Windows 7 now available in MOE schools deal

Since the Windows 7 RC came out we have run it in a variety of systems. While it is good, it is not the gold release version of Windows 7 and has a few bugs. And from March 1, it will start to shut down every two hours on PCs where it is still installed. So it was with some pleasure that I recently downloaded the full release of Windows 7 from Microsoft’s web site along with the MAK key for our school to use for installing on our PCs, which has now started in earnest. After the well known problem with lack of display drivers for Intel D915 chipsets, it was a pleasant surprise to install W7 Pro onto an Intel D101GGC board, which replaces the Intel chipset with the ATI Radeon Xpress 200 with a Radeon X300 graphics set. Drivers up to Vista x64 have been released for this chipset which means it has very good support under W7 for Aero and so on although the driver does not fully support the latest features of W7. So far all of our installations of 7 are 64 bit which works well as a dual boot with the 32 bit editions of either XP or Vista. Naturally I am also setting up virtual machines. Sysinternals have released a great tool for turning a physical HDD volume into a VHD. It has worked well with XP up to now but when it comes to Vista or 7, I have to work out how to use the new Sysprep tools with it to generalise the image. So because at the moment I don’t have time to set up the new Sysprep, I will just create a couple of new images from scratch, this is much easier to do than physical machines because we have the boot image as an ISO file already and you just hook it onto the VM and start it up. I can even do two or three at once.

I presume we will get Office 2010 in due course, maybe at renewal date next year. Software Assurance should also give us Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, a stripped down version of XP that can be used as a Terminal Services client. This obviously gives the attraction of the possibility of making some of our older PCs last longer by hooking them onto a terminal server.

On the home front I am making a start soon to rebuild my old PC. Actually I will get another old chassis from work and refit it with new power supply, motherboard, CPU and RAM. I estimate the parts by the excellent deals we get from our school community will cost me around $350 or so and this is for an Intel brand motherboard, a dual core CPU that can do hardware virtualisation, and 2 GB of RAM to start with (adequate for home use). Of course the chassis has to be in good condition and I need to bring across my HDDs and so on. But it is a good way to get practically a new PC at a good price and just as a prelude I have bought an LCD screen for my home PC so that I have the higher resolution and the superior picture quality and all the advantages over CRT for the work I am now doing by remotely logging in to our systems.