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

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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • 08nwsula
    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.
  • nukemaster
    Its just to install, not run off a stick. that would be too slow for something as large as windows
  • noob, lol
  • Luscious
    3 words - external optical drive

    Netbook 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.
  • randomizer
    At least you can use the drive for more than a coaster afterwards.
  • falchard
    woot a dongel in place of a Windows 7 DVD. I hate the disks. Flash drives are so much more convinient.
  • descendency
    install speed from e-sata > install speed from CD.

    So I support.
  • computabug
    Wow good thing I just got into the 'I hate Windows hype'. Wouldn't want ANOTHER usb stick around me. I just recently stuffed all my discs into one of those disc binders, what makes MS think imma go fork out my money to buy a usb stick? Good thing I only DL iso(hunt) :)
  • lifelesspoet
    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.
  • ZyxMEvEuuxcZ
    You already have option install windows from usb flash drive
    with WinSetupFromUSB http://www.msfn.org/board/install-USB-WinSetupF-t120444.html