Lack of XP to Windows 7 upgrade path causing grief

By Justin Mann on July 27, 2009, 3:59 PM
A lot of Windows users held out on a Vista upgrade hoping for a saving grace to come from Redmond and, to many, Windows 7 is precisely that. The upcoming release may end up being worth the wait, but unfortunately for anyone who has opted to stick with XP, Microsoft won't be allowing any direct upgrade paths. In the eyes of some analysts, this is perhaps the biggest mistake Microsoft will have made with the Windows 7 launch, and I'm inclined to agree.

The article goes into the premise behind Microsoft's decision. It isn't their desire to shut out XP users. The Windows 7 installer still supports automatic dual-boot installations, which would allow someone with an existing XP install to have 7 sit side-by-side while they transition. Forget about keeping your library of installed applications, however, as those will all have to be installed fresh. This differs from the launch of XP, where Windows 98 and Windows 2000 users both enjoyed the ability to do upgrade installs.

As time goes on, and people get machines pre-installed with Windows 7, the problem will become less important. Still, there's room for criticism here Microsoft has a lot of PR to make up for due to the perceived disadvantages Vista had and the dismal initial launch. Though Redmond has addressed most of the criticism, they still have a lot of unhappy customers, and as the article brings out they should seek to reach out to as many people as possible. It does seem in this instance that Microsoft is neglecting a huge pool of users. What's your take is Microsoft making a mistake in not allowing upgrades from XP?




User Comments: 50

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Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Oh WTF!??? You mean I HAVE to buy vista for my "just purchased" upgrade to work now? This blows. UBER FAIL Microsuckfest! Give me my money back.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

After reading the article on pcmag.com, I don't feel so bad now. XP users will still be able to install the upgrade, though they will have to do a "Custom install" and make backups to external storage prior to installing. Isn't this how they's always done it?

snowchick7669 snowchick7669 said:

Haha nice post Wendig0

I don't think I'll be upgrading to Windows 7 till at least mid next year. Want them to work out all the teething problems first

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I'd have to agree - this is a feature that really should have been included in 7 for precisely the reasons you've stated in the article. A lot of people have a bad taste in their mouths over Vista and have heard from many users that Windows 7 makes up for all of it. Telling them they have to start fresh and install all their apps again is not going to go over well - many have no idea how to and even if they did might not have the media to do so. These issues won't affect the regular visitors of this site, but to the the layman who has a job outside of computers this will probably be commonplace.

Guest said:

The Windows 7 Upgrade (Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate) box includes both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and although you might not be able to do an "Upgrade" style of install, you can still REPLACE Windows XP. This means that with the Upgrade discs (Home Premium Upgrade, Professional Upgrade, and Ultimate Upgrade), you can still do a completely clean install after telling the Windows 7 installer to format the hard drive. Although, make sure you tell it to delete the partition first, then create a new one, and THEN format. I'm not saying you have to make more than one partition. I'm saying that I highly recommend that you do this in order for the installation to go smoothly.

In other words: don't spend the extra money on the Full version. The Full version is for people who are installing Windows 7 on a system that has never had XP or Vista installed on it. Again, the Upgrade disc does not need the previous version to be on the hard drive during the installation. It has all the same bits and bytes that the Full version has, except I predict that the Upgrade version will ask you to prove that the system you're installing it on once had a Genuine version of Windows activated on it at one time. So, it will probably ask you for its Product Key to check the installation ID with database at Microsoft.

Microsoft only made it impossible to simply Upgrade from XP to 7, meaning that you can't install 7 on TOP of XP. So, you definitely have to start over, but you don't have to buy the Full version. That much is absolutely certain.

If you want to talk more about it, then feel free to contact me at www.Overclock.net. My username is TwoCables.

Guest said:

When I first read about this I was really angry. But, after some minutes of thought, I realized that by the time I am ready to do the upgrade, I will be ready for a fresh install. My first install of XP was an upgrade and I was sorry in the end. Six months later I did a fresh install.

