Microsoft to offer XP-to-Windows 7 upgrades

But XP upgrade customers will have to do a "clean" installation of Windows 7, meaning that all data on their machine will be lost.

Microsoft Tuesday confirmed that it will sell what it calls "upgrades" for Windows 7 to users running the aged Windows XP operating system.

Those users, however will have to do a "clean" installation of Windows 7, meaning that all data on the machine will be lost.

"Regarding XP, customers can purchase upgrade media and an upgrade license to move from Windows XP to Windows 7," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail Tuesday morning. "However, they will need to do a clean installation of Windows 7."

In a follow-up reply to questions, the spokeswoman fleshed out what Microsoft means by upgrade. "The 'upgrade' part is referring to the license," she said. "You will be able to get the discounted 'upgrade' license, but it will include full bits."

That's how David Smith, an analyst with Gartner Inc., interpreted "upgrade" in Microsoft's description of what it would offer XP owners. "They're talking about the upgrade price," he said, pointing out that most software vendors use the term to designate a lower-priced version aimed at existing customers.

Although Microsoft Tuesday spelled the six planned versions of Windows 7 , it declined to provide pricing for them, or for the XP upgrade licenses.

Typically, an operating system upgrade offers users the choice between an in-place migration of the machine -- including installed applications and all data -- and a fresh installation, which overwrites the hard drive's contents. When Microsoft launched Windows Vista in January 2007, for example, it offered people then running XP those upgrade paths.

Smith and other analysts applauded Microsoft's decision to not provide in-place upgrades from XP to Windows 7. "I'm not a big fan of them," said Smith. "They're tough enough from one version to the next, and from two versions [behind], it would be pretty challenging, technically."

Michael Gartenberg, formerly an analyst at JupiterResearch, and now a vice president of mobile strategy with JupiterMedia, agreed. "For most end users, it will probably mean that they end up with a more reliable installation," he said.

Microsoft benefits, too. "It makes life a lot easier for Microsoft by not having to support an XP to Windows 7 transition," said Gartenberg. "It means that it's something they can get out the door earlier."

Microsoft has been aggressively pushing Windows 7's timetable. Just two weeks after it launched the first -- and in the end, the only -- public beta of the new operating system, the head of Windows development said the company is moving directly to "release candidate."

But the process of upgrading a PC from Windows XP to Windows 7 won't be easy, Gartenberg predicted. "It's a double-edged sword. For many consumers who may be looking to go directly from XP to Windows 7, the idea of doing a clean install, backing up their applications, backing up their data, can lead to a lot of hassles," he said.

"Considering that there's a lot of XP out there, one has to wonder why Microsoft is taking this approach," Gartenberg added. "It's not going to be the simplicity of sticking a disc in the drive and upgrading. We'll have to see if that affects the upgrade market."

Microsoft said it was working on ways to help Windows XP users make the move, but would not get specific. "Microsoft plans to have other tools and ways to help people get through that process, but we don't have full details on that at this time," the company's spokesman said today.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windows 7xp

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?