Windows 7 upgrade mess, FLOPS,  FROM  DIGITAL  RIVER  DOWNLOADS

(Computerworld) By Gregg Keizer - ('Error is 'by design' when users try to upgrade from 32-bit Vista to 64-bit Windows 7')

Microsoft yesterday blamed user confusion for the problems many have encountered trying to move from Vista to Windows 7 after buying a discounted upgrade offered to college students.

"Digital River and Microsoft are aware that some customers from the Windows 7 Academic Store had difficulties completing the download or installation of the product," said a Microsoft support engineer identified as "Michael" in a message posted Sunday to the company's support forum.

Minneapolis, Minn.-based Digital River fulfills download orders for Microsoft's $29.99 Windows 7 upgrade offer to students. Several hundred users have said that they were unable to upgrade from Windows Vista to the new operating system after purchasing, then downloading, a Windows 7 upgrade, from Digital River.

"We are aware that consumers are encountering difficulties installing Windows 7 where the customer is currently running a 32-bit version of Windows such as Windows Vista, but purchased the 64-bit version of Windows 7," Michael said.

Last week, users reported that an error message prevented them from unpacking files downloaded from Digital River. The message read: "We are unable to create or save new files in the folder in which this application was downloaded."

"This error occurs when you are in the unloading phase of the 64-bit Windows 7 download process and are running a 32-bit version of Windows such as Windows XP or Windows Vista 32-bit," Michael added. "This is by design, as you cannot launch setup for the 64-bit version of Widows 7 while running a 32-bit operating system."

According to Microsoft, users can conduct "in-place" upgrades -- those that retain all data, settings and applications -- only from Vista 32-bit to Windows 7 32-bit, or from Vista 64-bit to Windows 7 64-bit. The company had spelled out the in-place upgrade paths last summer, before it released Windows 7.

"If you want to move from Windows Vista 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit, or if you are running Windows XP, you have to do a "Custom" or clean installation that must be started by booting off the Windows 7 64-bit DVD," Michael stressed.

A Windows 7 custom upgrade, called a "clean" install by some, requires users to back up data and settings from Windows XP or Vista, install Windows 7, then restore the data and settings before finally reinstalling all applications.

Students who mistakenly downloaded the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 from Digital River should request a refund, Microsoft's Michael continued, then pay for and download the 32-bit version instead. He pointed customers to a page on Digital River's site where they could request a refund. "In the Web form, select the Order question option in the drop-down menu and include 'Refund and Request 32-bit' in the first line of the problem description," Michael recommended.

His advice runs counter to the policy listed on the Digital River support site, which says that there are no refunds for the student discount Windows 7 upgrade.

Michael claimed that Digital River has identified and contacted customers who have been affected by the download error. "Digital River has been making every effort to make it right for these customers," he said. The Microsoft engineer also said Microsoft would not handle support questions about Windows 7 unless customers were able to reach the initial installation screen; all issues prior to that step were to be directed to Digital River.

On Saturday, users blamed both companies for their problems, and were irked that neither had stepped up to accept responsibility or provide answers. "This problem is not being resolved by anyone," complained a user tagged as "tatguy6" on the same support thread Saturday. "Someone is to blame. I guess we are just gonna have to wait for someone to pull their heads out of their butts and do something for us to resolve this."

"I [have] had enough," added "arkavat."

Tatguy6, arkavat and several others said that they were, or had, filed complaints against Digital River with the Better Business Bureau.

Digital River has yet not responded to a request for comment made last Friday.

Windows 7 upgrade paralyzes some PCs with endless reboots By Gregg Keizer October 26, 2009 06:28 AM ET

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

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 he downplayed them as "isolated issues."

Users began posting messages about the endless reboots Friday, saying that the Windows 7 installation would hang two-thirds of the way 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 among the computers or the users' actions. Some said that they had purchased a Windows 7 upgrade electronically from Microsoft's online store, and 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.

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."

Students, who have faced other problems with their downloaded Windows 7 upgrades, were told by Microsoft to seek help from Digital River through a special help-request page.

One user pointed others to a document published last July on Microsoft's support site. The document outlined the endless reboot problem. "When attempting to upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 the upgrade attempt may fail with the message 'This version of Windows could not be installed, Your previous version of Windows has been restored, and you can continue to use it,' " the support document stated. "However, the next reboot of the machine will launch the upgrade process again only to fail with the same message."

The document included steps users could take to try to regain control of their crippled computers.