Guest said:

People expect from programmers to predict everything.

To do a fresh install once a year or two does not present such a problem.

Since installation of Win7 is fast, I do not see a purpose for an XP-7 upgrade option.

There is an 8-year difference between XP & 7 and it is complicated to create a stable upgrade path.

It would take too long to make a OS to satisfy just about every complaint.

However, it is good for people to stream for excellence, because it gives us a better product in the end.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

snowchick7669 said:

I don't think I'll be upgrading to Windows 7 till at least mid next year. Want them to work out all the teething problems first

The drivers should be relatively stable cause they are similar or the same as Vista drivers. The changes to Aero could be unstable cause they did a bit of work there. Lots of other little bits and pieces added but I wouldn't expect many if any showstoppers.

tengeta tengeta said:

How about getting around to a fresh install... ffs even Linux users keep fresh rather often. If you are complaining about upgrading XP to 7 you likely haven't changed a thing for 3 years.

snowchick7669 snowchick7669 said:

The drivers should be relatively stable cause they are similar or the same as Vista drivers. The changes to Aero could be unstable cause they did a bit of work there. Lots of other little bits and pieces added but I wouldn't expect many if any showstoppers.

What I was really meaning is that I want to work with fixing Windows 7 on other computers rather then my machine being the trial and error for me. I like to be able to fix my own machines quickly and easily and know the limitations from hands on experience

I'm still on XP, so shall see what happens. The main problem is that we prefer to play older games and Vista would have ruined that possibility.

I prefer to wait 6 months after Microsoft release software till I actually try it (so they can add service packs and what not, plus common problems start arising). Just a personal preference

TechCombo said:

Well this obviously means that they will lose a lot of users to some other platform like Linux. Why would Microsoft be so dense in not allowing users to upgrade from XP....?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Oh come on people, we're being punished for not bending over to to receive the Vista blessing.

snowchick7669 snowchick7669 said:

Well said Captain

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

My thought is, this is an artificial limitation. If you can upgrade XP to Vista, then upgrading XP to 7 is just a matter of some effort on Microsoft's part.

Not including an option to upgrade is going to leave a lot of 'regular joe' users in the cold because they don't know how to backup their Outlook email, backup their photo and music libraries, backup their program settings etc... Starting out fresh is OK for someone in our technorati echo chamber; however, for people outside of our tiny mindshare, this is a harsh and unnecessary limitation.

cyriene said:

I think the vast majority of computer users could benefit from a clean install of 7 instead of just upgrading.

I believe the vast majority of computer users have all sorts of crap installed on their comps they don't need. Now, readers here are more computer savvy, but I work with normal people in a hospital and you'd be suprised how little people know about what is on their PCs.

A clean start always makes me feel good. Of course it will only be a short time before people reinstall crapware, spyware, or whatever else they can find.

I don't understand as I have never gotten a virus. But my computer challanged girlfriend seems to find them on a weekly basis. And she's not the only one.

spikester48661 spikester48661 said:

all and all being said 7 is faster than vista.BUT XP is fastest of all to me.and no upgrading BS or installing all my app a new too. long live XP and ubuntu .

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I've never upgraded any operating system without some issues. (That includes OSX and Linux). Better to start with a clean install even if it doesn't stay that way.

Guest said:

It is time to suck it up and do a clean install, which anyone with XP should anyway (improve speed and reliability of the 8 year old OS).

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

OK, for anybody involved with this thread, an upgrade would make no sense whatsoever. The facts are that if you've even bought a little piece af hardware in recent times, you'll be buying an OEM copy of Win 7 anyway, and it will cost less than an upgrade disc.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

snowchick7669 said:

Haha nice post Wendig0

lol, yeah.... Well I was a little anebriated at the time of my posting and jumped to conclusions without thinking it through. It's not so bad after all, because I always make backups before any major upgrade/clean install.

