Adventures in Reimaging: Part 1 – Windows 7

Not too long ago, the newly purchased tower did something it should not have done: it started giving the Blue Screen o’ Death.  For the uninitiated, the blue screen (BSOD) is a quick flash of a memory dump when a PC suddenly goes south and crashes. It is slightly more useful than the Macintosh version, which is the Sad Mac. There are a handful of nerds out there who can correctly interpret the hieroglyphics blue screens throw at you. They can determine if it’s a driver, bad sectors on the hard drive, or your computer needs a shot of canned air inside the case. For 95% of us, including those of us in the IT field, BSOD’s mean it’s time to reimage.

But it only did it once or twice.  Maybe I just needed to do a malware scan.

Then the latest college term began, and my Database Administration instructor mentioned that we should never run Visual Studio or SQL Server on Windows 7 Home Edition.  What ran on my new laptop? Windows 7 Pro. What ran on my tower?

Windows 7 Home Premium.

What was I running on Windows Home?

SQL Server and Visual Studio.  Along with a couple of questionable freeware apps.


I backed up my files, ran the migration wizard, and wiped out my hard drive to start fresh with Windows Pro. Went pretty smooth, until…

Uh-oh.  I forgot to store my Office 2010 license key.  No prob.  Call Microsoft.  Except the Department That Handles That closed about five minutes before the last Windows update finished installing.

OK, I had my laptop.  Wait 24 hours, and call The Department That Handles That next evening.  Except the Department That Handles That for Microsoft doesn’t handle that. A department ominously called “Customer Salvage” does.

Except they didn’t handle that either. It turned out I received my key via my school, but the email somehow disappeared. So after an hour talking to three different Indian call centers, I finally got my activation key (which I printed out and stuffed into my Office DVD sleeve) and proceeded to finish up.

I will say that Windows 7 is a huge improvement over previous Windows versions. While I had to get a touchpad driver for my laptop, I haven’t had to install any other drivers on either the laptop or the tower.  And Pro runs like a dream. It’s as close to running a PC directly out of the box as you’ll ever find.

Next week, I take the old tower, the one this machine replaced last summer, and reimage it with Linux.  I’m using Ubuntu, which is a fairly painless version of Linux.

Stay tuned.