This is not the first time that a Windows upgrade has crippled computers with endless reboots. In February 2008, updates meant to prepare PCs for the release of Vista Service Pack 1 brought machines to their knees with reboot after reboot. In May 2008, the upgrade to Windows XP SP3 did the same. Microsoft blamed computer makers for the XP snafu.

Windows 7 itself is awesome -- but weird and spooky things are happening around its launch By Mike Elgan October 23, 2009 04:51 PM ET

Almost everyone likes Windows 7. It's faster, cleaner and easier to use. But is paranormal activity wrecking the rollout?

When Microsoft launched Windows 95 some 14 years ago, the entire launch event seemed charmed. It was sunny in Seattle. Locals wondered what that yellow thing was in the sky. And Microsoft's guests, who came in from all corners of the world, joked that Bill Gates must have paid a fortune for such weather.

It was the only Microsoft event I have ever attended where there was genuine excitement in the room. The Windows 95 commercials were optimistic and made you want to use a PC. No question: The Windows 95 launch was magic. Windows 7? Not so much.

Just in time for Halloween, the Windows 7 launch is being undermined by some unexplained phenomena. Consider the following:

What possessed the Today Show? The Today Show, which averages some 5 million viewers, hosted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to officially launch the Windows 7 operating system. But what possessed the Today Show art department to show Windows 7 on an older MacBook Pro behind Ballmer?

Microsoft can hardly blame the Today people. The company did the same thing in one of its own ads. The laptop used in a TV commercial for Microsoft's Songsmith is a MacBook. Microsoft put stickers all over the Mac, including one strategically placed over the Apple logo, to hide the fact. Are Windows laptops really that hard to find?

Ghost at CNBC crashes Microsoft stock

What kind of poltergeist at CNBC caused the network to mess up the Microsoft guidance numbers? The day after Windows 7's launch, Microsoft announced earnings that, though they represented lower revenue and profits, beat Wall Street estimates and earned the company a rapidly rising stock price. But at approximately 10:50 that morning, CNBC and a Wall Street Journal blog called Digits falsely reported that Microsoft had lowered its previous estimates about future earnings, which triggered a steep decline in the value of Microsoft shares.

Windows 7 burger comes back to haunt Microsoft

Who's the genius who came up with the idea of a promotional Burger King Windows 7 Whopper? It's a regular Whopper hamburger, but with seven hamburger patties. Burger King restaurants in Japan this week started selling the Microsoft tie-in sandwich through a print ad.

Unfortunately, journalists, bloggers and even CNN rushed to Tokyo to try the burger. The burger is big, bloated, ugly, hard to "use" and slow (to eat). The promotion just gave people another reason to laugh at Microsoft's marketing ineptitude.

Windows 7 curse kills Family Guy humor

The Family Guy cartoon is usually hilarious. But a Windows 7 tie-in did nothing but damage the reputations of both Microsoft and Family Guy. The Windows 7 segment -- which isn't a commercial, but actually part of the show -- was meant to go viral, and it did. Unfortunately, all the online chatter about the video was about how bad it was, and how shameful it was for the Family Guy producers to sell out like that.

Windows 7 launch party-goers need an exorcism?

As part of its broad set of Windows 7 launch initiatives, Microsoft contracted with a company called House Party to organize Windows 7 launch parties around the country. Selected party hosts got copies of Windows 7 signed by Steve Ballmer (uh, that increases its value by approximately nothing&), plus "party favors" you would expect to see at the birthday of a 6-year-old.

The video was created by House Party, not Microsoft. But how could Microsoft allow it to happen? You've seen the video. The only possible explanation is that the actors are possessed by evil spirits.

And you've probably seen most of the inevitable parody videos. But have you seen the new Funny or Die parody? Ouch!

Paranormal activity explains loss of Internet at U.K. launch

During the official U.K. launch event in London, the demonstration PCs on the stage lost Internet connectivity during a demo of the Virtual Earth application. Giant screens all over the presentation hall showed huge error messages saying that an Internet connection could not be found.

Lack of Internet access ruined the subsequent demo of the Sky Player. After resuming with a Q&A session and believing the problem solved, Microsoft executives tried again to demonstrate Sky Player, and again the Internet connection had mysteriously vanished.

There's no question about it. Something eerie is happening around Microsoft's Windows 7 marketing. But don't let that spook you. Windows 7 is the best version of Windows that has ever existed.

Just stay away from that burger, and you'll be fine.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Contact Mike at, follow him on Twitter or his blog, The Raw Feed.

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