Oh and Captain, I have to disagree. The difference between the pro and ultimate versions is negligible to say the least. The upgrade disc will be just as good as the oem because it also allows you to do a fresh "custom install" and costs alot less. It was the same way with XP upgrades. One of Microsofts little secrets that they didn't want to let loose on the rest of the world, but failed miserably at suppressing.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

lol, yeah.... Well I was a little anebriated at the time of my posting and jumped to conclusions without thinking it through. It's not so bad after all, because I always make backups before any major upgrade/clean install.

Oh and Captain, I have to disagree. The difference between the pro and ultimate versions is negligible to say the least. The upgrade disc will be just as good as the oem because it also allows you to do a fresh "custom install" and costs alot less. It was the same way with XP upgrades. One of Microsofts little secrets that they didn't want to let loose on the rest of the world, but failed miserably at suppressing.

The last time I checked, a retail copy of XP Home edition was $199.95. An upgrade copy was $99.95, but didn't t you need a copy of Win 2000 to enable the install? An OEM copy of of XP Home is about $89.95 w/free shipping. Where have I strayed from the path to enlightenment?

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

captaincranky said:

The last time I checked, a retail copy of XP Home edition was $199.95. An upgrade copy was $99.95, but didn't t you need a copy of Win 2000 to enable the install? An OEM copy of of XP Home is about $89.95 w/free shipping. Where have I strayed from the path to enlightenment?

With XP you could upgrade from win 98se as well as 2000. With Windows 7 pro (the version I purchased), the upgrade was $99 (when I purchased it) - $199 currently, and the full retail oem will be $299 so essentially I saved $200 by purchasing early.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

With XP you could upgrade from win 98se as well as 2000. With Windows 7 pro (the version I purchased), the upgrade was $99 (when I purchased it) - $199 currently, and the full retail oem will be $299 so essentially I saved $200 by purchasing early.

That's not exactly the same as being to do a stand alone install from an upgrade disc, now is it?

Guest said:

Microsoft can not get Windows 7 Beta to upgrade to Windows 7 Release Candidate to work, how do we expect them to make Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrade a possibility.

Guest said:

it doesn't require any previous windows key. You just have to install it twice. You do a fresh install, not worrying about activating or putting in your key. Then from the desktop of your freshly installed windows 7 you put in the disk again and run setup from your desktop doing a fresh install again, fooling it into thinking you're upgrading from a version of windows since you're starting from your desktop. Do a "custom/clean" install again, and this time, your 2nd time through you put in your key etc.

Guest said:

My only question that seems not being asked is if the NSA and Homeland Security spyware programmed into Vista has been removed from Windows 7? It was found early on in Vista by some techs who accidently found them during their initial testing. That was a primary reason (besides Vista sucking, maybe because of this) that I kept away from Vista. Have any of you pros looked at this possibility?

B. Green, CA

NunjaBusiness said:

I am more interested in an "upgrade" from RC1 to RTM.

It's the least they could do for our testing and reporting.

Guest said:

Yeah, I'm also having trouble upgrading my AT&T 286 to an iCore7. Get with it people or be left in the dust.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

it doesn't require any previous windows key. You just have to install it twice. You do a fresh install, not worrying about activating or putting in your key. Then from the desktop of your freshly installed windows 7 you put in the disk again and run setup from your desktop doing a fresh install again, fooling it into thinking you're upgrading from a version of windows since you're starting from your desktop. Do a "custom/clean" install again, and this time, your 2nd time through you put in your key etc.

I was wondering about that. It worked that way with Vista, but I wondered if Microsoft was going to learn from that mistake and prevent that from happening this time. Do you know for sure that is how it will work?

raybay said:

I think CaptainCranky has addressed it best... at least for now, the Windows 7 "deal" is projected as less costly than the Upgrade.

Microsoft Upgrade disks for any product remain bigger thorns over the life of the product than any other method. When you include tecnitian time and frustration, there is never rarely ever a good reason to use Microsoft upgrades.

