Windows Upgrade Paths – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 1.1

Now that you’re running the Windows operating system, what happens when it’s time to upgrade? In this video, you’ll learn about upgrading Windows and the options you’ll have to upgrade to Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
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Let’s say that you’ve been using your Windows operating system for a while and now your Windows operating system has an upgrade available. Maybe you’d like to move from Windows XP to Windows Vista, or Windows Vista to Windows 7. And you’d like to use some of those new features available in the new version. It’s a perfect reason to upgrade your system.

And by upgrading the operating system from one version to another, you have some advantages associated with that. You can take all of the configurations that you may have customized across every user that might log on to your computer and simply upgrade everything all at once to that new operating system. All of your applications stay in place. You don’t have to reinstall anything.

All of your user configurations are still there. All of the data from your documents and your email and everything else that’s stored on your local device still stays in place. Nothing changes. That makes it very simple once you upgrade to dive right back into the operating system and continue working as you normally would.

This upgrade process is really quite seamless. You take your installation media, usually on a DVD-ROM, maybe it’s an ISO file that you’ve downloaded directly from Microsoft. You run that. And it automatically finds all of the information on your computer and upgrades you to the latest version.

There are two ways to upgrade the operating system on your computer. You can do an in-place upgrade or you can do a complete clean install. The in-place upgrade is the version that allows you to keep everything exactly where it is. All of your applications are still on your computer. All the documents and the pictures and the presentations you’ve created, they’re all there. You don’t lose anything by performing an in-place upgrade.

To start the in-place upgrade, you have your existing operating system already loaded. You then put the new installation media in your DVD-ROM. And you start the operating system upgrade from there. So your existing OS is running and you begin the upgrade process immediately as your existing operating system is still active.

The clean install is very different than the in-place install. The clean install wipes everything clean. It gets rid of all of your documents. It gets rid of all the Windows settings that you had previously. It gets rid of everything. It wipes the hard drive completely clean and it installs a new version of the Windows operating system.

Some people prefer doing a clean install so they know they’re starting with a fresh slate and they’re not bringing across any old configurations that perhaps they just don’t use anymore. But obviously, you have to make sure that you get a backup of everything prior to performing a clean install.

Once the backup is ready, you power your machine down. You put your DVD-ROM in the DVD-ROM. And you start your computer and it boots from the DVD-ROM to perform the clean install.

There’s another type of upgrade that will upgrade the Windows edition that you’re using to a more powerful version of the same operating system. For example, if you’re running Windows 7 Professional and you would like to upgrade the existing operating system to Windows 7 Ultimate, you would perform a Windows Anytime Upgrade.

This is something you do within the Windows operating system itself. You don’t have to have any type of installation media. You don’t have to reboot your computer. You simply begin the Windows Anytime Upgrade.

For Windows 7, this is a capability that’s available that will allow you to upgrade to a more powerful edition. This used to be available in Windows Vista. But Microsoft has removed that capability. You can only do a Windows Anytime Upgrade in Windows 7.

An important consideration of the in-place upgrade and the Windows Anytime Upgrade is that you cannot upgrade from a 32-bit version of the operating system to a 64-bit version of the operating system. And vice versa, you can’t downgrade from a 64-bit to a 32-bit. If you need to change from that type of a 32-bit to a 64-bit, you have to perform an in-place upgrade.

And fortunately, Microsoft has some migration tools that can take your existing configurations, migrate them off to a separate hard drive or a separate storage device. You perform the full upgrade, a clean install of the new 64-bit operating system. And then you can migrate all of your settings and all of your files back onto the 64-bit OS. So there’s a couple of extra steps when you’re upgrading from a 32-bit to 64-bit. But fortunately, Microsoft gives you all of the migration tools that you’ll need to make that move successful.

If you’re upgrading from an older operating system to Windows XP, there are some operating systems that allow you to do an in-place upgrade. Others may require that you perform a clean install. For example, if you’re moving from Windows 95 to Windows XP, there’s no upgrade path there. You can’t perform an in-place upgrade. You have to do a full install, a clean install, of the operating system. If you’re upgrading from Windows 98, Windows ME, or Windows NT workstation, there are upgrade paths that will keep all of your files and applications in place and you can perform an in-place upgrade.

When you start looking at upgrading to Windows Vista, there are a lot of other options available, because there are different Windows Vista editions. There’s a Vista Home Basic and Home Premium, Vista Business, and Vista Ultimate. Some operating systems can’t be upgraded at all to Windows Vista. For example, Windows 2000 can’t be upgraded. You must perform a clean install regardless of the edition of Windows Vista that you’d like to put onto your computer.

XP Home can be upgraded to any of those editions. XP Professional, notice, can only perform an in-place upgrade if you’re going to Vista Business or Vista Ultimate. And I guess that makes sense, because Vista Business is very similar to the XP Professional and how people might want to use it. If you wanted to move to Vista Home Basic or Home Premium, it’s almost like a downgrade. So there’s not an in-place upgrade available.

