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Windows XP Can Upgrade to Windows 7, Sorta

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments
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With both the public perception that Windows Vista was a misstep and the number of both consumers and corporations that are still running Windows XP, the upcoming Windows 7 is more important than ever.

Windows 7 needs to convince all those still running Windows XP to finally get caught up on the times. One such way is with an attractive upgrade path to entice users to make the leap.

Microsoft has said that it will offer upgrade options for users to move from Windows XP to Windows 7, but to be clear, those are only for purchasing software licenses. There will be no software upgrade path.

“I can confirm that customers will be able to purchase upgrade media and an upgrade license to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 - however, they will need to do a clean installation of Windows 7,” a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to The Register. “This requires the user to back up their data, install Windows 7, re-install the programs and restore their data.”

Windows Vista users, however, will have the option to install over top their existing OS.

“For PCs running Windows Vista customers have the option of an in-place upgrade of Windows 7 keeping their data and programs intact or to perform a clean install of Windows 7,” added the rep.

Of course, the computer savvy bunch of us, which include all of you reading Tom’s Hardware, already know that a clean installation is the preferred way to go when going to a new operating system. There are just so many old cobwebs that can accumulate in any installation of Windows that a clean start is often preferred. In fact, some of us even go as far to reinstall Windows after a significant hardware change, such as a new motherboard.

David Smith, an analyst at Gartner Inc., also brought up to ComputerWorld, "I'm not a big fan of them. They're tough enough from one version to the next, and from two versions [behind], it would be pretty challenging, technically."

Users who are still running Windows XP are more likely to be on more “aged” installations. Making it mandatory for for XP users to start fresh with Windows 7 ensures a much more consistent experience and definitely makes supporting the OS a lot easier for Microsoft. But on the flip side, those who are happy running XP today could see “starting fresh” as a hassle, in terms of reinstalling programs and dealing with compatibility issues.

Michael Gartenberg, VP of mobile strategy with JupiterMedia, agreed, "It's a double-edged sword. For many consumers who may be looking to go directly from XP to Windows 7, the idea of doing a clean install, backing up their applications, backing up their data, can lead to a lot of hassles."
"Considering that there's a lot of XP out there, one has to wonder why Microsoft is taking this approach," Gartenberg added. "It's not going to be the simplicity of sticking a disc in the drive and upgrading. We'll have to see if that affects the upgrade market."

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  • 8 Hide
    tayb , February 5, 2009 8:05 PM
    You can't expect to be able to upgrade from an 8 year old operating system to a brand new operating system. I am sure that people would love to go ahead and do it but they would find many if not all of their programs incompatible and it would somehow be Microsoft's fault.
  • 2 Hide
    nottheking , February 5, 2009 8:44 PM
    Yes, I can definitely agree with Gartenberg's implication that the difficulty of upgrading a machine from Windows XP to Windows 7 will likely reduce their potential sales; XP gained a lot of ground due to coming out in a market with accelerating OEM PC sales, a market that had already stabilized well before the current recession hit, which assuredly hurt sales even more, and will wind up hurting the adoption rate of Windows 7 simply by cutting the number of new computers being purchased.

    Hence, the upgrade market matters a fair amount; Vista failed a lot there due to very poor marketing as well as arguably a lot of design and feature choices made with it that turned out to be unpopular. I have the distinct impression that while perhaps not quite as severe, Windows 7 will also likely find a slower adoption rate than Microsoft hopes.
  • -1 Hide
    cablechewer , February 5, 2009 9:04 PM
    As someone who has worked in IT for years the term "in place upgrade" makes me cringe. I have seen so many of these go so horribly wrong over the last 15-20 years that I never recommend them. In this case providing it as an option might sound nice on paper or as a concept. However with a different kernel and all the other changes correctly migrating settings without breaking apps that are dependent on specific DLLs or registry keys would be impossible.
  • Display all 23 comments.
  • -1 Hide
    jaragon13 , February 5, 2009 9:29 PM
    cablechewerAs someone who has worked in IT for years the term "in place upgrade" makes me cringe. I have seen so many of these go so horribly wrong over the last 15-20 years that I never recommend them. In this case providing it as an option might sound nice on paper or as a concept. However with a different kernel and all the other changes correctly migrating settings without breaking apps that are dependent on specific DLLs or registry keys would be impossible.

    Woooooouuuuld not.
    Obviously you don't work in "the IT" and you obviously don't know it's still the same base kernel,AKA "NT".
  • -6 Hide
    kewl munky , February 5, 2009 9:30 PM
    A clean install is not upgrading in any way. Epic fail.
  • -5 Hide
    jsloan , February 5, 2009 9:56 PM
    i'm in no hurry to go form xp to windows 7, xp runs greats and windows 7 is nothing but lipstick on the vista pig
  • 3 Hide
    bydesign , February 5, 2009 10:30 PM
    I work in IT as well it's going to be a clean install via scripting and imagining if it's done. This is not an issue for corporate users in least. It’s fast and reliable, just too much risk in upgrading an OS. They will have a challenge selling the upgrade itself though. Windows 7 may have better driver support day one but it will be no better with dated applications.
    Even if all of our apps had no issues, the OS was free, and it installed itself I’m not sure I would bite. For most there is no meaningful advantage to upgrading.

    This is from someone that likes Vista and is very impressed with Vista SE, I mean Windows 7. I do think this is ready for public consumption now. I also think that it will be the first Microsoft OS to sell more copies of the 64bit version. The upgrade route only makes sense for computer junkies that have Vista or weren’t satisfied with Vista. Upgrading the old family PC just wouldn’t make sense, hand it down to little Johnny and replace it.
  • -3 Hide
    gm0n3y , February 5, 2009 11:24 PM
    @cablechewer

    Quote:
    will be able to purchase upgrade media and an upgrade license to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 - however, they will need to do a clean installation of Windows 7


    i.e. This is a CLEAN INSTALLATION. I hope I don't get you for tech support.
  • 6 Hide
    tayb , February 5, 2009 11:25 PM
    Kewl MunkyA clean install is not upgrading in any way. Epic fail.


