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Upgrading my laptop from Windows Vista to Windows 7, please advise

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 30, 2011 8:35 AM PDT
Question: Upgrading my laptop from Windows Vista to Windows 7, please advise

Hi. Is it very hard or complicated to install Windows 7 over Vista? I'm not very computer literate and afraid to try it. I have a Toshiba laptop which I purchased last year with Vista in it. Any advice or tips on the process? Like do's and don'ts. This is my only computer and I need it to be working as soon as it is upgraded. Thanks for all your help.

--Submitted by: Jean M.

Here are some member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Upgrading to Windows 7 is Fine - But Back Up Anyway --Submitted by: High Desert Charlie

It's not too hard... --Submitted by: darrenforster99

Before you even think about it... --Submitted by: Zouch

Windows 7 Upgrade - Tips --Submitted by: ajtrek

Vista to Windows 7--Submitted by: paulinegbsn

See all contributions below.

Thanks to all those who took there time out to contribute!
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by rrpc / September 30, 2011 10:19 AM PDT

no problem just check if you have enough memory at least 2 gb , if you can afford 4 gb it would be very good.

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I've upgraded 3 laptops from Vista to Win 7 with no problems
by Bob_Meyer / September 30, 2011 10:28 AM PDT

I bought Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade Family Pack (3-User) to upgrade all the family laptops after I got a Windows 7 Deskside and really liked it. I upgraded all 3 laptops with no problems. You should probably download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor at
before you buy the software, but the odds are that a recent laptop that shipped with Vista will run Win 7 without any problems. You may find that some older peripherals (printers, scanners, etc) aren't supported.


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Dealing with Vista Removal
by jdp06 / September 30, 2011 10:36 AM PDT

Well from my experience I have found what has worked the best is create another partition and install
Windows in there. When that is completed go to my computer, select the drive that Vista was on and format
that partition. Vista is not like XP which will allow you to format while still using the O/S.
Vista is a pain in the butt.
The other way would be to pull the hard drive and start with a new freshly formatted one and install 7 on that.
I have been told that works the best. But each to his/her own.
Personally the system I used worked well and doesn't cost you another hard drive, unless of course you want to
upgrade to a larger amount of GBits

Hope this helps.................

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Not sure about that....
by JCitizen / October 15, 2011 9:28 AM PDT

Windows 7 handles dual boot a bit differently than in the past - be careful about partitioning because you may get disastrous results in your boot MBR after installation, if you don't know what you are doing. The best advice is to google for the instructions, and follow them step by step. They are too long for me to repeat here.

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Vista to Windows 7
by pauly1651 / September 30, 2011 10:42 AM PDT

I advise against installing W7 over Vista as an "upgrade"
Do a clean install of W7.
Also, W7 64 Bit is the WAY to go if you have a CPU that can support a 64 Bit operating system, and also upgrade the RAM on your lappy if you can, to 4GB at least.
A 64 Bit operating system allows for all the RAM to be used, 32 Bit is fine, but all your RAM is not being used to run the apps and programs and anything else. This means that a 64 Bit system will run faster and smoother than a 32 Bit system.
Doing the clean install is really easy.
First backup anything you want to save that is personal, don't worry about saving any files that have to do with Vista etc.
Here's the basics:
Turn on the PC, and enter the setup BIOS before the O.S. loads, on some PCs it's the delete button, some it's F2. Next, find the boot sequence, and set it to start up with the Optical drive as the first boot device. Insert the W7 disk, save and exit setup. Then carefully follow the screen directions to install W7.
Don't worry if you mess it up, you can always try it again.
There are plenty of places online to find help in doing this clean install of Windows 7, you do not have to be a computer geek to accomplish this!

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Re upgrading Windows Vista to 7-
by andreaborman / October 14, 2011 9:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Vista to Windows 7

Well,I am not very experienced at computers. And I myself only have netbooks with no CD dive. But if you want to keep your Windows Vista laptop. with laptops so cheap nowadays. It would just be easier to buy a new Windows 7 laptop and you can get a brand new one for about 250 English pounds. And the new laptop will have Windows 7 preinstalled. And then you will have both Windows Vista on the old laptop and Windows 7 on the new one. And also a spare computer.

