Pretty tempting, eh? For the next ten days or so, you can pre-order Windows 7 Home Premium upgrades for fifty bucks, or Windows 7 Professional for a hundred bucks. It’s a really truly cheap sale, a limited offer from Microsoft scheduled to end July 11, and only continuing “while supplies last.” No one knows how many units are being sold by Amazon and a host of other retailers but a report came in from Japan tonight that the discounted upgrades were sold out in that country in less than two days.

The sale prices are about half of what Windows 7 will cost when it’s released in October. The final prices for Windows 7 will be about 10-15% less than they’ve been for Vista.

Should you buy some upgrade copies of Windows 7? Slow down. Which group do you fit into?

TECHNICALLY PROFICIENT – you can save your data, reformat your hard drive, and install Windows 7 from scratch without breaking a sweat. Maybe you’ll throw a new hard drive into your computer so you don’t have to worry about backing up your data, you can just copy it later. You’ve got a computer or two running Vista that are ready to be wiped and reloaded. Order the upgrades! Click on that banner and get the cheap price while it’s available.

TECHNICALLY PROFICIENT WITH OLD HARDWARE – you know your way around a reformat, but the only computer nearby is a 5-year old clunker running Windows XP. Don’t wipe it and install Windows 7 – the hardware requirements are too hefty for old XP systems. Yeah, it might run, but really, why bother? It will still be an old computer with cruddy video.

UPGRADING FROM WINDOWS XP – you’re a regular person with a Windows XP computer. Plan to buy a new computer with Windows 7. You will not be upgrading your Windows XP computer. There is no way to directly upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. The Windows 7 disc will refuse to upgrade Windows XP, and for the same reason as above, it’s a losing battle to do a clean install of Windows 7 on an old computer.

UPGRADING FROM VISTA – you’re a regular person with a Vista computer. Theoretically you can buy the Win7 upgrade, insert the disc, and be up and running with Windows 7 a few minutes later. It might even work that way. Windows 7 is a relatively modest change from Vista, more like an ambitious service pack than a brand new operating system.

But I’m not going to let people pay me to do upgrades, and I’m going to gently discourage you from doing it yourself unless you’re willing to deal with glitches. Over and over we’ve learned that clean installs work better than upgrades of an operating system.

Some of you should click on that banner and order some copies of Windows 7 in the next few days. It’s a really good price. Two reassuring details about the upgrade sale:

Most of you, though, should look forward to Windows 7 on your next computer. Talk to me in October!

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