Users looking to upgrade to Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system later this year could find themselves in a bit of a bind. According to Microsoft, only two of its operating systems will allow users to upgrade in place without reinstalling their apps.
To be clear, Microsoft hasn’t yet fully detailed its upgrade plans for Windows 10. For example, we don’t know how much Windows 10 will cost users if they already have a computer running Windows 8 or Windows 7. Microsoft’s Gabriel Aul heads the Windows Preview Program, and revealed last week that only users of Windows 7 “and newer” operating systems will support In-Place upgrades.
It’s entirely possible that Aul’s comments are specific to the Windows 10 Preview Program that he’s in charge of, however he doesn’t narrow the scope of his comments on Twitter to just the Preview Program. As such, we can assume that the final version of Windows 10 coming to users sometime in 2015 won’t let users upgrade directly from Windows Vista or Windows XP.
@Dave_256 Same for Vista as XP. The only full upgrade paths currently supported are Win7 and newer.
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) December 30, 2014
Not being able to upgrade from Windows XP and Windows Vista is going to be a huge deal for people who own machines running those operating systems. Most versions of Windows support two upgrade methods.
In-Place upgrades are what most people are used to. They allow you to keep your settings and programs. The new version of Windows installs overtop of the older operating system. It really is the best way to get a new version of Windows and keep all of your files and settings. It’s this way that most users with a notebook, desktop, or 2-in-1 will upgrade to Windows 10.
Read: What is Windows 10?
There’s a second upgrade path though and you get none of the conveniences. It’s this path that Windows Vista and Windows XP users will have to take. In short, users will need to back up all of their data and apps before upgrading to Windows 10 – if they own hardware powerful enough to do so in the process. Any backs ups of files saved on a flash drive or hard drive can be dragged back over once the upgrade is done. Because this isn’t a fresh upgrade, users will also need to install every program, every utility they ever added to their machine when it was running Windows Vista again. That means they’ll need the necessary discs and product keys or those apps will be gone forever.
For many people, this won’t be a big deal. More advanced users like wiping older version of Windows and doing fresh installs. They say, this keeps issues with older operating systems from cropping up in the new versions. How true that still is, is up for debate. What we do know is that having to reinstall every program is going to be painful for Windows Vista users. Unlike Windows XP users, who really should be buying a new machine at this point, Windows Vista is a lot closer architecturally to later versions of Windows.
All told, it’s a strange roadblock that couldn’t come at a more awkward time for Microsoft. 2012’s Windows 8 release marked a change in the way Microsoft makes updates available. At the time, company representatives made it clear that Windows updates in the future would come more as a steady stream than a tidal wave. Future updates, they said, would be a lot less painful. By making it harder for Windows Vista users to upgrade, Microsoft is drawing a line in the sand. It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft plans on luring Windows Vista users to Windows 10 when it arrives. If it isn’t going to make it easy as it can to upgrade, perhaps it’ll use some creative pricing to entice users to the latest operating system.
Microsoft has an event scheduled to talk more about Windows 10 on January 21st.