about that Windows 7 upgrade thing….

People are telling me I must upgrade to Windows 7.  Riiiight.   Like we had to upgrade to Vista… is that it?

So… asuming for a moment that this is in the cards….

Do you have to upgrade from the same version of the old version to the same version of the new version?

For example, if you have Vista Groovy version, do you upgrade to Windows 7 Groovy, or can you go to Windows 7 Far Out, or even father to Gnarly?

For the same of this entry leave the "Just switch to Mac" comments to languished UNWRITTEN in the back of your minds… along with any references to "emergency powers".

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wsxyz says:

    Are you having problems with XP or Vista that will be solved by installing Windows Seven? If not, then why bother?

  2. wsxyz says:

    Ok, here’s some real information:
    Source: Ars Technica

    From Windows XP to Windows 7
    Information here is still a bit murky because Microsoft has not specified which XP editions will be eligible. The good news is that the company has confirmed that users currently running Windows XP will be able to buy the cheaper upgrade option of Windows 7. However, they will only be able to perform a clean install. The hassle of backing up applications and user data will fall on the user; the upgrade process will not backup anything.

    That may come as a shock to some, but Microsoft typically lets users purchase the cheaper upgrade option by owners of the last two releases of Windows (in this case XP and Vista) but the older of the two operating systems usually require a clean install.

    From Windows Vista to Windows 7
    Microsoft will only allow the following upgrade paths to Vista users. For example, users who purchase an upgrade copy of Windows 7 Professional and have Vista Home Premium will only be able to perform a clean install. Here’s the migration list:

    * Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium
    * Windows Vista Business to Windows 7 Professional
    * Windows Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate

    If you are performing an upgrade installation from Windows Vista, the base language must match the target Windows 7 language, you must have about 9GB of free space for the installation, and the installation can only occur on the same partition that holds Windows Vista. Existing applications and user data will be automatically migrated to the new Windows 7 installation.

    Clean installs will require about 16GB for the installation process. Unless the user chooses to repartition or format the current partition, Vista’s files from C:\WINDOWS will be preserved under C:\WINDOWS.OLD, just as when upgrading from XP to Vista. Clean installs will also have to be performed when upgrading from a 32-bit version to a 64-bit version.

  3. Patrick Finley says:

    Well,… From what I have seen, it is another complete overhaul. Keep in mind Father, its still in release candidate, but we have been playing with it at work. It does greatly improve upon the vista / longhorn model, however it still has some work. I could go on about the bloated interface, but meh, it is pretty.

    From what I have seen, you can do this, however your software settings wont carry over since if you changed “versions” it would require you to do a custom install. Keep in mind that even with vista now, between the basic version and the say, premium or ultimate version, there are very significant differences.

    Finally the last thing I would say, and its a very good rule of thumb, wait till atleast the first service pack, then upgrade. MS is notorious for having bugs in the day 1 release. I wouldnt let anyone pressure you into the upgrade though, atleast not yet. I would think that people who frequent this blog, would understand that newer, isnt always better :)

  4. MargaretMN says:

    wsxyz, because the Windows 7 upgrade is on offer for the next couple of weeks for $50. After that it will go up in price. If you ever think you might want it, you might do well to consider it now. And I think that the version of Vista you have should not matter.

  5. Bob K. says:


    Anything you ever need to know about Windows 7. Paul Thurrott is the Windows 7 guru.

  6. RJSciurus says:

    You can always go back to DOS 2.0.

  7. wsxyz says:

    wsxyz, because the Windows 7 upgrade is on offer for the next couple of weeks for $50. After that it will go up in price.

    Seems like you might as well upgrade your whole computer when you are ready for not much more than the retail price of Windows. I have purchased exactly one retail copy of Windows, for use on virtualization. All the rest have just come with a computer.

    I just replaced an Athlon 3200+/Windows XP PC that was faster than I needed with a dual core Athlon 64 5000+/Windows Vista PC that is way faster than I need for $450.

  8. wsxyz says:

    Does anyone know which languages are included in the “Switch between any of 35 languages” in Windows 7 Ultimate? I think I can safely assume English and German. What about Korean?

  9. moon1234 says:

    Also keep in mind there is no 32bit to 64bit upgrade either.

    When you upgrade to Windows 7 you will most likely be doing a wipe and re-install. This is always a good idea in my opinion. Go for the 64bit version. 32bit is on it’s last legs and has some real memory limitations.

    Vista was the Windows ME of it’s generation. Windows 7 looks to be the XP of it’s generation. We all know how Windows XP has turned out. I still prefer the Windows XP interface, but there is too much going for Windows 7. I will be upgrading to it in the future.

