According to a source which was not revealed by CNET, Microsoft could end up selling Windows 7 on a USB drive, whereas right now the only way that a user can obtain a retail copy (legally) of Windows 7 is via retail or by download. This would be a good move for Microsoft as they had announced that any edition of Windows 7 will be able to run on a netbook; however, the trick would be getting it installed.
According to CNET, not selling Windows 7 on USB drives would be detrimental to Windows 7’s success:
The challenge of getting Windows 7 on to older Netbooks threatens to cast a shadow over the technical work Microsoft did to get Windows 7 running on Netbooks. Its predecessor, Windows Vista, proved ill-suited to Netbooks forcing Microsoft to continue selling Windows XP as its answer to the low-cost notebook phenomenon.
Complicating matters further is the fact that most Netbooks are running Windows XP. Those moving from Windows XP can buy an upgrade version of the software, but must back up their data, do a clean installation of the operating system and then reload their applications.
Most users do not know how to place Windows 7 onto a USB drive for install, and some do not even know that it’s possible. Even though I’ve always found it easier to just copy an image of the disc to my netbook, extract it, and run setup.exe, here is a short tutorial on how to put it on a USB drive yourself, just in case:
You will need an image or a DVD of a Windows 7 build (any should do) and a 4GB flash drive.
This will erase your drive, so make sure that there’s nothing important on it or back it up.
1. Plug in your USB drive and run CMD as administrator (right click it in accessories or run it as normal and hit CTRL+Shift+Enter). To run CMD, simply open a run box and type “CMD” and click OK.
2. Type DISKPART and hit enter.
3. Type LIST DISK and hit enter. Then write down the disk number (for example, Disk 2)of your USB drive (match up the disk sizes).
4. Then type each command hit enter, substituting the number in the first command with the number of your USB drive:
SELECT DISK 2
CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
SELECT PARTITION 1
5. Insert your DVD or mount your image and check the drive letters of both your USB drive and the DVD drive (I am going to pretend that my USB drive is U and my DVD drive is D).
6. Run the following commands (substituting D in the first command with the drive letter of your DVD drive):
7. Then run the following command, replacing U with the drive letter of your USB drive:
8. Now just copy and paste everything over from your DVD to your USB drive, then set your BIOS to boot from USB.