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Interesting Issue with Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade

For me, working with Windows 7 is always an adventure. No matter how much I've seen, or how many problems I've solved in the past, something new, interesting, and occasionally mystifying or incredibly frustrating (if not all of these things) is always coming up. A recent Anytime Upgrade from Windows 7 Starter to Ultimate reinforced and reaffirmed this realization.

OK, so I have recently "upgraded" from an Asus Eee 1000HE PC to a newer Asus 1005PE model. The old one came with Windows XP installed (I purchased it in March of 2009, and Windows 7 didn't ship until October of that year) so I had to do a clean install on that machine to get it up to Windows 7. I tried Win 7 Starter on that machine, too, and then upgraded to Win 7 Professional, because I like to remote into my laptops from my primary desktop and Win 7 Starter does not support RDP.

I didn't learn anywhere near as much from that previous process, however, as I did from my recent adventures with Anytime Upgrade on the newer Eee netbook. This time, it was the release of Windows 7 SP1 (which happened between February and April of 2011, depending on what kind of access organizations or individuals have to Microsoft software updates) that really made some interesting differences.

Here's what I've concluded from my recent upgrade-and-update adventures:

  • The Anytime Upgrade code on a PC corresponds to the original version of Windows installed on the machine. In this case, it was the original release of Windows 7, so when I exercised the Anytime Upgrade to move up from Starter to Ultimate, the upgraded OS reverted to that original release.
  • This meant installing a total of 90-plus update items to the upgraded OS after I made the OS switch, even though the base-level Starter version had already been upgraded to current level status.
  • In particular, this meant re-doing Windows Live, Internet Explorer 9, and Windows 7 SP1, each of which takes a little while even on a fast machine, and quite a bit longer than that on an Atom N450 CPU, even with two threads at work.

The upshot of all this is that while it may have taken only 25 minutes or so to perform the Anytime Upgrade itself, it took several hours longer to produce a machine that was current and up-to-date with the latest Windows 7 Ultimate patches, fixes, and updates. Next, I've got to clean up the stuff that Asus installed but that I don't want  or don't need (I'm replacing Office 2007 with 2010, and getting rid of a whole slew of pre-installed apps that include MS Works, various DVD utilities, and lotso toolbars). With Windows, even Windows 7 (my favorite Windows OS since Windows 98), it's still always something, no matter how well you think you may have your Windows act together!