Win7 Install Travails

UPDATE:  I have posted an update, with a re-install attempt that seems to be working.

Okay, here we go!  I was excited to have been selected for the Win 7 Launch Party.  I received my “party pack” with my signature edition of Win7 Ultimate (“signed” by Steve Ballmer) and decided to install on an existing partition, keeping my Windows Vista install working until I am convinced that all my software will work under the new (64 bit) OS.

Alas, things did not go smoothly.

First, one of my DVD drives is apparently failing.  Not Microsoft’s fault–but annoying.

Next (and this is MS’s fault) when I went to install, I found that I couldn’t.  Let me explain.

The first few steps (splash screen, select install, select “custom install” and check off the license agreement) went well. What could go wrong there?  But from there, things did not go so well.

I was presented with 4 drive choices for installing.  That was interesting, considering that I have 6 active partitions installed, but since two of those drives are running off of a PCI SATA card, I was not surprised they weren’t recognized.  I knew the drive on which I intended to install Windows (the C: drive that had named Dillsburg).  I selected the drive, and clicked “install” to be greeted with an error:

“Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.”

Hmm.  I thought “well, perhaps I should tell it to format that partition.  The install will do that anyway.  Perhaps it just doesn’t recognize that step.”  So I did.  It wiped the partition (no problem there) and deleted out the name of the partition (again, I can redo that.)  I tell it to install, and again I get the same error.  I decide that maybe a reboot is in order.

No joy.

So I go to consult my research assistant.  You may have met him G.oogle.  [1. A close personal friend, who usually helps me find the information I need, but I have found if I am not specific enough, he tends to return much that is irrelevant]  So off to Google I go, to find that I am not alone with this problem.  Apparently it has been plaguing people since the dawn of time (er, Win7 Beta 1).  Google suggests I read a tech support discussion from Microsoft (the mothership–so must be good!)  I carefully read through the possible solutions, and learn that this is often due to “external storage devices” being plugged in but not recognized. So I look.


None of those.  I do  have a card reader plugged in that, when I run the DISKPART utility I learn it sees as “empty” storage devices. (DISKPART is a disk partitioning utility that comes on the install disk and is suppose to help us troubleshoot and fix disk partitioning errors).  So I disconnect those and reboot.


So I turn my command chair once again to the iMac on my desk and consult the page of tech support.  I learn that the most successful option seems to be to disconnect all the drives except the one on which one hopes to install WIn 7. (Yes, hopes.  I have decided that with these problems, it is more hope than expect.)  Time for minor surgery.  I open the case, identify which hard drive contains the partition I want to use, and then unplug the power from rest. [2. At this point I was glad I had taken the time a few days before to make a note of each of the drive letters and the drive serial number/ID that they were on.  I was able to “simply” pull each drive out of the case, read the number, and determine whether to unplug the power or not.]  Of course, when one does this approach, the install will not automatically provide a “dual boot” option, so either brain surgery using BCDEdit (a command line tool in Windows) or a third party solution will be necessary. *sigh*

So, off I go, unplugging the power to 3 of the 4 physical hard drives.  I start again, and all seems to be going according to plan.  The install is never quick (but choosing a clean install will apparently save me several hours of watching the computer try to do an upgrade.)

More reports to follow, after the install completes.  I will report on

Leave a comment with YOUR experiences, and tune in to our podcast this week where I can guarantee I will have a few words to say about this, and other tech issues that “Real People” face.


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