Leo, I have a Windows XP computer with a lot of downloaded programs. I want to install Windows 7 on the computer since Microsoft keeps changing its operating systems and forcing you to upgrade (unlike Apple). How do I do this simply? A friend of mine told me to just get a Windows 7 disk and load it but I question that since I’ve read so many sites, which explain all kinds of convoluted operations. I’m not a computer expert.
If I use your recommended backup program, Macrium Reflect, will it back up everything – files, data, and programs or do I have to go back and download the programs all over again? I’m about ready to buy an Apple Mac since no one seems to have that problem with them. So again, how do I go to Windows 7 from Windows XP?
Upgrading from Windows XP to 7 has two basic approaches: the way you want it to work, and the way that’s more reliable. I’ll get to that, but first I want to explain why I disagree with your comments about Apple.
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Apple is not immune
Not only has Apple not come close to supporting any version of their operating system for the 13 years that Microsoft has supported XP, but they’re also forcing an upgrade, much in the same manner as Windows XP, by dropping support of the Snow Leopard version of Mac OS.
People with machines that can run only Snow Leopard are basically left out in the cold; they either have to upgrade their machines or just live with what they have. Just like XP users – except that Snow Leopard is something like only 5 years old. You don’t hear about as much because well, the market is smaller, and I think a big reason is that people just enjoy hating on Microsoft much more.
Windows 7 Upgrade
Now, I do believe that Windows 7 will let you upgrade a Windows XP installation. By that I mean you would insert the Windows 7 install media, run the setup program and allow it to upgrade the existing installation. In theory, that would preserve all of your applications and all of your data, and whatever else. In theory.
It’s possible that I’m wrong and this not an option, but regardless, it’s not an option that I recommend. An operating system version update is a big enough deal that I recommend a completely different approach.
- Back up your machine using something like Macrium.
- Install Windows 7 – this time having it perform a clean install (not an update). That means reformatting the hard disk and erasing everything on it.
- Then reinstall your applications.
- Then restore your data.
- Get on with your new Windows 7 life.
The Macrium backup will back up everything but not in the way you describe. You’ll be able to restore your data files from the backup, but you will not be able to just pick and choose the applications you want to restore. That’s not what a backup is for. The application installation is too tightly ingrained with everything else that’s on that machine.
You could, of course, restore the entire system (that is in fact, what a backup is for) but that would give you Windows XP back. You actually need to install your applications from scratch from their original downloads or from the installation media.