Microsoft Overlooks Windows 7 Upgrade Process Issues

August 19, 2009

- See all 7 of my articles

Today, we welcome James Bathgate on board as the technology writer.  He will write a monthly column, Reality Bytes.

It has been 3 years since the release of Windows Vista and a new version of Microsoft’s operating system is just around the corner. Windows 7 looks to be a more streamlined and user friendly version of Windows Vista. The developers at Microsoft have taken strides to make their operating system more secure, easier to use, and less of a general headache that Windows Vista was. Microsoft, however, seems to have overlooked one area when designing Windows 7.

When upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista many PC owners had to upgrade their machines in order to run the new operating system. This caused confusion in some of the users of the operating system who did not know how to upgrade their machines.

Now, when upgrading to Windows 7 it seems the majority of people upgrading are going to require a clean install. This means that anyone who does not qualify for an “in-place upgrade” is going to have to back up all of their data from their system before doing the upgrade.

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A user who bought their machine pre-installed with their operating system which included software bundled with that operating system will now lose that software. Even worse, people who do not understand what a clean install means will end up wiping out all of the information on their machine without knowing. In many ways, I think this is even worse than requiring people to buy some new hardware for their machine.

Some may argue that it is a necessary task for people to wipe their machine and reinstall everything now and then and I agree with that, but I do not think anyone should be forced to do this without knowing what they are doing in order to upgrade their operating system. This upgrade is going to cause some unknowing grandmother to permanently lose the pictures of her grandchildren. Some confused self-employed person is going to lose some indispensable business data. Some poor student is going to accidentally lose an essay they are working on when they upgrade their operating system. There has got to be a better way.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evan
    Aug 19, 2009 @ 20:36:22

    I’ll be doing a clean install, so never even gave this much thought, but I think you’re right- this will cause a world of hurt for many people. The biggest problem will be for people with programs that are preinstalled, which they will completely lose during the upgrade.
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..The Most Exciting 3 Months in Tech – Ever? =-.


  2. Peter Rabbit
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 16:01:26

    Good article.

    I use a Mac, have converted my wife to Macs, have converted my niece and my parents to Mac.

    While I am not one to bash Microsoft as I use all Windows products at work and like them this is a big problem.

    I think many, many people will wipe out their data without even knowing it and many are just not tech savvy enough or don’t have the equipement to do full backups.


  3. James Bathgate
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 16:15:00

    @Evan: Software is definitely going to be an issue. I know a lot of people who use the CD burning or video editing software that came with their machine. If they do a clean install they’ll wipe out that software and the licensing on software that comes with machines usually doesn’t allow for upgrading to a new operating system.

    @Peter: I’m waiting for my new MacBook Pro from work and I can’t wait. However, the upgrade process from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X was not very nice either.


  4. kosmo
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 20:32:48


    What sort of problems did you run into when upgrading from OS 9 to OS X? A clean install was definitely not required – I’m am certain I didn’t do one.

    If you’re referring to the lack of applications that ran natively in OS X, you have a point. The implementation of the classic environment could have been a bit better. However, worst case scenario, you could simply reboot into OS9.

    I loved the OS9 and earlier method of fixing OS problems. Keep a good backup stashed on the HD. When problems popped up, boot from CD and activate the “good” system folder (and incrementally add back the changes until you figured out what broke it.

    I have a Mini and an eMac (main blogging computer, built in 2002) at home, but have to use Windows at work.


  5. James Bathgate
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 22:51:08

    @Kosmo: It’s really a mixture of two things. The first of which is what you mentioned with the lack of software. People were allowed to upgrade from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, but a lot of their software just stopped working.

    The other is the fact that a majority of the machines running Mac OS 9 had to be upgraded to run Mac OS X (sounds like Vista). That’s no easy task with Apple computers and generally means tossing out the old machine and buying a new one.


  6. kosmo
    Aug 22, 2009 @ 00:41:53

    Good point about the upgrades. I’m thinking that everything with a 603e or older processor was officially incapable of running OS X, but I might be wrong about that.

    Some of the Macs back then were fairly upgradeable. I think some had ZIF sockets to allow processors upgrades, although the bus might have imposed limitations. Again, pulling this back from memory.

    The lower end machines weren’t particularly upgradeable, though. I had a 6500 that wasn’t technically processor upgradeable, but I had a card that slipped into the level 2 cache slot (equivalent of “pipeline burst cache” on intel machine, I think) to make the 225mhz 603e behave like a 300 mhz G3. Not sure if that was so that I could run OS X or something else.

    One cool thing, though, was that you could go to Apple’s website and immediately see if your computer was officially supported for OS X or not. No tap dance between OS vendor and hardware vendor.

    OS 9 to OS X was a pretty sizable technical jump – the entire basic infrastructure was completely replaced.

    Ah, good memories …


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