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I know you can upgrade from Windows 7 RC 1, Windows Vista (activated or trial) or Windows XP to Windows 7 RTM, but which will give you the cleanest upgrade path?

By this I mean which will give you the closest to a fresh Windows 7 format & install? (no useless services running, no half updated junk, etc.)

Note that I am talking from a fresh format here, I have an upgrade disc and want to ensure I do it right.

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migrated from serverfault.com Oct 25 '09 at 1:25

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

As Zoredache mentioned, the best install is a fresh install. But you should also take a few points into consideration:

Windows Vista

Windows Vista upgrade path is the safest of all possibilities. Microsoft offers a direct upgrade path, meaning all applications, settings and files will be intact and in working condition. Being that Windows Vista applications are generally Windows 7 compatible, this option doesn't give you a lot to worry about.

You may want to uninstall anything that you don't need right now and have the ability to reinstall later. You should follow with a full disk defrag. This is really not necessary for your upgrade path, but it's the equivalent of cleaning your house before moving in new furniture.

The above however is mandatory for those that may already be giving you problems under Windows Vista. Applications or services that you know are troublesome should be uninstalled/disabled before an upgrade. This is true of any OS upgrade, no matter how direct it is... no matter what operating system it is (from windows to Linux, to Macintosh).

Windows XP
Windows XP upgrade path is not direct and will not retain your applications working status. Your current XP installation will be kept on a special folder and thus any application depending on the registry or user specific settings is rendered nonoperational.

It may be an interesting option if you have a lot of stuff to backup, but nowhere to put it (no free CD/DVD or other backup media). Otherwise you should not really try an upgrade from Windows XP.

But if you do (because of the above reason, or any other), uninstall as many applications as you can to reduce the size of the XP installation and thus render the final folder smaller in size.

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The cleanest path is to pop in the disk and install to a blank hard drive. You will be asked for the old keys to validate the upgrade.

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