Upgrading From Windows Vista
If you’re upgrading your system from Windows Vista, you should have a smooth ride. There’s one caveat: if you’re running Windows Vista Home Basic, there’s no upgrade path for you. You’ll need to install the full Windows 7 product. If you’re upgrading from Windows Vista Home Premium, the upgrade to Windows Vista should be relatively easy. Your computer is already very likely to be capable of running Windows 7, and unless you have some very old or very dodgy devices, you should be in luck when it comes to drivers.
If you’re upgrading to Windows 7 from an older version of Windows (like XP), there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Windows 7 contains a virtual environment in which you can run Windows XP. This will work for you if you have an older, irreplaceable piece of hardware or software that must run on XP. When you need to operate it, simply fire up XP virtually and run like the wind. Your XP drivers will work from the XP virtual environment. That won’t be the case if you attempt to run devices using XP drivers from the Windows 7 environment, though.
You’ll also need to verify that your older hardware is in good enough shape to run Windows 7. Microsoft offers a compatibility checking tool that will give your hardware setup the once-over to see if you need to make any hardware modifications before installing Windows 7. Older devices, smaller hard disks and minimum memory requirements are most likely to trip up old hardware.
If your hardware is seriously old… as in Jurassic or Pre-Colombian… you might want to consider just purchasing a low-cost desktop system that comes with Windows 7 already installed. Really old hardware is unlikely to meet the requirements of Windows 7. Even if you can get it to load and run, it’s performance will suffer tremendously and you’re not likely to reap the benefits of upgrading your system.