Photo gallery: Installing Windows Vista

The long, long road to installing Windows Vista ... from 3GB DVD.
By David Berlind, Inactive on
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Windows is loading: To install Windows Vista, you need to boot from the CD. It's really a DVD with close to 3GB of files on it. This is the first screen you see when you boot from the Vista disc.

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Windows code name -- Longhorn: The old Longhorn codename isn't gone yet. The first clue you get that you're getting somewhere is this black and white Longhorn startup page. The empty bar underneath the word "Longhorn" is a progress bar that gives you some feedback that something is happening. But, the whirring the CD/DVD drive is a good sign too.

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Install Windows: The first GUI like screen where you have three choices, Install the operating system, view the beta release notes, or repair a problem. In our installation, we went with "Install Now."

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Collecting Information: Once you choose to Install the operating system, the installation process goes off and has to collect information about your hardware.

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Product Key: Yes, even the beta version requires a product key and activation. The sticker with the key comes on the back of the envelope that the single disc came in.

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EULA time: As with everything you install that comes from Microsoft, you must agree to an End User License Agreement. Although, technically, this isn't a EULA. It's a Microsoft's Pre-release License Terms. We agreed.

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Upgrade or Custom? This screen shows a choice of either upgrading your current Windows installation, or performing a custom install. The Upgrade option was disabled. We went with Custom.

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Computer Name and Drive Location: The installation process double checks which hard drive to install the OS on and also gives you an opportunity to change the computer's name.

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Naming the computer: We named our test system "ACERVISTA."

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What partition? The hard drive on our AMD Turion 64-based Acer Ferrari 4005 notebooks has Windows XP on one partition and it came with a second partition for data. Using Symantec's PartitionMagic, we rearranged the partitions, making the XP one bigger (and dedicating it to XP) and setting aside 35GB for Vista (Partition 3 in the screenshot).

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Formatting Error: When we attempted to format the Partition Magic-created partition, we got a warning, but ultimately, the format operation didn't work. So we deleted it instead.

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Create and Format: After deleting the partition (Partition 3 disappears), we were shown a chunk of unallocated space and given the opportunity to create a partition from it. There's a slider bar that you can use to adjust the size of the partition. We took up all of the remaining free space on the hard drive for our Vista partition.

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Windows is Installing: Sort of self explanatory. From this point forward, there isn't much to do but wait. And boy did we wait (this is not a fast installation).

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Completing Installation: Eventually, you get this display with the hour glass and a progress bar on the bottom (see green). "Do not restart your computer at this time." We didn't dare.

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Signs of Vista Life: After waiting for what seemed like forever, you get the first indication that the installation took. It's blurry, but in the bottom right corner, the text says "Windows Vista (TM) Beta 1 Evaluation Copy. Build 5112."

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Dual Boot: The installation automatically recognises is you have another bootable partition and upon its automatic restart, takes you to the "Windows Boot Manager." Notice how instead of saying "Windows XP Pro" (the OS on Partition 2), it says "Legacy (pre-Longhorn) Microsoft Windows Operating System." Another place where the old code-name "Longhorn" will need purging. We of course picked Longhorn.

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Back to the future: Hey, didn't we just see this screen? Well, that's what came next.

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Hurry up and wait: Microsoft is promising that Vista will boot much faster than before. We don't think you can expect the first official boot to be very fast. And it wasn't.

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Shoulda been "Godot": Then it tells you it's waiting for the system. What the heck else would we be waiting for?

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That's what else: OK, there are other things to wait for, like the User Profile Service. We have no idea what that is. But we intend to find out.

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Something Familiar: The wallpaper is new. But the "personalized settings" dialog isn't (sorry, it's blurry). Vista tries to launch into its Aero Glass GUI (a lot of pretty translucence and special effects). If it can't, it loads the wallpaper from the "Aero" theme. We eventually got the "Glass" part of "Aero Glass" working, but we had to find the special LDDM graphics adapter drivers on Acer's Web site.

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Viola, it's Vista: Supposedly, Vista will improve greatly upon the current security situation with Windows. So, we thought there was a bit of irony in the notification. Notice the big icons. That's because there were only a few resolutions available with the standard VGA driver. When we found the right graphics drivers to get Glass working at a resolution of 1680x1050, those icons got a lot smaller and weren't' so squished or pixilated.

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More drivers? Finally, the first PrtScr-based screenshot (the rest were done with a Nikon D70). We saw the big honkin "Install supplemental drivers" icon and clicked on it. But?

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Apparently not: There were no supplemental drivers to be loaded. At least not for our test system.

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