Most consumers will experience Windows 7 one of two ways, either by upgrading their existing PC or by purchasing a PC with Windows 7 preloaded. At work, most of our business customers have their own in-house IT support (or a dedicated partner that they work with) to deploy new versions of Windows.
For the customers that want to upgrade their own PC (and have experience installing Windows), an overview of the process is provided below.
For customers running Windows Vista:
Once Windows 7 is available on October 22nd, customers will be able to upgrade from their current edition of Windows Vista to a corresponding edition of Windows 7. For example, it is fairly straightforward to upgrade from Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium or from a 32-bit version of Windows Vista to a 32-bit version of Windows 7. The process involves inserting the appropriate Windows 7 installation disc, running the setup program, and choosing the “Upgrade” installation option. An Upgrade is the fastest and easiest type of installation and will preserve your files, settings, and programs.
For customers running Windows XP:
Customers who wish to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 will need to follow a different upgrade process due to the changes in PCs since the introduction of Windows XP in 2001. To upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 you must first determine if your PC meets the minimum system requirements using the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. Assuming it meets the requirements, you can install Windows 7 using the “Custom” installation option. A custom installation does not preserve your files, settings or programs so you need to first back up your data to an external drive and re-install your programs once installation has completed.
If you are upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 and installing it yourself, we have detailed step-by-step instructions here.
If you are a business customer, please note that there are other migration options for you that include a broad range of deployment tools and guidance to assist your migration to Windows 7. This also includes solutions to assess application and hardware compatibility. Please visit the Springboard Series.
For customers who want to upgrade to Windows 7:
We’ve received a lot of questions from our customers about getting Windows 7 before October 22nd. While you won’t be able to go into a store and purchase a copy until then, you can take advantage of our pre-order option which is available now via the Microsoft Online Store as well as a variety of participating retailers. If you’re an eligible college student, you can also take advantage of a sweet deal on Windows 7 for $29.99 by visiting http://www.win741.com/. And, if you have multiple PC’s at home, then on October 22nd for a limited time, you’ll be able to get the Windows 7 Family Pack Offer, which will provide 3 Upgrade Licenses for $149.99. Look for more details on this soon.
For more information on moving to Windows 7, I suggest you read our Windows 7 Upgrade FAQ which answers many of the commonly asked questions regarding moving to Windows 7.