Install Window7 from USB Key onto netbook – what worked for me

I just finished installing Windows 7 RC on my friends ASUS EEE PC 900 and it works great. There are a lot of different how to guides out there – i cobbled together my approach from a variety of sources. Here’s what I did:

1. Downloaded Windows 7 RC

  • This proved to be harder than I thought it would be. First the default download manager that fires up after you register for the RC kept stalling on me. I had to keep stopping and starting it to get it to move (probably due to traffic).
  • I then tried downloading the bits directly using my own download manager
  • I also decided to check to see if there was a Windows 7 RC torrent, there were many

2. Get Windows 7 RC Key

  • If you used an alternative download method you may not have acquired a key. To get a key this FAQ item.

3. Make a bootable 4GB key

4. Drop the bits onto the key

  • The .iso file is a disk image. You can access its contents like a zip file. Expand the content of the .iso file to the key, I used 7-Zip but WinRAR and other work too.

5. Boot the netbook from the USB stick

  • This bit threw us. We were working on an ASUS EEE PC 900 and following this article on MultiMolti’s blog. We couldn’t get the machine to boot from the stick. Turns out weren’t following the steps precisely.
  • The problem was that to access the boot menu you need to hit ESC on the grey BIOS screen at boot. This is in the instructions but of course we didn’t read them thoroughly…

6. Install video driver

  • I read somewhere that Windows Update (WU) will drop the correct driver. We, however, went ahead and grabbed the XP driver right from Intel.
  • If you download the driver be sure to set the compatibility mode on the driver install. We set it to Vista and it installed fine. See the end MultiMolti’s blog entry for details on setting compatibility mode.

7. Run Windows Update

That’s it. Now Win7 is rocking the netbook – given it a second wind.

Thank you to the community at-large for the various blog entries, instructions and alternate download methods. Now off to my long in the tooth Dell OptiPlex