Why Microsoft Doesn’t Understand Win7 Upgrades

If you attempted to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 recently, you probably went through Upgrade Hell along with me and many others.  In the process I learnt a couple of things about Microsoft. Firstly, Microsoft doesn’t understand how to sell software as downloads. If like me, you tried to buy a downloadable version of Windows 7, you would have ended up paying for it dearly, ending up with three files (an exe plus two bin files) delivered to you but with no instruction on what to do with them. The exe file failed to work properly on XP in my case, and searching online eventually yielded command line instructions on how to create a bootable ISO file from these, but that failed to work properly either. Why didn’t Microsoft just sell me an ISO file directly? It shows that Microsoft does not know how to sell software as downloads, perhaps being only familiar with selling software on DVDs or preinstalled on new computers. Ironically, it is now easier to download and install linux than it is to install Windows 7.

The second lesson I learnt is that Microsoft does not understand how to price an upgrade. It is clear enough that one should pay a lower price if you one is upgrading from an earlier version of Windows than if one is not. But in addition, Microsoft charges a different upgrade price depending on whether the installation wipes your original Windows installation before overwriting it. This is plainly wrong because the Utility of Windows 7 minus Utility of your earlier version is the same regardless of how you did the install. Case in point: after failing to compete the earlier install, I ended up getting the DVD for Windows 7 Professional Upgrade. That happily wiped out my XP hard disk and installed with no warning about future activation problems, but several days later asked me for an activation key. When I typed in the activation key I had earlier paid for, it didn’t work, generating an error message that the key was for an upgrade, not a clean install. So I ended up with Windows 7 that refused to activate, but installed within it was software (such as Office) that had already been activated, which were now unusable. Microsoft’s website suggested that I reinstall the previous operating system (which had already been wiped out) and try upgrading again. Really! it is clear that the installer did not check for a valid XP installation, and at that point enabled the activation key to work. It turns out that this is a common problem, and so if you plan to upgrade keep these tips handy and follow Workaround 3.

If you went through all this and ended up with Windows 7 installed, you will find that it is a pretty good operating system, but the process leaves a very bad initial impression.

Author: kwanghui


5 thoughts on “Why Microsoft Doesn’t Understand Win7 Upgrades”

  1. Thanks for posting this. I’m planning to purchase the student upgrade version available through win741 but was nervous about having to jump through hoops to get it running. At least if one knows that it’ll work after going through the hoops, it’s not so scary.


  2. Upgrade installs of new Microsoft operating systems have never worked well.  Small issues and incompatibilities often stay hidden until weird problems manifest in the future.
    It is always better to start fresh, and a good opportunity to purchase a new, bigger and faster hard disk at the same time 🙂
    However I take your pint that it would be great if end-users could download the actual ISO images.  (At work, we are a Microsoft Partner so we are already able to do that.)


  3. It is ironic that a company like Microsoft seems to have a bias towards install disks rather than downloads, but doesn’t Apple follow exactly the same practice?

    Out of curiosity I checked the Apple website for their Snow Leopard upgrade – it’s a DVD. Is there some other reason that bounds OS proprietors in the distribution of paid downloads?


  4. I had the opportunity to observe the differences in installing Linux and Windows when I had my computer wiped and Ubuntu installed a year and a half ago – after a previous Windows reinstallation  was hacked by a Trojan – despite paid antivirus, mechanical email trap, NoScript and more.
    The difference in time invested was stunning : Windows Update seeming to run half past forever. Yes, a new OS is a pain to learn to live with : but antivirus being history and defragmentation ditto help make inconveniences on a private machine tolerable so far. Mind, the idea of wiping a computer on a regular basis and reinstalling the OS after saving desired files is a bit of culture shock to which I have not yet adapted.


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