    I would suggest the Ultimate version. It will have the full feature set that Windows 7 has to offer. The professional version will be lacking some of the media related options that will become more central to a home/media user.

  10. moon1234 says:

    Windows 7 uses language packs just like Vista and XP. The OS will always have a core language of English. Language packs can be purchased that will allow the user to switch languages on the fly. The language packs will localize virtually all OS prompts and programs. This is similar to the MS office language packs that have been available for over 10 years.

    This is very nice for an IT admin who needs to support offices around the world. I only need to create OS images in one language and I can deploy them around the world with simple language pack installs.

  11. Dominic says:

    Ubuntu Linux. I’m quite happy with it. Just keep an XP partition in dual boot just in case.

  12. penitents says:

    As an IT professional my advice would be NOT to upgrade just now a production machine (i.e a machine were you hold important data or applications). Unless there is a compelling reason (a serious bug, an app which requiere it -hardly probable-, or a preconfigured new iron) the rule of thumb is to wait at least for SP1 for those machines. You have time to see if the new system is a real improvement (once the marketing hype has been settled, remember the Vista flop) and get the most outstanding bugs ironed out before you use it.
    Depending of your needs (and hardware limitations) its perfectly possible even to skip the upgrade (does it provide a REAL advantage for you?) or look for alternatives (either Mac or Linux)
    Were i work (w. over 10000 accounts) our Windows people still have XP as standard, and won’t look seriously on W7 until next year, if …

  13. penitents says:

    With RAM memory aplenty, in most cases, it’s better to have an XP virtual machine (w. VirtualBox, f.i., it is a snap and very flexible to configure) than dual boot, for your -usually disminishing- Windows needs. Same for a Mac.
    If you don’t happen to be on the “latest and newest” (what I don’t suspect at Fr Z readership ;.)) I’ve seen Ubuntu cropping in quite unexpected places (read absolutely untechnical oriented people) with – even more – unexpected success (if you don’t happen to have unsupported hardware)

  14. Manrique Zabala de Arízona says:

    I wonder what system was installed on the Battlestar Galactica. [LOL!]

    It worked so well, unless those meanie cylons started spreading Windows viruses, so I want THAT ONE installed :p

  15. Matt Q says:

    Father, Windows 7 Home Premium is available for pre-purchase for about another week through Amazon and various other national electronics retailers. It’s $49.99. After the pre-purchase period has passed, it will be $199.00.

    While it isn’t necessary to upgrade to Windows 7 right at this minute, it’s good to consider doing so later on.

    It’s important to get this software because it’s more stable than Vista and avoids a lot of issues Vista has. As I understand it as of now ( and the exact timetable may be different ), by the end of the year, XP will no longer be supported by Microsoft, which means no more patches, no more updates, etc. Vista support will be over by next year, and then farther down Microsoft will be pulling the Vista license from new computer sales and offering only Windows 7 anyway.

    Anyone who downloaded the beta trial versions of Windows 7, beware they will expire this Summer and your computer will not boot. Microsoft said when the free downloads are done, they’re done. You have to do a “clean install,” meaning you will have to reformat/re-partition your hard drive before you can install the new Windows 7.

  16. Jake says:

    To add on to Matt Q’s comment:

    While the Win7 Beta expires in 31 days, they recently pushed a full version of the Release Candidate. That license is good up until next June. There are a few slight differences between the Beta and the RC, but in running both versions, it made my almost three year old laptop fly.

    I would recommend getting a copy of the RC before going after a full retail version. A try it before you buy it approach. I think it’s a lot better than what’s been put out recently (i.e. Vista).

    Maybe when my daughter is a little older, I can start tinkering with a *nix box again. Of course, that is if child #2+ isn’t already on the way…

  17. wmeyer says:

    The current situation is this:
    Windows 7 Release Candidate will upgrade only from Vista SP1, so if you are on XP, you must
    – upgrade to Vista Groovy
    – upgrade to Vista SP!
    – upgrade to Windows 7 Groovy

    These steps will take much of a day, in total.

    No cross-grade (i.e. Groovy to Fantabulous) is supported.

    And remember, all you can get now is the Windows 7 RC. It works well, but when the release occurs (October 23, 2009) you may have another upgrade to do.

  18. EDG says:

    I don’t know if I’d go ahead and be an “early adopter” with an operating system. For one thing, in addition to possible bugs, it also usually takes the writers of any other software you may have awhile to adapt their software to the new OS, and until that time, you may have problems with it. Saving $50 isn’t worth the headache.

