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Windows 7 upgrade paralyzes some PCs with endless reboots

'I am stuck in limbo,' says user; Microsoft investigating

By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
October 26, 2009 07:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Some users trying to upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 have seen their PCs crippled by an endless series of reboots, according to reports on Microsoft's support forum.

A Microsoft engineer writing on the same forum said the company was investigating users' problems, but downplayed them as "isolated issues."

Users began posting messages about the endless reboots Friday, saying that the Windows 7 installation would hang two-thirds through the upgrade. They reported a message on their machines that claimed the upgrade had been unsuccessful and that Vista would be restored. Instead, their PCs again booted to the Windows 7 setup process, failed, then restarted the cycle.

"My upgrade failed in [the] last step," said a user identified as "Manjigani" in a thread titled "Windows 7 -- Install Message -- Upgrade Unsuccessful" on the Windows 7 support forum. "And now it is in continuous loop. I let it run overnight hoping that it will fix itself, but no luck. I am stuck in limbo."

"All the promises of stability and simplicity, and now there are so many problems with installation," bemoaned another used, "Derrty," on the same thread. "I can't even access my laptop nor do I have the ability to roll my system back to Vista. All indications are the install removed any trace of Vista."

Other than trying to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7, there did not seem to be any common characteristics of the computers or the users' actions. Some said that they had purchased a Windows 7 upgrade electronically from Microsoft's online store, others said they had downloaded the upgrade from Digital River, the Minneapolis-based company that fulfills Microsoft's $29.99 offer to college students, while still others said they had bought a retail copy of the new operating system at stores like Best Buy.

Users vented their rage online in scores of messages.

"How on earth is Windows 7 so poorly manufactured that there even NEEDS to be a solution to installation issues?" asked "Chimaera717," who later reported receiving a marketing message from Microsoft while struggling with the endless reboots. "I just got an e-mail from Windows, titled 'Windows 7: Your PC, Simplified.' I really want to e-mail them back and say 'Windows 7: My PC, Crippled'."

Microsoft support engineers entered the thread Sunday, asking for information from affected users, such as the version of Vista running before the Windows 7 upgrade attempt, and what, if any, antivirus software was on the machine.

Sunday afternoon, a support engineer named "Keith" said that some users' problems may be related to the optical drive speed when creating an install DVD from a disk image downloaded from the Microsoft store or through Digital River. "Make sure you are burning the image at the slowest speed possible to avoid corruption on the installation disc," said Keith.

"Digital River and Microsoft are investigating reports of this issue," he added. "This appears to be a series of isolated issues that are often related to the user's Internet provider or installed third-party software."

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