Guest said:

As an average pc user I really don't mind not having an upgrade to 7 from xp. All of the computers that I have and even work with (about 125 pcs) are over 4 years old. I wouldn't even consider upgrading these computers to 7 because I would have to upgrade video cards, memory, and even the cpu if I wanted windows 7 to perform how it was designed. I'm better off just buying a new computer that has the newer technology from the last 4 years.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

As an average pc user I really don't mind not having an upgrade to 7 from xp. All of the computers that I have and even work with (about 125 pcs) are over 4 years old. I wouldn't even consider upgrading these computers to 7 because I would have to upgrade video cards, memory, and even the cpu if I wanted windows 7 to perform how it was designed. I'm better off just buying a new computer that has the newer technology from the last 4 years.
Just for a laugh, you might try installing "Vista Upgrade Adviser". on one of the PCs. The resultant report from that would likely be M$'s version of "shock and awe". (Obviously, substitute "Windows 7 Upgrade Adviser" if that exists. Sorry, I am way, way out of touch.)

TBolt said:

Hmm...guess I'm in the minority that prefer a clean install "upgrade". It doesn't really bother me to reinstall all my other programs...it's the docs associated with those programs that I don't want to lose. No problem here as they are on another partitian or drive (depending on which computer). Aren't clean installs typically more stable and preferred anyway? Hell, I typically format and clean install my OS'es on all my computers at least once a year anyway.

Guest said:

I'm curious about compatibility issues with 3rd party apps. Not being able to upgrade is a bad thing for the average consumer, but taking the trouble to install fresh, or paying someone else to do it and then finding out that your existing applications will not run properly due to compatibility issues... well....

I read some time ago that MS's solution for compatibility issues was to run XP in a virtual machine on top of 7! Call me crazy but aside from the obvious issues like licensing, maintenance of a VM, antivirus on a VM, etc, this would leave a very bad taste in my mouth after they have made it nearly impossible to purchase XP, a computer preloaded with it, or they charge extra for the "downgrade" and now they offer it up as a solution for fixing the compatibility problems with their brand new OS! Will they then begin selling XP Pro again? Will a license for XP be included with 7 for this purpose? Or have they revised these plans?

David Morris

http://www.g33k2.com

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Some Days a Computer Just Feels Slightly Less Than Fresh....

Hmm...guess I'm in the minority that prefer a clean install "upgrade". It doesn't really bother me to reinstall all my other programs...it's the docs associated with those programs that I don't want to lose. No problem here as they are on another partitian or drive (depending on which computer). Aren't clean installs typically more stable and preferred anyway? Hell, I typically format and clean install my OS'es on all my computers at least once a year anyway.

Yeah man, I'm with you. It's like a "high colonic" for your hard drive.

Guest said:

It doesnt mean you have to buy Vista. It means you cannot do an upgrade install and have to do a fresh install.

Guest said:

Who the hell would wanna buy an upgrade! I mean, after all, isn't Win 7 really an upgrade of Vista? I liken it to Win98 2nd Ed which sorted out the 20,000 odd listed bugs in Win98. Win7 to my way of thinking is really just Vista with the bugs taken out... we hope!

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Well you could buy Vista, and then get Win 7 for $10 shipping. Then just do the install from 7, then 'upgrade' that to keep your Vista key virgin. Then you'd really have 2 OSes for slightly more than the price of 1. Thats what I did with XP and Vista.

Guest said:

Who in their right mind would buy a brand new engine, (Win7), made for a 2009 model car, and put it in a 2001 car body, (XP), with all the unmatched gear box, suspension, etc, etc. Looney toons to the max!

Guest said:

Time didn't stop when XP was released... I sometimes still purchase current hardware with XP installed, so it is a false assumption that a hardware upgrade is required for Win7.

The key really is: Will software purchased for XP be compatible with Win7?

Who would spend $50-$100 to upgrade to 7 and then go out and spend hundreds or perhaps thousands more purchasing "updated" versions of their existing software with the "Certified for Win7" sticker when their current setup is working just fine?

