Saturday, July 30, 2011

Configure a USB flash drive to be a Windows 7 installation platform

Author: Greg Shultz, July 27, 2011, 12:25 AM PDT

In a recent 10 Things blog, “10 Cool Things You Can Do with a USB Flash Drive,” I presented 10 tasks that you can perform with a flash drive, including booting an operating system. However, I have since discovered a technique on the Microsoft TechNet Magazine site that describes how you can use a USB flash drive to install Windows 7.

This technique is very cool for two reasons: First, a flash drive is much more responsive than an optical drive, since it doesn’t rely on physically moving components, so the installation procedure will be faster. Second, it provides an easy way to install Microsoft Windows 7 on a system that doesn’t have a DVD drive, such as a netbook.

Since this technique would be a valuable addition to the 10 Things list as well as to users planning on installing Windows 7 on a netbook or who want to be able to quickly and easily install Windows 7, such as the Family Pack, on multiple systems without having to mess around with a DVD, I thought that I would examine the technique.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I’ll show you how to use the DiskPart utility to configure a bootable USB flash drive that you can then use to install the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Getting started

Of course, in order to employ this technique you’ll need a USB flash drive that is big enough to hold the contents of the Windows 7 DVD. The Windows 7 RC DVD is about 2.5GB, and you can expect that the RTM DVD will be at least that if not more. For my test system I am using a 4GB USB flash drive.

Keep in mind that the procedure we will use will completely reformat the USB flash drive. So you want to make sure that you back up any data that you have on the drive before you begin.

The systems on which you want to install Windows 7 via the USB flash drive have to be able to be configured to boot from a USB drive. Most new systems have the capability to boot from a USB flash drive, and the operation can usually be configured in the BIOS or by simply pressing a certain key during bootup. You’ll need to check your specific hardware in order to be sure.

Using the DiskPart utility

As you may know, the DiskPart utility is a command-line version of the Disk Management snap-in and is designed to allow you to manage disks, partitions, or volumes from within scripts or directly from a command prompt. We can use the DiskPart command in Windows Vista or in Windows 7 to configure a USB flash drive to be a bootable device. (Keep in mind that Windows XP’s DiskPart command is unable to create a bootable USB flash drive.)

To begin, connect your USB flash drive to a computer on which you will be preparing the drive. For my example, I’ll be using a Windows Vista system.

Now, locate the command Prompt shortcut on the Start menu, right-click on it, and select the Run as Administrator command. Then, respond appropriately to the UAC. You can now launch the DiskPart utility by typing DiskPart on the command line. You’ll then see the DISKPART prompt, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
DiskPart has its own command-line environment complete with a special prompt.
Now that you’re in the DiskPart environment, you’ll need to locate the USB flash drive using the List Disk command. As you can see in Figure B, the List Disk command has identified my USB flash drive as Disk 5. I can verify that my USB flash drive is indeed Disk 5 by checking the Size column, which lists the size as 3906MB, which is roughly 4GB.
Figure B
Using the List Disk command displays all the disks in the system.
(If you have difficulty identifying your USB flash drive using the List Disk command, you can try the List Volume command, which will provide the drive letter as well as the label, both of which can help you to identify the drive.)

Once you identify the drive number of your USB flash drive, you will need to set the focus of the DiskPart environment on that disk. (This is an extremely important step–Make sure that you select the correct drive or you could accidentally destroy valuable data!) On my example, the USB flash drive is Disk 5, so I will use the command Select Disk 5, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C
To shift the focus over to the USB flash drive you’ll use the Select Disk command.
Now that your USB flash drive has the focus, you need to remove all the partition or volume formatting information from the disk. To do that, you’ll use the Clean command. The Clean operation should occur rather quickly. When it is done, you will see a success message like the one shown in Figure D.
Figure D
In order to start with a clean slate, you’ll use the Clean command to remove all partition and volume information from the USB flash drive.
You’ll now use the Create Partition Primary command to create a primary partition on the disk. After you create the partition, you will see a success message and the focus will automatically shift to the new partition. You’ll use the Active command to mark the partition as active, as shown inFigure E. Marking the partition as active will essentially allow the BIOS to recognize that the partition is a valid bootable system partition.
Figure E
Using the Create Partition Primary and the Active commands, you’ll create a bootable partition on the USB flash drive.
With the partition created and active, you’re now ready to quickly format the drive and set up the FAT32 file system using the Format fs=FAT32 quick command. (While you could format the drive as NTFS, the typical way to format a USB flash drive is to use FAT32.) Once the drive is formatted, you’ll use the Assign command, as shown in Figure F, to allow the drive to be assigned a drive letter.
Figure F
To complete the preparation, you’ll format the drive and assign it a drive letter.
The USB flash drive is now ready. At this point, you can use the Exit command to exit the DiskPart environment and then close the Command Prompt window.

