Windows 7 will be released publicly on October 22, 2009 – unless you buy a ‘white box’ computer – then you can get it on October 13, 2009.

Microsoft has released the official Upgrade Chart for migrating from Windows XP or Windows Vista to 7.

Windows 7 Upgrade Chart
Windows 7 Upgrade Chart

BUT:
Upgrading an OS is like taking the chassis out from under a car and sliding in a whole new one – it’s amazing that it works at all. I’ve never been a MS apologist (it’s more a love/hate relationship), but XP was coded when the security environment was *much* more benign. The technicians’ mailing list I’m on reports a rootkit infection *every day* that the tech is having trouble removing – and our list isn’t a high volume one. When XP was conceived the only people who had thought about rootkits were computer scientists (mostly in academia) in the lab. They didn’t exist in the wild.

And if you’re running XP, are you sure you want to put Win7 on that box? Computers do best with software created about the same time that they were. I’m writing this on a basic Dell Inspiron 1501 with an Athlon 64 dual core TK-55 processor and 1 GB of RAM. They offered either Vista or XP on it – I chose XP for performance. I now have it dual-booting XP and Windows 7 Ultimate gold (gold = production code) and, although I use Win7 mostly, it’s a bit slower than XP is on it and I wouldn’t mind to try it with some more RAM. The Windows Experience index has me at 2.9 (3.0 minimum recommended for using the Aero overlay) due to the video card but I think it’s integral to the motherboard… 🙁

Does forcing a clean install for XP users increase Microsoft’s profits? Yes, by reducing their expenses. Is it the best practice? YES. Any tech will agree with me. If you really want Win7, do yourself a favour and buy a new machine with enough RAM and a decent video card for it – and give the old computer to your kids, make it into a media server, or donate it to charity – *after* a format, fresh install, and updates.

Or buy the new machine and put Windows Home Server on the former XP box. This is a cool product – it’s inexpensive, makes a great media server, PLUS it backs up any XP or newer computer to it (you have to install software on the client machine) and it makes running a home network almost painless. You’ll need to buy an OEM version for installation on an existing computer – Newegg.com (among others) sells it that way. Of course you can also buy it on a new computer (HP, Acer, others, and at Best Buy, Newegg, Fry’s, Amazon, Staples, Tiger Direct, and others). I’m so stoked on WHS than I’m studying it for a certification and I want to offer it as one of my specialties.

Windows Home Server info:
http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&q=Windows+home+server+&meta=&fp=58658b2190507a24

120 day evaluation version:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/eval.mspx

Buy it where?
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/buy.mspx