Upgrade Windows

How to upgrade Windows Vista to Windows 7 Home Premium

In the case you still stuck with Windows Vista, you probably want to upgrade to Windows 7 already, and one simple option is the in-place upgrade. Technically this option should be simpler, you shouldn’t have to worry about backing up anything, and you should be able to keep all of your programs — that is of course, if they are compatible the new operating system –. However, you can sometimes run in to some unexpected issues, so be sure you backup your whole computer anyways or a least your most important files.

Note: For the purpose of the article we are using Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit (x86) and we are going to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit (x86).

Before beginning:

  • Before starting the process, make sure that installed programs and devices will work Windows 7 or at the bare minimum, check the programs you use often. How do you do this? You can do this in two ways: 1st — You check the software against the Windows 7 Compatibility list, or 2nd — visit the software maker’s website and look for the version of the software you have installed and see if it is compatible with the new OS.
  • Make sure your computer has installed the Service Pack 1 or Service Pack for Vista. If you are not sure you can visit the Microsoft page for more information.
  • Keep your system online to get the latest updates during the upgrade — you’ll still be able to proceed with the installation without an Internet connection.
  • Have the 25-character Windows Product key in hand. This can be found in the disc box or in the email purchase confirmation.
  • Write down any passwords and user names before continuing.
  • All you need to know and consider before doing an upgrade can be found at this three-part series article on what to do before installing Windows 7 (System requirements, how to backup your whole computer and personal files, what version of Windows to install, and much more).

Upgrade path from Windows Vista to Windows 7

Currently OS  Upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade to Windows 7 Professional Upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate
Windows Vista Home Basic  x   x
Windows Vista Home Premium  x   x
Windows Vista Business    x
Windows Vista Ultimate     x

Steps to upgrade Windows Vista to Windows 7

Once you’ve check for compatibility, system requirements and your data is safe and secure, it is time to proceed with the installation process — One more thing, make sure that your system has at least 16GB of free space.

Also update your antivirus software, run it making sure your PC is free of malicious programs, then disable it and continue with the steps:

1. After Windows Vista is completely started, do one of the following: Insert the OS installation media or double-click the downloaded file to run the setup.

Windows 7 Setup

2. From the Install Windows page, click Check compatibility online , then download, install and launch the Windows 7 upgrade Advisor to verify that your PC meets all the requirements and check possible issues.

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

3. A report will get generated with the number of issues found and you may need to fix. The report is created to install both 32-bit and 64-bit version of the operating system. If an issue is found check the details to know how to resolve it and run the Advisor again until no issue is found by clicking the Start again button.

Upgrade Advisor results

4. When your system is out issues go ahead, and click Install now in the setup page.

5. Get important updates for installation is optional, but it is recommended to get the latest updates to have more chances of a successful upgrade — Just remember that the PC will need to stay connected to the Internet throughout the process.

Update Windows 7 setup

6. If you have an installation media will all the OSs listed, select the one you have the license for — if you select any other, you later won’t be able to active –, click Next. In the following page accept the license, and then click Next.

Choose Windows 7 version

7. In the “Which type of installation do you want?” page, click Upgrade to continue.

Windows 7 Upgrade page

8. Then the setup will take over and the upgrade will start by copying files, saving files, settings, and programs, then the new Windows files will be installed together with new updates. Finally files, settings, and programs will get transferred back.

Upgrading to Windows 7

9. After some time and several reboots, you’ll be asked to enter the 25-character Windows product key, then click Next.

Windows product key

10. Select how you want to do the Windows Update.

Windows 7 - Set up Windows Update

11. Then select your time zone.

Windows 7 - Date and Time

12. Select your network location settings. Choose Home Network or Work Network if you are using the computer in one of these places, or click Public Network if your computer is directly connected to the cable or DSL modem with no router or gateway in between, or if you are connected to the internet using a dial-up modem. 

Windows 7 - Set network location

13. The desktop will load and you can start using your computer with all your old settings, programs, and personal files untouched. Some features have changed from vista to 7, so depending on how you have configured your previous installation, you may have to make some additional configurations and tweaks.

Windows 7 default desktop

One of the things you’ll notice is that there is no more Photo Gallery, Messenger, Windows Mail and other features. Make sure that if you were using one of those applications you download Windows Live Essentials, and also don’t forget to install an antivirus like Microsoft Security Essentials or Kaspersky.

Lastly, run Windows Update to make sure that you have everything current and check for any outdated device drive.

The in-place upgrade isn’t so difficult, it just takes a little bit of time getting ready. The amount of time that is going to take to finish the installation will always vary depending on system configuration, amount of data and size of the hard drive, and Internet connection speed. With a dual-core system with about 2GB of RAM, it should take less than an hour.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me. Email him at [email protected].