Copying the Windows 7 files

Copying the Windows 7 files is easy. Just open Windows Explorer, access the Windows 7 DVD, select all the files and folders, and then drag and drop them on the USB flash drive icon, as shown in Figure G. Keep in mind that the copy operation will take a little while to complete.
Figure G
Once the USB flash drive is ready to go, you can copy all the files and folders from the Windows 7 DVD to the newly prepared bootable drive.

Installing Windows 7 from the USB flash drive

With the contents of the Windows 7 DVD on a bootable USB flash drive, installing the operating system is a snap. Just boot the system from the USB drive and the installation procedure will begin as it normally would, as shown in Figure H. However, the installation procedure will actually run quicker off a USB flash drive since it doesn’t contain any physically moving components.
Figure H
Once the system boots from the USB flash drive, the Windows 7 installation will begin as normal, but it will actually run faster.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

IM+ Updates to 1.1, adds support for Windows Live Messenger on WP7

im IMPlusWP7

IM+ was initially launched for WP7 few weeks ago, with support for Chat in Facebook®, Skype®, Yahoo!®, GTalk™, AIM®, Jabber, ICQ® and MySpace™!

Now, with version 1.1, they added chat in Windows Live Messenger.. making this the best IM offered for WP7 to date (although KIK is smoother, but i only have 1 friend using KIK.. i dumped it)


IM+ on Windows Phone

'Always-on' communication across most of public messaging systems

Stay in touch with your your friends in a single buddy list right on your Windows Phone. Anytime, anywhere. IM+ offers ultimate mobile IMing experience with its sleek and polished interface.

Save battery life

Take advantage of Tile and Toast notifications without running IM+ in background.

IM+ on Windows Phone

Take the most out of your Windows Phone

One-tap access to phone dialing and email composing right from IM conversations. Simply tap on phone number or email to contact your buddy outside of IM+.

IM+ on Windows Phone

First multi-messenger application for Windows Phone is finally here

IM+ does not limit your daily IMing to one-on-one chats. Keep in touch with your friends and colleagues in Skype group chats. We will be adding support for other group messaging services in forthcoming updates.

For Unlocked Phones, you can download the XAP file here:

For others, please get from Marketplace..

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Angry Birds comes to WP7


Finally, after much delays, Angry Birds is finally here in WP7.

For those who are interested, and have an unlocked phone, here’s the XAP file.

For those who has the option to buy the application, please go and purchase this app and support the developer. I have no choice as I cannot purchase the app.

WP7- Installing Paid Apps without Paying for it..

Disclaimer: I came across some information from the internet, and decided to post this out to all my friends out there who are in the same situation as I am. As much as I love my WP7, I am vastly disgusted and saddened by Microsoft’s inability to enable most of the people in the WORLD to purchase apps from marketplace, which i have posted in my blog here. I have been using ‘free’ and ‘trial’ apps for a long time, and now, I want to share to people how to get to use the apps for free. Please do take note, that I am willing to pay for each and every app i use this method to download, if the method is make available to me in Malaysia.

This is a short guide on how to install paid apps from Microsoft’s Marketplace and installing them in your phone. Before we begin, you will need a developer unlocked phone, which I have covered here:
Note: the 1st link only works for LG handsets while the 2nd method only works on Pre-NODO update handsets. Those with NODO updates, i am sorry but i do not know how to unlock your phone.

Next, you will need a very handy tool, from Microsoft themself, called ‘Application Deployment’ which is part of the Windows Phone Developer Tools 7 (get it here free:

Next, you will need Zune, required to enable your PC to communicate with your handphone.

Alright, next you will need this 2 application, one to download apps from marketplace, and the other to ‘patch’ the XAP file.
1. WP7-MktPlace (
2. WP7-app (

The steps is rather simple.
1. Install all the software mentioned above.
2. Make sure your phone is connected to PC via USB, and Zune detects your phone.
3. Use WP7-app to search and download the XAP file of the software you intend to install.
4. Use WP7-MktPlace to patch the XAP file (the steps to do that is covered in the place where you download it)
5. Use the Application Deployment tool to send this to your phone, and DONE, you have the app in your phone.
Note: From personal experiance, this method doesn’t work for larger XAP files and most of the LIVE games. However, you CAN find and download the XAP for those games already on the internet. Just google it.

Good Luck!