New computers today come with Windows 7 preinstalled — it’s practically unavoidable. On the other hand, if you’re upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7, you’ve got it easy: upgrading to Windows 7 is a snap. Just insert the DVD, and Windows 7 replaces Windows Vista, leaving all your files and programs intact.
Moving to Windows 7 from Windows Vista is a one-way street — you can’t return to your old version of Windows. Don’t follow these instructions unless you’re sure you’re ready for Windows 7.
Insert the Windows 7 DVD and click the Install Now button.
Windows 7 churns away, preparing to install itself.
Choose Go Online to Get the Latest Updates for Installation (Recommended).
Windows 7 will download the latest updates for your particular PC — drivers, patches, and assorted fixes. It might seem unnecessary, but it will help make your installation run as smoothly as possible.
Read the License Agreement, select the I Accept the License Terms check box, and click Next.
You must select the I Accept the License Terms check box before Microsoft will allow you to install the software.
Choose Upgrade and click Next.
Upgrading preserves your PC’s old files, settings, and programs. If this option doesn’t work:
You’re trying to upgrade a Windows XP PC.
You’re trying to upgrade from one Windows Vista version to a higher Windows 7 version, such as from Windows Vista Home to Windows 7 Professional.
Your copy of Windows Vista doesn’t have Service Pack 2.
To fix this, visit Windows Update and install Service Pack 2. If you still have problems, you may not have a genuine copy of Windows Vista installed.
Your hard drive isn’t big enough (at least 16GB of free space).
Read the Compatibility Report, if offered, and click Next.
The compatibility report will explain any potential compatibility problems it finds with your PC’s programs. Click Next to begin the upgrade — a process that could take several hours.
Type your product key and click Next.
The product key usually lives on a little sticker affixed to the CD’s packaging. If you’re reinstalling a version of Windows 7 that came pre-installed on your PC, look for the product key printed on a sticker affixed to the side or back of your PC.
Write your product key on top of your Windows 7 DVD with a felt-tip pen. (Write on the side of the disc that’s printed.) That way, you’ll always have your valid product key with your disc.
Don’t select the Automatically Activate Windows When I’m Online check box. You can do that later when you know Windows 7 works on your PC.
Windows 7’s Activation feature takes a snapshot of your computer’s parts and links it with Windows 7’s serial number, preventing you from installing it on more than one computer.
Choose Use Recommended Settings.
This allows Windows to visit the Internet to update itself with security patches, warn you of suspicious Web sites, check for troubleshooting information, and send technical information to Microsoft to fine-tune Windows’ performance.
Confirm the time and date settings and then click Next.
Windows 7 usually guesses these correctly.
If you’re connected to a network, choose your PC’s location.
Windows 7 gives you options: Home, Work, or Public. This setting dictates the security level, so be sure to choose correctly.
Congratulations — you’re now a member of the Windows 7 set. However, before you get too comfortable, there are a couple more things you should do:
Use Windows Update. Visit Windows Update and download any security patches and updated drivers issued by Microsoft.
Make sure that Windows 7 recognizes your software. Run your old programs to make sure that they still work. If they don’t, drop by the manufacturer’s Web site to see whether they offer free updates or patches.
Check the user accounts. Make sure that your PC’s user accounts work correctly.