The problem is that XP finally reached a point of performance and stability that just works and that people are comfortable with and there was no compelling reason to upgrade to Vista nor is there a compelling reason to upgrade to Win7. What? People are going to drop that kind of cash for a flashier interface that by most experienced users' standards is significantly harder to use and navigate? After everything else... a learning curve?

Win 7 represents a significant improvement over Vista, but still no return on the investment. I predict XP will be the last OS jewel in Microsoft's crown and that their position will be gradually marginalized over the coming years, not unlike "Big Blue" before them. MS will always be around, but their days are numbered as king of the hill.

David Morris

http://www.g33k2.com

spikester48661 spikester48661 said:

Guest said:

Time didn't stop when XP was released... I sometimes still purchase current hardware with XP installed, so it is a false assumption that a hardware upgrade is required for Win7.

The key really is: Will software purchased for XP be compatible with Win7?

Who would spend $50-$100 to upgrade to 7 and then go out and spend hundreds or perhaps thousands more purchasing "updated" versions of their existing software with the "Certified for Win7" sticker when their current setup is working just fine?

The problem is that XP finally reached a point of performance and stability that just works and that people are comfortable with and there was no compelling reason to upgrade to Vista nor is there a compelling reason to upgrade to Win7. What? People are going to drop that kind of cash for a flashier interface that by most experienced users' standards is significantly harder to use and navigate? After everything else... a learning curve?

Win 7 represents a significant improvement over Vista, but still no return on the investment. I predict XP will be the last OS jewel in Microsoft's crown and that their position will be gradually marginalized over the coming years, not unlike "Big Blue" before them. MS will always be around, but their days are numbered as king of the hill.

David Morris

http://www.g33k2.com

spikester48661 spikester48661 said:

your right windows xp will be a long lived king ...

JudaZ said:

spikester48661 said:

all and all being said 7 is faster than vista.BUT XP is fastest of all to me.and no upgrading BS or installing all my app a new too. long live XP and ubuntu .

Actually , have tried Windows 7 beta.... and now the RC1 on my old laptop.

Has only a 2GHz Celeron and 768RAM ..runs XP and Windows 7 in dual boot.

....for me Windows 7 is alot faster then XP so far.

Didnt belve it would be, but for me..it is.

and mostly surprised because the hardw3are Im' running it on isnt that great.

even the "do you want windows to searcxh for drivers" features...it actually worked...first time ever for me.

Tried it in Windows 7, and 1 minute, the driver was found and installed and it was the correct driver..... so far I'm impressed.

...but you never know how bad they will mess up the end product

Guest said:

I think everyone is missing the point here. The problem is not about saving some money it is about saving time! I've been backing up my data for 2 weeks now and still have not completed the process. I have years of installed, registered, and setup applications that I downloaded from websites all over the internet. Trying to find all the downloads again, then reinstalling and setting up again will take months! I did not upgrade to Vista because of all the nightmare stories about Vista and knowing many of my apps would not run on Vista. I now have Windows 7 but will take months before I can install and use it. Just think if your in IT and have to do this on lots of computers! Since you can upgrade XP to Vista and Vista to Windows 7, Microsoft should let me enter my valid Windows 7 product key to download Vista so I can upgrade XP to Vista and then upgrade Vista to Windows 7. It is not XP users fault that Vista was so bad that we all waited for Windows 7, it is Microsoft's fault. By not making XP upgrade to Windows 7 is going to make Windows 7 a failure just like Vista was except for different reasons. I really just want my money back for Windows 7 so I can go buy my first MAC.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I think everyone is missing the point here. The problem is not about saving some money it is about saving time! I've been backing up my data for 2 weeks now and still have not completed the process. I have years of installed, registered, and setup applications that I downloaded from websites all over the internet. Trying to find all the downloads again, then reinstalling and setting up again will take months! I did not upgrade to Vista because of all the nightmare stories about Vista and knowing many of my apps would not run on Vista. I now have Windows 7 but will take months before I can install and use it. Just think if your in IT and have to do this on lots of computers! Since you can upgrade XP to Vista and Vista to Windows 7, Microsoft should let me enter my valid Windows 7 product key to download Vista so I can upgrade XP to Vista and then upgrade Vista to Windows 7. It is not XP users fault that Vista was so bad that we all waited for Windows 7, it is Microsoft's fault. By not making XP upgrade to Windows 7 is going to make Windows 7 a failure just like Vista was except for different reasons. I really just want my money back for Windows 7 so I can go buy my first MAC.

