The more you understand about software installation, the better
prepared you’ll be to resolve problems you may encounter. Generally, the
installation process starts when you trigger the AutoPlay or Autorun
process. AutoPlay or Autorun in turn starts the software application’s
Setup program. Setup is a program responsible for managing the
installation process. Part of the installation process involves validating
your credentials and checking the software’s compatibility with Windows
AutoPlay options determine how Windows 7 handles files on
CDs, DVDs, and portable devices. You can configure separate AutoPlay
options for each type of CD, DVD, and media your computer can
With software and games, you have the following AutoPlay options
(see Figure 1):
- Install or run program
Uses the program’s Autorun file to start installing or
running the program automatically.
- Open folder to view files using Windows Explorer
Opens Windows Explorer so that you can browse the CD or
Figure 1. Selecting the Autorun or Setup option to install or run a
You can configure AutoPlay options by completing the following
Click Start→Default Programs.
On the Default Programs page in the Control Panel, click
Change AutoPlay settings.
As shown in Figure 4-2, use
the lists under Media to set the default AutoPlay option to use for
each type of media. The various AutoPlay options require Windows to
determine the type of disc and media you’ve inserted. This can
sometimes slow down the disc recognition process. “Ask me every
time” is a safe choice, as it requires you to decide before any
action is taken.
If you don’t want to use AutoPlay, clear the “Use AutoPlay for
all media and devices” checkbox. Keep in mind that this will disable
AutoPlay for both media and devices.
Click Save to save your settings.
Dislike AutoPlay for media but like AutoPlay for devices?
Instead of disabling AutoPlay completely, set the default value for
all media as “Take no action.” This will allow you to still use
AutoPlay with devices.
When AutoPlay is enabled, Windows 7 checks for a file
named Autorun.inf or a similar
file, such as StartCD.ini, when you
insert a CD or DVD into a CD or DVD drive. For software applications and
games, this file identifies the Setup program and related installation parameters that
should be used to install the software or game.
Figure 2. Setting AutoPlay defaults
StartCD.ini, and similar files are
all text-based. This means you can view their contents in any standard
text editor, such as WordPad or Notepad. Most Autorun.inf files are similar to the
DisplayName=Microsoft Encarta 2007
When AutoPlay triggers this Autorun.inf file, Windows 7 opens a file
named Setup.exe when the CD or DVD
is inserted into the CD or DVD drive. Because Setup.exe is a program, Windows 7 runs this
program. The Autorun.inf file also
specifies an icon to use, and the program’s display name. As long as
AutoPlay is enabled, you can retrigger the default action by ejecting
and then reinserting the installation media. You can also double-click
on the drive’s icon in Windows Explorer, but this will bypass the “Ask
me every time” and go direct to an Autorun or AutoPlay action.
Although you’ll usually find that an Autorun.inf file opens and then runs a Setup
program, this isn’t always the case. When AutoPlay triggers this
Autorun.inf file, Windows 7 opens a
file named Default.htm in Internet
[autorun]StartCD.ini and similar files
expand on the basic options provided in Autorun.inf files. For example, StartCD.ini defines a window to display along
with the graphics, text, and options for that window. The caption,
display text, command to run, the run action and the error text for each
option are listed under an [Option] entry, such as:
[Option1]3. Application Setup
DataText1=Install Windows TS.
DataText2=Install the Windows TS. The Windows TS contains a set of tools
to help you manage terminal services.
DataText3=Once the installation is complete, click Start, click All Programs,
click Windows TS, click Documentation and open the Windows TS User's Guide.
ErrorSoln=Check to make sure that this file is accessible. If it is not accessible,
try opening the file from its original location.
With Windows 7, only administrators can install software. This
means you must either install software using an account with
administrator privileges, or provide administrator permissions when
prompted. Administrator privileges are required to change, repair, and
uninstall software as well.
Most software applications have a setup program that uses Windows
Installer, InstallShield, or Wise Install. The job of the installer program is to track
the installation process and make sure that the installation completes
successfully. If the installation fails, the installer is also
responsible for restoring your computer to its original state by
reversing all the changes the Setup program has made. Although this
works great in theory, you may still encounter problems, particularly
when installing older programs. Older programs won’t have and won’t be
able to use the features of the latest versions of installer programs,
and as a result, they sometimes are unable to uninstall a program
Because a partially uninstalled program can spell disaster
for your computer, you should ensure your computer is configured to use
System Restore. Though the
installers for most current programs automatically trigger a restore
point creation before making any changes to your computer, the
installers for older programs may not. You can manually create a restore
point. This way, if you
run into problems, you’ll have an effective recovery strategy.
