- Getting the ISO Image
- Creating the Installation Media USB
- Installing Windows 7
- Updating Windows 7
- Installing Drivers
Recently, W10 has decided that HDDs are the devil -- and must be burned for their crimes (R.I.P. why did M$ kill my HDD?); so, I had to (belatedly) purchase an SSD, and "get with the times." For some reason, I thought "why not W7? Maybe my ATI 3650 drivers will finally work." After going through the hassle of getting an updated W7 up-and-running: so they did -- and more.
W7 is pleasantly quick; the base system is fairly small (I believe I had maybe a dozen services on start-up from a fresh install); and, get this, you actually have some semblance of control over your system.
I think I may have even gained 10 IQ points just from the switch; although, that may just be my mind getting "back up to speed" from having to handicap itself, waiting for W10 response times (it really is god awful on older hardware).
Anyway, enough rambling. I'm going to briefly outline all the steps I took to get this working on a W500, so enjoy.
2. Getting the ISO Image
There are an endless amount of sources for this; "MyDigitalLife" so far has been the best. They usually have a thread pinned with multiple mirrors for all the different versions (Home, Pro, Enterprise -- for x86 and x64 -- etc.).
Here's two of their mirrors (and an official MS mirror):
- The Eye: Windows 7 Directory
- Jerry Ching: Windows 7 Directory
- Official MS Servers: via HeiDoc.net (thank you, dr_st)
SP1 means it's pre-bundled with some updates already, and shaves off about 30 minutes from the inevitable updates.
AFAICT, Enterprise and Ultimate are the same exact software -- only differing in how their licensing/activation work.
3. Creating the Installation Media USB
Rufus makes it laughably easy.
Download the portable version, extract, then run it.
- Point it to your USB drive
- Select your Windows ISO
- Click "Start"
4. Installing Windows 7
Reboot your laptop: when the ThinkPad logo pops up, hit F12 and choose to boot from your USB.
Now, just follow the on-screen instructions and go through the motions.
Except, when it asks you if you would like to install updates: don't.
5. Updating Windows 7
Perhaps the most time-consuming step.
Turn-Off Automatic Updates
Go to Control Panel -> View by: Small Icons -> Windows Update -> Change settings
Under Important Updates, set it to: Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them
Under Recommended updates, mark the checkox.
Choose an Update Source
Now, you have two options:
- Install the updates by-hand
- Pros: You know exactly what updates you're getting
- Cons: Very hands-on, time-consuming, and can bork your build if you install incompatible updates at the same time
- Use Simplix UpdatePack7R2
- Pros: Simple, one-click; it installs all the "good" updates, and none of the telemetry and "Please Upgrade to Windows 10" mumbo-jumbo
- Cons: No flexibility; it installs every single update that's packed in. If you've already installed a few updates on your own, it won't work (even if you roll them back/system restore to a previous version)
If you're going with a: I recommend reading a guide on which updates to install, in what order, and which ones to "Hide."
Roll with the Punches
I did a; unfortunately, I cannot find the link right now: there's a forum post floating around that walked you through the whole process, and led to a successful complete-update on my end. I'll see if I can find it.
Nonetheless, don't be alarmed if the first time you run "Check for Updates" it looks like it's stalling: there's about 150-210 updates it need to query from MS servers, so it will take some time to populate the full list.
After a few reboots, you should be GTG with a fully-updated system. I recommend creating a restore point or imaging your system, so you never have to go through that again. With Simplix, you can even integrate all the updates before-hand into the ISO, and they'll be automatically applied when you install W7.
There's also a whole rabbit-hole of customizing the ISO before installing, including: remove certain features completely (e.g Windows Defender, certain baked-in services (including telemetry), etc.), integrate drivers directly into the image, and customize the base settings -- so won't have to fiddle with anything once the install has completed.
Check out MSMG Toolkit (free, Curses-style GUI) and NTLite (not free, useful GUI) if that's something that interests you.
6. Installing Drivers
Lenovo has decided to hide all the old drivers (f.e W500 drivers) behind an unindexed EOL site; all you have to do is put in your machine specs, and it'll pull up a page with all the drivers you may need/want.
That should be just about everything you need to get a base system up-and-running.
This is the quickest path I found, from countless trial-and-errors along my way.
Now if only Bluetooth worked properly.
Note to Mods:
If the included links or references are against any rules, please: let me know/edit them out.