Quite frankly, your data should be off the system drive in the first place. If it was, it simply wouldn't be necessary to back it up, because it wouldn't matter which version of Windows was installed.

Any programs that you downloaded should have had the setup files burned to disc before there was any attempt made at installing them. Plus writing the product keys down and keeping multiple copies in multiple safe places.

Plan "B" would have involved buying an using a disc imaging program such as, Acronis "True Image". Oh yeah, and installing and using it.

And Vista will run XP programs, it will set the compatibility mode to XP automatically, or you can set it manually.

And BTW, Vista isn't that bad, it just isn't that good, there is a difference.

And good luck with that Mac Yo, especially with finding "software all over the internet" to run on it!

And I think that if we all, "missed the point", that you missed it right along with us.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I think everyone is missing the point here. The problem is not about saving some money it is about saving time! I've been backing up my data for 2 weeks now and still have not completed the process. I have years of installed, registered, and setup applications that I downloaded from websites all over the internet. Trying to find all the downloads again, then reinstalling and setting up again will take months! I did not upgrade to Vista because of all the nightmare stories about Vista and knowing many of my apps would not run on Vista. I now have Windows 7 but will take months before I can install and use it. Just think if your in IT and have to do this on lots of computers! Since you can upgrade XP to Vista and Vista to Windows 7, Microsoft should let me enter my valid Windows 7 product key to download Vista so I can upgrade XP to Vista and then upgrade Vista to Windows 7. It is not XP users fault that Vista was so bad that we all waited for Windows 7, it is Microsoft's fault. By not making XP upgrade to Windows 7 is going to make Windows 7 a failure just like Vista was except for different reasons. I really just want my money back for Windows 7 so I can go buy my first MAC.

Um.. nobody is forcing you to install Windows 7. If everything works so great for you on XP then stick with it. There is 8 years difference in XP and 7, are you still on your original install of XP? If not then you've done this before, if so then congrads stick with XP because it is serving you well.

raybay said:

Microsoft is a little more wise than in the past.

What is more, the economy is worser, so Microsoft has to string out some better incentives...

But not of that free stuff won't last long... As soon as the economy starts to move upward, we will be screwed by overpriced opeating systems once more.

It does appear that Windows 7 will be as good as Windows XP finally became after Service Pack 2.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

IMO M$ had to see this coming and shot themselves in both feet with this one, and possibly once in the arm. XP hasnt been sold on a machine(natively) for what...4 years now, you have to actually ask for it. Then to make an OS that's less demanding than xp and not expect people(the average joe) with 8 year old computers to say "hmm, well if I get win7, my machine will perform even better." Oh but then to deny them of that upgrade.........oooh burn.

Guest said:

i'm pc and windows 7 with no upgrade path from XP was my idea !

LOL who want's to be intelligent when you can be stupid and still earn money ?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

i'm pc and windows 7 with no upgrade path from XP was my idea !

LOL who want's to be intelligent when you can be stupid and still earn money ?

That M$ is in it for the money is a given. However, in their defense, have they ever offered a multiple jump OS update?

Win 7 is basically Vista with better press. However, it seems that they have retreated from "superfetch", back to memory utilization more akin to XP.

I recently purchased Win 7 for a new computer. As advertised, it is fairly fool proof, nay almost imbecile proof, with respect to installing. The bad news that with respect to things such as the "run" command and managing startup programs, they've made it somewhat "experienced user proof" as well.

I'm more than a little bemused at public perception between Vista and Windows 7. It seems that the opinion is that Windows 7 is entirely new and revolutionary, when in fact it is nothing more than Vista with the major blunders removed.

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