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The amount of information pouring out of Redmond these days about Windows 7 is unprecedented, and so is the level of enthusiasm. In a frantic attempt to make sense of it all, Maximum PC has been releasing our ongoing Feature Focus series, which hopefully, has helped you determine wither upgrading to Windows 7 is worth it for you. Once you made that decision however, or buy a new PC that’s upgrade eligible, do you know exactly what you’re getting? Can I upgrade from Windows XP? Do I need to buy the same product edition when upgrading? Can I go from 32 bit to 64 bit? These are just a few of the many questions we seek to answer after the jump.
Release Date: October 22nd 2009
Qualifying OS’s For Upgrade: Windows 2000, XP, Vista
Qualifying OS For In-Place Upgrade: Vista
Upgrade Editions: Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate
• 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
• 1GB RAM (32-bit) / 2GB RAM (64-bit)
• 16GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20GB (64-bit)
• DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Yes, but there’s a catch. Only Windows Vista users will be able to do an in-place upgrade. This means that Windows XP or 2000 users will be forced to do a clean install. Maximum PC readers are generally technical enough to know that this is a good idea anyway, but if your planning on upgrading PCs for friends and family, bring a USB hard drive and be prepared to stay awhile.
All retail editions of Windows 7 will ship with both the 32 & 64 bit DVDs. This is a huge improvement over Vista where users would need to order additional disks manually from Microsoft. Users who purchase Windows 7 digitally through the Microsoft store will be allowed to choose which version they want prior to starting the download.
Download and run GRC’s SecurAble processor testing application. The download is only about 100k, and like everything from GRC, doesn’t require an install. SecurAble will quickly tell you if your processor supports 64 Bit instructions, and if you will be able to use the coveted XP Mode found in Windows 7 professional. Just make sure it says Yes in the Hardware Virtualization field, and your good to go!
No. Since you are only given one CD key, you can only activate a single version at a time. The good news here is that your CD Key is interchangeable. This means that you can start out with the 32 bit edition if that’s all you need, knowing that you can easily format and change over to 64 bit later on if your requirements change.
Some home users coming from XP might be hoping to cheat the system by calling Microsoft for manual activations on additional machines, but I’m afraid it won’t work this time. Windows is constantly checking in with Microsoft for various reasons (most of which you agreed to in the EULA), and as with Vista, multiple activations are often caught, kicking both copies into non genuine mode. Even though this isn’t as serious as it used to be, it’s still not a good idea, and it’s defiantly illegal.
Your only option in this scenario will be to perform a clean install. Upgrading a 32 bit edition to 64 bit or downgrading a 64 bit install to 32 bit using the in-place approach is not supported.
If you're using Windows 7 RC right now (as many of us are), you'll have to back up all your personal data and perform a clean install of the retail version of Windows 7. After installation, you'll need to restore your data and reinstall your apps. As stated in the Windows 7 RC download page, Microsoft doesn't recommend that you install RC on a personal or "production" machine. Their stance has always been for users to update beta and RC builds by formatting and reinstalling.