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This chapter is from the book

Foundation Topics

Upgrading to Windows 7 from a Previous Version of Windows

Upgrade paths from previous Windows versions depend on the operating system version currently installed. Table 3-2 lists the available upgrade paths for older operating systems.


Table 3-2. Upgrading Older Operating Systems to Windows 7

Operating System

Upgrade Path

Windows Vista Home Basic

Can be upgraded directly to Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium or Ultimate.

Windows Vista Home Premium

Can be upgraded directly to Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate.

Windows Vista Business

Can be upgraded directly to Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate.

Windows Vista Enterprise

Can be upgraded directly to Windows 7 Enterprise.

Windows Vista Ultimate

Can be upgraded directly to Windows 7 Ultimate.

Windows 9x/Me

Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

Windows 2000/XP Professional

Cannot be upgraded. You need to perform a clean installation of Windows 7.

Non-Windows operating systems (UNIX, Linux, OS/2)

Cannot be upgraded. You need to perform a clean installation of Windows 7.

Preparing a Computer to Meet Upgrade Requirements

In addition to running one of the supported versions of Windows mentioned here, a computer to be upgraded to Windows 7 must meet the hardware requirements previously described in Chapter 2, "Installing Windows 7." Furthermore, all hardware components should be found in the Windows 7 Logo Program for Hardware. Older software applications also might not be compatible with Windows 7. Such applications might need to be upgraded or replaced to work properly after you have upgraded your operating system.

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

Microsoft provides an Upgrade Advisor that generates reports describing hardware and software components that might not be compatible with Windows 7. You can download and install this program free from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/get/upgrade-advisor.aspx. This report identifies any hardware or software problems associated with the computer to be upgraded.

Use the following procedure to obtain a system compatibility report from the computer to be upgraded:

  • Step 1. Download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from the website already mentioned. Read the information provided and then click the Download button.
  • Step 2. On the File Download–Security Warning dialog box, click Run to run the advisor now or Save to save it to your hard disk and run the advisor later.
  • Step 3. If you receive a User Account Control (UAC) prompt, click Continue.
  • Step 4. The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Setup Wizard starts with a Welcome page as shown in Figure 3-1. Select the radio button labeled I accept the license terms and then click Install.
    Figure 3-1

    Figure 3-1 You must accept the license terms to run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.

  • Step 5. The installation takes a minute or two to complete. When the wizard displays the Installation Complete message, click Close.
  • Step 6. The Upgrade Advisor adds an icon to your desktop. Double-click this icon to run the advisor, and then click Continue to accept the UAC prompt.
  • Step 7. The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor displays the page shown in Figure 3-2. Ensure that you have connected and turned on all peripheral devices (such as printers) so that they can be checked. Then click Start check.
    Figure 3-2

    Figure 3-2 The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor displays this introductory page.

  • Step 8. The Upgrade Advisor checks the hardware and software on your computer and then displays a report window similar that shown in Figure 3-3, which indicates any issues it might have found with your computer. Click the links provided if you need additional information.
    Figure 3-3

    Figure 3-3 The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor informs you of any issues related to system, devices, and programs.

Additional Preparatory Tasks

Before you upgrade a Windows Vista computer to Windows 7, you should perform several additional tasks, as follows:

  • Check the BIOS manufacturer's website for any available BIOS upgrades, and upgrade the computer's BIOS to the latest available functional version if necessary. You should perform this step before a clean install or an upgrade to Windows 7.
  • Scan and eliminate any viruses from the computer, using an antivirus program updated with the latest antivirus signatures. You should then remove or disable the antivirus program because it might interfere with the upgrade process. In addition, you should use a third-party program to scan for and remove malicious software (malware).
  • Install any upgrade packs that might be required to render older software applications compatible with Windows 7. Consult software manufacturers for details.
  • Install the latest service pack for Windows Vista (SP2 at the time of writing), plus any other updates that Microsoft has published. At the very minimum, you must have Vista SP1 installed.

Upgrading the Computer to Windows 7

After you have checked system compatibility and performed all tasks required to prepare your computer for upgrading, you are ready to proceed. The upgrade takes place in a similar fashion to a new installation, except that answers to some questions asked by the Setup Wizard are taken from the current installation. Perform the following procedure to upgrade a Windows Vista computer to Windows 7.

  • Step 1. Insert the Windows 7 DVD-ROM.
  • Step 2. If you receive a UAC prompt, click Continue.
  • Step 3. When the Windows 7 screen appears, select Install now.
  • Step 4. Setup copies temporary files, and then the Get Important Updates for Installation page appears. If you are connected to the Internet, select the Go online to get the latest updates for installations option. Otherwise, select the Do not get the latest updates for installation option.
  • Step 5. Accept the license agreement and then click Next.
  • Step 6. On the Which type of installation do you want? page, shown in Figure 3-4, select Upgrade.
    Figure 3-4

    Figure 3-4 The Which type of installation do you want? page offers you a choice between upgrading or performing a clean installation.

