Windows 7 Beta on the Samsung NC10 Netbook

Friday, January 9, 2009 – 2:38 PM

Update: New version of this for the final Windows 7 release is here!

Windows 7 on the Samsung NC10The Windows 7 Team just announced a public beta and I’ve been itching to give it a try. I thought I’d see just how netbook friendly the Windows team have made Windows 7 and if a typical netbook actually had the juice to run it. What else was I going to do with my evening anyway? Hang out? drink beer?

Find out how I got on running the Windows 7 beta on my Samsung NC10 netbook…


First off… BACK UP YOUR MACHINE!. I’ve not had any issues with Windows 7 so far but it is a Beta. I don’t recommend doing what this guy did and upgrade your main machine… it’s a beta people!

You can use the Samsung Recovery Solution III utility to do this. I backed everything up onto an external USB drive before attempting to install Windows 7.

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft and dogfood beta software a lot. If I had to reformat and rebuild the original XP install on my NC10 tomorrow it wouldn’t be a big deal. I’m not recommending everyone goes out and runs a beta Windows 7 on their NC10 for every day use. Betas aren’t for everyone!

After backing up I downloaded the Windows 7 Beta from here and burnt it onto DVD. I managed to borrow a USB DVD drive from work to do the install. If you don’t have a USB DVD drive then another option would be to copy the contents of the DVD onto a USB HDD and install off that.

Next I ran the setup from the installed version of Windows XP. The NC10 comes with two 70Gb partitions with XP installed on the C: drive. I copied any data I had on the D: drive off it and so I could use that partition for Windows 7. ALL DATA ON THE PARTITION MAY BE LOST DURING THE INSTALL.

After the install is complete, including a couple of restarts the NC10 will show the Windows Boot Manager giving you two options:

Earlier Version of Windows
Windows 7

You have 30 seconds to pick an OS or Windows 7 will start. Selecting the “Earlier Version” option will start your original XP installation.

Once you’ve logged into Windows 7 you can change the startup settings using the BCDEDIT utility. BCDEDIT can modify the timeout, change the description(s) and set XP to be the OS that starts by default:

BCDEDIT /SET {ntldr} description “Windows XP SP3”
BCDEDIT /SET {bootmgr} default “{ntldr}”

More details of how to use BCDEDIT can be found here. Remember to start BCDEDIT from a command prompt run as administrator.

Drivers and Updates

The new Windows 7 desktop I encountered some network driver issues and had to setup the network after the installation had finished. I had some minor issues getting the NC10 wireless card working with my wireless hub and ended up having to put it into b/g compatibility mode. I’ve not figured out quite what the problem was but haven’t seen it with other wireless networks.

  • The Marvell Yukon Ethernet controller wasn’t working right off and I ended up installing the Vista x86 device driver from Marvell’s site. This fixed the problem and I was up and running.
  • I also installed the Synaptics touchpad Vista x86 driver from the Synaptics site but not the two finger scrolling software (see below).
  • Microsoft Presenter Mouse drivers are already available, as are drivers for other Microsoft hardware. This got my Microsoft mouse up and running with all the bells and whistles.
  • I replaced the generic sound drivers with the Realtek HD Sound Drivers for Vista which got the microphone working. Thanks to Younes for pointing this one out (see his comment below).

Updated Jan 21st:

If you want to get two finger scrolling working you can install the original NC10 touchpad driver for XP and then install the two finger scrolling software (which doesn’t seem to like the Vista touchpad drivers). Thanks to Jon for this (see his comments below).

The original post suggested using some of Samsung’s Vista utilities for their Q1 series. Turns out there there are more recent ones available for the X360-34P. Easy Battery Manager 3 and Easy Display Manager These install fine when run as Administrator and don’t have the same problems the previous utilities did. Thanks to David @ Microsoft for figuring this one out.

First Impressions

Samsung NC10 Windows Experience Index

So having got the install out of the way with no major issues does Windows 7 deliver on the NC10?

The NC10 gets a Windows Experience Index of 2.2 with the Atom processor (2.2) and graphics card (2.3) accounting for this. Accordingly you wouldn’t expect the NC10 to run high end applications or games. Here’s the description of the expected performance for low WEI values:

“A computer with a base score of 1 or 2 usually has sufficient performance to do most general computing tasks, such as run office productivity applications and search the Internet. However, a computer with this base score is generally not powerful enough to run Windows Aero, or the advanced multimedia experiences that are available with Windows 7.”

This is pretty similar to what you’d expect out of the NC10 when running XP. It’s a netbook not a high end laptop. Given that almost all the NC10’s competitors use virtually identical hardware I’d expect them to get similar WEI values. We may see some improvements in WEI when Intel release a Graphics Media Accelerator Driver for Windows with WDDM 1.1 support (see Richard’s comment below).

What more could you really want? For all that the UI seems very snappy, certainly as responsive as the original XP installation. Most importantly I can have the Pokemon clock gadget on my desktop. What more could I ask for? That’s all I really wanted… some say I’m easily satisfied, and they’d be right.

In fact I ended up with a slick new UI without the big resource requirements of Vista.

One of the criticisms of Vista is that it was very memory hungry and simply required too many resources to run effectively on low end machines. Sitting idle with no applications running about 530Mb of the NC10’s memory is used with Windows 7. This compares reasonably with the original Windows XP install which used about 330Mb when idle. I gave the Samsung a 2Gb memory upgrade when it arrived so things are looking good.

Windows 7 on the Samsung NC10In the process of getting to grips with Windows 7 I also came across some improvements that the Windows Live team has made; new versions of Windows Live Toolbar and Live Messenger. The Windows 7 site has  some preview videos showing off all of the new features. You can also find more updates on the Windows 7 Team Blog.

