Windows Anytime Upgrade; they really mean Anytime!

Fri, Mar 4, 2011

Featured, Software, Tech

The most recent addition to our family of tech was an Asus Netbook, the 1015PN that shipped with Windows 7 Starter. Surprisingly, once Microsoft lifted the originally slated 3 concurrent program limit, the operating system became rather usable.

Asus 1015PN

Still, there were reasons for wanting to upgrade, namely, enabling the nVidia Optimus automatic graphics switching that was strangely unavailable with Windows 7 Starter. Aside from that, upgrading to Windows 7 Home Premium would give a few other niceties such as the Aero Glass window treatment, Media Center (but a 10″ screen is a far cry from the proverbial 10′ screen Microsoft designed that interface for), Mobility Center, the snipping tool, sticky notes, scheduled backup and perhaps one or two other miscellaneous things.

So an upgrade brings a decent amount to the table. For me, automatic graphics switching on-the-fly (as this particular netbook has both an intel integrated chip and nVidia’s 8 core ION platform) was enough to seal the deal. Well, that and that actual price paid for the upgrade which was a mere $20.00 from The Source.

So what was the process like?

For starters, (no pun intended) I did a fresh instsall of Windows 7 Starter using the restore image Asus puts on the device. Hitting F9 during boot brings you to the restore menu where you can create (“backup”) a restore image to a USB device. Unfortunately, this device can only be a hard drive – no USB memory sticks or optical drives will work. The procedure wiped the drive clean, then placed a 15GB FAT partition on my 250GB external drive; using just under 13GB.

The main reason for doing this was that I planned to obliterate the 3+ partitions Asus configures the netbook with. One for OS at around 100GB, a hidden 15GB restore partition, the remaining 117GB data partition and a random Q drive that was labeled Microsoft Office. Why the restore partition is between the OS and data is beyond me. This prevents you from easily resizing the two, so it had to go. My preference, as we have a file server for backups, is to have one full partition.

With a copy of the restore partition successfully created, I began the restore process by again, hitting F9 during boot but choosing restore rather than backup. The recovery completed, dumping a fresh install of Windows 7 Starter and all of the bloatware Asus chooses to include. Thankfully, there are useful resources such as this Asus Utility and Bloatware Guide to help decide what is worth keeping and what can fly the coop. With the install cleaned up and a defrag done, it was time to run the Windows Anytime Upgrade. This can be found easily by typing Windows Anytime in the start menu search.

I really didn’t have to do everything I had done thus far; I did it in part so I had a restore solution after obliterating all of the partitions, and because I’m a little anal about keeping things feeling fresh. Make no mistake, you could simply get your key, pop it in your system as it is and away you go. But that would be getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Windows 7 Anytime UpgradeLaunching the Windows Anytime Upgrade presents this screen. It claims you can be up and running with your new set of features “in as few as 10¬† minutes.” Of course, I’m thinking there’s no way, especially with a mechanical hard drive and little Atom processor, even if it is dual core. Just having watched the Windows 1.0 > Windows 7 Upgrade video, I was hunkering back for a longish journey.

You can begin either by having Microsoft take you by the hand and choose an appropriate version to upgrade to or in the more-than-likely event that you already have your key, there’s an option for that too.

Insert Key

There really isn’t anything exciting from here on out. The next page asks for your key and before you know it, you’re on your way.






I think we’re all quite familiar with the Windows progress bar by now.






Upgrade DoneAnd voil√†. We’re done. According to the clock, a total of 8 minutes elapsed. Not bad! I think we can conclude that this was likely as seamless an upgrade as one could have expected. Notice the Aero Glass effects already starting to shine!

Are there any downsides to doing the upgrade? Interestingly enough, I’ve read that some people have had significantly decreased battery life after the upgrade. As this is technically not my system, I don’t have a great feel for the average longevity on a given charge, meaning no real point of comparison. If I, or the true owner of the netbook notice anything out of the ordinary, I’ll be sure to report back. Likewise, if any of you experienced excess battery drain, do share!

The other thing I’m not clear on is if it was just a software limitation that prompted Asus to list 2GB as the max installable memory or if that is in fact a hardware limitation. I purchased a 2GB stick to replace the stock 1GB but I would have loved to jump to 4GB. If anyone has experience with this, please chime in!

So there you have it, Microsoft’s Windows Anytime Upgrade performs as good – if not better than advertized, and in this case, was more than worth it.


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