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.