable hard drive."

Microsoft officials sent me the following statement when I asked for more details on the new tool:

"A recurring question is whether we’re going to provide any special tools to help customers install Windows 7 on PC’s that lack a DVD drive, such a netbook PC. Today, Microsoft is announcing the upcoming availability of a free tool to help our netbook PC customers (without DVD drives) install Windows 7. Once a customer has purchased and downloaded their copy of Windows 7 from the Microsoft online store, they can use the tool to create either a bootable USB drive or a DVD using the download. This new resource, known as the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (WUDT) will be freely downloadable from the Microsoft Store as well as the Microsoft Download Center beginning on October 22nd.

"This tool will be available to support localized versions of Windows 7 including Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. Customers who want to learn more about the USB/DVD Download Tool can visit www.microsoftstore.com/win7usb."

There's more information about and a screen shot of the new tool in this Windows Team Blog post, as well.

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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15 comments
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  • Now if we can just get this "Incredible Offer" for $19.95 .....

    ....BUT WAIT! There is more!
    For an additional $100.00 we will even "activate" it for you!
    kd5auq
  • RE: Microsoft to ease Windows 7 upgrades to netbooks with USB key solution

    $119 is way too expensive for my netbook which cost $299
    I don't see why I can't have Windows 7 on my desktop and a license for my netbook. I'll pass
    Ashtonian
    • I though that a Windows license allows install on 3 systems.

      A desktop and laptop (i.e. netbook) install is allowed. Or is this a pre-1999 thing? Does Microsoft no longer allow this?
      No More Microsoft Software Ever!
  • Incredible offer

    I agree with you. Especially for those that have already bought the Desktop Version.
    Ashtonian
  • What about installation *T0* a USB key?

    That would be useful to me. I've got an external drive, so I don't need to install from USB key. I would love to be able to install to external media though. I do this with Linux all the time (4GB SD Cards). Its nice to be able to switch between different operating systems at will like this, as well as being able to lock the whole OS into a box if need be, for security.

    Regards,

    Hans
    Looks Confused
  • Is download purchase required?

    Is the download purchase required? Or maybe MS hasn't made it available on-line yet?

    I went to the MS website using the above links and going there directly and tried various ways to access the downloader and nothing shows up. (I have two DVD copies on order and want to see about using it with those.)
    Rick_R
  • good grief Windows 7 saved my life

    Windows 7 I heard has solved world hunger, stop all
    wars and everyone is now happy.
    Christian_<><
  • do this

    just save the files to a usb and follow these instructions
    http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/181538-usb-bootable-vista-installation-flash-thumb-drive.html


    blackhawk556
  • Any word on whether or not System Builders can use this?

    I'd like to start selling nettop systems with optical drives, but the current System Builder programs doesn't allow it, because SB's need to include some way of reinstalling Windows, and they aren't allowed to provide any copies of Windows on anything other than the prebuilt OEM SB packs.
    Joe_Raby
  • This looks like a web-based service option for the Microsoft Store only

    nt
    Joe_Raby
  • Such tool exists for quite a while and can be found at...

    http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

    :-)

    I am feel sorry for a big company that can not develop such a small tool. :-(
    Solid Water
    • You don't get it....

      What you have allows you to run Windows or Linux from a USB key. What Microsoft released is a tool to allow you to transfer the INSTALLATIOn to a USB key where you will boot off the USB key to install Win 7 on a hard disk.
      Gis Bun
  • RE: Microsoft to ease Windows 7 upgrades to netbooks with USB key solution

    I really think more software, and OS releases, should go from CD/DVD to thumb drives. The drives are getting cheaper all the time. I realize more development into copyright protection may be needed, but I can see this as a very viable option for distribution.
    Xorial
    • People keep saying this, but they must lack basic math skills

      Mass-produced DVD = $0.22 with data onboard
      Cheapest 4GB USB stick = $6.00 + extra for data loading and testing

      So, we're talking about a 3000% cost difference, which is going to affect the price even more, and with only 80% of the available storage (4gb vs. 4.7gb on DVD).

      Why?
      terry flores
  • RE: Microsoft to ease Windows 7 upgrades to netbooks with USB key solution

    I have a CD/DVD drive so I upgraded to Windows 7 on my Eee in about 45min. No problems at all.
    rboyd32@...