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Microsoft To Offer Windows 7 On USB Thumb Drives? 259

Posted by timothy
from the please-send-me-your-repurposable-drives dept.
Barence writes "Microsoft is reportedly considering offering Windows 7 on USB thumb drives to allow netbook owners to upgrade their machines. Windows has, until now, only been distributed on DVDs or via download. However, netbooks don't have optical drives and the Windows 7 ISO weighs in at 2.3GB, which would take several hours to download on an average broadband connection and potentially do serious damage to a customer's broadband data cap."
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Microsoft To Offer Windows 7 On USB Thumb Drives?

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Saturday June 27, 2009 @03:35PM (#28496851) Journal
    It's amazing what kind of viruses you find on USB sticks these days!

    And Microsoft chases OLPC once again [slashdot.org].
    • Re:It's Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 27, 2009 @03:57PM (#28497049)

      Virus or not, Windows must be getting pretty good if this "data cap" shit is all they can come up with. The last Linux distro I downloaded weighed in at 4,3 Gb and it was nowhere near complete.

      Yes, I know, there's Geexbox with its 20 Mb, but that's not a full OS.

      • Re:It's Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @04:18PM (#28497239)

        The last Linux distro I downloaded weighed in at 4,3 Gb

        Installed size? Or disk size? Because many distros include hundreds (thousands?) of software packages that are not part of the default install.
        Often, software types that MS would get into deep trouble for bundling with windows.

      • Re:It's Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by clang_jangle (975789) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @05:16PM (#28497829) Journal

        The last Linux distro I downloaded weighed in at 4,3 Gb and it was nowhere near complete.

        No version of Windows I've ever seen is "anywhere near complete". You have to download 3rd-party drivers and software, unless you don't plan to do anything but play minesweeper.

        • Like third party security programs, office software, communication software, anti-spyware, cd image burning, dvd playback, file transfer software, secure web browser...the list goes on and on.

          Linux distros like debian and ubuntu come with everything windows does and more in terms of role. You can argue the programs are worse, but in terms of tasks...yeah.

          Glad microsoft is finally following in unetbootin's steps with the USB deployment. This way if I ever went insane I could install Win7 on my x61.

          • by Anpheus (908711)

            I have Windows 7 installed on my x60 and it went fine with a USB CD/DVD drive.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by aztracker1 (702135)
            Well, if they added any of that stuff, they'd be in court again... There's a free (beer) security suite MS recently announced, though I'll keep nod32. MS would probably love to include a "Lite" version of Word. Then again, OOo is available for win too. CD burning (images too) are in Win7. Nothing built in for file xfer, but there's always Filezilla. IE8 on Win7 is sandboxed, which is better than other browsers on any OS currently, which run in full user context. IIRC messenger is included as well. I
            • Yeah, I've always wondered if anyone in the linux world was going to develop bindiffs for package updates. Of course, you have either chaining or n^2 necessary things to cache, but it might safe some bandwidth if implemented intelligently.

              As to updates, Microsoft's updates every Black Tuesday are bandwidth killers too, I fail to see any significant difference here to be honest. If you have a linux box with little installed it will have low update needs. If you have a lot installed it will be high, but when

              • by Temposs (787432)

                Fedora implements this. They call them "Delta RPMs". A link and a quote for you:

                http://geeks.pirillo.com/profiles/blogs/fedora-11-review

                A lot of Leonidas' improvements are under the hood, much like Snow Leopard will be. Tighter integration with YUM and Package Kit means that it installs software faster than Apt which Ubuntu and Debian use. It also has a feature by default called Yum-Presto. Which has been available since Fedora 8 and openSuSE 11. Yum-Presto creates Delta RPMs which contains only the changed code of an update. Downloading only what has changed, not the Whole file itself. What differs from the Ubuntu update system is that Yum-Presto does not require special .debs for updating. It just scans the RPM on a configured server and the Code on your computer and complies the difference. While the Ubuntu way of doing it is that special .debs have to be built by the developer to take advantage of this. Another feature of Yum-Presto is that when you install software, it can use code already on your computer so you can save bandwidth installing software too.

      • Re:It's Amazing (Score:5, Informative)

        by Korin43 (881732) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @05:18PM (#28497849) Homepage
        Ubuntu fits on a 700 Mb CD and is just as completely as Windows. Maybe more because it comes with Open Office.
        • by mcrbids (148650)

          Yeah, Ubuntu inside 700 MB isn't really the point, now, is it?

          Because Ubuntu today at 700 MB is both a far cry bigger than an OS was years ago, and a far cry smaller than many otherwise viable alternatives. Conclusion? OS's are getting bigger every year, and this won't stop any time soon.

