One day of Windows 7

Having set up a PC at work with the Windows 7 x64 RC installed on it a few weeks ago, I decided that today would be the day that I would start doing as much as possible of my day to day work on 7. It has been reasonably straightforward so far although this PC grunts a bit with only 1 GB of RAM. This is not a long term solution, of course. Where we go to with 7 is very dependent on getting a new Schools agreement between the MOE and Microsoft. As such it may be that the RC’s time limit runs out before 7 becomes available to schools. So it is hard to say where any school will go in terms of 7, as I expect the agreement will have to be renegotiated, but also because it isn’t very clear at this stage what the MOE has planned for schools in terms of these agreements in the future. To administer a server from a Windows 7 PC you must have the Windows 7 version of the RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tools). Microsoft released a new RSAT soon after the RC of 7 came out, but have now withdrawn it. Fortunately, I downloaded the x64 edition of the RSAT when I first installed 7, and therefore I have been able to install it on this PC.

To use one of the more interesting features of Windows 7, the XP Virtual Mode, your PC must have a CPU that supports hardware virtualisation. This is of course the same requirement for running Hyper-V on a Windows 2008 server. Of course, Hyper-V isn’t available on desktop OSs, and previous releases of Virtual PC for desktops have run on any old CPU, but now the version of Virtual PC that XP Virtual Mode is based on (renamed Windows Virtual PC) requires the VT-x feature. It turns out that my main work PC that I bought two years ago to run Vista, which is the same hardware spec as the box that I’ve got running Windows 7, will only need the CPU changed (the cheapest VT-x model is the Pentium E6300 dual core) to make it compatible with this feature (and possibly a BIOS flash). Same goes for some of our other newer PCs that we have in our school. It would be preferable just to change the CPU, for example, in three relatively new PCs that our office staff got last year, since these are expected to have a life of several more years. At home it is different of course, I would need to replace the motherboard, CPU, memory and power supply all in one hit to get the full works of 7 there. Sometime I will look at that kind of upgrade, probably just swap that PC with a similar aged one from work that has had the new bits put in.

Last time I posted about options for upgrading older PCs to Windows 7. In respect of that particular discussion, the main issue we would face for our PCs is getting the right power supply for this particular case. As far as I can tell, FSP of Taiwan is the only company that makes power supplies that will fit the Foxconn DH153A chassis, and then I would have to find a supplier. The 300 watt model provides the rails that newer motherboards need, although there is some question over peak power ratings, but I wouldn’t expect power use of this type of PC to be high, so it may be OK, since the CPU power rating is practically the same. The model number needed is the FSP300-60GLV. I would want to do a good bit of testing of a prototype before committing anything towards production because of questions like the power supply. The cost that we can get these parts for makes it quite a favourable option in our present economic climate where prices have risen sharply in the last year.

So here ends the first blog post made on Windows 7…