    I have also usually found that installing over an old OS is difficult and often less than successful, and in addition that the hardware requirements have usually changed. I buy a new computer about every 3 years (because I use it heavily and I find that 3 yrs is about what you can get before obsolescence begins to creep up on your equipment and you start having to do piecemeal upgrades) and usually just wait until whatever new OS they have comes already installed on the computer. Money is important, but time is also important, and I really don’t have the time to fuss with my computer and its peripherals. It’s a tool like anything else and one needs tools that do the job and don’t make one’s life more difficult.

  19. Martin Silvain says:

    I have been using the release candidate (64 bit) for the past few months and have been really impressed.

    ‘Have been running it on my macbook pro from work, via bootcamp (a dodgy piece of branding over substance from mac – have had motherboard replaced and still having graphics issues. If this were running on windows everyone would be blithering on about it by now, not to mention the clunky OSX interface).

    MS have been unworthy of trust before but given that the beta is doing well I will be upgrading when it comes out.


  20. Salvatore Giuseppe says:

    I have been told by an adamant Mac user(who worked at my schools IT department) that Windows 7 was far and away better than Vista. And he had the Beta running on all of his computers(dual boot with Mac OSX of course)

  21. PS says:

    I would recommend buying the cheap upgrade now and waiting until a little after it’s been released to make sure what _you_ want to do with it will work, as others have suggested. Go 64bit, if possible. Professional and Ultimate will permit you to run an XP emulator. I had it during all the Beta periods and will say a few things – running Photoshop, and other resource hogs, the differences in speed and efficiency are very noticeable. As many have said, this really is what Vista was touted to be.

  22. Brandon says:

    Father, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, too-broke, anyways.

    I’ve been a Beta-Tester for Vista AND 7, and I can proudly say that XP still has my game. [I hear that.]

  23. I have been having some problems with my “big” computer running Vista.

    I have added Windows 7 to my Amazon wish list. Having read the comments, above, I had to add the “Ultimate” version, since that is what my Vista version is.


  24. Bill in Texas says:

    At the moment, I don’t think we know what the required/supported/economically feasible upgrade paths are. At least, I haven’t been able to figure it out. For me, it would depend on how Microsoft packages the various combos. With Vista, it was if they made the decisions in a way that forced people to buy a more expensive version even though 75% of the features of that version were irrelevant to their needs.

    I am running Win XP on both the PCs here (one in my office, one in my wife’s office), and of course I use a Macbook most of the time. All three are the result of a refusal to buy Win Vista after hearing the horror stories.

    Sadly, Microsoft will eventually (possibly sooner rather than later) stop supporting Win XP, and at that point one will have no choice to go to Win 7 — IF one does not wish to change operating systems entirely.

    Consider, though, what one analyst has already pointed out: Win 7’s announced prices mean that the operating system could well cost more than the computer on which it runs. If the economy takes much longer to recover, many individuals, families, and businesses will essentially be forced to shift to Linux or to the Mac. This may not be as difficult as it would have been three years ago. For example, Google Docs, Zoho, and other online suites work perfectly well no matter what operating system is running on the desktop — and they can save documents in Microsoft Office format. This thought is causing me to reconsider Linux, which I had previously rejected over “format fear”.

    I am neither a Mac “fanboy” nor a Windows basher — just one more consumer/small business person stuck in the middle and looking for an affordable way out.

  25. moon1234 says:

    Keep in mind that the vast amount of license sales come from preinstalled copies on new computers. Most businesses do not purchase just the OS as an upgrade. They will time a computer refresh cycle with a new OS version. They may purchase a few upgrades of the OS if they have a fractional computer refresh each year.

    It is a pain to support more than one desktop operating system version at the same time. That is why Windows XP is so popular with business. It has been out for so long that almost ALL enterprise desktops are now running the same OS. This eliminates a lot of R&D and testing when rolling out upgrades to existing applications.

    As for Windows XP support, mainstream support will be around at least another year or two even though it officially ended April 14th, 2009. The backlash would be very bad for MS eithout this. This means new features, etc. (Think .net updates, Silverlight, etc.) Extended support includes security issues and bug fixes to existing products. Extended support will not end for Windows XP until Aug. 4th of 2014. That means if you are happy with Windows XP, you will have security updates and bugfixes for almost another 5 years.

    My prediction is you will see consumer uptake of Windows 7 this Christmas with a small business uptake in 2010 followed by larger uptake in 2011-2012. Windows XP will be the NT of OS’ by 2011-2012 time frame. It will be over 10 years old. A decade is a LONG run for any operating system.

