Windows 7 Upgrade from Vista
This page focuses on the situation where you have Vista and want an in-place upgrade to Windows 7. Migrating from Vista to a fresh installation to Windows 7 is similar, but you have the extra task of transferring the user settings.
There is no upgrade path from XP to Windows 7, however this page covers the migration from XP or Vista to a clean install of Window 7.
Windows Vista to 7 Upgrade
Before we get into the detail of an upgrade from Vista to Windows 7, let us review our choices. Undoubtedly a fresh installation of Windows 7 will result in fewer long-term problems with the operating system. Upgrading from Vista will leave baggage that conflicts with Windows 7, or at the very least, slows things down.
One factor that would clinch a migration is the need for a new computer. While a new 64-bit processor may be desirable, it brings extra problems with compatibility of scanners, web cams and other peripherals.
On the other hand, a migration is so much simpler, there is no need to reinstall Microsoft Office and other programs, and no need to grapple with User Settings Migration Tool. The rest of this article assumes that you have chosen to go with the in-place upgrade method. However, if you now think the better option is to migrate to Windows 7 here is a plan.
As with Vista, there will be six versions of Microsoft Windows 7. Ultimate, Home Premium, Home Basic, Professional (Equivalent of Vista Business), Enterprise (Part of Software Assurance enterprise licensing), and lastly, Windows 7 Starter.
Tier for Tier Windows 7 Editions
The principle behind tier for tier is like for like; you are starting with XP Home Premium and are upgrading to Windows 7 Home Premium. The three editions of Windows 7 that will be on sale from October 2009 are Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. Everyone agrees you cannot downgrade, going from Ultimate to Home Premium is not possible. However, it is claimed that you can pay the extra and go upmarket from Home Premium to Windows 7 Ultimate.
The cost of promoting an XP machine to Vista was about 2/3rds of buying a brand new version, for example, Vista Business $300, upgrade from XP $200. Let us hope that the upgrade cost is much less in Windows 7.
With SPM you can push out patches, which companies such as Mozilla Firefox or Adobe Acrobat provide. The point is that because WSUS does not do this for non-Microsoft software updates, you need a good add-on to take care of this task. With the Patch Manager you can even create your own packages to apply to your servers or clients.
Say what you will about Microsoft, their installs are always smooth, moreover, they are innovative in providing upgrade tools. Our trouble is that we only upgrade once every few years, thus forget what help is at hand, here are a few of my favorite utilities:
Murphy's Law - Anything that Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong
Gung-ho types back up only their data files, while those flying by the seat of their pants backup their only user settings. Mr Organized, on the other hand, backs up his entire system.
The corollary to Murphy's Law of Installation is that if you make a backup, then nothing ever goes wrong. Indeed, Windows 7 has a wonderful Rollback technology, so if it get's stuck it does not leave the system in a state of disgrace, it returns the operating system to it's former shape.
Your best friend, before, during and after promoting a Vista computer is the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. I found that that this free Microsoft utility is uncanny in its ability to predict driver conflicts, and to recommend uninstalling programs before continuing with the upgrade.
This program is well worth running even if you are just thinking about upgrading. At the other end of the scale, it provides useful troubleshooting advice if Windows 7 does not perform correctly once you have upgraded. Here is where you can download a free copy of the Windows 7 upgrade advisor.
There are two distinct phases to this tool, ScanState which takes a snapshot of your present Vista or XP files and rolls them up into a single file. Then once you have built the Windows 7 machine, LoadState unpacks all your old settings and places the correct files under C:\ Users\<username>.
Microsoft are for ever refining the options to migrate user profiles and user data from one operating system (Vista) to another (Windows 7). The latest feature is Hard-Link Migration which reduce the time for both in-place upgrades and fresh installations.
If you are unsure if a computer can be successfully upgraded, then call for the aptly named, Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit. As with most of these Microsoft toolkits, MAP is freely available from Microsoft's download site.
MAP uses the built-in WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation), thus it's secure and does not require you to install additional agents. The toolkit collects and organizes the operating system resources and device information and creates a report in Word or Excel on the suitability of migrating to Vista. A Windows 7 version (MAP 3.3?) is coming soon - about May 2009.
The hardware assessment compares the installed hardware with its database, and if migration is not recommended then it tells you what to upgrade. There is a separate device assessment which reports on the availability of each installed driver. Incidentally, you can scan multiple computers, even ones not part of your domain.
MAP works on modern Microsoft Windows systems for example:
SolarWinds' Config Generator is a free tool, which puts you in charge of controlling changes to network routers and other SNMP devices. Boost your network performance by activating network device features you've already paid for.
Guy says that for newbies the biggest benefit of this free tool is that it will provide the impetus for you to learn more about configuring the SNMP service with its 'Traps' and 'Communities'. Try Config Generator now - it's free!
Your Journey From Windows Vista to 7 - The Big Picture
When ever you are considering replacing a computer, and especially if you are going to install a new operating system version, stand back, take the opportunity to look at the big picture. Grapple with the hard question, do we need to upgrade to Windows 7 - at all? Instead, should we go thin client and deploy Terminal Services or Citrix, or could we go totally browser based? My brain is at stage one of assimilating that one day I may run my email, Word Processor and Spreadsheet from the internet. In which case, I may not need a powerful operating system.
Do You Believe in TCO? (Total Cost of Ownership)
At first I believed that Total Cost of Ownership was all hype. My initial problem was that I did not trust the man who first introduced me to the TCO concept. Suffice to say that I am now convinced of the cash benefits of reduced down time due to operating system errors. Another benefit which is harder to cost is greater user productivity and less frustration due to programs hanging.
Test Network and Pilot Group
Nothing polarises techies more than test networks and pilot groups. Half say, 'Guy you are preaching to the converted, surely everyone has a test network?' The other half whinge, 'Guy you are in cuckoo land, we have no money for a test network'.
To those who think I am in cuckoo land I wish to say that I hate spending money. Thus investigate using VMware or Microsoft's Virtual PC. As for the pilot group, if all else fails, you can double up as the pilot group or install Windows 7 on a few trusted user's machines.
Summary of Windows Vista to 7 Upgrade
The beauty of an upgrade is that it preserves all those user settings, and you don't need to re-install all those existing programs. However, many would argue that while a clean install takes longer, it means fewer cases of programs hanging later down the line.
While it would be a dangerous precedent, if I were in charge of Microsoft I would give a free upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. But I am not in charge, and if I were calling the shots, with such generosity, Microsoft may not stay in business very long!
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Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade, Migrate, Install