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Install clean!
by pblanton / September 30, 2011 10:50 AM PDT

Microsoft does a good job of making sure the upgrade process works as well as can be expected from version to version, but with today's operating systems and the myriad of system configurations, it is really impossible to make it foolproof.

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Upgrading to Windows 7
by mbabbosl / September 30, 2011 10:53 AM PDT

I upgraded my Vista laptop last year to Windows 7 when given a great discount through the university I teach. It was very easy, self-guided and I lost no data. Just follow the step-by-step directions ad you'll be fine.

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Upgrading your Laptop from Vista to Win 7
by GEO2003 / September 30, 2011 11:06 AM PDT

Hi, Jean,
The last comment you made "being your only computer and you needed to be working as soon as it's updated".

The first thing that i would suggest to you before you begin the Upgrade, is that you go to the Toshiba Site and check for Windows 7 Drivers and Updated Programs.

It's kind of strange that you bought the Laptop last year and it didn't come with Win 7 already, i would not pass by the opportunity to check the website.

We don't have detail information from your post about the Hardware and Software you have on your Laptop right now. I have to tell you in advance that while is easier to Upgrade, some programs can cause problems. Most programs that work with Vista work with Win 7, but that is not what i am refering to, is the entries made to the Register in Vista that could cause error with the Upgrades.

I would conclude that you purchase a retail Upgrade disk for Win 7.
I would prefer that you do a clean install, and that way, there would nothing on your drive that would allow Win 7 to be install clean, hense giving you a better experience because Windows would not have to deal with transfering so many settings. Because of your statement, i would recommend that you do the following :
Make sure you Backup all your Data to an External Drive or CD's or DVD's - Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos.

Also, if you have any specific purchased Programs, eg. Photoshop or any other - That you make sure you have the License Numbers before you do the Upgrade - If you are planning to use them with Win 7.

It's very important that you don't have any Antivirus Software running while you do the Upgrade, preferably, you should Un-install the Antivirus from your Laptop as Antivirus Software hook on to the Master File Table, also Callled MFT, and the Windows Boot Process.
Because of this, Antivirus Software can see changes to both of these files and create a problem while you are Upgrading.

If you feel confortable, download Revo Uninstaller from Cnet/Downloads - Install it on you Laptop and use it to Uninstall the Antivirus.

When you Launch Revo Uninstaller, the first window you see, is everything that you have isntalled on your Laptop. From this list, you can pick any program that you have never use and Uninstall them if you don't need them.

While using Revo, a program like an Antivirus would prompt you that you need to reboot the Laptop in order to finish the Uninstall. Just say no to the prompt and let Revo continue looking for entries on the Register that pertain to the program being Uninsall.
Revo will present the entries in Black Bold - Read the instructions and it tells you to only select those in Bold, you can safely select all presented to you and click delete. Revo will Proceed to find Folders, select all of them and delete them as well. You may get a message that some folders will only be deleted after a reboot.

Now you can reboot your Laptop, and you just got rid of the Antivirus that could cause an Upgrade to fail or any other junk that you have on your hard drive.
Now - The second thing I would recommend is that you don't have any application loading at Startup.

You can launch Revo Again, and the top row of icons will show you one named - Tools, click on that, a vertical row of icons will open up. One named - Autorun Manager.
Click on Autorun Manager and it will show you all the applications that you having running at Windows Startup.

Just Uncheck everyone, you don't have to save anything, as Unchecking with Revo, will immediately turn them off from the Register and from launching when you start Windows.
Now you can reboot your Laptop one more time, and those programs would not be an issue.
I guess since you will be doing an Upgrade, then insert your Retail Win 7 Upgrade DVD into your DVD Player and beging your Upgrade Installation.

