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October 20, 2011

Just Because You Can Upgrade Something Yourself, Doesn’t Mean You Should

by Darren W Baker

I received my Samsung Series 7 Windows Slate about two weeks ago. I have switched to using it as my primary machine. It’s an awesome device, and I believe a 3rd generation Windows 7 Touch tablet. Like the ASUS EP121, it has an Intel I5 processor and stylus. However, it is a 2nd generation i5 CPU and has the Sandy Bridge chipset, so it should run longer than the ASUS and it is much lighter.  The Samsung is 1.9 lbs and the ASUS is 2.5lbs. The ASUS gave me about 2 solid hours in high power and I have been getting 4 hours in full power on the Samsung. That’s a big difference. Yes, I realize I can get longer life if I reduce the power settings and screen brightness, but when I am working I don’t want to be waiting on the system, I want it to run as fast as possible. If I am just checking mail, reading internet articles, I put it in balanced to conserve battery.

The Samsung I have isn’t a standard configuration; it also has 3G Broadband. I wanted to be able to show people a side by side comparison with my iPad 2 that also has 3G Broadband. Here in lies my issue. The version I received isn’t the retail version, it only had a 64GB SSD, but I wanted to upgrade it to a 128GB SSD that I had on hand.

I would have been better off if I had just waited for the model I wanted to come out, rather than trying to upgrade it myself. You would think I should know better. At Sogeti, we speak to people every day about updating their systems and infrastructure to Windows 7. After spending time with them and showing them the new tools that make it much easier to move from Windows XP to Windows 7, 50% of our customers tell us thanks, we’ll take it from here.

Doing an upgrade yourself isn’t always a good idea. Just knowing how the tools work doesn’t mean your migrations will go smoothly and efficiently. There are issues with drivers, application compatibility, bandwidth for pushing images, scripting and processes to consider. What happens when something doesn’t work “out of the box”, you could spend hours in the Windows 7 forums looking for answers, or end up configuring the deployment incorrectly and not realize it until you are well into the deployment phase of your project.

What does that cost the organization in delays? Many times they come back to us and say they realize they can’t do it themselves. And why should you do it yourself when you can pay someone to come in and do it right and efficiently the first time. In the end, it will cost far less.

Which brings me back to upgrading my Samsung Series 7 Slate. I finally found all the answers from my contacts at Microsoft and the Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC Forum. Some of the issues I faced were with the new generation UEFI BIOS on this device doesn’t understand NTFS.  I had to create a new USB Boot Key that was FAT32 because the ones I had created previously wouldn’t work. Additionally, the Windows 7 version of WinPE wouldn’t boot the Samsung, so I had to use the Windows 8 Preview build version of WinPE to boot the device in order to use IMAGEX to capture the image and apply it to the new 128Gb SSD. It looks to me like the Windows 8 deployment tools are changing some from Windows 7, so it took a fair amount of time to research and learn what I needed to do.

In the end, my Samsung is up and running the way I want it to, and I couldn’t be happier. Did I save money by buying an early device and upgrading it myself? No, I spent at least 50 hours working on it, learning new methods and experimenting. Which leads me to the question, why do companies not see this? The time it took me to upgrade it myself was 3 times the difference in cost  than if I had just waited until the version I wanted actually went on sale. Companies trying to upgrade themselves to Windows 7 are spending a great deal more in man hours to learn to do something once, instead of hiring someone that does it as their primary business.

At least in my case, I learned something new about UEFI and the Windows 8 deployment tools that I will use again soon enough.

Read more from Mobile, Slate, Tablet, Windows

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