Windows 7 upgrade questions
Feb 23, 2010, 14:14 GMT
Washington - Although Windows 7 has been out for some time, many are just now thinking about upgrading. And that's when the questions begin. The existence of multiple editions, different upgrade options, restrictions on how a PC may be upgraded, the packaging of 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the operating system in the same box, and volume pricing are enough to confuse even experienced techies. Read on for some help.
Q: I'm confused about the 'upgrade' version of Windows 7. Which operating systems can I upgrade with it, and can I perform an installation on top of my existing Windows XP? How is the existence of a previous operating system verified?
A: For each edition of Windows 7 - Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate - Microsoft offers an Upgrade version that sells for substantially less than the full version of each edition. In order to qualify for the upgrade version - or activate it - you must have an existing version of Windows XP or Windows Vista installed on your computer.
Plenty of caveats come with the upgrade versions of Windows 7, however. First, only with an identical edition of Windows Vista can you do an 'in place' upgrade of the operating system. In other words, if you currently run Vista Home Premium, you can purchase and install Windows 7 Home Premium as easily as popping in your Windows 7 disk and selecting the upgrade option. You cannot, however, upgrade Vista Home Premium with the Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate editions.
You also cannot do an 'in place' upgrade of Windows XP. Instead, with your existing XP operating system installed, you will need to reboot your computer with your Windows 7 upgrade disk in the DVD drive and allow the operating system to be installed into a new folder or directory.
Many people wonder whether they can do a clean installation of Windows 7 using an upgrade disk. A clean installation is one in which you allow the operating system to completely erase and reformat your computer's hard drive during the installation process. This is often considered the best way to install a new operating system, since all of the old files that may have caused trouble in the past are gone for good.
The answer is that you can perform a clean installation, but you will need to ensure that a qualifying prior version of Windows is both installed and activated on some other drive within the same computer. If that's not the case, you will be able to install Windows 7, but you will not be able to activate it properly.
Q: The new computer I'm looking at comes with Windows 7 Home Premium, but it's possible to upgrade to Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate for an additional charge. Would Professional or Ultimate be worth the extra money? What do you get with these two versions over Home Premium?
A: Home Premium is the version that's right for most individuals. who do not need to connect to a corporate network or run legacy applications. Windows 7 Professional adds the 'domain join' feature that makes for easy and secure connections to corporate networks, and it includes the ability to run Windows XP Mode, a separate download that essentially installs a copy of XP within Windows 7 so that you can run older applications in a native XP environment. The Professional edition also allows you to back up your computer to a home or corporate network. The Ultimate edition includes everything found in less expensive editions, plus BitLocker data encryption, which can encrypt removable drives for industrial-strength data security.
Q: I recently purchased the Windows 7 upgrade. It comes with two disks - one for 32-bit Windows 7 and one for 64-bit Windows 7. I have the 32-bit version installed on my desktop and I recently purchased a laptop with Vista 64-bit installed. Can I upgrade the Vista version with the 64-bit Windows 7 disk?
A: Although your Windows 7 upgrade package contains two disks - one for the 32-bit version of Windows 7 and one for the 64-bit version - the license covers the installation of only one of those versions, not both. So if you have already activated the 32-bit version on your desktop computer, you will not be able to activate the 64-bit version on your notebook computer. To do so, you'll need to purchase an additional license.
If you intend to purchase an additional license for Windows 7, you can go ahead and upgrade your existing Vista with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 that you received. Just don't enter your existing license key during installation; activate the 64-bit version only after you receive the new license key.
Q: Does Microsoft offer any kind of volume licensing for Windows 7? I have two kids, and they each have computers, so I need to buy three licenses for Windows 7.
A: Yes, Microsoft offers a Windows 7 Family Pack edition, which is a three-license version of the Home Premium edition of the operating system. Note that the Family Pack sells for about the same price as three separate copies of Home Premium Upgrade, which requires a previously-installed version of Windows. There's no Family Pack upgrade option for the Professional or Ultimate editions of Windows 7.
Q: I've always heard that you should wait until the first service pack of a new operating system before upgrading. Is Windows 7 different?
A: I think most experts would argue that it is. First, unlike the initial releases of Windows XP and Windows Vista, there have been very few reports of major problems that a service pack would fix. Windows 7 underwent extensive beta testing and was deemed stable by many even during the pre-release stage. What's more, Windows 7 is not a radical departure from its predecessor, Windows Vista. With Windows 7, Microsoft clearly focused on cleaning up many of the annoyances that drove legions of Vista users back to XP. So you might view Windows 7 as service pack 3 of Windows Vista. In that sense, it's already a mature product.
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