Windows 7 Upgrade Scenarios
Scenario 1: Upgrade from a Higher-End Vista/XP Version to a Lower-End Windows 7 Version
Upgrade type: Custom
Here's the deal. You're running some version of Windows Vista. But you want to upgrade to a lower-end version of Windows 7. For example, perhaps you have Windows Vista Business or Ultimate, and you want to "upgrade" to Windows 7 Home Premium.
Should be easy, right?
Should be, but isn't. Here's how it works. Anyone using a valid, activated version of Windows Vista (or XP) qualifies for any Windows 7 Upgrade version. But in order to perform a "true" (or "in-place") upgrade, you must be upgrading to an equivalent, or higher-end, Windows 7 version. That process is very straightforward, and you can read about it my previous article, Upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7.
But what about that "equivalent or higher-end" bit? What if you are, in fact, upgrading to a lower-end version of Windows 7? The chart below will help you figure out which versions of Windows Vista are equivalent to which versions of Windows 7:
|This version of Windows Vista...||is equivalent to...|
|Windows Vista Starter||Windows 7 Starter|
|Windows Vista Home Basic||Windows 7 Home Basic|
|Windows Vista Home Premium||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Windows Vista Business||Windows 7 Professional|
|Windows Vista Ultimate||Windows 7 Ultimate|
Looking at this chart, you can see that an in-place upgrade from, say, Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium is perfectly acceptable. As is an in-place upgrade from Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate.
But what if you want to upgrade from Windows Vista Business to Windows 7 Home Premium? In that and other similar cases, an in-place upgrade is impossible. So you will have to perform a migration, a process I describe in Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 (don't be thrown by the title, it works the same for Vista-to-7 as well).
Here are some screenshots that illustrate important parts of the process.
1. You start with some version of Windows Vista, in this case Windows Vista Business.
2. Attempting an in-place upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, by choosing "Upgrade" during Setup, will fail, because Windows Vista Business is a higher-end version than Windows 7 Home Premium.
3. Instead, you must choose a "Custom" install type during Setup. (Be sure to backup your files and data first.) When you do so, you're provided with a simplified disk partitioning screen in which you cannot change the partition of the disk on which Windows now lives.
4. When you choose this disk, Setup informs you that your old Windows install will be backed up to a Windows.old folder structure.
After clicking through that last screen, Windows 7 Setup will perform a clean install, replacing your older Windows Vista install. You can activate this version of Windows without issue. Success!