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Flash Drives Could be 'Key' for Win 7 on Netbooks

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 26 comments

In case you haven't noticed, there's been a lot of talk about Windows 7 over the last couple of days thanks to Microsoft revealing retail pricing as well as discounted upgrades. As with previous versions of Windows, the next one will be delivered to consumers on optical media. This does pose an interesting problem – how do you easily install Windows 7 on a PC without an optical drive?

Installing via a USB device would be the easiest solution, with either a USB external disc drive or a flash memory stick. Such methods would allow Windows 7 to be easily installed into ultraportables and nearly all netbooks.

According to one of CNet's sources, Microsoft is considering offering Windows 7 on a thumb drive to allow netbook owners to more easily upgrade their machines. The story claims that Microsoft has said before that it is exploring ways to service PC users who are unable to use the optical disc to install Windows 7.

Another option involves Microsoft selling a downloadable version of Windows 7 that will enable users to make a bootable copy of the OS installer using their own thumb drives. Microsoft already sells a downloadable copy of Windows today, so that methodology could be extended into the upcoming version.

With nearly four months to go until Windows 7 hits store shelves, there's still plenty of time for Microsoft to work out the details. Stay tuned.

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  • 6 Hide
    08nwsula , June 26, 2009 11:49 PM
    usb stick as a boot drive is far from a new but I still think it is a good idea for m$ to start using it. great solution to true netbooks.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , June 27, 2009 12:09 AM
    Its just to install, not run off a stick. that would be too slow for something as large as windows
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 27, 2009 1:15 AM
    noob, lol
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , June 27, 2009 2:33 AM
    At least you can use the drive for more than a coaster afterwards.
  • 8 Hide
    falchard , June 27, 2009 2:49 AM
    woot a dongel in place of a Windows 7 DVD. I hate the disks. Flash drives are so much more convinient.
  • 0 Hide
    descendency , June 27, 2009 3:03 AM
    install speed from e-sata > install speed from CD.

    So I support.
  • 0 Hide
    lifelesspoet , June 27, 2009 4:00 AM
    I installed windows 7 beta on my aspire one netbook. Windows comes with a tool for that on the iso, but it didn't work for me. I loaded it the dvd iso on a 4 gig thumb drive with unetbootin and it booted into the installer. It was actually pretty easy, except the windows program to load it to the drive kinda sucked.
  • 0 Hide
    ZyxMEvEuuxcZ , June 27, 2009 4:19 AM
    You already have option install windows from usb flash drive
    with WinSetupFromUSB http://www.msfn.org/board/install-USB-WinSetupF-t120444.html
  • 0 Hide
    Core2uu , June 27, 2009 4:31 AM
    Microsoft should take this chance to innovate and make a bootable virtual disc drive. I'm serious. I have no clue how it would be done but if it was it would be awesome. Just imagine, no more need of burning of discs and a constantly piling collection of CDs (or DVDs) that you'll never need again. Just download, boot and load.
  • -7 Hide
    the last resort , June 27, 2009 5:45 AM
    if the netbooks had trouble running Vista, how do they think it will run Windows 7? I'm not to sure myself.
  • 0 Hide
    SpadeM , June 27, 2009 6:11 AM
    Good news. They would be even better after I pass that image through vLite and get rid of all the bloated software. Should make for a nice and small software footprint on any drive.
  • -3 Hide
    randomizer , June 27, 2009 9:16 AM
    Core2uuMicrosoft should take this chance to innovate and make a bootable virtual disc drive. I'm serious. I have no clue how it would be done but if it was it would be awesome. Just imagine, no more need of burning of discs and a constantly piling collection of CDs (or DVDs) that you'll never need again. Just download, boot and load.

    It won't happen. How does the BIOS know you have an ISO on your hard drive? And how does it mount it with no capabilities to do so without booting the OS?
  • 1 Hide
    JimmiG , June 27, 2009 10:17 AM
    Luscious3 words - external optical driveNetbook users must be really dumb if they don't know how to install software that comes on a disc. $40 buys an external burner easy.


    I've never had the need to use an external drive with my Aspire One. There are already programs out there that allow you to transfer a disc image to a bootable flash drive. Once the OS is installed, sharing the drive of another PC or transfering the ISO images and using something like Daemon Tools to mount them works fine.

    Even though I only plan on installing Win7 on my regular desktop system, the download system sounds great. If you all you needed was an account of some kind and then you can just download the image to a flash drive any time you wanted that would be very convenient compared to a DVD that you can misplace, damage or forget to take with you.
  • 3 Hide
    buzznut , June 27, 2009 12:59 PM
    This is a great idea, one I probably would have implemented awhile ago. You could also have a portion of the drive dedicated to ready boost or whatever to supplement the weak one gig ram that most netbooks come with.

    This seems like one of those "its about time" kinda things.
  • 2 Hide
    socrates047 , June 27, 2009 2:18 PM
    the last resortif the netbooks had trouble running Vista, how do they think it will run Windows 7? I'm not to sure myself.


    wow! haven't you been on toms's recently? everyone knows win7 runs better than vista. Im surfing tom's on my win7 net book. setting up vista/ win7 on USB couldn't be easier, honestly. its XP that i still can't get on my netbook because it just doesn't like it.

  • -4 Hide
    Regulas , June 27, 2009 2:43 PM
    Yeah, I will upgrade mine when Ubuntu does their next release. MS can kiss my arse.
  • 0 Hide
    Caffeinecarl , June 27, 2009 5:12 PM
    nukemasterIts just to install, not run off a stick. that would be too slow for something as large as windows

    For me, running the OS off the stick is even too slow for Linux. Give me RAID anyday.

    For just installing though, why not?
  • 0 Hide
    brendano257 , June 27, 2009 6:43 PM
    Luscious3 words - external optical driveNetbook users must be really dumb if they don't know how to install software that comes on a disc. $40 buys an external burner easy.

    That's the point, is 40$ and a thing to lugg around when you want to use it. "Ultra"Portables is the point, and saving money, not that M$ would ever do that though XD
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