After resting up and settling into our post-CES golden desk chairs, team Engadget got busy at installing Windows 7 on pretty much anything they could find. Most installs went off without a hitch, and BSoDs were fairly few and far between. You can check out all our various first impressions after the break... the names aren't made up, but the stories are true.

Joshua Topolsky


System:
  • MacBook Pro (unibody)
  • 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB of RAM

Install process:

Partitioned the drive with Boot Camp, popped in a burned Windows 7 disc and booted to it just fine. Formatted the partition and installed, nary a bump. Installed Vista graphics drivers from NVIDIA's site.

First impressions:
Fast boot times, and the graphics drivers and WiFi work great. Unfortunately, the sound and webcam still aren't working, and the trackpad experience is pretty bad with the new unibody MacBook Pro button-free pad, even with the latest drivers -- there's no right click, for instance. Also, hit a BSoD when trying to resize an active title bar. Microsoft has clearly taken time to listen to people this go-round and made some noticeable ease-of-use improvements, but I think the real power of Win 7 likely lies in its trimmed requirements and ability to adapt to a wide variety of systems... just like XP.

Paul Miller


System:
  • Dell Dimension 9150
  • Intel Pentium D 2.8GHz dual core
  • 2.5GB RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT graphics
  • Windows Vista SP1

Install process:

Ripped the install DVD and put the contents on a USB flash drive in a folder called "windows," ran setup.exe from there. The "upgrade" method failed, but failed gracefully, with the full original Vista setup remaining. Tried a clean install (with the old install moved to windows.old) and it worked flawlessly. Took about an hour.

First impressions:
Boot times and responsiveness seem comparable to Windows Vista, though the time from start-up to usability is improved. Drivers for a multitude of odd hardware pulled just fine. Unfortunately, there seem to be some problems with returning from sleep with the GeForce card -- certain window elements won't draw, the system becomes unstable and it continually cycles the graphics card, none of which happened with Windows Vista.


System:
  • Sony Vaio P
  • Intel Atom Z520 1.33GHz
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Windows Vista SP1

Install process:

Ripped the install DVD and put the contents on a USB flash drive in a folder called "windows," ran setup.exe from there. A clean install (with the old install moved to windows.old) worked flawlessly. Took about 45 minutes.

First impressions:

Machine became much more responsive and usable. OS includes a simplified, more usable version of Vista's DPI setting panel that scales UI elements to look much better on the high-res screen. We wrote up the rest of our impressions of Windows 7 on the P right here.

Thomas Ricker



System:
  • MacBook Pro
  • 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 2GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Leopard 10.5.6

Install Process:

Ripped Windows 7 Beta installer to .DMG image using Disk Utility and renamed .DMG image to .ISO. Created new virtual machine in VMware Fusion 1.1 and selected .ISO image of Windows 7 when prompted. After about 10 minutes I was up and running Windows 7 Home Basic on WiFi network.

First impressions:
There's a slight lag felt when running in the default 512MB memory slot allocated to Win7. The lag mostly disappears when dialing up the memory to 1GB -- that's mainstream netbook territory. I keep Fusion running in OS X Spaces for quick access to the Windows applications I require for day-to-day computing. Only real problem seen so far is the occasional wonky behavior when jumping in and out of VMware Fusion's full screen mode (the Win7 desktop disappears).

Nilay Patel



System:
  • MacBook Pro
  • 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics
  • 3GB DDR2 SDRAM

Install Process:

Installed really quick'n'dirty on a Boot Camp partition just to play around for a while -- I'm going to buy a dedicated Windows 7 box soon, so this install will get deleted anyway. Didn't pay much attention to anything along the way for that reason -- I just let things happen the way they happened, and everything works fine except for trackpad right click, but I solved that by plugging in an external mouse. Took about 45 minutes start to finish.

First impressions:
Works great so far -- I'm really liking the automatic window management. Can't say I've done much to stress the system other than poke around the web and download software updates, but overall it's fast and responsive. There's still a sense that the OS is trying to help you a little too much when you do things, as opposed to the go-it-alone feeling of XP, but that might just be familiarity talking. Definitely a vast improvement over Vista -- if this is just the beta, I'm encouraged to see what the final product looks like.

Kevin Wong


System:
  • MacBook Pro
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB of RAM

Install process:

A breeze to install via VMWare Fusion using the .ISO and entering the key. Was surprised how quickly it installed all of the updates, without a bunch of messy pop up windows or warnings. Took me all of 15 minutes to install (at most) and use right away. Allocated one core, 10GB of hard drive and 1GB of RAM and it's running smoothly.

First impressions:
Compared to Windows Vista, Windows 7 is a god send. Being a recent Apple convert, I've used XP all my life. I was stoked for Windows Vista before it came out because it looked nicer than my XP setup, but now I can look forward to Microsoft releasing a better looking product that works! It's snappy, quick and looks great, everything Vista should have been. Looking forward to installing it on a touch screen netbook soon!

Ross Miller


System:
  • HP Pavilion Elite m9150f
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad
  • 3GB RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • HD DVD player ... cause I'm cool like that

Install Process:
Installed from DVD. The upgrade initially refused to run, citing nondescript reasons. Eventually figured out I had to uninstall my antivirus software entirely. From there, the update ran smoothly -- good to go in less than 15 minutes.

First impressions:
Haven't noticed too much of a speed boost yet. Aero Peek is useful for checking the desktop widgets, but so far not much else. Really love being able to drag windows to the side or top of screen for tiling and maximizing, respectively. Navigation is much better, but still not as efficient for me as OS X's Exposé.

Wrap-up

Overall, pretty good experiences all around. Microsoft has clearly done a lot to get the install quick and painless, and it's great to boot an OS that seems in most cases to bring with it immediate performance and usability improvements. We'll be delving in further in the coming weeks, but Windows 7 certainly passes the "first date" test. A typical install -- including Paul's fateful upgrade failure -- plus some larger shots of our desktops are in the gallery below.
Gallery | 23 Photos

Windows 7 installs


If you've installed Windows 7, please let us know in the comments what gear you're using and how it's working for you -- and feel free to add your own screencap to the Engadget Flickr Pool!

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