Here we go again. Windows is introducing a new operating system. And – according to Microsoft at least – it’s one we can’t live without. Face it, Microsoft would dearly love to have consumer reaction similar to that displayed when they introduced Windows 95. Back then we saw stores staying open all night so people could buy the program at 12:01 in the morning on the day of release. And they did. There were actually people lining up to (gasp!) willingly – eagerly! – upgrade their operating system.
Since then, Microsoft has released five major upgrades to their operating system. First was Windows 98 – a decent upgrade, but generally a yawn. Most people figured “Why bother?” Next was Windows ME – even a bigger yawn. Basically just Windows 98 with some window dressing. Microsoft followed that up with Windows 2000. Technically a solid upgrade, but one geared mainly towards larger corporate users with greater networking needs. Next came Windows XP. In spite of a huge promotional blitz, XP was initailly a flop. Early reviews were unfavorable, citing excesive memory requirements, lack of third party device drivers, and general instability with the operating system. Sound familiar? Those are the same criticisms that followed the initial release of Windows Vista. In both cases, by the time service pack 1 of both of those operating systems came out, Microsoft had pretty much resolved the issues.
In regards to Vista, though, the public never did warm up to it like they finally did with XP. It was a case of perception driving reality. People heard it was a buggy OS (it was) which couldn’t run many of their favorite programs (it wouldn’t), so they should avoid it like the plague. And Microsoft, even though they eventually addressed most of the issues, never could turn public perception around.
So, what do they do instead? They take everything they learned from the last few botched releases and put it into development of Windows 7. Having tested the operating system for the last several months, I’m pleased to tell you that, for the most part, they got this one right.
If you upgrade to Windows 7 from XP, it will look like a leap into the 21st century. From it’s Aero Peek transparent windows, to its greatly improved taskbar to its less intrusive User Account Control (no more clicking OK half a dozen times every time you copy something!), you’ll finally see new and improved features in a Windows operating system.
If you’re already using Vista, most features won’t necessarily be new, but you’ll still probably say, “THAT’S how it’s suppsed to work! And work it does. Your existing software will run. Your hardware will automatically be recognized. And, best of all, this is the first operating system release that hasn’t required a major hardware upgrade to run. In fact, if your system was able to run Vista, it will run Windows 7.
So, you’ve decided to upgrade to Windows 7. What’s next? First, determine if your hardware is sufficent to run the OS. Microsoft requires you to have minimum 1GHz 32-bit processor, with 1 GB of RAM and 16GB of available hard disk space. (Keep in mind, these are the minimum requirements. More is better.)
If you have trouble figuring out all of those numbers in the prior paragraph, don’t worry. Just go to your favorite search engine and type “Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor”. You’ll find a tool written by Microsoft that will tell you if your computer is sufficient to run Windows 7.
OK, you’re going to upgrade. How do you do it? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as inserting the disk and installing. This is because, depending on what operating system you’re upgrading from, you may have to do a “clean” install. That is, format your hard drive, and then install Windows 7. Following is a chart provided by Microsoft showing what OS’s you can upgrade from and to, and what actions will have to be taken:
OK, now that I’ve shown you the chart, please totally disregard it. Don’t try to do an “in-place upgrade”. You’re installing a brand-new operating system. This is a great opportunity to wipe the slate clean and get a do-over. This way you get a new operating system and the programs you use, without all of the rogue files and settings left over by uninstalled software, or – worse yet – any viruses and spyware you may unknowingly have.
So make sure you have original disks for all of the software you use. Make a backup of all of your data files. Reformat your hard drive, insert your Windows 7 disk and hang on.
And remember, if you need help with backing up, installing, or with any aspect of your computing experience, The Computer Psychic is just a phone call away.
This article is provided by Steve Smith, The Computer Psychic. All content is protected by applicable copyrights, and may not be reproduced without express consent of the author.
The information in this knowledge base article is provided “as-is” with no warranty, express or implied, as to the suitability or validity of its content. It is up to the reader of this article to determine if the steps outlined herein are appropriate for his or her use. As with all tasks on the computer, be sure to have a current backup of your data before proceeding.