    "There will be no software upgrade path."

    Reading for you = epic fail.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 5, 2009 11:52 PM
    If you have old hardware, it is probably a good idea to replace that old hard disk before it croaks anyways. (Hard drives and power supplies have the shortest life expectancies, IMHO.) So just install Windows 7 on your shiny new bigger/faster drive and keep the old one for data. No "backup" necessary. If you find you don't like Windows 7, you can go back to the old drive.
  • -3 Hide
    gm0n3y , February 6, 2009 12:20 AM
    You know, I think that statistically hard drives and power supplies have the shortest life expectancy, but in my experience I've had ram die on me 4 times (and its kind of a bitch to diagnose) and twice has a motherboard died. I've never had a hard drive or a power supply die.
  • -6 Hide
    bf2gameplaya , February 6, 2009 4:24 AM
    You are damn right it is a hassle to re-install your software. It's the digital equivalent of packing up and tackling the Oregon Trail.

    Windows 7 is shaping up to be a huge giant warm blanket of fail. Vista redux, yuck. What's new in it again? Why am I supposed to want/need it? I thought so.
  • 2 Hide
    caskachan , February 6, 2009 9:45 AM
    bf2gameplayaYou are damn right it is a hassle to re-install your software. It's the digital equivalent of packing up and tackling the Oregon Trail.Windows 7 is shaping up to be a huge giant warm blanket of fail. Vista redux, yuck. What's new in it again? Why am I supposed to want/need it? I thought so.


    YOu got.. DISENTERY

    XD
  • 3 Hide
    tenor77 , February 6, 2009 11:44 AM
    Kewl MunkyA clean install is not upgrading in any way. Epic fail.


    You're upgrading your license not your computer. That's still upgrading. When I upgraded my graphics card or processor, I took the old one out and put the new one in. Or are you implying that I didn't upgrade because I had to take the old one out?

    How many people here don't do a clean install on their computer? Seriously now sometimes MS can't do anything to please the haters. I like MS products (they do make good products most of the time), and I don't try to hide that fact, but I'm far from a fanboy. I'm a very big critic of Vista (I don't need my OS to protect me from myself thanks) and the RROD and my 360 scratching my disks (no I didn't move my console, so apparently my came with the optional cat inside), so it's hardly like they can do no wrong, but don't hate a company for being successful.
  • 4 Hide
    zak_mckraken , February 6, 2009 12:40 PM
    Quote:
    Of course, the computer savvy bunch of us, which include all of you reading Tom’s Hardware, already know that a clean installation is the preferred way to go when going to a new operating system.


    It's so very true. However, we do that because we all had bad experiences from upgrading from Win95 to Win98, Win98 to (shrug) WinME and so on. What is this time, Microsoft had a true upgrade process? One that will swap your users and programs folder on a temp partition, wipe your Windows partition, wipe your registry, Install 7, re-transfer your users and programs, scan the programs and add the proper links to the registry? A man can dream...
  • 3 Hide
    joex444 , February 6, 2009 2:48 PM
    Seems like the biggest reason companies have for not upgrading from XP is they think their users are too stupid to comprehend the new OS.

    All the PCs in my house are Vista, and I find no reason to be using XP. When you have quad core 3.2GHz with 6GB RAM, it doesn't matter what OS you're on the speed is going to be incredible. You can argue about this thing is faster or that is faster, the end of the day either OS is going to be faster than the user.
  • -1 Hide
    captaincharisma , February 6, 2009 3:39 PM
    yea i get a chill down my spine everytime i hear stories of people trying to install a new version of windows over there existing windows install that has been on there computer for the last 10 years without a format or cleanup.

    Seriously guys you know the drill you cannot upgrade from a 10 year old OS to a current one. might as well try to upgrade from windows 7 from windows 2k or even better windows 95. the files have changed too much sense then so an upgrade path from XP or 2k would not go smoothly and would be too much of a mess

    thats the #1 reason MS isn't going to do it because it would be too much of a mess
  • 1 Hide
    cablechewer , February 6, 2009 4:19 PM
    Yes Jaragon13 you are right. It is the next step in the evolution of the NT Kernel. I overstated by calling it new. However on the other hand the migration non-essential functions out of the Kernel along with the usual tweaks and updates has continued. The change from NT to XP to Windows 7 is not insignificant (just look at the driver model changes in the last few versions for one major difference). It is probably not enough I should have called it new, but there are a lot of differences.

    @gm0n3y I am well aware that a software upgrade isn't being offered from XP to Win7. I was responding to the idea of such an upgrade raised by Gartenberg.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 8, 2009 2:48 AM
    To joex444 All the PCs in my house are Vista, and I find no reason to be using XP...Well how many and what do you use them for.I'm a Gamer and all 11 of mine run XP. We play online (WoW) and FPS games. I have no need for High Cost Vista. I've tested win 7 and it manages memory very nice the look and feel is also good but is it worth the $319. hmm I wonder.
    snakepitt Out. 20 + Years Experience
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 25, 2009 8:30 PM
    Can anyone confirm you'll be able to keep your existing install of XP *and* install the "upgrade" version of Windows 7 to a different partition? I wouldn't mind saving a few bucks by getting the discounted upgrade vs oem, but don't want to find out it'll only install on the same partition as XP, or that it deactivates your old XP license. They've done weirder things. Thanks.
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