Considerations For Upgrading to Windows 7

While developing Windows 7, Microsoft ran many different performance tests to make sure the operating system was an improvement over its predecessor. One of the tests focused on upgrade performance: Microsoft wanted to make sure that an upgrade from Vista SP1 to Windows 7 was within a five percent threshold faster than an upgrade from Vista SP1 to Vista SP2. Microsoft gave three reasons for using the Vista SP1 to Vista SP2 upgrade as a baseline instead of Windows XP to Vista:

  • Windows XP is a vastly different operating system compared to Vista and an upgrade from Windows XP -> Vista would not be a good comparison with Vista -> Windows 7

  • Windows XP did not support 64-bit upgrades and they wanted to track 64-bit upgrade performance as well as 32-bit upgrades for Windows 7

  • Vista SP1 -> Vista SP2 is a valid upgrade path that exercises all upgrade code (this upgrade is commonly used by Product Support Services for a repair scenario)

The metric used was total upgrade time across different user profiles (with different data set sizes and number of programs installed) and different hardware profiles. According to the test results that Chris Hernandez, a Microsoft Software Engineer, posted, Redmond managed to get the Windows 7 upgrade time to be faster or equal within the five percent threshold to the Vista SP1 upgrade time. Here is the summarized Windows 7 upgrade time results in the table below:

Data Profile

Low End Hardware

Mid End Hardware

High End Hardware

No data and 0 applications

32-bit: 40 minutes
64-bit: 50 minutes

32-bit: 30 minutes
64-bit: 35 minutes

32-bit: 30 minutes
64-bit: 35 minutes

Medium User
70Gb of data and 20 applications

32-bit: 175 minutes
64-bit: 185 minutes

32-bit: 115 minutes
64-bit: 95 minutes

32-bit: 100 minutes
64-bit: 85 minutes

Heavy User
125Gb of data and 40 applications

32-bit: 345 minutes
64-bit: 355 minutes

32-bit: 185 minutes
64-bit: 165 minutes

32-bit: 160 minutes
64-bit: 150 minutes

Super User
650Gb of data and 40 applications


32-bit: 1220 minutes
64-bit: 675 minutes

32-bit: 610 minutes
64-bit: 480 minutes

The biggest thing that stands out about this chart is the very broad range of the upgrade time: from 30 minutes to 1,220 minutes. That second extreme is not a typo: Microsoft really did time an upgrade that took 20 hours and 20 minutes. That’s with 650GB of data, 40 applications, on mid-end hardware, and during a 32-bit upgrade. I don’t even want to know how long it would take if Microsoft had bothered doing the same test with low-end hardware.

The other interesting point worth noting is that the 32-bit upgrade is faster on a clean install than a 64-bit upgrade, regardless of the hardware configuration, and is faster on low-end hardware, regardless of the Data Profile. In the other six cases, the 64-bit upgrade is faster than the 32-bit ugprade.

I always recommend a clean installation over performing an upgrade installation. It’s the best way to avoid lots of problems with a new operating systems. Based on the above Chart, I now have another reason to make the recommendation: it may just save you a ton of time, even if you have to back everything up and reinstall your applications.

If you have any questions about upgrading, compatibility or just general questions email_me or call the CCS Retail Systems at 800-672-4806

Have a safe Halloween and a great weekend
-Bryan alt

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