The Windows XP Professional 64-bit does not provide an installation upgrade path to Vista in any type of these editions. And if you’re running Windows XP Media Center, you can perform an in-place upgrade to Vista if you would like to run Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate.

With Windows 7, we can upgrade the comparable Windows Vista versions to the Windows 7 counterparts. For example, Windows Vista Home Basic can be upgraded to Windows 7 Home Basic. It can also be upgraded to more powerful versions, like Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Ultimate.

Notice there is a difference. There’s a gap between the Home versions and the Business versions. You can’t upgrade a Home version to a Windows Professional or Enterprise version, which tend to be the more business-related versions. The Vista Business, for instance, can be upgraded to Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise. Notice that Windows Vista Ultimate can only be upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate. And the only option you have for Windows Vista Enterprise is to upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise as well.

Notice that Windows XP is not included as something that would make an upgrade path to Windows 7. That’s because there is none. If you wanted to move from Windows XP directly to Windows 7, you cannot perform an in-place upgrade. You must do a clean install for any version of Windows XP.

If you’re already running Windows 7 and you’d like to upgrade to a more powerful version of Windows 7 through the built in Anytime Upgrade process, then you can look at this to determine what your options might be. A Windows 7 Starter obviously can’t do anything to Windows 7 Starter, cannot upgrade to Windows Home Basic, but can upgrade to anything but Windows 7 Enterprise.

Home Basic can upgrade to anything more powerful than Home Basic. Home Premium, anything more powerful than Home Premium. And Professional can upgrade to Ultimate. Notice that the Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade cannot upgrade any of these versions to Windows 7 Enterprise. That’s the version of Windows 7 that’s only available to very large organizations who have a volume licensing agreement with Microsoft and you cannot use the built-in Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade to upgrade to that Enterprise version.

Before you perform any type of upgrade, whether it’s an in-place upgrade or a clean install upgrade, you want to be sure that the hardware and the software you’re running are going to work properly on this new operating system. Microsoft includes on their installation media the Windows Upgrade Advisor. They might also make a version available for download as well from their website, depending on what version you’re looking for.

This will tell you information about the operating system you’re using, the applications you’re using, the hardware that you have in the system. And it will tell you if those particular pieces will be able to work properly once you’ve upgraded to this new version of the operating system.

It’s also a good best practice before you perform an upgrade to make sure your system is completely up-to-date in its current version of the operating system. So run the Windows Update. Make sure that you’ve got all the latest service packs, all of the latest security patches, everything to have that operating system up-to-date and very current.

This upgrade process usually involves writing a lot of new information to your storage device. The operating system itself is probably going to be a little bit bigger. And it usually writes out a number of temporary files. So you want to make sure you have plenty of free disk space available before you begin the installation process. If you don’t, the installation program will tell you that it can’t perform the upgrade at this time because there’s not enough free space available. So rather than going through the beginning of that process and having to then clean everything off, it’s a good idea to do that before you even begin the installation.

If you’ve installed certain security products, especially third-party security products, they might see the installation process as something that’s insecure. So before you begin that installation, make sure that you disable firewalls, disable any anti-virus, or anything else that might cause some type of conflict when the installation process occurs.

And although this is the last bullet on this slide, this should probably be at the top. Make sure that you back up everything. Even if you’re performing an in-place upgrade, you’re making a dramatic change to the operating system on this computer. So rather than be in a position where you’ve tried to upgrade and it didn’t go well and now you have to find some way to get out of that, it’s much better to have a backup that’s already waiting for you so that you can simply restore everything back the way it was and then you’re back up and running again.

I find that a lot of people who perform operating system upgrades find after they’re already done that things aren’t as they expected them to be. For example, it’s very common for older printers not to have any printer drivers in the new operating system. But they didn’t perform any checks beforehand to determine if this was really going to be a problem.

So you want to check the Windows Upgrade Advisor. This will run automatically in your system. It will scan all of your hardware. It will look through all of your applications. And it will give you information about things you need to be aware of. It will tell you that you can perform an upgrade. You may want to contact the manufacturer of your machine to make sure that you have all of the latest drivers for your machine.

It can also go through and tell you things that might be a problem. It will tell you if operating system applications that you’re running aren’t compatible if you go to the new operating system. It will tell you that there might even be updates available that will improve the compatibility of this program.

Or it will tell you, we know that a particular application simply isn’t going to work very well in this new operating system. And this gives you an opportunity then to go back to the manufacturer of the software, see if there is a newer version of software available that is compatible with that new operating system. Or perhaps you can decide maybe you don’t want to perform this installation, because once you do, a major application you use will no longer be available.

If you follow all of these steps and make sure that you backup your system and perform all of those best practices, you can be assured that your upgrade process is going to be as smooth as possible.