Walt Mossberg

Recent Columns by Walt Mossberg

Mossberg’s Mailbox

Upgrading to Windows 7

In your review of Windows 7, you noted that it no longer contained common programs like email, a photo organizer and so forth. However, if you upgrade directly from Vista, and you have been using Microsoft’s built-in programs like these, will the Windows 7 installer actually remove them?

A: Yes. Microsoft says that it doesn’t consider the eliminated applications—like Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery or Windows Movie Maker—to have been programs at all, but merely built-in features of Vista. Since they don’t exist in Windows 7, they will be expunged in a straight upgrade from Vista, even though competing programs from third parties will be preserved.

Once Windows 7 is installed, Microsoft suggests that users of these built-in Vista programs download and install new, free, versions, via a package it calls Windows Live Essentials.

The company says your personal files, such as your photos and email and contacts, won’t be erased during the upgrade process, and can be imported into the new Windows Live programs after the upgrade. As an example, Microsoft says users of Windows Live Mail program (a part of Windows Live Essentials) will find an option under the program’s Import command for importing emails from the older Windows Mail program that was in Vista. It says those emails will still be on your hard disk, even though the old email program itself isn’t.

To save some of the aggravation you describe when migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, can you upgrade from XP to Vista first and then from Vista to Windows 7, preserving your programs and your files?

A: Yes, though that could cost you the purchase of two new operating systems, plus the time and risks of various glitches that can occur in any such major process. Also, you must be sure that the version of Vista you are using as an interim step is the exact comparable version of Windows 7 you are aiming to end up with—say, Home Premium to Home Premium—unless you are planning to wind up with Windows 7 Ultimate, which can be the target of an in-place upgrade from Vista Home Basic, Home Premium or Business.

You must also ensure that both are either 32-bit or 64-bit editions (you can’t do in-place upgrades from one of these types to the other.)

In your review of Windows 7, you said you installed it on a Mac. Can you explain further how you did that?

A: I used a forthcoming new version of VMWare Fusion, which is one of the two popular programs for creating a virtual Windows computer on Macs.

This new version, Fusion 3, is due out on Oct. 27. Its competitor, Parallels, says that it will also officially support running Windows 7 in a virtual Windows computer on a Mac after Windows 7 comes out on Oct. 22.

I didn’t test Windows 7 using the other method for running Windows on a Mac, Apple’s free Boot Camp feature. This turns the entire Mac over to Windows, and doesn’t involve creating a virtual Windows computer—the Mac becomes a Windows computer.

For this to happen, though, Apple will have to issue drivers for its hardware that will work with Windows 7, or at least to be sure that its current Windows drivers are compatible.

The company says that it plans to do so after Windows 7 is released.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online free at the All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

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