SOFTWARE—Operating systems

For some users, Windows 7 upgrade could take 20 hours

Microsoft team tests upgrade times for a variety of user profiles

Tests conducted by Microsoft show that upgrades from Windows Vista to Windows 7 will be about 5 percent faster than other upgrades involving Vista. But in certain situations, “faster” could mean more than 20 hours.


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In a blog post Sept. 11, Chris Hernandez, who works with the Windows 7 deployment team, wrote that the team had tested in-place upgrades from Vista to Windows 7 for a variety of user profiles – from “medium users” running low-end hardware to “super users” running high-end hardware. The team also tested the times for a variety of clean installs, which is the path current users of XP would take. Hernandez also compared upgrade times for 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

The fastest time for an in-place upgrade from Vista Service Pack 1 – in which the user upgrades the operating system while keeping all data on the machine – was 84 minutes for a “medium user” with high-end hardware. The profile for a medium user included 70G of data and 20 installed applications.

The longest install involved a super user (650G of data, 40 apps installed) running midlevel hardware. That upgrade, for a 32-bit version, took 20 hours, 15 minutes.

Most scenarios, covering medium, heavy and super users each with low-, mid- and high-end hardware, fell in the middle – and closer to the faster time. They ranged from about 1 hour, 41 minutes to about 6 hours, 30 minutes (heavy user, low-end hardware). A couple of 64-bit upgrades involving super users took over 10 hours.

In every case, however, the upgrade times were faster than that of a comparable user upgrading from Vista SP 1 to a new version of Vista SP 1. In addition to installing more quickly, early tests have shown some performance improvements under Windows 7.

The natural upgrade path for Windows 7 is from Vista, so users of XP would have to wipe a PC’s hard drive clean, install the OS and then restore their applications and backed-up data. But at least the install times aren’t bad.

Clean install times ranged from just under 27 minutes (on fast-running, high-end hardware) to just under 47 minutes (low-end hardware, 64-bit version).

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is editor of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCaney.

Reader Comments

Tue, Sep 29, 2009 jeff h East Coast

Why do mid size companies want to spend $200,000 or more (not to mention the cost of upgrading hardware) to upgrade to windows 7? what the f*#k are you getting for your money that cannot be obtained with better control at the routers, group policy, Active Directory under windows XP etc?!!!!!

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 Arty

I did not upgrade my 64-bit "power" system to Vista, primarily because I would have had to wipe the disk. Now moving to W7 requires the same action. This is equivalent to a system disk crash, and requires similar agony. I do not want to be sidelined with an ancient OS, but now I'm thinking I should have gone over to the Unix/Linux world back when I acquired the system. Once the disk is wiped, it is very tempting to do just that. I now have to figure out when I can take about a week of vacation to spend time with my processor to get it to the new configuration. For me, the hidden cost (opportunity cost) of W7 is about $3800. in lost billable hours on top of acquisition of the OS and possibly apps that will need an upgrade. Whew!!

Thu, Sep 17, 2009

I agree with Sam. I've been using Windows 7 for quite some time now, and it is significantly better than Vista. The headline of this article is deceiving. While it may take some users the entire 20 hours, how many of you actually have 650G of data and 40 apps?? If you had to do a clean install with that much data, it would take you forever to back everything up and then restore it all ofter the install. I bet it would take more than 20 hours.

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 you're Joking... KS

I had to check the calendar to make sure it's not April 1st. what does this tell you about the state of things when 2+ hour upgrade times are not only acceptable but seem to be presented with pride. fortunately my only Vista machine is my son's laptop and he is off to college and it is now his problem. poor kid.

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 Sam Washington DC

What a BS story. From experience, Windows 7 is a LOT better than Windows XP and Vista. No modern OS is going to load quickly on a 1st generation Pentium processor. I've loaded just about everything under the sun with no problems. It's time for those corporations that held off on the Vista upgrade to stop their Vista whining and start rolling out upgrades when available.

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