Friday, May 13, 2011

Upgrading a PC from Windows XP to Windows 7

I finally decided to upgrade my desktop system to Windows 7 pro from Windows XP pro.

Knowing that I needed a new video card I did some shopping around and finally found a compatible PCI card on a nvidia based Sparkle GEForce 8400GS which has proven to be so far very effective. I also got a Western Digital 320 GB IDE hard drive which I felt would be a major improvement over the 160GB Seagate HD that came with my circa 2004 Compaq Presario S6000V P4 desktop.

So far so good.

Now comes the part where I learn the perils of upgrading to windows 7 from XP the hard way.

Mistake number one was deciding to a clean instal of windows 7 on the new WD 320GB HD. Windows 7 installed flawlessly unfortunately when the time came for authentication things went wrong.

Windows 7 upgrade requires you to have an already installed Windows OS. Very irritating to say the least end result after a few trials and hunting down my slip-streamed windows XP pro SP3 install disk (and having to burn a copy of the windows XP SP3 install CD) as well as reformatting the HDD I was able to install Windows XP.

Then came the fun part of having to do a special installation rather than doing a straightforward upgre installation due to the system being a Windows XP system. Once I figured out what the issue I was able to install windows 7.

The installation went through very well. However the post installation issues that reared their head proved to be utterly annoying. Particularly the ones related to my wireless card as I relate below.

Namely my Cisco Linksys WMP300N wireless networking card. The card had been great in Windows XP very reliable with the cisco Linksys drivers. The card is based off a broadcom chipset (BCM4329). Windows 7 has two set of drivers for this chipset an older one that works and a newer one that totally kills all functionality. As well as the frustrating issue that when the drivers are installed it sets the IBSS mode (wireless frequency and protocol) to 802.11 a/b only rather than setting the card to the more logical 802.11 a/b/g/n auto setting. A little problem I only found out after a couple rounds of driver installs and uninstalls.

Of course the issue is not helped by the fact that the cisco linksys drivers are for vista and utterly buggy and the sad fact that installing the newer drivers available from Cisco's website (2010) have to be manually installed and result in the following message when you attempt to install the driver "The requested device registry key does not exist" which is a singularly unhelpful message and it directs you to contact your hardware vendor. Which I did do only to be put through an endless run around in which the helpful tech support person I got in touch with did not understand that my issue was with the drivers for a wireless NIC card not a router. She then wanted to put me in touch with their paid support people which I politely refused to do so.

So currently I'm working of the older circa 2007 broadcom drivers which unlike the updated version that Microsoft Windows update keeps wanting to install. So far the older drivers seem to be working reliably unlike the newer version which render the wireless card totally nonfunctional.

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