Useful haxies installing Windows 7 (Part 1)

I recently needed to install Windows 7 (Home) on my old Dell Inspiron Mini 10V (1011) netbook so my mother-in-law can learn how to type. Quite a strenuous procedure, as I have been spoiled with Mac OS X that has had the smoothest of installation procedures, including all updates (it took almost 24h to get all Windows 7 x86 updates on that small, slow computer).

First of all, an easy and quick way to avoid CD/DVD media burning (of the Windows 7 ISO) is to create a bootable USB disk, through Microsoft’s own free Windows USB/DVD Download Tool tool, requiring an original Windows 7 (x86 or x64) ISO image (e.g. from MSDN).

Then, once the USB preparation is done, a simple hack that requires a single file to be removed (called ei.cfg) will allow to bring up -during installation- a list of choices of Windows “operating systems” to install i.e. Starter, Home, Professional, Ultimate, etc. regardless of the ISO you have used. However, the architecture remains same across: that is, x86 or x64 (depending on the used ISO) and not both (on same USB with this creation method, anyway).

WindowsChoices

A list of actions that I must perform next, will be described here below, for the sake of my next reference instead of searching the web. It’s nothing advanced, just some stuff to remember to do… perhaps useful to you, too.

1. Switch to the automatic logging of main user to Windows
I keep forgetting the command to run is “netplwiz.exe” as found in this useful article. Simply select the user account from the list, uncheck the “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” checkbox then click the apply button.

Auto-Login Setting

2. Complete the Windows Update procedure and reclaim space
With a small (in capacity) and old SSD installed in that netbook, I needed to reclaim the wasted space after installing those painfully slow updates. From an initial 30GB drive, after installing Windows 7 (with SP1 integrated) I got left with some 17GB and now down at 10GB due to the storage of the Windows Update backups!

The supposedly magic command is “cleanmgr.exe” as per this article, but I did follow the tips of this other article, too.

UpdateCleanup

3. Remove that annoying Windows 10 Upgrade notification
Ever since it appeared on the bottom taskbar and scared off people as a hoax, I have been searching for a permanent and official way to remove it. It appears it’s related to some Windows Update and more specifically to KB3035583 that needs to be uninstalled from the Windows Update items/list. Unfortunately, in the description that appears (on the right) to this KB3035583 in the Windows Update list, there’s absolutely no reference to this new “Windows 10 Notification” so one need to remember KB3035583 and never install it (and hide it).

KB3035583

4. Change the system language without “Ultimate” version installed

The installation ISO that I used to create that bootable USB was in English language, but the target computer (the Dell notebook) should eventually end up in another system language. As I installed “Home” and not “Ultimate” edition of Windows 7 (x86) I could only get the system language changed via Vistalizator to any other language of my choice. This excellent tool accomplishes the task easily and in a couple of steps, to the point of being fool-proof. It officially downloads the chosen language pack from Microsoft’s own servers, so the end-result is the real deal. Despite being created for Windows Vista originally, Vistalizator remains a highly valuable tool.

Vistalizator

Please note that it is recommended to switch to another system language (via Vistalizator) first thing, after a clean Windows 7 installation.

5. How to facilitate further Windows Update items
Since there was never a Service Pack 2 released (SP-2) to the dissatisfaction of most Windows 7 users (that would indeed make our lives easier) and rather than creating a bootable Windows 7 installation disc/image with slipstreamed updates (not a procedure for everyone) there appears to be a miraculous tool called WSUS Offline Update filling this gap, that is thankfully still being updated.

This tool is seemingly helping users to download and group those (dreadfully many) updates once and in one place, allowing for off-line use in many Windows 7 installations. From the website, one reads “Using WSUS Offline Update, you can update any computer running Microsoft Windows and Office safely, quickly and without an Internet connection.” Of course, any machine-dependent device drivers that normally appear as “updates”, are not downloaded via this tool (for example, Network, WLAN, Graphics, etc.) so you will still need to use the normal route of Windows Update service on your computer.

WSUS

Despite its simple documentation, I have not spent enough time with this tool in order to get a personal opinion or experience using it. My first attempt was to quickly download the main Windows updates for the x86 architecture, and then run its UpdateInstaller.exe on the target machine, as instructed.

UpdateInstaller

However, due to the fact that I used Vistalizator to change the system language (from English) earlier, I am not sure if all the acquired updates were succesfully installed or if WSUS Offline Update was confused about which updates were applicable (due to the new system language) despite saying “multilingual updates” on its main window. It did install some updates, but the target computer’s Window Update service eventually found many more to download and install that I didn’t expect, but excluding device-drivers of course (which is normal).

The next time I ran WSUS Offline Update was to download the Windows updates for both architectures (x86 and x64) as I plan to test the tool on my next VMware Windows 7 installation, on my Mac, to see how it behaves and what updates eventually remain to download/install.

END OF PART ONE

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