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How to Upgrade Vista to Windows 7

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Authored by Dave Mallisk in Computer Software
Published on 10-18-2009

Before you can upgrade your PC from Vista to Windows 7, you need a Windows 7 upgrade DVD, which lets you install a Windows 7 operating system over an existing Vista operating system, thereby replacing it. An upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 maintains most applications and data.

If you purchase either a new PC or a Vista operating system, you might qualify for a free upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. You must either have made your purchase after June 23, 2009, or make your purchase before January 31, 2010 (or earlier, as specified by some PC manufacturers). For more information, see Windows 7 Upgrade Option.

Your current Vista operating system determines the Windows 7 upgrade for which your PC might qualify:

  • If your PC runs Vista Home Premium, it might qualify for a free upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium.
  • If your PC runs Vista Business, it might qualify for a free upgrade to Windows 7 Professional.
  • If your PC runs Vista Ultimate, it might qualify for a free upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate.

Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7

After you receive your Windows 7 Update package, follow its exact instructions to upgrade your PC from Vista to Windows 7. Here is the general procedure:

  1. Make sure your Vista operating system has service pack 1 or 2.
  2. Make sure your Vista operating system is completely up to date, including its driver updates.
  3. As a precaution, copy your data files to either a separate hard drive or to removable media. If possible, you should also back up your entire computer (all programs and data) through a full-system-backup utility such as Acronis True Image Home, CMS BounceBack, Symantec Norton Ghost, or TeraByte Image for Windows.
  4. Insert the Windows 7 DVD, and then click on Install Now. (If autorun does not display the Install Windows window, search the DVD for setup.exe, and then double click on it.)
  5. Click on Go online to get the latest updates (recommended) to get the newest Windows 7 updates.
  6. Accept the software-license terms, and then click on the Next button.
  7. Click on Upgrade to upgrade Vista to Windows 7. (If the process finds any compatibility problems, it displays a report. For example, some drivers might not be compatible with Windows 7.)

Upgrading XP to Vista, then Windows 7

If you have a relatively new PC running XP, you can upgrade first to Vista, and then to Windows 7. Use the following general procedure:

  1. Run Microsoft’s Vista Upgrade Advisor to determine whether your PC can run Vista.
  2. Run Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Beta to determine whether your PC can run Windows 7.
  3. Before January 31, 2010, buy a qualifying Vista edition (Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate) that includes a coupon for upgrading to Windows 7.
  4. Order your Windows 7 Upgrade according to the instructions on its Validation Page
  5. Install Vista on your PC, and then keep it fully up to date, including its drivers updates.
  6. After you receive your Windows 7 Upgrade package, follow its exact instructions to upgrade your PC from Vista to Windows 7. See its general procedure in Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 above.

Upgrading from XP to Windows 7 Directly

If you purchased a new PC with Vista after June 23, 2009, and then used a downgrade option to install XP, your PC might qualify for a free upgrade to Windows 7. You will need its Vista COA (Certificate of Authenticity). However, upgrading your PC directly from XP to Windows 7 is complex. For more information, see:

  • How to Upgrade XP to Windows 7
  • Upgrading XP to Windows 7

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