From Vista to Windows 7

Now that the initial hue and cry over the release of Windows 7 has died down a little, I thought that I might report on how I got on upgrading a Vista machine to Windows 7.  Basically, it’s a doddle, but is it worth it?

Being a (somewhat mature) Masters student, I was able to purchase the upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium for about half the current promotional rate.  Here in the UK, that equates to about 40 GBP, including the media.  Fortunately, I was able to download the upgrade rather than wait for the post to arrive but at around 2 GB, I left it downloading overnight.

My laptop is a year-old HP 9800 model with 3 GB RAM and an AMD Turion processor.  It had come with Vista and to be honest, I had no real problems.  My main Microsoft issue is with the ribbon bars in Office 2007!

Consequently, I decided to upgrade Vista rather than start afresh.  When I started the upgrade, the first part of the process was to check compatibility.  No hardware driver issues were reported but I had to uninstall my anti-virus (Kaspersky) and it warned about iTunes registration.  So after sorting those out and rebooting, the upgrade was good to go.

I’m not sure how long it actually took but it was less than six hours – I left it running overnight and was presented with the licence key screen when I got up the next morning.  Few more mouse clicks later and it was all done.

After logging on, everything was as I left it, albeit with a few slight changes to the user interface.  What’s good is that there’s no longer the blue and green slime background, instead a blue one with a bird, somewhat reminiscent of Twitter, but perhaps bearing an olive branch.  I’m sure you’ll have read elsewhere about the various UI changes – I quite like the revised Taskbar with each program taking up one slot.

Windows warned me about the absence of anti-virus software pretty quickly but re-installing the same version of Kaspersky caused no problems.  During the installation, the reduction in user access control prompts was noticeable but the were still some.  I know that there have been some reports to the contrary regarding malware, but there seemed to be a better balance of control now.

But after that, it was pretty much business as usual.  There was some stuff about “Homegroups” and another secret key, but I largely ignored that – I’ll sort it out later once I understand better what it’s about.

Was it any faster?  Hard to say, I’m not a really demanding user but it opened video files, played music, etc. all as I’d expect.  Windows Explorer toolbar still wants me to burn files as a popular activity despite that fact that I’ve never once burnt a CD on the laptop.

Later on, I asked my wife what she thought of Windows 7.  “Windows 7?  I didn’t even realise that you’d done the upgrade.”  Whether that’s a compliment or not, I’m uncertain.  I think it reflects that if you are a Vista user and you are happy enough, it’s not a compelling upgrade.  Perhaps 98 to 98SE would be selling it short and 95 to 98 might be a better comparison.

However, in terms of cost, if I’d paid the full retail post-January 2010 upgrade price, I think I would’ve felt ripped off.  At Microsoft’s current promotional price, it’s ok value and at the student price, good value.  Obviously I’m coming from Vista to 7 and if you were coming from XP, you be getting more value from the upgrade.

Overall, for existing Vista owners it’s painless to upgrade, you’ll feel right at home but you may question the value.