          And Optical drives are *not* getting bigger to match. Sure, there's Blue-Ray DVDs, but they just aren't getting the play in the marketplace that we all thought they would. In the dozen or so computers I have, NONE of them h

          • USB / flash is the perfect medium for distributing installation media,

            I agree. The only issue are old motherboards that can't boot off of them.

      • Re:It's Amazing (Score:5, Informative)

        by dov_0 (1438253) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:30PM (#28498831)
        I've tested a lot of Linux distros, but most of the leading distros seem to fit on one 700mb CD. Full OS with a good suite of applications.
      • by MrCrassic (994046)
        Debian can be icompletely nstalled with less than 700 MB, as can Ubuntu. Just saying.
      • by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:47AM (#28501807) Homepage

        Windows 7 64bit install is 10 GB, even with significant amount of features turned off (and compressed,removed).

        Also, when comparing Linux to anything else, install a full feature development environment to that OS along with Documentation which will also include debug libraries etc. For example Visual Studio and XCode on OS X. That is the real size for you to compare while there are many other effects like Windows help files (CHM) are really,really compressed to a point to choke low Mhz systems.

        Another thing is, the amazing waste of space MS does by basically copying entire thing to local HD while installing. I wondered if they were that stupid and now we see the real deal, it was all for these kinds of feature plans. You know, user will likely delete the USB key contents somehow or they will get corrupted etc.

      • Re:It's Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

        by walterbyrd (182728) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:28PM (#28505195)

        The last Linux distro I downloaded weighed in at 4,3 Gb and it was nowhere near complete.

        Try Ubuntu.

        BTW: the 4.3 GB distro was not "Linux" but Linux with a lot of applications.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      If anyone has a big box of working 128 meg and 256 meg thumb drives to sell, please email larryish-near-gmail-dot-com

      I am willing to pay on delivery, or trade out some tasty bits and bobs that I have in the workshop.

      Sorry for the off-topic post, but I need a few dozen small USB sticks for an electronics project and haven't been able to find any on eBay.

  • by chebucto (992517) * on Saturday June 27, 2009 @03:42PM (#28496937) Homepage

    The next step is to convince AOL to start sending out their software on thumb drives. Then we all win!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Not if they send out 64 MB thumb drives. :P

      By the way: Does this still happen in reality? I haven't seen their CDs for a decade.

      • by NotBorg (829820)

        I don't know about that. Even if they were only 64MB, the fact that they are not read-only makes them much more interesting than their coaster counterparts. If they were just as prolific as the CDs were... I could see many interesting if not amusing projects springing up to make use of them. Sure they may not be turned into a solar arrays but I could still see them being used in other arrays.

        I don't know what the practical limits are to chaining USB hubs and devices. I don't really care enough to find

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 27, 2009 @03:45PM (#28496967)
    The summary states "Windows has, until now, only been distributed on DVDs or via download" Calling BS , raise your hand if you remember windows on CD's, 3.5, or floppy... Windows has been distributed ion many methods.
    • The summary states "Windows has, until now, only been distributed on DVDs or via download" Calling BS , raise your hand if you remember windows on CD's, 3.5, or floppy... Windows has been distributed ion many methods.

      IIRC, MS Office was offered on floppies as well.

      • by 16384 (21672)

        IIRC, MS Office was offered on floppies as well.

        yep, 32 of them, if I remember correctly.

        • by MadnessASAP (1052274) <madnessasap@gmail.com> on Saturday June 27, 2009 @05:18PM (#28497847)

          And the 32nd floppy would have an unrecoverable read error during the install.

        • this site [educationo...puters.com] claims that you could get Office 97 on 45 disks.

          • by Yvan256 (722131)

            Office 97 on only 45 disks... isn't that false advertising?

            • They used some kind of weird compression to stick 1.7 MB on each disk.

              • by Gonoff (88518)

                There were 2 purposes of the odd disc format
                1. To save money on floppies
                2. Do make it harder to back them up - an early anti-piracy method

                PS the first floppy was a standard 1.44 MB one. It included a driver for the format of the rest.

        • by toddestan (632714)

          The stack I have here for Office 95 ends at 25, with disk 25 being PowerPoint Viewer. Though there were a bunch of different versions so I don't doubt it.

          One thing that pissed me off a while back was one of the Windows upgrade disks, which would install on a blank drive provided you could prove you owned a previous version of Windows by inserting the install media when setup prompted you. Only thing is it would only scan the CD drive, so me with my stack of Windows 95 floppies was S.O.L. (at least without

    • As I recall, Windows 95 was the last one to be distributed on floppy. I remember installing it, and it was a ridiculous number of floppies. Upwards of 20 I think.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vux984 (928602)

        As I recall, Windows 95 was the last one to be distributed on floppy. I remember installing it, and it was a ridiculous number of floppies. Upwards of 20 I think.

