One of the most controversial developments in the computer industry in recent memory has been the disaster that Windows Vista has become. Due to issues with compatibility and security, it has been universally panned by critics and end users alike, so much so that many businesses have simply refused to deploy it. Instead, they’ve opted to keep Windows XP on their machines for the time being until a better option comes along. Many computer pundits believe that time has finally arrived, as Windows 7 promises to address many of the issues the general public had with its much-maligned predecessor, Vista.
If you’re one of those holdouts who are finally looking to upgrade and skip an operating system generation, however, upgrading may be a lot trickier than you realized. According to Microsoft, if your PC is currently running Vista, you should have no problem running this new O.S. iteration. But if you’re still running XP or earlier, there may be some compatibility issues.
Fortunately though, Microsoft has recognized that there is a large number of Vista-skippers out there, so they’ve developed a tool you can download that will tell you if your PC will support Windows 7 with its current configuration. Simply download the Windows Upgrade Advisor from the Microsoft website (just go to the site and enter the title of the software in the search box), and it will tell you if you need to download any driver updates, or if there are components that just won’t work at all with Windows 7 at the present time. Before running the software, make sure to plug in all your USB and other components like scanners or printers so the software can check those out as well.
After the software finishes scanning your computer, it will let you know if you can upgrade your current computer, or if you have to buy a new computer to be able to run the new Operating System. One thing to keep in mind is that Microsoft’s website contains several references to the fact that the company doesn’t recommend upgrading a computer running an O.S. version earlier than XP, and instead prefers that the upgrader buy a new PC.
Should you choose to go ahead and upgrade your computer from XP to Windows 7, unfortunately it won’t just be a matter of inserting the DVD and choosing some options during the upgrade process. Instead, this upgrade procedure requires a clean install of Windows 7 after wiping the hard drive.
Obviously, the first step in this process is to back up all your files onto a removable drive. This can be done on a removable hard drive, a USB “thumb” drive, or even a CD-R or DVD-R, depending on how many files need to be transferred. Next, the Windows 7 installation program will provide the ability to reformat the hard drive so you can do a fresh install on the new, clean hard drive partition. Once the installation process is complete, your files can then be copied back to the hard drive.
If you’re not comfortable with this process, it’s always better to consult with a computer professional to avoid the possibility of losing any of your files during the upgrade. But if you have experience backing up files and reformatting a hard drive, upgrading from XP to Windows 7 can be done provided the Windows Upgrade Advisor gives you the green light.