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."