  • Step 7. Setup checks for compatibility issues and displays the Compatibility Report page with information about any applications or drivers that are not supported in Windows 7 (see Figure 3-5). Note the information provided and then click Next. If the compatibility check does not find any issues, this page might not appear.
    Figure 3-5

    Figure 3-5 The Compatibility Report screen describes items that might be incompatible with the upgrade to Windows 7.

  • Step 8. The Windows 7 upgrade proceeds in a fashion similar to that of a clean installation. It asks for only any information it cannot retrieve from the previous Windows installation.
  • Step 9. After installation has completed and the computer has rebooted, the Help protect your computer and improve Windows automatically dialog box appears (see Figure 3-6). You should select Use recommended settings.
    Figure 3-6

    Figure 3-6 Select to ensure optimum protection for your computer.

  • Step 10. Ensure that the time and date are set properly and then click Next. Windows configures your personalized settings and then displays the Windows 7 desktop.
  • Step 11. On the Select Your Computer's Current Location dialog box, make a selection according to your network location.
  • Step 12. Windows finalizes your settings and then displays the logon screen. After you log on, Windows prepares your desktop and you are ready to use Windows 7.

Migrating from Windows XP

As you have seen, Microsoft does not provide a direct upgrade route from Windows XP to Windows 7. If your computer running Windows XP meets the hardware requirements for running Windows 7, you have two choices for upgrading to Windows 7:

  • Upgrade your computer to Windows Vista and then upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7. This procedure is time-consuming, is expensive (you will need to purchase upgrade editions of both Windows Vista and Windows 7), and is consequently not recommended.
  • Back up all your files and then do a clean install of Windows 7. You will need to reinstall all applications on your computer after you have installed Windows 7.

Use the following procedure to upgrade a Windows XP computer:

  • Step 1. Back up all files before starting, especially those on the partition to be used for the Windows 7 operating system files.
  • Step 2. Use one of the procedures detailed in Chapter 2 to install Windows 7 on your computer. When you are offered a choice of upgrade or clean installation, the upgrade option will be unavailable and you must choose the clean installation option.
  • Step 3. If you want to retain the Windows XP operating system files, select a different partition when offered a list of available partitions. Doing so will create a dual-boot system, as discussed in Chapter 2.
  • Step 4. If you choose the Windows XP partition, the old operating system files will be retained in a Windows.old folder as discussed in the next section. Do not format this partition.
  • Step 5. After you have finished the installation of Windows 7, you can migrate your settings to the new installation by following procedures covered in Chapter 4, "Migrating Users and Applications to Windows 7." You will need to reinstall all your applications on Windows 7.

The Windows.old Folder

When you upgrade a previous version of Windows to Windows 7, Setup.exe stores copies of the previous operating system subfolders and files in the Windows.old folder so that they are available in case you need them. This also happens if you perform an in-place upgrade or reinstallation of a Windows 7 system. This folder assists you in migrating some of your settings to Windows 7 after upgrading from Windows XP. You will find the following subfolders present:

  • Windows.old\Windows: Contains files from the old Windows operating system.
  • Windows.old\Documents and Settings: Contains the following subfolders:
    • - Windows.old\Documents and Settings\Administrator: Contains personal files stored by users of the default Windows XP Administrator account. If you did not use this account, this subfolder might not contain any personal files.
    • - Windows.old\Documents and Settings\All Users: Contains any documents you might have stored in My Shared Documents (as accessed from the default Windows XP Start menu).
    • - Windows.old\Documents and Settings\Username: Contains personal files for the user username, such as documents, pictures, and Internet Explorer favorites. If you had multiple users on the Windows XP computer, you will find a separate folder labeled with the username for each user.
  • Windows.old\Program Files: Contains folders for applications that were installed on Windows XP. You might be able to migrate program settings from this folder.

We look at migrating these folders and settings to your Windows 7 computer in Chapter 4. You can also use cut and paste to move their contents to the Windows 7 locations, such as the Documents folder accessed from the Windows 7 Start menu.

Removing the Windows.old Folder

After you have restored files and settings from the Windows.old folder and are confident that you do not need anything left behind in this folder, you can use Disk Cleanup to remove this folder and reclaim its disk space. Perform the following procedure:

  • Step 1. Click Start > All Programs >Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup. You can also type disk into the Search box in the Start menu, and then click Disk Cleanup from the results list.
  • Step 2. If you have more than one disk partition, the Disk Cleanup: Drive Selection dialog box appears. Select the partition on which you installed Windows 7.
  • Step 3. Disk Cleanup calculates the amount of space you can free up and then displays the dialog box shown in Figure 3-7, showing you what items can be freed up. Click Clean up system files.
    Figure 3-7

    Figure 3-7 The Disk Cleanup dialog box enables you to remove unnecessary files and folders.

