Before you ask, the answer is "No, I will not give you a copy of the CD or a product key. It's for school, and I'm actually going to be honest about it for once in my life."
A benefit to enrolling in CSU Fullerton's Online MSIT program is that we have a group license to our own MSDN library. I can download almost any Microsoft product out there for free! (Well, it's part of my tuition, I guess, so it's not totally free)
It took a while to do, since downloading a DVD-sized ISO is a project unto itself. The initial download from MSDN is for an installer application that downloads the ISO in an encrypted format, which then decrypts it. This wouldn't be a big deal except my laptop had virtually no diskspace left and my desktop is running Fedora (decidedly not windows, in case you didn't know). I learned that the installer works perfectly under wine (windows emulator) and so now I'm downloading like nobody's business.
So the simple part was over. I backed up all the sensitive bits from my hard drive (which wasn't really that much) and installed Windows 7 on my laptop. Now, since I attempted to install SuSE 10.3 Alpha when it was first released (duh, Alpha) I swore I would never subject myself to early-release operating systems. I wanted to make sure an OS was stable before marrying myself into it.... well, at least stable enough to get by. Installing W7 was a big breach of that promise. Beta copies were released about a year ago, and full release was only opened to the market within the last couple months. (Yes, I'm estimating because I'm too lazy to go find exact release dates. Sue me.) Now I've committed to using a new, early-release OS.
It's so new that nothing supports it! I went through murderous hell this evening trying to get the damn display driver to install. At least I don't have the lame-ass Catalyst Control Center. I don't need another app to control something that the OS does natively unless it does a much better job of what it's replacing. Catalyst is there to replace the Desktop Settings, but you can't access it through the Desktop Settings panel. You have to open a separate program.
After about two hours of beating on the damn computer and scrubbing through the web for answers, I found that I could download the damn Radeon driver from the Gateway website. All they had for drivers are for Vista or XP. Funny though that in the end, the Vista drivers were crap and the XP driver worked properly right away.
As I get to know W7, I'll keep posting my comments, complaints, compliments regarding my experiences. Next step is to install Office and Visual Studio.
Wish me luck!