The 7 Biggest Windows 7 Problems (and Fixes)

The Windows 7 roll-out, while smooth overall, hit a rough patch with some users. Problems run the gamut, from minor networking issues and gaming hiccups, to more serious boot failures and BSODs. Here’s a look at the top 7 annoyances plaguing early Windows 7 adopters, and the associated fixes.

1. Installation Fails

You won’t get much further on this list, or with Windows 7 in general, if the installation fails. Several users have experienced a problem in which the installer gives the error message “Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.” Generally this error occurs in situations in which multiple disks are connected to the system. In order to eliminate this issue, disconnect any disks that are formatted as “dynamic disks.”

Meanwhile, some users have encountered an issue in which Windows 7 installation fails at the very end of the process, with the system rebooting automatically as soon as the Windows 7 splash screen appears. The system then displays a message indicating that it was not shut down properly.

This issue is, in most cases, due to a graphics card driver issue. One potential remedy is as follows:

  1. Turn your system off
  2. Disconnect your monitor from the DVI port and instead connect it to the VGA port on your system (this will require a different cable)
  3. Turn your system back on and reinstall Windows 7–the process should complete properly
  4. Disable Windows Update automatic update (in control panel>System>Automatic updates)
  5. Go to your motherboard or graphics card manufacturer’s website and download the latest Windows Vista driver(s); install the driver(s).
  6. Turn your system off and connect your monitor via the DVI port again

2. BSODs

bsodYup, they still exist in Windows 7. The most common cause of blue screens of death (BSOD) at startup, under Windows 7, is an antivirus software conflict. In some cases, this problem may be caused by a conflict with the Kaspersky Antivirus package. Follow these steps to disable the software.

Some users are also experiencing crashes or blue screens of death (BSODs) under Windows 7 when attempting to wake systems from sleep (hibernation). The first response to this issue is generally to disable sleep mode, but there is another fix.

Enter your system’s BIOS mode. This is accomplished by pressing a specific key repeatedly as soon as your computer is turned on (or right after it is restarted). For many computers, the key is F8, but it may be F1, F2, F10, the Delete (del) key or the Escape (ESC) key. Consult your computer or motherboard’s manual or try different keys until you find the right one. Next check your HDD or storage settings. Turn off SATA and reboot normally.

3. Devices don’t work

Most devices that worked with Windows Vista will work with Windows 7 without the installation of new drivers. A few peripherals, however, including monitors, mice and some graphics cards can exhibit issues with the new OS. Some lose functionality, others can cause system conflicts that prevent other applications or Windows itself to stop functioning.

The presence of antivirus software scanning can block proper installation of drivers that are necessary for device function. Try turning off any antivirus or anti-malware/spyware software temporarily while you install or update device drivers, then turn it back on.

You may also want to try installing your device drivers in admin mode. To do this, right-click the driver installation .exe file (e.g. setup.exe) then select “Run as Admin.” Proceed with installation.

4. XP Mode Won’t Run

Windows 7′s XP Mode allows applications to run in a virtualized Windows XP environment, all but ensuring compatibility of legacy programs. The feature requires 2GB of memory, 15 GB of additional disk space, and a PC with Intel-VT or AMD-V enabled in the CPU.

The first two requirements are easy enough to figure out, but many users aren’t sure whether or not their processors have the necessary virtualization capabilities (Intel-VT or AMD-V). Fortunately, there’s an easy way to find out.

Download and install, and run the tool SecurAble. If the program displays a “Yes” for hardware virtualization, as depicted in the image below, your system can probably run Windows 7′s XP Mode.


If your processor shows virtualization capabilities, but you still can’t run XP mode, try using these instructions from Microsoft to configure your BIOS for virtualization.

5. Sudden Shutdowns

This one’s a doozy. You’re merrily working along in Windows 7 when, suddenly, the system shuts down. No, your electricity did not go out. Well, maybe it did, but more likely, the issue was caused by a system power setting problem or a conflicting driver.

Try uninstalling any recently installed third-party drivers then restarting. To do this, click the Start button then navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > Device Manager. Right-click any recently installed third-party items and select “Uninstall” then restart.

You may also want to try going to Power > Advanced > Sleep and turning off “Allow hybrid sleep.”

6. Games Won’t Run with OpenGL

Some users have reported an issue in which certain games will not run with OpenGL capabilities under Windows 7. This issue is most likely to occur when User Account Control (UAC) is enabled. The problem can be easily resolved by turning UAC off.

In order to workaround this issue with UAC still enabled, right-click the .exe file of the game you are trying to play and select “Run As Administrator.”

7. Windows XP systems can’t see Windows 7 systems on the network, or vice versa

Several users have experienced an issue in which Windows XP PCs cannot see Windows 7 PCs on the same network and/or vice versa. Fortunately, this issue is usually due only to configuration issues and can be easily fixed.

If you have your group set to “Public” in the Network and Sharing Center in Windows 7, the system will be undiscovrable by Windows XP machines on the network. Open your Control Panel, then select Network and Sharing Center, and change the setting to either “Work” or “Home.” Make sure that all computers are using the same group.

In Windows 7, go back to the Network and Sharing Center in the Control Panel, and make sure that the “Network Discovery” option is set to “On.”

You may need to restart your computer after applying these changes.

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