Windows 7 upgrade path explained

Windows 7 has officially launched around the globe today, and some local retail pricing information has already come to light. As with Vista, there are a number of differences between the various versions of Windows 7.

For those wishing to upgrade from a previous version of Windows, and those who want to move on from 32-bit to 64-bit, the options might seem confusing.

Windows 7 upgrades can be performed from Windows XP upwards, moving through Vista Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate. The upgrade options are Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate.

In terms of naming conventions, all packages remain the same except for Vista Business, which is equivalent to Windows 7 Professional.

If one so chooses, they can downgrade their Windows 7 version from their Vista version – moving from Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Home Premium for example. Upgrades or downgrades between 32-bit and 64-bit versions will have to be performed as clean installations.

“In-place” installations mean that one can upgrade or downgrade their OS without having to perform a clean install. These can be performed across versions as long as they are bit version compatible.

For example, upgrading from any Vista 32-bit version to a Windows 7 32-bit version can be performed as an in-place installation. Upgrades from 32-bit to 64-bit will have to be clean installations, as will downgrades from 64-bit to 32-bit.

Both retail and upgrade Windows 7 products come as 32-bit and 64-bit versions in one package, so users will have a choice as to which operating bit path they wish to use.

There is also an “anytime upgrade” option for those who have already installed Windows 7 and wish to move on to a version with more features.

For Vista Starter and XP users, the only option is to do a clean installation upgrade to Windows 7. Anyone looking to move to Windows 7 from an older Microsoft OS will have to purchase a full retail version.

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Windows 7 upgrade path explained