Here's what happened last week in case you missed it: Instead of performing an in-place upgrade to Windows 7 or wiping my hard drive and starting with a fresh install, I'm making the move at my own pace.
The hardest part was partioning my hard drive (as described in Part 2), which, thankfully, has ample room for both Windows Vista and Windows 7. And the only hard part there was running a third-party disk-defragmenting utility so Vista would give me all the available space.
With that step done, it was time for the next one: installing Windows 7. All I did was reboot my PC with my 7 disc in the drive, then follow the boot-screen option to Press any key to boot from CD.
(If you don't see a similar option upon booting, you may need to venture into the BIOS to change the boot order, with your CD/DVD drive ahead of the hard drive. Consult your system manual if you don't know how to do that.)
Once the Windows 7 installer starts running, just follow the prompts--making sure to choose the Custom option when asked which type of installation you want. Next, you'll have to choose where to install Windows 7. Select New Simple Volume, which is the partition you created previously.
Now go get a cup of coffee. My install went pretty quickly--about 20 minutes in all--but yours could take twice as long depending on the speed of your system.
When it's all done and you restart your PC, you'll immediately see a menu with two boot options: Windows 7 and your previous version of Windows. Choose the former to start working the new the OS, the latter when you need to get back to your stuff.
In the coming days, we'll talk about reinstalling software, migrating data, and more.