September 24, 2009 10:23 pm

Moving to Windows 7 FAQ

Here is a list of commonly asked questions regarding moving to Windows 7. For more information on moving to Windows 7 – please see this blog post.

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Question: Can my PC run Windows 7?

To check if your PC is ready for Windows 7, download the free Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. It helps find potential issues with your computer’s hardware, devices, or programs that might affect installing Windows 7, and gives recommendations on what to do.

Question: What tools or resources exist to help me install Windows 7 on my PC?

  • Windows Easy Transfer: Windows Easy Transfer helps you move your files such as documents, videos, pictures and music and settings from an old PC to a new PC (or an old Windows installation to a new Windows installation on the same PC). For more on Windows Easy Transfer, click here.
  • Step-by-step instructions: Follow our step-by-step instructions, which guide you through the process of upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP and Windows Vista. You can find these instructions here.

Question: What versions of Windows 7 will I see and be able to buy in stores (and online)?

There will be two types of Windows 7 versions (also known as licenses) sold in both in stores and online in most of the world:

  • “Upgrade”: “Upgrade” versions of Windows 7 require Windows XP or Windows Vista to be installed on your computer. The Windows 7 setup process will look for a previous version of Windows on the computer during installation and if a previous version is not found, activation will not complete successfully using the Product Key for the upgrade license. There are no differences in functionality between the “Upgrade” and the “Full” version.
  • “Full”: “Full” versions of Windows 7 are also available (they do not say “upgrade” on the box). This version is for people that don’t have Windows XP or Windows Vista installed on their PC. These can be also used to upgrade from Windows Vista or Windows XP to Windows 7, but they typically cost more than the upgrade versions.

Question: What is the difference between the Upgrade and Full version of Windows 7 and which one should I buy?

Upgrade versions require Windows XP or Windows Vista to be running on your computer before installing Windows 7. Full versions of Windows 7 don’t require a previous version of Windows to be running on your computer. Both upgrade and full versions contain the same features. If you want to format your hard drive when installing Windows 7, you will need the full version. In general, choose the full version of Windows 7 if you don’t have a previous version of Windows on your PC. Choose the upgrade version if you have Windows XP or Windows Vista on your PC.

Question: What options am I given during Windows 7 installation?

During Windows 7 installation, you are given two installation options: Upgrade and Custom.

Question: What is an “upgrade installation”?

Upgrading is the most convenient way to get Windows 7 on your computer, because it keeps your files, settings, and programs from your current version of Windows in place.

Question: What is a “custom (advanced) installation”?

A custom installation does not preserve your programs, files, or settings during installation. It’s sometimes called a clean installation for that reason.

Question: Does doing a custom installation preserve my programs?

No. You’ll need to reinstall your programs by hand after installing Windows 7. To do this, you’ll need the original installation discs or setup files for any programs that you want to use in Windows 7. You can also browse for new programs online at the Windows 7 Compatibility Center.

Question: What if I need to reinstall Windows 7 and only have an upgrade version?

If for some reason you need to reinstall Windows 7 and have the upgrade version you will be required to install a previous version of Windows before installing Windows 7.

Question: What happens if I am running Windows XP and I choose “Upgrade” during Windows 7 installation?

If you choose Upgrade during installation, you will see the following screen, which links to online information that provides step-by-step instructions for installing Windows 7 on a computer running Windows XP.

Question: Can I reformat my hard drive and then install Windows 7?

Yes. If you want to erase your hard drive and then install Windows 7, you will need the full version of Windows 7.

Question: Can I upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit?

If you are running a 32-bit version of either Windows XP or Windows Vista and want to move to 64-bit, you will need to do a custom installation of Windows 7. This means that your files, settings, and programs will not be preserved. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 are included in Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, and Windows 7 Ultimate so you can choose which version to install.

Question: Can I upgrade from the Windows 7 RC to the retail version of Windows 7?

No. If you are running the Windows 7 RC, you will need to do a custom installation of the retail version of Windows 7.