One common update to the Windows operating system is to upgrade from one major version to another. In this video, you’ll learn the upgrade paths for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8/8.1.
You will eventually need to upgrade your current operating system version to a newer version. Maybe you’ve purchased a new computer or you’d simply like to improve the capabilities of your existing machine. You can usually do this in a number of different ways.
First, you have to think about whether you want to upgrade or whether you want to install. An upgrade is one where you’re keeping all of your files in place, your configurations stay exactly the same, and you’re simply installing a new version of an operating system over the existing version. Sometimes the operating system that you’re moving to doesn’t have a way to upgrade from the current version that you’re running. So in that case, you may have to perform an install, which means you’re starting over completely fresh, installing a brand new version of an operating system. And you’re usually backing up your old information, performing the install, and then restoring your data on to the new operating system.
If you do have the ability to upgrade, it usually makes things so much easier, especially if you have many different configurations, you have many different local accounts that are running on a single computer. You can simply install the new operating system over the existing one and keep all of these configurations in place. When you’re performing a full install, you also have to install all of your applications again. So being able to perform an upgrade means that you don’t have to go through hours of new application installs.
You can use the applications that are already in place. All of your data stays in the same place. And you are able to get up and running very quickly.
An operating system upgrade is also usually easy to run. You have your existing operating system running. You put in the installation media into your DVD-ROM or your USB flash drive and it runs the setup from there.
You may hear this upgrade process referred to as an in-place upgrade. That’s because all of your data and all of your applications stay in place. All you’re doing is starting the setup program from inside the existing operating system. When we’re talking about an installation, we sometimes refer to this as a clean install because we’re removing everything that’s on the computer and we’re installing everything fresh on a clean configuration.
We often think about the upgrade process of our operating system where we would go to a third party location, we’d purchase a brand new version of the operating system, we’d bring it home, and then we’d install it. But Microsoft has made this very easy with something called a Windows Anytime Upgrade. This allows you to upgrade your existing operating system from within the OS itself. You simply provide a credit card to pay for the upgrade and it handles everything else directly from the operating system.
This is a feature that’s no longer available for Windows Vista, but at the time that I made this video you can still upgrade your Windows 7 and Windows 8 to a more powerful version using this Windows Anytime Upgrade. Regardless of the method you use to perform an in-place upgrade, one thing that is consistent across every Windows version is that you cannot upgrade a 32-bit operating system to a 64-bit version of the operating system. And you can’t go the other direction either. You can’t take a 64-bit operating system and upgrade to a Windows version that’s a 32-bit operating system either.
If you do have to perform one of these upgrades from a 32-bit to 64-bit or vice versa, then you’ll need to migrate instead. You’ll have to back up your user data. You have to install the new operating system with a clean install. And then you’ll need to migrate your data back into that OS.
When you’re performing upgrades from one operating system to another you can generally perform an upgrade from the existing edition to a compatible edition on the other side. For example, from Windows XP to Windows Vista you can upgrade from Windows XP Home to all editions of Windows Vista. You can upgrade from Windows XP Professional to Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate. And if you’re running Windows XP Media Center– this is almost considered a home version of Windows XP– you can upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate.
There’s also a series of upgrade paths from Windows Vista to Windows 7. One interesting thing also is many people running Windows XP would like to move to Windows 7, but you’ll notice to be able to do that there is no upgrade path for an in-place upgrade. You have to perform a clean install.
To upgrade from Windows Vista Home Basic, you can upgrade to Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, or Windows 7 Home Ultimate. And if you’re upgrading from Windows Vista Home Premium, you can upgrade to the Windows 7 version of Home Premium or directly to Windows 7 Ultimate.
On the business side, Windows Vista Business will upgrade to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, and Windows 7 Enterprise. And the only option from upgrading from Windows Vista Ultimate is to Windows 7 Ultimate. The same thing applies to Windows Vista Enterprise. The only upgrade available is to move directly to Windows 7 Enterprise.
If you’re moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8, the same upgrade applies to Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, and Windows 7 Home Premium. You can upgrade to Windows 8 Core or Windows 8 Pro. If you’re on the business side with Windows 7 Professional then you can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise. The only options available for upgrading with Windows 7 Ultimate is to Windows 8 Pro, and for Windows 7 Enterprise is to Windows 8 Enterprise.
You’ll also notice that there is no in-place upgrade available for any Windows XP edition or any Windows Vista edition to move directly to Windows 8. If you’re moving from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, there’s an upgrade path from Windows 8 Core to Windows 8.1 Core and Windows 8.1 Pro. To upgrade from Windows 8 Pro, you can move to 8.1 Pro and 8.1 Enterprise with an upgrade. The only option from Windows 8 Enterprise is to upgrade to Windows 8.1 Enterprise, and from 8.1 Core your only option is to Windows 8.1 Pro. From Windows 8.1 Pro then the only place to go on an upgrade is to version 8.1 Enterprise.
If you’re wondering if your system is ready for the upgrade you might want to run some tests before the actual upgrade. One thing you can do is to run Windows Upgrade Advisor. This is going to run during the first part of the installation anyway. You can also check the Windows Compatibility Center online and manually check to see what options might be available for an upgrade.
You also want to make sure that your existing operating system is up to date. So make sure that you have all of the latest service packs and that you’ve updated with all of the latest monthly security updates. The upgrade process also needs a lot of drive space. So you may want to uninstall any applications you’re no longer using or delete any files that you might be able to remove from your storage device.
Sometimes third party services can create conflicts with the upgrade process. So if you are using any third party security products or firewalls you may want to consider disabling just during the upgrade process. And of course, you want to be sure to have at least two separate backups of your system that way if there are any problems during the upgrade process or afterwards you can always revert back to exactly the way it was before you started the upgrade.
Here’s what the Windows Compatibility Center looks like online. So you can run this before you’ve even downloaded or had available the upgrade program. And there’s even a Scan Your Computer button here that will check all of your applications and the hardware on your computer.
If you do have the installation media for the new operating system you can try running it. The first thing that will run is the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. You can also download the Upgrade Advisor online as well.
It will run through a check. It will look at your hardware and your software. And if it finds any problems, it will give you a detailed breakdown of exactly what is compatible and what is not compatible with the upgrade.