I decided to give the gift of Windows 7 for the holidays this year. My in-laws had the unfortunate luck of replacing their old desktop with Windows ME to a new computer from Dell with Windows Vista 32-bit Home Premium. It seems they have leapfrogged to the worst OS ever released from the previous worst OS ever released. The fact they kept Windows ME running for almost five years should deserve some kind of medal.
I am running the license-unencumbered Windows 7 beta on my wife’s machine, and I have been fairly pleased with the results. On this positive experience, I took the plunge, and bought the Windows 7 Professional 64-bit upgrade. Lets break this down for a moment. There are (at least) four editions of Windows 7:
- Home Basic
- Home Premium
- Enterprise (formerly Business?)
The good old comparison page over at Microsoft indicates that each “step up” in version encompasses all the functionalities of the lesser versions, plus some more stuff. This is a lie.
While this may be true for features, the upgrade paths seem to have been determined with a dart board (or more likely greed). Looking at upgrade paths for Windows Vista only, we can see the following:
|From Windows Vista (SP1, SP2)||Upgrade to Windows 7|
|Business||Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate|
|Home Basic||Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate|
|Home Premium||Home Premium, Ultimate|
If you were like me, you may have sprung for the extras in the “Professional” edition, but stopped short of “Ultimate” since the features it offers over Professional are pretty lame. My in-laws machine is currently running Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit edition, and you can see that by spending more on Professional then Home Premium, I have lost my ability to upgrade. Thats right, you pay more and get less.
This has led to some extravagant solutions. The easiest is to go buy the Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade, but refunds on opened software are non-existent. Plus, I do not want to give any more money to a company that I feel has already cheated me. Another option is to use a utility to change which edition you have an upgrade disc for. Windows 7 ships with all editions on each disc, and this tool will let you change which one you have. Alternately, you can download a digital copy of a different edition for free.
This doesn’t affect the product key though. A Windows 7 Professional key will only activate the same edition.
To upgrade from Home Professional, I would have to acquire a Windows 7 Home Professional Upgrade disc using one of the methods above. I would then have to install Windows 7 Home Professional, and then use the the Windows Anytime Upgrade to do an in place upgrade from Windows 7 Home Professional to Windows 7 Professional. Then, I can use my Windows 7 Professional product key to activate my copy.
Navigate all that, and keep in mind to watch out for 32-bit and 64-bit since they are not cross-upgradeable, or interchangeable whatsoever. The RAM requirements are even different.
So much for Windows 7 being easy.