  • Step 4. If you receive a UAC prompt, click Yes, and if you are again asked for a partition, select the Windows 7 partition again.
  • Step 5. The Disk Cleanup dialog box reappears. Select Previous Windows Installation. Also select check boxes for any other files you want to delete, click OK, and then click Delete Files to confirm your action.

Upgrading from One Edition of Windows 7 to Another

Chapter 1 introduced you to the editions Microsoft has produced for Windows 7. Just as you can upgrade Windows Vista to Windows 7, you can also upgrade a lower edition of Windows 7 to a higher one. Table 3-3 summarizes the available upgrade paths.


Table 3-3. Upgrading One Edition of Windows 7 to a Higher One

Windows Edition You Are Upgrading

You Can Upgrade to This Edition

Windows 7 Home Basic or Windows 7 Starter

Windows 7 Home Premium

Windows 7 Professional

Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 7 Home Premium

Windows 7 Professional

Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 7 Professional

Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 7 Ultimate

Cannot be upgraded further

Windows Anytime Upgrade

The Windows 7 DVD-ROM contains the code for all editions of Windows 7. When you enter the license key, this tells Setup which edition of Windows 7 you are installing. As mentioned in Chapter 2, you can also install Windows 7 without entering a license key and then select the desired edition. Doing so enables you to preview the capabilities of a given edition before making a purchase decision.

Upgrading Windows 7

Use the following procedure to upgrade one edition of Windows 7 to a higher one:

  • Step 1. Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security >Windows Anytime Upgrade.
  • Step 2. As shown in Figure 3-8, Windows Anytime Upgrade enables you to compare the available editions of Windows 7 or enter an upgrade key that you have already purchased.
    Figure 3-8

    Figure 3-8 Windows Anytime Upgrade enables you to upgrade your edition of Windows 7.

  • Step 3. If you want to review a summary of available features in different editions, click the Go online to choose the edition of Windows 7 that's best for you link. While online, you can purchase the license for the edition you want to upgrade to. When finished, close Internet Explorer to return to Windows Anytime Upgrade.
  • Step 4. To upgrade to a higher edition of Windows 7, click the Enter an upgrade key link. This takes you to the window shown in Figure 3-9.
    Figure 3-9

    Figure 3-9 Windows Anytime Upgrade instructs you to enter the upgrade key you purchased to begin the upgrade.

  • Step 5. Type your upgrade key and then click Next.
  • Step 6. Windows verifies your upgrade key and, after a few seconds, displays a message to Please accept the license terms. Click I Accept.
  • Step 7. Follow the instructions provided to save work and close open programs, and then click Upgrade. If you receive a UAC prompt, click Yes.
  • Step 8. Windows Anytime Upgrade displays the screen shown in Figure 3-10 as the upgrade takes place. The process might include the downloading of updates.
    Figure 3-10

    Figure 3-10 The Windows Anytime Upgrade process includes the downloading and installation of available updates.

  • Step 9. After 10 minutes or so, the computer restarts and the upgrade process finishes. The computer restarts a second time to finish the upgrade.
  • Step 10. After this reboot, the Windows 7 logon screen appears with the username(s) you specified while running the previous edition of Windows 7. Select an appropriate username and type the password, if configured.
  • Step 11. You are informed that the upgrade was successful. If desired, click the link provided to find out what's new. Otherwise, click Close.

Uninstalling Windows 7

In some cases, you might be able to uninstall Windows 7 and revert your computer to a previous version of Windows. Microsoft supports the following scenarios for uninstalling Windows 7:

  • After Installing Windows 7 over an Earlier Windows Installation: If the Windows.old folder already mentioned in this chapter still exists, you might be able to recover the older Windows installation by using the Windows Recovery Environment. Refer to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971760/ for more details. We discuss the Windows Recovery Environment in Chapter 18, "Configuring System and File Recovery."
  • After Installing Windows 7 on a Computer That Did Not Have a Previous Operating System Installed: Use the Windows XP or Vista installation media to install the desired version of Windows over the Windows 7 installation. You will lose all data from the Windows 7 installation, so be sure to back up any data of value before starting.
  • After Upgrading from Windows Vista: Microsoft does not provide a direct uninstall path (unlike the uninstall path provided in Windows 2000). You need to use the same procedure as mentioned for installing Windows 7 on a computer without a previous operating system.
  • After Creating a Dual-Boot or Multi-Boot System: Back up your programs, files, and settings from the Windows 7 partition. From the other operating system, delete or format the Windows 7 partition. This frees up all the disk space from this partition, allowing its use by the other operating system.
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