Want to install a fresh copy of Windows 7 on a netbook, or another PC with no optical drive? Believe it or not, it’s not that difficult to pull off manually, but to take as much hassle out of it as possible, Microsoft released a “Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool” near the OS’ launch to aide those who aren’t so technically inclined, or who simply don’t want to spend so much time on something that should be so simple.
Interestingly, Microsoft faced some flack because this seemingly proprietary tool was utilizing open-source libraries. The company then fessed up to its mistake, and said it would re-release the tool under the GPLv2 license, which it now has done. You can now grab both the executable and source code on Microsoft’s own CodePlex site, and in nine different localized versions.
Using the tool is quite simple. After installing and running, you’ll be prompted to search for the ISO you want to use. This assumes you either downloaded the ISO from the Microsoft Store, or you made one yourself from a retail DVD copy. From there, you choose whether to burn it to a DVD, or copy it to a USB device, and if USB device is selected, you should be able to see it in the drop-down menu. Because most Windows 7 DVD’s weigh in at more than 2GB, it’s recommended that you do this with a 4GB drive.
This tool like most others requires that the drive be completely erased. So it’s important to copy over any data you need to retain before using the tool. After this point, the tool will format the drive, make it bootable, and then copy all of the required files over, and hopefully, you’ll be able to boot up with the USB drive just fine (there’s no reason for it not to work, as long as your PC supports USB booting), and if not, you could just run the Setup.exe file on the drive itself, while inside your current Windows install.
The ISO file contains all the Windows 7 installation files combined into a single uncompressed file. When you download the ISO file, you need to copy it to some medium in order to install Windows 7. This tool allows you to create a copy of the ISO file to a USB flash drive or a DVD. To install Windows 7 from your USB flash drive or DVD, all you need to do is insert the USB flash drive into your USB port or insert your DVD into your DVD drive and run Setup.exe from the root folder on the drive.