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Will Windows 7 upgrade strategy keep XP users away…NO!

By Ron Barrett on Wed, 02/11/09 - 2:48pm.

It seems like the Windows haters cannot get enough. The latest news has placed Microsoft at fault for not providing a “clean upgrade path” from XP to Windows 7. Some (like Infoworld’s Randall Kennedy) are even calling Microsoft’s strategy a conspiracy against XP users.

I would provide a link to Randall’s article but I rather provide a link to some useful information. My colleague, friend and a Knowledgeable Technology person, J. Peter Bruzzese, has provided the perfect response to Randall already. However, we know that people like Randall do not stand alone on these issues. So I would like to answer some of the arguments they have made.

At the core of the arguments is the fact that Windows XP users will need to backup their data, do a clean install of Windows and any software on the system and then restore the data. Vista users will be able to do an in-place upgrade without the extra steps.

I wanted to address some of the improprieties of these conspiracy theories. It is stated that the lack of an in-place upgrade for users is a punishment for not upgrading to Windows Vista…Really. The lack of an in-place upgrade might not have anything to do with the fact that Windows XP is now nearly 7 ½ years old Huh!

Another claim is that the upgrade strategy shows a bad attitude toward IT. This statement sounds like a Linux guys who is ticked off that Windows still owns the desktop! After all Windows 7 will crush Linux! read why here. In all my years of working in IT (in organizations ranging from 25 users up to 1200+ users) I have never felt that an in-place upgrade was the tell tale sign of the vendor respecting my environment. In fact, many would argue that one of Vista’s biggest problems with user adoption (aside from sensationalistic press) was that most big enterprises were trying to stretch the life of current systems to save money.

In every hardware upgrade cycle my companies have gone through, we have never looked at in-place upgrades as an option. Data and user preferences are easily moved to a new syste using either roaming profiles or third party tools to backup and restore preferences. In one organization, we had to move the profiles, documents, etc. using copy/paste because policy would not allow the backup of desktops and laptops. It was still not that bad and I never received a complaint from a user who was getting a machine that was newer, faster and better.

Peter makes a good point in his article that home users will be disappointed at first over the lack of an in-place upgrade but as he states “don't we typically find that we get smoother, cleaner running systems when we do a clean install?”

I believe the same is true of the corporate It environment. With products like Acronis True Image, it is simple to re-image these older machines (since the image does not need to be hardware specific) and get a fresh clean start.

I trust that most XP users are ready to make the switch and that they will not be deterred over a few steps to get what they want, which is the latest and best operating system Microsoft has to offer. As for the haters! They will always be haters. Microsoft's upgrade strategy will not keep XP people away from Windows 7.

The early reviews of the beta have received some very favorable reviews. Although some hate the fact that Windows 7 looks like Vista, but then again many hated the fact that Windows XP did not look like Windows 98…you cannot win with some people.

Happily, majority rules and sensible people will see the many, many advantages of making the switch.