If you’re running Windows XP or Windows Vista on your computer you may be interested in upgrading to Windows 7. In some cases the hardware you have now will be able to run Windows 7 well. To begin with, know that Microsoft recommends a 1GHZ processor and 1GB of RAM for Windows 7. This post is being created on an old Dell Dimension 3000 machine with a Pentium 3 GHZ single-core processor with 1 GB of RAM. It’s a little slower that I would like but still gets the job done. I have a 4GB flash drive dedicated to ReadyBoost which helps a little. I could upgrade the RAM to 2GB but haven’t felt the need to do so. Windows 7 can utilize the performance of a true multi-core processor and runs better with more RAM, but performance can be acceptable for people who mostly browse the Internet and use email.
Hardware driver support is an important consideration, and Windows 7 supports older hardware. One way to discover if drivers might be a problem in an upgrade is to run Microsoft’s Upgrade Advisor which can be downloaded at: http://windows.microsoft.com/upgradeadvisor
A Windows 7 upgrade-in-place, in which all applications and files are automatically retained, can only be done from an existing installation of Vista service pack 1 or 2. This type of upgrade should go pretty smoothly since Vista and 7 have much in common. Upgrading from a 32bit version of Vista to a 64bit version of 7 isn’t possible, and the Home versions of Vista can’t be upgraded to Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise. A complete list of upgrade paths is found at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd772579(WS.10).aspx?ITPID=insider
What if you’re currently using Windows XP? XP can’t be upgraded, and a clean installation of 7 is required. It is, however, possible to migrate user data including email, documents, music and video files, local user accounts and even profile-related application settings using the Windows Easy Transfer (WET) Wizard. I ran the Windows Easy Transfer Wizard to save my settings and data to a USB drive before I reformatted and installed Windows 7. Then I ran the WET to import my data into the new installation. Nothing could be simpler to use than this tool. You can download WET from: