Windows 7 fail: Viva la Vista

September 21, 2010 2:00 PM EDT

Ever since I upgraded my wife's Acer Aspire 5516 to Windows 7 things haven't been so good around here. There have been certain ... glitches. I'm on the hot seat again.

She needs the machine, which originally shipped with Vista, for her MBA classes. I have a deadline of Friday to fix it.

The Windows 7 upgrade process itself went off without a hitch. Running it is the problem. Right off the bat it wouldn't recover from sleep mode without a hard reboot. I turned off the sleep mode settings, but that doesn't work too well when the machine is needed during an all-day class.

Then, about two weeks after the initial upgrade, the built-in trackpad suddenly stopped working -- which my wife suspects has something to do with me mucking with her machine. A hard reboot hasn't helped, and Windows 7's device manager happily reports that the trackpad is working properly.

Acer, of course, is disinclined to trouble shoot any issues until such time as I restore the machine to its "pristine" Windows Vista image. Yeesh.

Such a deal

I picked up the Aspire 5516 about a year ago for an amazingly low $299 from Staples. I had planned to use it as a family laptop until my wife, who was just starting the MBA program at the time, promptly appropriated it as her own.

Vista had its own problems. In its first week the system suffered a crash that required a complete reinstall of the operating system. An upgrade to Windows 7 seemed like a great idea -- to me. So I sold it on the idea that it would be less intrusive with its security warnings (true enough), faster to boot up (meh), more stable (yes, except ...), and might support some of her old XP apps that wouldn't run under Vista (not so much).

Here's the rub: She couldn't have cared less about all that so long as the thing let her check e-mail and run Microsoft Office.

The Aspire has plenty of resources to run Windows 7 and it passed the Windows 7 compatibility test with flying colors. Acer, however, doesn't list the machine as Windows 7 compatible and doesn't support it.

So, unless I can come up with some miraculous cure for the Aspire's ills, it looks like I'll be spending my evenings this week with the Vista recovery disks. 

Update 9/23/2010: I spent yesterday evening making a last-ditch attempt to save the Windows 7 upgrade. Today's blog post gets to the bottom line - and offers a few tips for anyone else who attempts a legacy upgrade.