Windows 7 Upgrade Madness

Currently doing the rounds on the internet is the chart of Windows 7 upgrade options. The original can be found at Walt Mossberg’s site, but the chart is also linked below. Note that “Custom Install” is a euphemism for “wipe the whole hard drive and start again”. Make sure you’ve got good backups!

The fact that this monstrosity only shows three of the possible six Windows 7 versions as upgrade targets makes it even worse!

It didn’t take long for some wag to compare the Windows 7 upgrade options to the MacOS X Snow Leopard upgrade options, in this chart (linked below). It’s a bit misleading, because the OSX part is only true for upgrades on Intel Macs – PowerPC macs don’t get an invite to the Snow Leopard party at all. But as PowerPC machines don’t get an invite to the Windows 7 party either, I guess we can let that one slide.

I was tempted to produce an equivalent table for Ubuntu, but it seemed like a waste of effort. Generally it goes like this:

  • Old Version to New Version: Upgrade
  • Very Old Version to New Version: Upgrade to slightly newer version and repeat. You’ll catch up eventually.

Seasoned Linux users know the advantage of installing their home directory to a different partition on their hard drive: they can upgrade or even reinstall with impunity without their personal data ever being affected. Unfortunately installing /home to a different partition is not the default in Ubuntu (shame), but if you were prescient enough to do that, you could even upgrade like this:

  • Very Old Version to New Version: Fresh install, keeping your data intact (though some old config files might cause you minor problems)
  • Competitor’s Linux Distribution to New Version: Fresh install, keeping your data intact

There are two lessons to take from this post:

  1. Microsoft may well have improved their OS with Windows 7, but their consideration of the user still leaves a lot to be desired
  2. If you’re about to do a Linux install, it will pay in the long term to put your /home on a different partition