Monday, August 24, 2009

Install Any Windows 7 Version From One DVD

Let's be clear, this is a way to try, not indefinitely use different versions of Windows 7 from one DVD or .ISO image. A small tweak will allow users tech-savvy enough to get a taste of all the versions of Windows 7.

Now, why do you need a little technical expertise? You need to remove a file from the DVD or from the .ISO image. As Windows Secrets notes, all you have to do is delete the ei.cfg file.

This means that you can start with a Windows 7 Home Premium (or whatever) DVD and install any version you want, though of course you'd need a compatible activation code to keep that version. To make things easier for you, the ei.cfg file is in the sources subdirectory (WS didn't indicate its location).

It's simple enough: if you have an .ISO file use an appropriate .ISO imaging program to delete the file from it, then save the image and burn it. If you have the DVD you can use the same program to rip the DVD to an .ISO image, then delete the file, and reburn it.

Once deleted, you'll get a menu of choices, as shown above. You can select any version of Windows 7 to install, and thus try out any version, to see if you really, really want to buy that version.

Also, while the standard trial period is 30 days, just as with Windows Vista, you can extend that through the use of Microsoft's Software License Manager (slmgr), which ships with the OS.

If you install Windows 7 sans activation key, you have 30 days to try the software. Using slmgr, you can "rearm" and restart the clock. If you right-click on the Computer icon, and choose Properties, under Windows Activation, you'll see the number of days left in your trial period.

To restart the clock,
  • Click Start, All Programs, Accessories. Right-click Command Prompt and choose Run As Administrator. If necessary, enter your administrator password.
  • Type "slmgr -rearm" and press the Enter key.
  • Restart Windows 7.
You can rearm a total of three times. Wait until the end of each period and you get a total of 120 days of use. Want to try another version? You can do a clean install.

Which version are you readers going to install?
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