If you are thinking of buying Windows 7, then I want to help you clarify Microsoft’s mind boggling array of rules and options. Your best hope of success is to focus on the rules for your country and your edition of Vista or XP. Your nightmare would be buying a Windows 7 upgrade for Home Premium, which is useless because you currently have the Vista Ultimate edition.
Topics for Choosing Your Windows 7 Strategy
- Migrating to Windows 7 from XP
- Windows 7 Upgrading from Vista
- Tier for Tier Windows 7 Editions
- WAU – Plan B Acquisition
- Upgrade Problem with IE8 in Europe
- Windows 7 Ultimate – Is it Worth the Extra Money?
When migrating from XP only a clean install of Window 7 possible, you cannot upgrade in the true sense of the word. Any doubts check with Microsoft’s free Upgrade Advisor. The good news is if you already have XP then you can take advantage of Microsoft’s cheaper ‘upgrade’ offer rather than buying the full version. What you do is give the Windows 7’s installer proof of a genuine copy of XP. By the way, you did backup before you trashed your old system – didn’t you?
In addition to a clean install described above, Vista offers an extra option for an in-place upgrade to Windows 7. The benefit of an in-place upgrade is that it preserves the user settings, and relieves you of the headache of finding the product keys and then re-installing Microsoft Office and other programs.
My friend Mick points out that you could upgrade from XP to Vista, and then make another in-place upgrade to Windows 7. Guy says this suggestion is another sign of Mick’s madness.
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.
|Starting with Windows Vista||Upgrading to Windows 7|
|Business||Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate|
|Home Basic||Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate|
|Home Premium||Home Premium, Ultimate|
32 and 64-bit Processors
It is my belief that whichever edition of Windows 7 you buy, the box will have two DVD’s one for 32-bit and another for 64-bit hardware. You use the same product key for whichever DVD you choose to install. Talking of hardware, Windows 7 is the first Microsoft operating system, which does not require a faster processor or more RAM than its predecessor (Vista).
Plan B is to opt for Windows Anytime Upgrade (WAU). You buy a product key which unlocks the next edition, for example, you could start off with Windows Vista Home Premium, upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, and then buy a WAU upgrade to Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. This worked smoothly for me.
Each Windows 7 edition is now a superset of the lower editions, thus you don’t lose any features if you upgrade from Home Premium to Professional. This is better and smarter than the Vista where the Professional edition did not have all the features of Home Premium.
In the European Union there was a legal problem when Microsoft wanted to bundle IE8 with the operating system. Therefore in Europe only, Windows 7 is shipping without IE8 installed; presumably you can add it later as a ‘Feature’. Now because Vista already has IE pre-installed there is a potential upgrade problem. Consequently, there is no upgrade version of Windows 7 in Europe, only the full copy. Good news, the full copy is the same price as the upgrade in Europe. Guy is slightly confused, but reassured that Microsoft has thought about this problem, therefore there is likely to be a workable solution.
If you need a non-English edition of Windows 7, then most of the common languages are available from October 22nd, for the more difficult languages you need to wait.
- BitLocker is probably the killer reason to buy the Ultimate edition of Windows 7. If you don’t need this feature then Ultimate is costly. Yet, if you factor-in the price of frustration that you feel because Home Premium misses out on a feature you read about in the press, then it may not be as expensive as you first thought.
- What nearly drove me mad was trying to edit the local group policy, and being unable to find gpedit.msc on a Windows 7 Home Premium computer. The problem is that gpedit only exists on the Ultimate edition, and maybe on the Professional.
- Perhaps you have read about Windows 7 providing an XP Mode setting? If you think this the salvation for one of your old applications, then you will be disappointed to discover that XP mode requires a virtualization engine, which is not available for Windows 7 Home Premium. Please note XP mode requires Virtual PC, and is therefore different from the Compatibility tab on a program’s property sheet.
- Probably the first thing you realize about the Home Premium edition’s (in-)compatibility is that you cannot join a domain, what is less obvious is that you may also struggle with offline folders or any type of folder redirection. See more on joining a domain.
- Another annoying feature for Home editions is that Remote Desktop Service does not work, thus you cannot remote desktop IN to a Home Premium computer. You can however, use the client-side software to remote desktop OUT to a machine with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, which does have the Remote Desktop Service.
- Do you need to switch between languages? If so, the Ultimate edition is the only version to enable you to flick between say English and French.
- Well that’s enough examples of where Home Premium comes up short; let us not get lost in the detail. My point is not that the Ultimate edition is great value; but that if you pay the extra then you can rest reassured that every Windows 7 feature that you read about will work on your computer.
Summary of Upgrading to Windows 7
When upgrading to Windows 7 my advice is, ‘Tell me the rules, and I will play your game’. Your best bet is to do your own research for your situation. Hopefully, you now have the right questions to ask starting with, ‘Will this Windows 7 package, that I am about to buy, upgrade my present edition of Vista or XP?’
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