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August 10, 2009

Windows 7 Upgrade Path: Seeing A Lot of Blue

Microsoft has distributed a chart indicating how easy it will be to upgrade to Windows7, which is due out on October 22nd.

The three rollout versions of Windows7 (six are planned) are across the top, and your current operating system is shown along the left edge. So, you connect the axis between your current OS, and the version of Windows7 you're considering, and you'll see that you get either a green box (in-place upgrade) or a blue box (custom install). Green box good, blue box bad.

If you get the green box for In-Place Upgrade, that's supposed to be a good thing. You place your Windows7 upgrade disk in the computer, and two hours later you'll be running Windows7. They promise.

If you get the blue box for Custom Install, well, you're going to have time to bond with your computer. Note that this one is "custom install", a phrase which does not include the word 'upgrade', which is what you probably thought you were going to get with this upgrade.

Oh, no, I don't think so. If you get the blue box for Custom Install, you're going to have to take all your good stuff off the computer, wipe it completely, and rebuild again. You're going to have to copy your documents, pictures, videos, bookmarks etc to some other storage place. (You do have some sort of network storage device around, right?) Then you're going to have to re-install all your programs - Itunes, Google Earth, Safari or Firefox, Norton, etc.

Although Windows7 is getting some good early feedback, which mostly consists of "sucks less than Vista", this upgrade matrix is a disaster. Note that there's a lot more blue boxes than green boxes. Curiously, this is supposed to induce you to upgrade.

Most Vista owners will not do the upgrade. No XP owners (or to be more accurate, licensees) will do the upgrade.

The new computers that come out for Christmas, with Windows7 pre-installed, will do well. But if you've got a Vista PC, you're not going to find salvation with Windows7 unless you're a green box upgrade. If you've got a blue box "upgrade/install", you'd be better off "downgrading" to XP.

I remember how exciting Windows 3.1 was: an improved interface that delivered added value, that allowed me to stop chasing individual drivers between my software (WordPerfect, Harvard Graphics, Adobe PageMaker and XTree) and my printers (HP DeskJet).

Now an OS upgrade is just a problem and a timesucker. If you've been waiting for Windows7 to buy a computer, wait until March when Service Pack1 comes out (if you can). If you've been waiting for Windows7 to redeem your Vista and you've got a blue "custom install" box, maybe consider transitioning to XP. Microsoft will be selling Vista-to-XP transitions through 2011. If Uncle Sam offers you $2500 to turn in your old computer, go for it.

Feel free to complete this sentence:
     "You wouldn't have to do this if you'd bought an _ _ _ _ _ ".


Jim said...

This isn't quite true. You don't need to copy your stuff off in the "custom install" case. It will do a new install, but save your old stuff in a folder called, if memory serves me correctly, WINDOWS.OLD

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