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.