I am not suggesting that the upgrade will not finish properly without doing the above, i am just trying to make sure that no program for some reason interrupts the Upgrade process.
After one year of use, you may or may have not install a lot of programs, we don't know that, but starting with a Clean installation is good, since it returns your machines as brand new. Which is the reason why i said to check for Windows 7 Drivers and Software at the Toshiba Website, So that if you select a Clean Install, you can then update the drivers for your hardware in your Laptop.

I hope that everything goes well, and have fun as Win 7 is very nice to use.

Note: This post was edited by its original author to add some line breaks in the post on 10/07/2011 at 1:19 PM PT

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Just one thing...
by JCitizen / October 15, 2011 9:45 AM PDT

If you are starting with Vista x64, their is no free version of Revo for this operating system. I think Revo is worth purchasing, but using MSCONFIG to turn of all services and startups will usually do just as well. If not, you can use whatever removal tool downloads for you anti-virus. To start MSCONFIG - type it in the start window and it will pop up. Be sure you are logged in as an Administrator. This is what is called a "clean boot".

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Upgrading to Windows 7 is Fine - But Back Up Anyway

Hi Jean,

You've made the right move in Upgrading your Vista Operating System to Windows 7. I've read through the posts so far, and while many possibilities are mentioned, you're the one who has to live with the consequences. So here goes.

First of all, you're using the word Upgrade but we're not sure exactly what you mean. Are you planning on using an Upgrade disk to update your laptop? Are you installing a new, fresh version of Windows 7? I'll try to walk you through the possibilities.

First of all, check and see what version of Vista you're using. If you plan to upgrade, you have to use the same version as you're using in Vista. For example, if you're using Vista Home Premium, 32 bit - and you use an upgrade disk, you have to install Windows 7 Home Premium, 32 bit. You can't install an upgrade over a different version such as Vista Business or Vista Home, and you have to stick with 32 bit to 32-bit or 64 bit to 64 bit.

Your next question which has been thoroughly discussed so far, is Clean Installation or Upgrade? Well, first of all you need to know that you can't use an Upgrade Disk to do a clean install (or at least not without an hour on the phone with Microsoft later). Let me clarify here before the sharpshooters start bombarding me with negative comments. If you use the Upgrade disk, you must have an existing qualified operating system installed and activated. You may elect to do a clean install during the process or you may elect to do the upgrade, retaining all of your data and programs. You must pay very close attention to avoid losing your data if you haven't backed it up.

So if you want to use the less expensive Upgrade Disk, you'll need to install it over the existing Vista installation. By the way, that goes for upgrading from XP to Windows 7 as well. Don't worry though, the upgrade disk does a very good job in transferring all of your data and programs into the new Operating System. And that brings me to my next point.

Before you attempt to do any installation of any kind you MUST BACK UP YOUR DATA!!! That means pictures, music, program data, Outlook PST files, other email program files, your Favorites folder, your Desktop Folder, any Downloads you may want to save from your Download Folder, or any other files that you consider important. You should be doing this anyway as routine protection against data loss. If you don't know how to do this, you should find a program that will back up the entire partition for you. EASUS is a free download here on CNET that will copy a partition for you to another partition or to another drive. Then you'll know all of your data is safe.

Finally Jean, since you've already been up front about not being very computer literate, I would highly recommend you take your laptop down to the local computer shop and ask them to back up your data and install Windows 7. Most shops will do this for you for a very reasonable price and you can usually get your laptop back in a day or so. If you want to get your feet wet, which isn't a bad idea, then make sure you back up first, last, and always.

You can follow this link from a previous CNET Forum subject to see how I install new operating systems:

Enjoy your new Windows 7 Operating system.

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Upgrading to Win 7
by infotran / October 14, 2011 9:59 AM PDT

Although it's some time ago now I seem to remember that upgrading XP to Vista was a fairly painless operation and from your reply upgrading Vista to Win 7 is relatively painless. Upgrading XP to Win 7 I think I am right in saying required a clean install. Can anyone explain why a clean install is required XP to Win 7 and also if a clean install is required if you go through an XP to Vista to Win 7 upgrade process. My main reason for asking is that having access to both Vista and Win 7 upgrades if this is possible it would save me the trouble of the XP to Win 7 clean install.
Also would a full version Win 7 install as an upgrade to Vista or is a clean install required.
I hope this all makes sense to you. Thanks.

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I Repeat - You Can't do a Clean Install with an Upgrade Disk
by High Desert Charlie / October 14, 2011 8:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Upgrading to Win 7

Sorry Infortran, but you are flat out wrong. A clean install is an installation with a completely empty formatted hard drive. So get your jargon straight. If you try to use an upgrade disk to do a "clean" install (for example, on a new hard drive), the product will not activate properly and you'll spend an hour on the phone with Microsoft if you happen to have the correct phone number. I know this because I've done it on numerous occasions where the customers hard drive was fried and had to be replaced. Good time for an upgrade.

You cannot upgrade a 32 bit Vista OS with a 64 bit Windows 7 OS. Period. They aren't compatible, and there's a high probability that the devices will not cross over. You can do a "Clean Install" of Windows 7, but you'd be well advised to run the Windows 7 Upgrade adviser first. Even then it's a crap shoot with some laptops.

As far as upgrading XP is concerned, you aren't really doing a clean install as much as it is a Custom Install. When upgrading from XP to Windows 7, the upgrade disk conveniently creates a folder called Windows.old with all of your backup files in the new Windows 7 installation. Not so in a Clean install.

Finally, Windows 7 does NOT work fine with all Vista Drivers. That is why you run the Upgrade Advisor first. It will tell you what programs and drivers may not be compatible with a Windows 7 installation.

Readers....Please don't be discouraged by my comments here. Installing Windows 7 should be an easy task for most users. Upgrades usually go off without a hitch. Simply check with the Windows Upgrade adviser first to be sure your computer is going to work with your desired new OS. The adviser will tell you what may not work, then you can decide for yourself.

Good Luck to All

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Check Tech Republic our sister membership...
by JCitizen / October 15, 2011 10:04 AM PDT

I've read on Tech Republic that you can indeed do a clean install of Win7 as an upgrade of Vista in the same platform otherwise. I would have to read the article; but if you are a CNET member you are also a member of Tech Republic and could look over at that sister site to find out how. My fuzzy memory doesn't quite remember how, but it is all in the sequence you pick during the installation process. The only problem is the fact that if you ever have to do another clean install, you will be in the situation you describe. Because their will be no previous system data on the disk for the installation manager to see. I would think this would always be a risk with upgrades though.

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(NT) I had one notebook screwed up by a shop.
by bigbear639 / October 14, 2011 10:58 AM PDT
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"Upgrade" can certainly be a clean install

An "upgrade" disk, or upgrade disk set, can be used to do a clean install, provided the system that is being installed to has an eligible version of Windows software installed - the upgrade you buy will have information on the box that tells you which OS version must be installed for the upgrade to work. It is certainly possible to go from 32 bit to 64 bit in this manner, "upgrade" does NOT, by definition mean that the old operating system is "updated", though you can opt to do that, if you wish. I understand that's a bit confusing, but what Microsoft means by "upgrade" is not what you (and the previous author) understand.

One thing that is important to understand is that your previous operating system, which is what is used to authorize the upgrade, is wiped, in the case of a clean install. That means that if the upgrade fails, you can't do the upgrade again without first re-installing the old operating system, so make sure you take a full bootable backup.

Windows 7 is fully capable of using Windows Vista drivers, so for compatiblity reasons all you need to do is have those handy on a DVD, Windows will update them later, if necessary. Check with Toshiba that your system was Windows 7 ready - if you bought it last year, it should be. Have fun.

