One of my core principles is that operating system upgrades are a bad idea, any problems the old OS had will be brought over to the new version. Better to do a clean install rather than a half-baked upgrade. But, sometimes rules should be tested, maybe bent a little…
I recently had the task of attempting an upgrade a Vista Home Premium desktop to Windows 7 Ultimate. The computer is used the way most home PCs are used, some printing, school term papers on Word, Spider Solitaire and a lot of web browsing, email, youtubeing and facebooking. It is a 64 bit machine, with 8 GB or RAM. Vista ran well, but it would be interesting to see if Windows 7 would be noticeably faster on a PC that had plenty for resources to run Vista. Window 7 is known to boot faster and to use memory more efficiently. And Windows 7 does not have the GDI Global Lock limitation of Vista, which permitted only one GDI application to render its windows at a time. Windows 7 allows every GDI application access to the graphics GPU Scheduler. Gamers and graphics professionals are said to notice the difference, but would the average home user? Windows 7 uses DirectX 10 and WDDM 1.1 drivers for more efficient rendering and scaling.
The Windows 7 installation DVD gave me the option of checking compatibility online before commencing with the installation. I took a 29 Meg download of the Upgrade Advisor Beta for Windows 7. Overall it took 11 minutes to download, install and run the Upgrade Advisor Beta. The utility announced that the PC was eligible to upgrade to 7 Home premium or Ultimate. The CPU memory and disk were considered adequate and it predicted that Windows Aero would run on the upgraded machine. There was no mention of possible application compatibility issues or driver issues. Setup required that I uninstall a web camera, my ATI control center and some games that included in the bundle provided by Hewlet Packard with the purchase of the PC.
I started Window Setup and specified the option to check online for installation updates. This process failed, after 2 hrs. I decided to retry the upgrade without installation updates. This too failed after 30 minutes with an error message that stated that the Boot Configuration Database (BCD) would not permit the upgrade to continue. This is probably due to the fact that Vista was dual-booted with Windows Server 2008 R2 at one time in the past and an entry still existed for the server OS.
So far my preference for clean installations over upgrades had been reaffirmed. But, in fairness to Microsoft I will repair the BCD and retry the upgrade. See part 2 coming soon.