Hidden Perils of the Windows 7 Upgrade =\


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Oct 27, 2009
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From Paul Thurrott's Book: Windows 7 Secrets

One of the biggest issues you’ll face when moving to a new version of Windows—any
version, not just Windows 7—is compatibility. Whenever Microsoft changes the
underpinnings of Windows, both hardware and software compatibility are going to suffer.

That said, Microsoft claims that Windows 7 offers far better backward compatibility than
did previous Windows versions, mostly because it is architecturally a minor upgrade when
compared to Windows Vista and thus shares the same software and hardware compatibility
prowess as its predecessor. However, all it takes is the loss of a single necessary
hardware device or software application to turn any Windows upgrade into a disaster. In
this chapter, we examine some of the compatibility issues you can run into when making
the move to Windows 7, and how you can troubleshoot them.

Hidden Perils of the Windows 7 Upgrade
With all the new features and functionality provided by Windows 7, you might be tempted
to buy a retail version of the operating system and install it over your existing copy of
Windows Vista or, in the case of Windows XP, perform a migration-type upgrade. While we
do cover upgrade scenarios fully in Chapter 2, we don’t generally recommend upgrading
an older PC to Microsoft’s latest OS, for the following reasons (all of which are especially
true for XP users):

Your old PC may not be up to the challenge of running Windows 7.
♦♦ You may need substantial investments in additional RAM, a more capable video card, a larger
hard drive, or all of the above to get adequate performance from Windows 7.
♦♦ Some of your hardware, such as printers and networking adapters, may not work
at all after you install Windows 7—unless you update the drivers they need to
versions that are Windows 7–compatible.
♦♦ Even if you find that one or more of your drivers need to be updated, the vendor
of your hardware may not make a Windows 7–compatible version available for
months, years, or ever. (It’s happened before with previous versions of Windows.)
♦♦ Some of the software that’s installed and running just fine in Windows XP may
not work properly once you’ve performed the upgrade. (There are workarounds
for this, however, as described later in this chapter.)
♦♦ Finally, some software or hardware may never work in Windows 7. Companies do
go out of business, after all. Others simply stop supporting older models to entice
you to upgrade to a new machine.

Avoid Installing Windows 7 over Windows Vista

We recommend that you get Windows 7 preinstalled with your next new PC. This
is the best way to acquire Windows 7. Another reasonable option, assuming you
know what you’re doing and have recent hardware, is to purchase a retail version
of Windows 7 and then perform a clean install of the OS on your existing PC.
We don’t recommend that you install Windows 7 over Windows Vista.

Here’s why. Installing Windows 7 on top of Windows Vista may cause incompatibility
problems that you might not be able to fix easily. When you buy a new PC
with Windows 7 preinstalled, it’s almost certain that the components in the
PC will have been selected for their compatibility and will have the latest driver
software. PC makers also support their products with Web sites that provide the
latest known drivers. These sites aren’t usually as up-to-date as they should be,
but they will at least work.

In general, you shouldn’t consider installing Windows 7 on a PC that previously
ran Windows XP or Vista unless the following conditions are true:
You need a feature of Windows 7 that you can’t add to • XP. (Much less likely
with Vista.)
• You need an application that requires Windows 7.
• You can’t afford even the least expensive new PC that comes with Windows 7
Even if one of the preceding conditions is true, you may be better off backing
up all of your old data to a CD/DVD or removable hard disk, formatting the old
PC’s hard drive, and doing a clean install of Windows 7. This avoids the possibility
that some components of the old OS will hang around to cause conflicts. If
you’ve never backed up and formatted a hard drive, however, don’t try to learn
how on any PC that’s important to you.

If you do decide to install Windows 7 on an older PC, at least run Microsoft’s
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, described in this chapter, to determine which drivers
you may need to update first; and regardless of how you need to install
Windows 7, check out Chapter 2 first, which provides a thorough overview of
the various ways in which you can get this system installed.
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