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Your information concurs with a previous Tech Republic...
by JCitizen / October 15, 2011 10:09 AM PDT

....article on this subject. I am sure you are correct. The whole meaning of "upgrade" has changed at Microsoft anyway. Happy

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Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7
by pmhirsch / September 30, 2011 12:08 PM PDT

I agree it should not be a problem and I have done it for two computers. To be safe, I would first backup you computer with Vista on it to an external drive using software like Acronis backup and then install Windows 7.

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I wouldn't!
by phreddd78 / September 30, 2011 12:13 PM PDT

Dear Jean,
Although I have no direct experience with Vista (from all that I have heard and read that is a good thing), I have always found it is much better to do a clean install of an OS. Upgrading, or even reinstalling the same OS, always seems to leave some setting or data behind that later comes back to bite you.
I recommend that you do a Google search for "clean install of Windows 7." This will bring up many articles and instruction sets, many even from Microsoft. A little research through these results and you should be able to proceed with your installation with a good set of instructions and warnings about any tricky spots too.
Most important is following the instructions for backing up your files first. No shortcuts here.
Good luck!

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You forgot to tell us which bit rate your Vista installation

is: 64bit or 32bit. Why is this important you might ask? If you decide to jump onto the 64bit band wagon, you will have to make a thorough 'Clean Install' of this newest O.S. of Win. 7 but, if not and, you decided to stay with the good ole' 32bit processing rate, all you need is the 'Upgrade Edition of Win. 7(Home or Professional type will not quite matter in much differences)'.

All you need to do after all the installation of this important upgrade, is to do a 'Clean Disk' to delete all of the remaining junk files and thumbnails of web surfing. Do an immediate 'Defrag Disk' of your Hard Disk Drive(HDD). These 2 windows functions-features can be found in the 'System Tools' Folder within the 'Accessories' main folder of your 'Start' menu pop-up window. Find the 'Windows Update' feature of that same 'Start' menu window and, skip all other updates and upgrades of featured programs of windows and install the Service Pack 1 very large update-upgrade of Windows 7-all Editions. Do a thorough 'Clean Disk' and a thorough 'Defrag Disk' again.

Once all of that is done and, before starting to roam all other web-sites of the world wide web other than the Microsoft main support web site, install a well known and fully trusted Anti-Virus program. Most of the time, an Internet Security Suite is, the best choice as an annual investment toward a fully protect machine(Laptop). These I.S.S.'s have a very useful 'System wide Tune-Up' featured program into its wide selection of a suite of programs.

After all that is fully done, that should, sum up everything. Before you have to restore your previous and, still needed program apps. of before the upgrade was done to your machine(Laptop).

Happy upgrading! Before Windows 8 shows up next year(2012)! Wink

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Things to remember
> Check first for the compatibility of the laptop. (Check it on the manufacturer website)
> Check and download the drivers (Video, Audio, Lan, wLan, webcam, and etc.) for windows 7
> Do a clean install (clear the Hard Disk)
> After installing Windows 7 make sure to use Error-Checking and Disk Defragmenter

I want to share my experience after i upgraded an ACER Windows Vista desktop (Aspire M1610) to Windows 7. After the installation, i got a big trouble on my newly updated Windows 7 (hanging to be exact) and I do not know which one cause the problem. After a while i just disabled my aero and go to Windows 7 Basic theme then problem solved!.

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upgrad laptop or any computer to win 7
by XV1100b / September 30, 2011 1:54 PM PDT
Firstley go to the microsoft site and get windows7 upgrade advisour run it on the computer you wish to upgrade it will give you all sorts of information on the drivers you may require and other items that may or may not work.\i have upgrded computers and laptops about 20 in totalan i always run the upgrade advisor and print the document first and fllow the instructions.
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Installing windows 7

I updated my wife's Toshiba laptop last fall.
No sweat. But, in order to have all the required drivers, i bought a software: "Driver Navigator" for $ 32.
When Windows was installed, I ran Driver Navigator and installed the necessary drivers. To be on the safe side, you should have at least 100 MB on drive C.\ to do it.
You should save before the upgrade: Your Documents, Internet Explorer Favorites, Microsoft Outlook "save" and your Passwords. You will find Windows 7 a lot easier than Vista, especialy if you share documents between PC's.
Have fun.