  26. Will says:

    LCB, consider the source. Apple Insider is decidedly anti-Windows and anti-Microsoft.
    I jumped from Win2000 and Windows XP to Win7 on both of my primary computers in January and haven’t dreamed of switching back. I miss the cleaner look of Windows 2000, but in all other respects 7 is the best OS I’ve used yet.
    And I really am glad to be rid of XP. It tried too hard to cover up functionality, which made it frustrating for the inveterate tinkerer in me. Windows 7 is much more accommodating, while still being easy for new users to pick up.
    I only wish that the discounted upgrade prices were the regular prices, perhaps with an Apple-style family pack to upgrade multiple PC’s.

  27. Will says:

    Consider, though, what one analyst has already pointed out: Win 7’s announced prices mean that the operating system could well cost more than the computer on which it runs. If the economy takes much longer to recover, many individuals, families, and businesses will essentially be forced to shift to Linux or to the Mac.

    Only if you’re buying the OS at retail as an upgrade. The OEM licensing for PC manufacturers is vastly less expensive, and should not significantly affect the bottom line price on a store-bought PC. And nobody who’s pinching pennies is going to switch to the Mac. The hardware is simply more expensive than comparable Windows PC’s, and vastly more expensive than lower-end budget PC’s. Linux is a possibility, but presents a learning curve that is daunting to some.

  28. Will says:

    And one more thing, Fr. Z., according to Paul Thurrott’s site, you don’t have to buy 7 Ultimate to upgrade from Vista Ultimate. I fully expect to switch to Home Premium, which covers everything I use on a regular basis.

    Q: I have Windows Vista Home Premium. Do I have to get Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade, or can I purchase any Windows 7 Upgrade version?

    A: As long as you qualify for Upgrade pricing (i.e. have basically any version of Windows XP or Vista), you can purchase and install any Windows 7 Upgrade version. However, you may or may not be able to perform an in-place upgrade depending on your current Windows version. A person with Windows Vista Ultimate, for example, qualifies for Windows 7 Home Premium. But they would have to perform a clean install.

    Source: Paul Thurrott’s WinSuperSite.
    The clean install is not too onerous now, if you have a hefty external hard drive. Run the Windows Easy Transfer wizard (migwiz.exe) from the installation disc, back up settings and documents to the external hard drive. Then wipe out the computer and install Windows, run the Easy Transfer program to move the data back into the new environment. I’ve used it twice and it’s worked flawlessly. Slowly, I’ll grant, but flawlessly.

  29. Danby says:

    If you have Vista, definitely upgrade. Win7 is Vista with the brokenness removed. By all reports Win7 is much faster and much more stable. If you have XP and it’s broken, unstable, etc, probably upgrade as well.

    If you’re happy with XP, don’t bother. MS has announced the end of XP support several times. We’ve already passed two of these “hard deadlines”. Anyone else remember the announcement that SP2 would be the last service pack for XP? They are still selling XP on netbooks, and they can’t abandon that market without ceding a sizable chunk of business to Linux distributors. Not to mention that 60% of businesses are still using XP exclusively on the desktop, and they aren’t going to switch to Win7 overnight. It will be at least a year, and more likely two before they can actually end support for XP.

    So if you are planning on replacing your computer in the next year or two, don’t bother. Win7 will not buy you anything you don’t already have. Your new computer will come with Win7.

    If you want to play with a new O/S, (an entertaining hobby for many of us) download an Kubuntu or Mandriva Live CD. You can boot into Linux without touching your Windows install (although running from a CD will be a lot slower than from a hard drive). If you decide you like it, you can install it and set up your computer to dual boot, so that you choose which O/S to use when you start up the machine. Or even download VirtualBox, and you can run Linux from within Windows.

    Contrary to the many Microsoft fanboyz above, there is no compelling reason to move to Windows 7. If you have a problem you think it will solve, by all means try it. Otherwise let the O/S do what it is supposed to do, sit in the background and let you run the programs you want.

  30. Bill in Texas says:

    Some interesting articles from ZDNet:

    “Do you need more than Windows 7 Home Premium?”: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=1128&tag=nl.e539

    “Windows 7 vs. Snow Leopard: How much do upgrades really cost?”: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=1114&tag=nl.e539

    Some surprises in these.

  31. MAJ Tony says:

    I’ll be upgrading my Vista on my MacBookPro. Due to high heat issues, I never use it. Win7 is supposed to take half the power of Vista, so I expect that it will cool the CPU down closer to what native OS X emits. Now, if I could get Fusion to work…

  32. wsxyz says:

    Now, if I could get Fusion to work…

    Have you tried Parallels? Works great for my Dad.

  33. Fr. Jim says:

    Well, if it’s anything like the upgrade to Internet Explorer 8 it’s a dog. I did the IE8 “upgrade” and spent the next half hour unfreezing my machine. AIM causes IE8 to become unstable. That’s so bogus!

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