        Nope only 13. Windows NT 3.1 came on 22 though.

  • Maybe MSFT can copy Linux and make it a live distro so people can try it out before full install... wait, that'll never make them bite. Nevermind.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by westlake (615356)

      Maybe MSFT can copy Linux and make it a live distro so people can try it out before full install... wait, that'll never make them bite. Nevermind.

      It may not be a "live distro," but Win 7 has already captured about half the desktop share of Linux. Operating System Market Share [hitslink.com]

      Net Applications is mass-market oriented. If your gadget can access the web, Net Applications will track it.

      W3Schools is developer-oriented. But even there Win 7 has 1/4 the share of Linux. OS Platform Statistics [w3schools.com]

      It took Linux six d

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smoker2 (750216)
        You forgot to say "among windows users". Moving from 1 windows version to another is not equivalent to moving from windows to linux. So what was your point again ?
  • If it's taking someone (in the US) "several hours" to download 2+ GB with their "average broadband connection", then they don't have an "average broadband connection". There is some debate about what the average broadband speed actually is in the US, but even the low end is 1.9mbps (that was from an Ars Technica back in 2007 - surely it's faster by now). Let's take the midrange, again from back in 2007, of 4.8mbps. That makes a 2.3GB download take little more than one hour. Even if congestion slows ones spe
    • Re:Not so average (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @04:01PM (#28497085) Homepage Journal

      You may not be aware that "average" in New York City, and "average" in Backwoods Nowhere are entirely two different animals. It takes me DAYS to download a 4 GB ISO. Seriously, I wouldn't bullshit you. I use Firestarter firewall, and set it to shape traffice, giving priority to interactive (browsing) traffic, so I'm only using about 85 to 90 % of my bandwidth for a download. On "average" it takes between 4 1/2 and 6 days to download a movie.

      Now that you realize that not everyone has the bandwidth that you enjoy, you might do a little research, and find out what percentage of the US population enjoys "fast" internet. Or not. No research is required to stick your foot in your mouth again. ;)

      • Sounds like one of those cases where you'd get higher bandwidth via DVD's sent in the mail. Modern version of an old saying that goes something like, "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a grad student with a station wagon full of tapes..." Or maybe you should be strapping thumb drives to carrier pidgeons. (re.: RFC 1149) In any case, I agree, we need to run fiber everywhere -- there's not much excuse not to do it.
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        I live in the middle of nowhere [google.ca] and it would take me less than 2 hours 30 minutes to download 4GB of data, and that's not even at maximum speed. My ISP isn't a huge company either, they manage phone and internet connections for small towns all over the province (where Bell/etc wouldn't even care to get the marketshare - too small).

        You need to kick your ISP where it hurts (tech support, customer service, whatever).

      • by Kjella (173770)

        It takes me DAYS to download a 4 GB ISO. (...) On "average" it takes between 4 1/2 and 6 days to download a movie.

        Some quick math says that works out to 100kbit/s. I guess noone's disputing that, only that what you have can under no possible definition be considered "broadband". It's less than double ISDN, even - which is what I could get in a city of 150k people back in 1997. I guess the most positive thing I manage to say about your line is that it beats dial-up....

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lets play with some numbers. To be considered a broadband connection it has to be at least 256 Kb/sec. This works to about 32 KB/sec.
      2.3 GB then would take almost 21 hours. 512Kb = 10.5 hours, 1024 = 5.25 hours, etc. (you can see the pattern)
      Yeah, that would take a while. Even my home connection(5Mbit, so I'm going to call that 5000 Kb/sec (which I have held solid for a few hours at slightly above 600KB/sec) ) would be 1.1 hours. Still awfully long depending on if it was able to hold that the entire time.

      P

    • The article to which you are referring is probably this one [arstechnica.com] It's not quite clear how 1.9 Mbs is the average. Is it a mode, a median, or a mean?

      The paper behind the article includes this gem.

      There are 8 megabits in a megabyte, so a 100 megabit per second connection takes 8 seconds to transmit a 100
      megabyte file.

  • by bignetbuy (1105123) <r0ckNO@SPAMoperamail.com> on Saturday June 27, 2009 @03:57PM (#28497051) Journal
    Who hired them and how long do you think they will last at Microsoft? hohoho

    Ok, being serious. It makes sense. With Time Warner slapping draconian download caps on those poor people in Texas, a USB flash drive for OS distribution in a growing netbook market shows some...slight...thinking ahead of the curve. Can you imagine the ire of not only having to download a 3.5GB OS onto a netbook but if you actually run over your cap and get charged EXTRA for it? Oh man. I would shoot my netbook.

