Two years ago I decided to upgrade my tablet PC to Windows Vista, a process that I detailed here. I don’t use my tablet very much, but I do like to get the pen out from time to time to do some scribbling. The improvements in Windows Vista made the tablet much more usable, and though it wasn’t without problems, I wouldn’t have gone back to Windows XP. Slowly but surely I’ve replaced or upgraded the rest of my computers to Windows 7, and I love it. It’s a great operating system that just works. I decided to see if Seven could breathe new life into my tablet too.
The first hurdle was the same as last time – the lack of a DVD drive in the tablet. Fortunately it was much easier to deal with this time! I took the installation DVD and put it on a USB key, something that appears to be quite common given all the tutorials available online. Here’s the TechNet guide and here’s a useful guide from Ars Technica.
The install proceeded normally, and as quickly as I had come to expect from Windows 7. All was going well until the first boot up after installation, when the machine froze. I restarted it, but the same thing happened. I decided to try to boot into safe mode, which didn’t work because the machine had not yet been setup. I searched around online and found many people talking about removing unnecessary hardware. The only extra thing I had was the D-Link Wireless card I had added (you can see it sticking out in the picture). I removed it, restarted, and everything worked fine! Success!
After all the Windows updates were finished, I installed a couple more things. First was the Toshiba Value Added Package for Windows 7 (click on Downloads), which is meant for the M400 but works fine on the M200. Second was the NVIDIA ForceWare driver. The 96.85 version worked reliably for me, enabling Aero without transparency. After that it was pretty much good to go!
I ran the Windows Experience test, which resulted in an overall drop from what I had under Vista:
Oddly enough, the gaming graphics score went up slightly! A score of 1.0 is a far cry from the 5.9 my desktop computer gets (and that’s just because of the hard drive score, everything else is 6.9 or higher), but considering how old the tablet is, I guess I can’t complain.
Under Windows Vista, everything worked as it did in Windows XP except for the external display. I haven’t tried that under Windows 7 yet, but a few other things no longer work, such as the buttons on the side of the screen, and more importantly, screen rotation. I’ve looked into a few threads where some people have successfully made it work, but I haven’t tried any of their solutions just yet. I’m not sure I want to mess with the video drivers too much now that I have something stable. I never take my tablet with me anymore anyway (I have a netbook for that), it’s strictly a home PC, so I’m not too worried about it.
There are some nice improvements to the tablet functionality in Windows 7, and combined with how much better the OS is than Vista in general, I’m happy with the upgrade! I’m not sure how much life the hardware has left though – I suspect Windows 7 will be the last OS it runs, but you never know.