Before installing any software or game, you should do the
Check whether it is compatible with Windows 7. You can determine
compatibility in several ways. You can check the software packaging,
which should specify whether the program is compatible or provide a
Microsoft Windows 7 logo. Alternatively, you can check the
software developer’s website for a list of compatible operating
Check the software developer’s website for updates or patches for the program. If available, download the
updates or patches prior to installing the software and then install
them immediately after completing the software installation. Some
software programs, such as Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft
Office, have automated update processes that you can use to check
for updates after installing the software. In this case, after
installation, run the software and then use the built-in update
feature to check for updates or patches.
To avoid known compatibility issues with legacy applications,
Windows 7 includes an automated detection feature known as the
Program Compatibility Assistant. If the Program
Compatibility Assistant detects a known compatibility issue when you
install or run a legacy application, it notifies you about the problem
and provides possible solutions for resolving the problem automatically.
You can then allow the Program Compatibility Assistant to reconfigure
the application for you. Although the Program Compatibility Assistant is
helpful, it can’t detect or avoid all compatibility issues.
You should not use the Program Compatibility Assistant or the
Program Compatibility Wizard to install older virus
detection, backup, or system programs. These programs may attempt to
modify your computer’s filesystem in a way that is incompatible
with Windows 7, and this could prevent Windows 7 from starting.
Diagnosing a problem you are having as a compatibility issue isn’t always easy. For deeper
compatibility issues, you may need to contact the software developer’s
technical support staff. Some issues even support staff may not be able
to resolve without time to study the problem. Consider the
When a computer manufacturer shipped computers with Windows
XP, many recently purchased computers experienced infrequent “red
screen” crashes. In contrast to blue screen crashes, which typically
are related to operating system or hardware components, software
drivers can cause a red screen crash. This problem was eventually
pinpointed to an incompatibility between the firmware BIOS the
computer was using and the software driver for certain graphics
cards with a new 3D graphics feature. To resolve the problem, the
computer’s firmware BIOS and graphics card driver both needed to be
When a software manufacturer shipped a new version of its
application suite, many recently purchased computers experienced
problems starting and running the applications. After an automated
update process had run, users were told their product licenses were
invalid. This problem eventually was pinpointed to an
incompatibility between the license-validation feature used by the
application and a hard disk mirroring configuration being used by
some customers. To resolve the problem, the software developers had
to create an application patch that let the license-validation
feature work with hard disks that were mirrored.
In both examples, the compatibility issues were the direct result
of technological innovation. In the first example, graphics cards
implementing new 3D graphics features caused an unforeseen
incompatibility with the computer’s firmware. In the second example,
computers increasingly began shipping with mirrored hard disks, a
feature that was previously used primarily on servers, and the
license-validation feature was unable to recognize and validate the
software applications across the mirrored disks.
4. Windows and 64-bit Programs
The future of computing is 64-bit, and we’re in the midst
of the changeover. To use 64-bit programs, you must install a 64-bit
version of Windows.
Even if you don’t foresee a need to run 64-bit applications, you
may need the use the 64-bit version of Windows 7 to access all of the
RAM in your computer. The 32-bit operating systems are, in theory,
limited to 4 GB of RAM. In practice, this is generally closer to 3 GB,
because some of the address space is reserved for other
A 64-bit operating system lets you go far beyond 4 GB, with its
theoretical maximum memory measured in billions
of gigabytes (but with significant practical limits, such as the
number of memory slots in your computer and the maximum size of
available memory modules).
For this reason, you’ll find that computers sold with 4 GB or
more of RAM invariably come with a 64-bit Windows operating
When you are working with a 64-bit operating system, keep the
following in mind:
Any 16-bit Windows applications will not install.
The 64-bit programs will be installed by default in subfolders
of the Program Files
The 32-bit programs will be installed by default in subfolders
of the Program Files (x86)
Registry keys for 32-bit programs will be found in
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node rather than
Some programs may have both a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version.
In most cases, you’ll get better performance with the native 64-bit
version of a program. If you encounter compatibility issues, you can run
the 32-bit x86 version of the program instead. If you are running a
program and don’t know whether it is 32-bit or 64-bit, press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to start Task Manager. On
the Processes tab, 32-bit processes are identified with “*32” after the