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Microsoft: Windows 7 Upgrade Could Take 20 Hours

Tests conducted by Microsoft show that upgrades from Windows Vista to Windows 7 will be about 5 percent faster than other upgrades involving Vista. But in certain situations, "faster" could mean more than 20 hours.

In a blog post Sept. 11, Chris Hernandez, who works with the Windows 7 deployment team, wrote that the team had tested in-place upgrades from Vista to Windows 7 for a variety of user profiles -- from "medium users" running low-end hardware to "super users" running high-end hardware. The team also tested the times for a variety of clean installs, which is the path current users of XP would take. Hernandez also compared upgrade times for 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

The fastest time for an in-place upgrade from Vista Service Pack 1 -- in which the user upgrades the operating system while keeping all data on the machine -- was 84 minutes for a "medium user" with high-end hardware. The profile for a medium user included 70GB of data and 20 installed applications.

The longest install involved a super user (650GB of data, 40 apps installed) running mid-level hardware. That upgrade, for a 32-bit version, took 20 hours, 15 minutes.

Most scenarios, covering medium, heavy and super users each with low-, mid- and high-end hardware, fell in the middle -- and closer to the faster time. They ranged from about 1 hour, 41 minutes to about 6 hours, 30 minutes (heavy user, low-end hardware). A couple of 64-bit upgrades involving super users took over 10 hours.

In every case, however, the upgrade times were faster than that of a comparable user upgrading from Vista SP1 to a new version of Vista SP1. In addition to installing more quickly, early tests have shown some performance improvements under Windows 7.

The natural upgrade path for Windows 7 is from Vista, so users of XP would have to wipe a PC's hard drive clean, install the OS and then restore their applications and backed-up data. But at least the install times aren't bad; clean install times ranged from just under 27 minutes (on fast-running, high-end hardware) to just under 47 minutes (low-end hardware, 64-bit version).

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is the managing editor of Government Computer News.

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Sep 29, 2009 Patrick Mauritius

Comments above are correct, I believe an upgrade from XP to Win7 in the enterprise should happen with new PC rolouts.

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 Randall Houston, TX

Stormer, I think you have an unfortunately all-too-common misconception of Vista and by extension Windows 7. The "natural upgrade path" has always been from the previous version to the current one. For example, upgrading to WinXP from Windows NT wasn't supported. Only from Windows 2000. It's been this way all the way back to the Windows 3.11 days. Also, the same challenges that existed with Vista also exist in Windows 7, and this is natural because the core architecture is very close; just as Windows XP's was to Windows 2000. Most people have forgotten these facts since they haven't had to go through them in this decade. The wipe/install path should be the DEFACTO standard for ANY company installing a new operating system. Even going from XP to XP should be a wipe and reload and not an upgrade. Keeping the old OS on the system is a recipe for disaster. Even if it works, you've still got a ton of garbage from the previous build of the OS. If that something that anyone would want across their organization? I would hope not. A fresh install of the OS is a common practice in my company, and while that doesn't resolve some of the compatibility issues that have reared their ugly heads when moving to Vista and Windows 7, most main-line companies now support Vista, and the number of those apps that won't work in Windows 7 have been exceedingly small in our environment. The main thing to take away from this diatribe is that people get so hung up about the "no direct upgrade path" that they forget that this is not something that is really in your best interest, and doing it even if it WERE possible just isn't a good business strategy. If you have your applications deployed through ESD (Electronic Software Distribution) you have everything you need to redeploy applications to users, and with Win7 compatible verions already available and/or coming very soon, there is no real reason to let this lack of a path stop you from moving to a really slick operating system.

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 Stormer

That 'natural upgrade path' is going to be pretty off-putting to a lot of business users who refused to 'upgrade' to Vista. When we discovered that Vista would not accommodate software crucial to our business, we simply stayed with WinXP. The wipe/reinstall path has us seriously questioning whether we want to go on to 7 or stay with what we know works for us. I don't think the boys and girls at Redmond thought this one through very well.

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