So far my only gripe is that IE 8, and other applications has a very thick menu and toolbar. This presents problems in the vertically challenged netbook with only six hundred vertical pixels to play with. Some auto hiding menus and toolbars would be a nice netbook friendly feature for Windows 7 applications. If that’s the most negative thing I can come up with then I figure things are looking pretty good. All my favorite applications seem to be running fine.

Updated Jan 21st: For IE this problem is solved by running in full screen mode using F11. Thanks to Alan for reminding me of this (see his comment below). Firefox also supports the same feature.

The battery life when running the NC10 under Windows 7, although 7 has it’s own power management features including adaptive display brightness. Currently this is just something you have to deal with if you want to run a Windows 7 beta.

Given my experiences so far I’m going to make Windows 7 my primary OS on the Samsung NC10 and see how I get on. When Windows 7 RTM’s I plan to rebuild the machine from scratch (not upgrade). In the meantime if I run into issues I’ll try and post fixes here.

  1. 116 Responses to “Windows 7 Beta on the Samsung NC10 Netbook”

  2. Mark,

    I’ve had an occasional BSOD related to a parity check on Win7 but the original XP install seems solid. Not tried Vista.


    By Ade Miller on Mar 18, 2009

  3. Thanks for the reply Ade.

    I am guessing you don’t think it is anything to worry about then. Not faulty motherboard etc? in other words it doesn’t warrant sending it off to Samsung etc?



    By Mark Brown on Mar 18, 2009

  4. Mark,

    I put down the crashes I saw in Windows 7 to a bad driver related to a beta OS. My XP install hasn’t had any issues and the memory check diagnostic doesn’t find any problems.

    The Vista crashes are more concerning but I don’t have any experience of running Vista on the NC10. What drivers/application do you have installed on Vista?


    By Ade Miller on Mar 18, 2009

  5. Strange but true.

    I was reading this post and downloading drivers from links, to ensure I had a good working NC10.

    The only problems I had thus far (1 day use) was, no audio and the screen seems bigger although set at 1024 x 600.

    Anyway, I installed the Synaptics driver as mentioned above and now the audio works!

    Any ideas why the screen display seems larger, than the original screen with XP home? Or am I just imagining it!

    By Paul Digby on Mar 19, 2009

  6. Hi Ade:

    I found this blog tremendously helpful. I’ve had the NC10 for about three weeks now, and one on W7. Had some problems with the original build. But most of them got solved when I found your blog and loaded some of the latest drivers.

    One new annoyance: The screen dims as per the Win7 power saving protocol. Okay no big deal, but it won’t recover through either the mouse or the touchpad. ONLY the keyboard. Any advice? I am running the Synaptics Vista drivers.


    By John on Mar 31, 2009

  7. John,

    I’m seeing the same thing. Screen dims and only goes bright again when you press a key, not when you move the touchpad/mouse.


    By Ade Miller on Mar 31, 2009

  8. Hi Ade,

    The BSOD that I mention in my previous post seems to have disappeared with Build 7057 of Windows 7. I have just downloaded Build 7068 but I don’t think I will install that on my Netbook yet, I might wait for the official May RC and do it then.

    Seems that the later builds are slowly sorting minor problems – touch wood.



    By Mark Brown on Apr 1, 2009

  9. For those running IE8 and using F11 to enlarge the screen viewing area… another trick I have found works well on most websites is to set a custom zoom level of 85% (you might find different value works better for your eyesight). You set this using the bottom right hand corner, click where it says 100%, then click custom, and enter 85% (or whatever). This will work on that session only. If you like the effect, and want to save that for ALL future browsing, click “Tools” menu, “Internet Options”, “Advanced” tab, “Accessiblity” section, untick “Reset zoom level for new windows & tabs”. Click “OK”.

    You will find that more of the page fits on the screen whether you press F11 or not. With F11 pressed as well, you get very comfortable browsing experience now!

    Another tip I have is to drag the Windows task bar to dock on the left of the screen, so that you don’t lose even more of your precious vertical screen space! I’ve actually used that taskbar location for years (even in XP), since I prefer the start button to be at top left anyway, which means the start menu opens down & right (rather than up and right which seems awkward to me!). With any widescreen monitor, you tend to have plenty of spare width but tight on screen height. More so on the NC10 than a standard desktop computer. This tip keeps that precious vertical screen space available for every program you use. If you like width too, you can autohide the taskbar too, and I still prefer it on the left for that purpose.

    I have one question though, using the Synaptics Vista driver, does anyone else get a UAC style prompt at every startup from the synaptics driver? No matter what option I select (including don’t ask me again) it comes up every time. If no-one else is seeing this then I will just try re-installing the driver.



    By Mike on Apr 23, 2009

  10. most problems above fixed with build 7100.

    for touchpad, get synaptics driver.

    By John on May 1, 2009

  11. Hi guys, i have installed windows 7 rc on my samsung nc10 and i don’t get anything problem with its drivers. When i have started Win7 afterwards, i saw that i was unable to have Aero. I tried to download some mobile intel 945GMS drivers but issue is still present. I tried many solutions surfing the net, but nothing…no positive results. Seems that Windows desktop manager is unable to start itself and the graphic card is not recognised by Win. In the end i tried the microsoft drivers (by microsoft update) but Aero doesn’t work the same. Can you help me please?

    Sorry for my bad english i’m italian :D


    By Giorgio on May 7, 2009

  12. There is now an updated post for the Windows 7 RC.

    So I’ve closed comments on this post. If you’re having issues with getting Windows 7 RC running post comments there instead.



    By Ade Miller on May 8, 2009

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