William Stanek: Windows 7: Inside Track, Part 3 “More on Upgrades and Migrations”

William here. Up for continuing our discussion about upgrades and migrations? Hope so, so here goes… So far we’ve discussed upgrade paths to Windows 7 from earlier releases of Windows. There are a few more gotchas in the upgrade process we should talk about before we go into migrations. The most important ones have to do with:

  • Cross-architecture upgrades

  • Cross-language upgrades

  • Cross-variant upgrades

When you upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7, you must upgrade to the same architecture, language, and variant. This means that you must:

  • Upgrade 32-bit Windows Vista to 32-bit Windows 7 (and likewise 64-bit Windows Vista to 64-bit Windows 7)

  • Upgrade to the same language version, such as US English to US English (rather than say US English to Japanese). If you have a particular language version with add-on language packs, you also might have to remove the add-on language packs to upgrade.

  • Upgrade to the same or higher edition in keeping with variants. You cannot upgrade from Windows Vista to the Windows 7 N, K, KN, or E variants.

I can hear the groaning and grumbling already, but these restrictions make perfect sense. For instance, 64-bit Windows is an entirely different animal than 32-bit Windows. Trust me, you don’t want all that 32-bit OS baggage on your 64-bit computers. 64-bit is where computing is going, and you want to be there bathing in all the high-power 64-bit glory. And there are always options and workarounds. An example? Sure. User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 makes it possible for you to migrate 32-bit settings to 64-bit environments. To do this, you’ll need to extract the current state before installing Windows 7.

When you upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7, a Windows.old directory is created with the settings and files from Windows Vista. As long as you do a straight installation (and don’t modify or remove partitions during installation), the Windows.old directory is available for you to use. USMT 4.0 can use this directory to transfer settings and files from Windows Vista to Windows 7, and it can do so after the upgrade (in most cases). More on this later but first let’s circle back to Windows XP.

Although you can’t upgrade Windows XP directly to Windows 7, you can maintain your Windows XP settings when installing Windows 7 on a computer running Windows XP. To do this, you must migrate files and settings prior to installing Windows 7. One tool that allows you to migrate settings is Windows Easy Transfer (Migwiz.exe). You’ll find it on the Windows 7 installation media in the Support\Migwiz folder. You can use Windows Easy Transfer to transfer settings and files from any computer running Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 7.

You can transfer files using a network drive, a USB flash drive, or an Easy Transfer Cable. Of the three options, my favorite is the USB flash drive. With network drives, you have to transfer the data over the network. If you have a lot of data to transition, you likely will find the process very slow and frustrating on a 100 Mbps network. Even if you are on a 1 Gbps network, this process will seem fairly slow but doable for the patient technician. And that’s why I prefer a USB flash drive. Just make sure you purchase a newer flash drive with high-speed memory and a lot of capacity, such as 16 or 32 GB. A 32-GB flash drive will handle most any transfer and it will do it much faster than a network transfer.

Keep in mind that you cannot use Windows Easy Transfer to move program files or system files, such as fonts or drivers. Windows Easy Transfer moves program settings and files only. You will need to migrate and then install your programs, fonts, and drivers as needed.

As you might imagine, there are many more options for migration, and I’ll discuss these next time in Windows 7: Inside Track, Part 5 “Migrations and Automation.” Happy Halloween (and the occasion makes it seem fitting somehow that this is my 13th post here at the Microsoft Press blog).

William R. Stanek

williamstanek at aol dot com

Twitter at https://twitter.com/WilliamStanek

Comments (1)
  1. Suleiman Haruna says:

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