Moving from one Windows version to another can require some planning. In this video, you’ll learn about Windows upgrade options and how to manage the upgrade process.
If you ever need to move from one version of Windows to another, you might want to choose to perform an upgrade or an install. There are significant differences between these two. An upgrade implies that you’re keeping all of your files and applications in place, and all you’re simply doing is updating the operating system underneath it. If you’re performing an install, then you’re overriding everything on that system and starting with a brand new fresh installation of Windows.
Upgrades allow you to maintain consistency between one version of Windows and another. This means you’re able to log into a new version of Windows, but all of your customizations, files, and applications are exactly the ones you had before you started the upgrade. This can be especially useful for home users where more than one person might log into Windows to gain access to their files. This can also save a great deal of time.
If you perform a fresh installation of Windows, you’ll then have to go back and reload or reinstall all of the applications and all of the files on that system. If you perform in in-place upgrade, all of your applications remain on that system and are available immediately after the upgrade. All of your user files stay in place, so you don’t have to reload or restore any of that information from backup. After an in-place upgrade, you simply log into Windows and begin using the new operating system without doing any additional work.
When we talk about performing an upgrade, we really mean an in-place upgrade because all of your files and your applications remain in place, and we simply upgrade the operating system underneath this means that all of your applications stay exactly the same. Your documents remain in place on that system, and all of the customization you’ve made to your Windows desktop remains in place between versions. You would commonly perform an in-place upgrade by starting the operating system and from within the existing OS, you would launch the update to the new version of the operating system.
Another way to start using a new version of an operating system is to delete everything that’s on the system and load the operating system from a clean slate. This is the clean install where you’re wiping everything on that storage drive and reloading all of the operating system files. This means that you’ll want to back up all of your files and documents so that once you perform this clean install, you can restore those from that backup system. For a clean install, you would commonly have some boot media on a DVD drive or a USB, and you would start your system from that bootable drive.
These days we don’t tend to distribute software by mailing DVD drives. Instead, we’re downloading Windows from the internet. You would create Windows installation media from these downloaded files that you can obtain directly from Microsoft. Microsoft also includes a media creation tool. So if you have a USB drive that you’d like to use for this installation, you can use the media creation tool to copy all of the files to that USB drive, and then configure that USB to be bootable.
It’s also important to know which version of Windows you’re upgrading from and which version you’re upgrading to. There are some limitations that you need to be aware of. For example, you can’t upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows. And conversely, you also can’t upgrade from 64-bit back to a 32-bit version. This applies to all Windows versions across all Windows editions. If you do need to upgrade between a 32-bit and a 64-bit version of, Windows you’ll need to back up all of your files and perform a clean install.
Generally speaking, you can upgrade your version of Windows from one edition to the same edition or an edition that’s considered a higher level edition. For example, you can upgrade from a Windows 10 Home to a Windows 11 Home. But you could also upgrade from a Windows 10 Home to a Windows 11 Pro because the Pro version is one that’s a higher level edition than the Home version. To confirm exactly what upgrade paths are available for the version of Windows that you’re using, you’ll want to check Microsoft’s documentation to confirm that an upgrade path is available.
Generally speaking, if you need to perform an upgrade to Windows 10 you can perform an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. You do want to note that you’re not able to perform an in-place upgrade if you’re running Windows 8.0. You would first need to upgrade to Windows 8.1, and then upgrade to Windows 10. For Windows 11, the upgrade path is much more straightforward. The only available in-place upgrade to Windows 11 would be directly from Windows 10.
Once the upgrade is complete, you would reboot the system and log in to this new version of Windows. At that point, you’ll want to confirm that the applications are working properly and that your user data is still installed on that system. If you do run into problems and you feel like you want to go back to the previous version of Windows, Microsoft provides that under start, settings, system, recovery, and go back.
Although you’ve now performed this clean installation or an in-place upgrade, there may still be additional tasks to perform. For example, you may need to install service packs and security patches for this latest version of Windows. There might also be additional applications, driver updates, or updates to the applications that you’re already using. After you’ve performed this update and logged in, make sure you check Windows Update to ensure that you’re up to date with all of the latest patches.