Windows XP Can Upgrade to Windows 7, Sorta

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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  • tayb
    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.
  • nottheking
    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.
  • cablechewer
    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.