Windows 7 Upgrade Option Requires Patience

img24As a TechNet subscriber I got my hands on the final release of Windows 7 on Friday and spent the weekend prepping (that means backing things up) and installing the OS. Although for my typical usage I much prefer to wipe things completely clean on a computer and start fresh, I thought I would give the upgrade option a shot, since some may be going that route. Well, if you are, make sure you set some time aside to complete the process.

I was upgrading an HP 2730p Elitebook Tablet PC running Vista Ultimate. It has 3GB of RAM installed. From start to finish it took just under 5 hours to complete the upgrade.

If you choose to upgrade, the installer will scan your drive and report to you if you’ve got applications that are not compatible. It will rate them for you and tell you if you need to uninstall the apps before the upgrade will complete, or if you might experience difficulty with the app when you’re done. In this case I had to remove the HP Security Suite before the upgrade would go forward.

Windows will hang on to your files and settings for apps that are compatible with the upgrade and put everything back in place once the install is complete. Every app I had installed (except for those that it flagged as incompatible and that I removed) was right back were it was supposed to be with all the settings intact and everything I’ve tested so far runs the way I expect it to. This feature may be quite handy for those who don’t want to loose a particular setup, but as I said before, I’d rather bite the bullet and start fresh. How you proceed depends on your needs.

The install process churned through its work dutifully. It required 4 reboots during the process and after the install was complete I was immediately prompted with a message that told we Windows Update had found some new updates ready to go. (Note that passwords and keys for wireless networks carried over intact.) Most of these were drivers, so that’s a good thing. But, (and I’m sorry I did not make good notes here) one update was not a driver update.

I have noticed that after the install, Windows 7 is not nearly as snappy as it was in the previous RTM and Beta versions. I can’t say with any certainty that is is because it upgraded on top of Vista, or if things are different in the final build. My hunch is this has to do more with using the upgrade option instead of the clean build option.Typically an upgrade over a previous OS is not as fast as a clean start in my experience.

I’ll be running this setup for a few days and then I’ll wipe things clean and do a fresh install. I’ll put up some comparison numbers once that is all done. But as for now, if you’re going to be doing the upgrade option over Vista, make sure you set some time aside. For you that may be time well spent. Once you start with a clean OS install, you do need to reinstall the apps you need to be back up and running and depending on how many apps you have lined up ready to install, one 5 hour or so push may be just the ticket.

Oh, and you also get some interesting wallpaper options with Windows 7, like the one pictured above.