Windows 7 Ultimate On A Netbook

Remember months ago when Microsoft offered their Windows 7 “House Party”? Well I joined in but no one attended (don't cry, no one was psyched to attend an operating system party). So I have this copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (complete with Steve Ballmer's signature embossed on the cardboard cover) and no computer to run it on. See, I use a Mac at home and after being unimpressed with the performance of Vista as a VM or the Windows 7 beta version as a VM either. I wanted to use it at work but I work for a software company and our software isn't certified for Windows 7 yet and clients are 50/50 when they run our software on Windows 7. That leaves me with a copy of Windows 7 that isn't currently being used. Add to this the fact that I just got a netbook last week and I think you can see where this might be going.

The netbook I got was a Dell Inspiron Mini (I bought it at Best Buy and they sell it as the Inspiron Mini but I believe Dell sells it as the Mini 10 on their web site). It comes with Windows 7 Starter which is fine with me. I didn't purchase the netbook to perform high end tasks but mainly for writing and the occasional web surfing and video watching. But here's the rub: Windows 7 Starter doesn't allow the user to change the wallpaper. Are you serious? I can understand limiting or eliminations themes and colors and the like for product differentiation purposes but wallpaper? Now I've got an itch that I want to scratch but at $80 for an upgrade to Home Premium just to change wallpaper seems a little ridiculous to me.

But wait, I have a copy of Windows 7 ultimate that I am not using right now and it indicates that it “Includes Windows Anytime Upgrade”. I did this on my laptop at work: it came with Windows Vista Business and I had a code for Windows Vista Ultimate and the same kind of anytime upgrade. When I ran that it took nearly as long as installing the OS would originally take and that was on a pretty decent system, this is a netbook.

I decided to take the plunge after a little research on the Internet where the only negative comments about it came from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols who apparently decided to install it on an abacus that could, of course (knowing Stevie), run Linux flawlessly. Then, to put this netbook through its paces he decides to do things like encode videos using Handbrake and attempt to hack into the pentagon (or so I heard) but isn't so pleased with the performance. Pretty much everyone else said there would be no issues upgrading to Windows 7 Ultimate.

I was a little nervous but I decided to go for it. I put in my Anytime Upgrade DVD and tell it to run. It finally said that if I was going to do this I needed to initiate the upgrade from the “Windows Anytime Upgrade” shortcut in the Start Menu. I ran the shortcut, it asked for my key, did something for about 5 minutes, rebooted and about 10 minutes or so later I was ready to log into Windows 7 Ultimate on my netbook.

It really was much ado about nothing since it was so fast and smooth. I'd recommend it to anyone considering doing the same thing.