Earlier this month Microsoft announced that they weren’t going to offer an in place upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. Since that time, I have seen numerous blog posts on the Internet criticizing Microsoft for their decision. Some have even made up ridiculous conspiracy theories saying that not allowing a direct upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 is Microsoft’s way of punishing people for not using Windows Vista. After reading so many of these posts, I had to throw my two cents worth in on the issue.
Before I give you my opinion, let me just say that I do not work for Microsoft, nor do I have any vested interest in the company. Yes, I write about Microsoft products for a living, but those of you who are familiar with my work know that I am not one to just blindly agree with everything that comes out of Redmond. I have always felt that it was my journalistic duty to let my readers know when I don’t personally agree with Microsoft’s stand on an issue.
Having said that, I have to say that the conspiracy theories simply do not hold water, for several reasons:
1. If someone really wanted to do an in place upgrade badly enough, they could. Windows Vista will operate for a couple of months without even requiring a product key. It would be simple to get a Vista CD, upgrade a machine to Vista, and then perform an in place upgrade to Windows 7. Keep in mind that I am not recommending that anyone do this, because I think that the end result would be less than optimal.
2. Many of the PCs that are running Windows XP simply do not have sufficient hardware to run Windows 7 efficiently. Preventing an in place upgrade is one way of discouraging people from installing Windows 7 on old hardware.
3. Any time that you upgrade from one operating system to another, there are always fragments of the old operating system that are left behind. These fragments can result in all sorts of performance and compatibility problems. That’s a big part of why I don’t recommend upgrading from Windows XP to Vista to Windows 7. Microsoft wants Windows 7 to make a good impression, so of course they are not going to support a type of upgrade that could cause problems with it.
4. In an enterprise environment, new operating systems are almost always deployed through imaging, not upgrades. Therefore, the fact that you can’t perform an in place upgrade shouldn’t even effect most large companies that are still running Windows XP.
5. Nobody is being forced to upgrade to Windows 7. Yes, there will come a day when Windows XP is considered to be dead by Microsoft, but so what. I know of companies who are still running Windows NT. If an operating system meets your needs, and you aren’t worried about long term support, then there is no reason why you absolutely have to upgrade. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to use a current operating system, but that’s beside the point.