    Kudos to whomever pulled this rabbit out of the hat.
  • by Teckla (630646) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @04:07PM (#28497135)

    On a related note, several years back, I emailed Ubuntu with a product suggestion. I asked them for "Ubuntu on USB Flash Drives", installable via a simple Windows executable. Double click the executable, choose your USB flash drive, and it would install on the USB flash drive and just work.

    My thought was that it would make it much easier for Windows users that are curious about Linux to try it out. No need to burn a disc first (burning discs can be complicated for non-technical users), no need to boot from the optical drive to get into the Ubuntu installer, etc.

    And since USB flash drives are read/write, you could even let them update packages, save documents, etc. A much better, more realistic experience than a read-only test drive of Ubuntu on CD.

    They very kindly replied thanking me for the suggestion, but alas, it never materialized...

  • It seems to me that a usb ROM would make a ton of sense for things like this. If not USB than SD cards - as these are becoming fairly ubiquitous pretty quickly.

  • Downloading Windows 7 for free, burning to a DVD and installing was a surreal enough experience already!
  • by scottv67 (731709) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @05:02PM (#28497697)
    the Windows 7 ISO weighs in at 2.3GB, which would take several hours to download on an average broadband connection and potentially do serious damage to a customer's broadband data cap.

    There is an easy solution to this problem: if you don't have a decent connection at home, download the ISO at work. Check with your company's firewall nazi (that's one of the hats I wear during the day). See if he/she objects to you downloading that ISO or if company policy prohibits this type of download. If you ask nicely, the firewall nazi will probably find a way to download that ISO image rather quickly and you won't have to worry about burning up your bandwidth cap at home or waiting five days for the download at home to finish. If you mention something like, "Hey, I heard you like Five Guys. Can I buy you a burger and fries sometime?" as you hand the USB drive to the fw nazi, he/she will be much more receptive to your request. It's all in how you ask. Am I going to download a copy of the latest Star Trek movie for you (even if some free F.G. is on the line)? *No.* Would I download an ISO from Microsoft for you if you ask in a pleasant tone? Probably. Also, the chances are good that I have already downloaded that ISO for my own testing or someone who sits near me at work has a copy of that ISO.
    • by Metroid72 (654017)

      Let me guess... you're the firewall Nazi at your company.

      • by scottv67 (731709)
        Let me guess... you're the firewall Nazi at your company.

        Let me guess...you didn't even read the message that I posted.

        "Check with your company's firewall nazi (that's one of the hats I wear during the day)."

        ('firewall nazi' is a title given by one of the corporate counsel at a place I used to work when our email scanning appliance blocked a non-work-related .exe attachment from getting to that particular lawyer's inbox.)
    • by lymond01 (314120)

      This is Slashdot. We are the firewall Nazis.

  • by stox (131684) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @05:21PM (#28497879) Homepage

    They would offer Windows 7 in a convenient suppository.

    • by n1hilist (997601)

      ...and have Developers! coming out of my arse?

      No thanks. Besides, Ubuntu is already brown and it installs from USB just fine. :D

  • by cyberjock1980 (1131059) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @05:31PM (#28497947)

    Isn't the news of Microsofts ideas. It's that the article already makes the assumption that you have bandwidth caps and Microsoft is having to work around them. On Microsoft's front, this is great. However, this just reeks of society accepting that bandwidth caps are here, acceptable, and we should just succumb to our limitations.

    If the article had instead mentioned the "new unacceptable limitations being imposed by broadband ISPs" I would see it differently. Instead it states "...which would take several hours to download on an average broadband connection and potentially do serious damage to a customer's broadband data cap.".

    To me, the article writer is already stating that bandwidth caps are here to stay, we lost the war on bandwidth caps, and we should rejoice that Microsoft has plans to overcome these obstacles.

    This is always how major obstacles are overcome when the public cries.

    1. Proudly display your new 'grand plan' and how it's 'needed' or 'helpful'.
    2. Public outcry comes and you dash for cover to avoid being attacked.
    3. Bring the program back a little at a time and convince the press (or buy them) into stating your plan as if it is already here and in use.
    4. Bring your 'grand plan' to market. The public is sick of hearing about the negatives of the 'grand plan' and have decided that it WILL happen, there's nothing they can do about it, and should just accept that it is here to stay.

    This happens with MANY things in life...Obama's 'grand' plan for health care, Bush's bailout plans, ISP bandwidth caps... I could make a very long list of things that you can read about that are worded as if they are here already.

    I admit, the article is written with a .uk domain, so maybe the UK already has imposed limits. But I've seen wording here in the USA making statements implying everyone in the USA has bandwidth caps and we should all run and check them regularly.

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