April 29, 2009
10 questions to consider when planning a Windows 7 upgrade
By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP (Enterprise Security)
Windows 7 hasn’t even been released yet, but the buzz around it indicates that many i ndividuals are chompin’ at the bit to upgrade as soon as it hits the market.
Despite this enthusiasm, however, much has been made of a recent survey by Dimensional Research. According to the survey, 84% of 1,100 IT professi onals surveyed said they don’t plan to upgrade to Windows 7 in the next year, 16% do intend to upgrade in the next 12 months, and
42% expect to upgrade within 12 to 24 months. In addition, 43% said the current economic downturn is one of the reasons they will delay upgrading to Windows 7.
That would seem to indicate that improvement in the economy over the next y ear might change the upgrade numbers. It’s also possible that this month’s discontinua tion of mainstream support for Windows XP, which most of the companies are currently using on the desktop, ma y influence some to upgrade more quickly than they might otherwise.
Sooner or later, it’s likely that most home users and businesses will be upgrading from their current operating system to Windows 7. In this article, we’ll address 10 things you should keep in mind when you begin planning an upgrade to Windows 7.
Do I need to buy new hardware?
Many people equate upgrading the operati ng system to the need to buy a new computer or, at the very least, add
RAM and perhaps a bigger hard drive to their present systems. That’s because traditionally, each new version of
Windows has needed more disk space and memory than its predecessor.
Will you need to buy new hardware if you want to use Windows 7? That depends. Microsoft’s recommended hardware specifications for Windows 7 Release Candidate include a 1 GHz processor, at least 1 GB of RAM,
DirectX 9.0 support, 16 GB of free disk space, and 128 MB of graphics memory (for Aero). Those requirements are pretty much the same as the published system spec s for Vista Home Premium/Business/Enterprise/Ultimate
(the only difference is that the Vista specs list 15 GB of disk space). Many beta testers report that Windows 7 runs faster on their low-powered machines (512 MB of RAM) than does Vista.
Rule of thumb: If your computer is powerful enough to r un Vista acceptably, it will probably run Windows 7 as well or better. If you’re currently using XP on a computer with less than 512 MB of RAM or a processor that’s slower than 800 MHz, you’ll need to upgrade your hardware.
Can I upgrade directly from XP?
Many folks who are still running Window s XP want to know whether they can upgrade to Wi ndows 7 without losing all their preferences and settings. The answer is, well, sort of. Microsoft is not providing a direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7. An in-place upgrade is available only if you’re running Vista SP1 or later. If you’re running XP, even if your hardware is sufficient, you’ll have to do a clean installation of Windows 7.
However, you can use the Microsoft Deployment Tool 2010, which includes the User State Migration Tool, to transfer your user settings for the desktop and applications to the new Windows 7 installation.
This article offers more details.
Can I do a Vista in-place upgrade?
If you’re running Windows Vista, note t hat you must install SP1 or SP2 before you can do an in-place upgrade to
Windows 7. If you try to upgrade a Vista computer that does n’t have a service pack installed, you'll get a message informing you that “to upgrade to Windows 7, the comput er needs to be running Vista with Service Pack 1.”
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