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These people are so helpful...
by l8rb / September 30, 2011 2:56 PM PDT

And, for the most part give information that is extremely accurate!

However, they tend to 'speedread' the question sometimes and don't always register the nuances of the question...such as your admittance of "NOT being very computer literate", as well as the functionality requirements.

Personally, I feel if you have the time and inclination to learn how to work on something that is (to the layperson) a 'magic machine', more power to you. If you don't tho, the cost of a local repair shop is imminently cheaper than the time spent without your beloved laptop, OR the cost to replace it!

To the initiated, this is a simple operation, but as you can see from the responses, there are several considerations and parameters to take into account BEFORE deciding or attempting the upgrade you would like. There are times you delegate the work, and from your description, I would suggest this is one of them...especially to join the party of Win7 and see how much easier it will be to run over Vista!

Be sure afterwards to check the Microsoft training site to see what more you can do with Win7!

Good Luck!

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by richteral / October 3, 2011 4:59 PM PDT

Unless there is a reason (big one) to drop Vista, there would be little point in the exercise. It could easily be counterproductive.

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If it ain't broken don't mend it. ---- Are you serious?
by ajtrek / October 3, 2011 11:39 PM PDT

Out of 29 responses (which by the way puts your opinion @ .0344 percent) you are without a question in the minority. Do you have a 3.5 inch floppy drive on your computer or more to the point are you still using it? O.K. Maybe I'm coming on a bit strong. If you like Vista....that's well and good. However, to suggest that there needs to be some BIG reason to upgrade to Win7 ( other than the fact that by most accounts Win7 is a better OS than Vista) you are waaay off in that line of thinking. But here again that's my humble opinion. Good luck and happy computing with the Windows OS of your choice.

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About arguments
by richteral / October 4, 2011 4:47 AM PDT

If you can get your percentages so wrong, would it not be good to stop a little while and think things through?
Haste is not a good adviser.

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About arguments - 2
by ajtrek / October 4, 2011 7:24 AM PDT
In reply to: About arguments

If that's your justfication....then have at it. By the way 29 x .0344 = .9976 rounded up that's 1. I guess the word "percent" may have been misleading. Enjoy Vista Happy

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I dont need no justification
by richteral / October 4, 2011 10:30 PM PDT
In reply to: About arguments - 2

You do. Misleading? No, plain wrong. Speedreading (which is what it started with) is as bad as speedwriting. Think before you leap, to rephrase my advice. And thanks for your good wishes, although in fact I do not enjoy Vista. It works most of the time. I just use it, as I would any other OS. It is not about sentiments or "opinions". It is about practicalities, which is what you seem to overlook.

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Final Comment
by ajtrek / October 5, 2011 3:58 AM PDT

Everyone who has responded to the question has given a suggestion on how to make the transition from Vista to Win 7. That's everyone except you. No one has said don't do it except you. So by rule of majority there must be some merit in making the switch from Vista to Win 7. The downsides have been discussed and even with that knowledge no one has said don't do it. So l'll ask you....what in your opinion would be a BIG reason to switch? If manufacturers and developers took the approach...if ain't broken don't mend it' ( and by the way I do understand the meaning of the phrase) progress and improvement would be at a snails pace. If we as consumers are afraid to try new products and technologies because we haven't experienced some type of life changing failure in the ones we are currently using then our own personal development and cumulative knowledge is stymied. Humankind or rather the Geek in us has always pushed the envelope to advance and explore new technologies. Granted not always with the best results but we don't always sit back and wait for a BIG reason to make a change. Technology of the type we are discussing here doesn't fall into the same category as a toaster (i.e. If ain't broke don't mend it or buy a new one). You can reply to this if you like but I won't be submitting a rebuttal. Have a great day:)

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