The table below describes which editions of Windows Vista can be upgraded to Windows 7. The Upgrade option works with either an upgrade copy or the full product copy of Windows 7. This is described on the front of the Windows 7 retail box or on an online sales receipt.
If you can't use the Upgrade option to upgrade to the edition of Windows 7 that you want to use, you can still use the Custom option, but the Custom option doesn't preserve your files, programs, or settings.
If you're running:
Upgrade toWindows 7Home Premium
Upgrade toWindows 7Professional
Upgrade toWindows 7Ultimate
Windows Vista Home Basic
Windows Vista Home Premium
Windows Vista Business
Windows Vista Ultimate
Some versions of Windows can't be upgraded with the installation disc you're trying to use. For example, you can't upgrade a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version, or upgrade from a higher edition of Windows, such as Windows Vista Ultimate, to a lower edition, such as Windows 7 Home Premium. If this is the case, you'll need to use the Custom option during installation.
However, unlike Upgrade, the Custom option does not preserve your files, settings, or programs. You'll need to back up your files and settings before installing Windows 7, restore them after installation is complete—and you'll also need to reinstall your programs using the original installation discs or files. For a step-by-step tutorial on how to perform a custom installation, see Upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 (custom installation).
To upgrade an earlier operating system than Windows XP (for example, Windows 95 or Windows 2000), you'll need to purchase a full version of Windows 7 and perform a custom installation.
In the European Union (including Croatia and Switzerland) and Korea, Microsoft will release Windows 7 editions that don't include certain features such as Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center. Upgrading to these editions requires a custom installation.
Upgrading Windows Vista in one language to Windows 7 in a different language requires a custom installation.
If you're running a 32-bit version of Windows Vista, you can only upgrade to a 32-bit version of Windows 7. Similarly, if you are running a 64-bit version of Windows Vista, you can only upgrade to a 64-bit version of Windows 7. Otherwise, you'll need to use the Custom option to install Windows 7.
Both 32-bit and 64-bit installation discs are included in the Windows 7 package. 64-bit operating systems can handle large amounts of memory—typically 4 gigabytes (GB) of random access memory (RAM) or more—more efficiently than 32-bit operating systems. However, not all computers are 64-bit capable. For more information, see 32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions.
To find out which Windows 7 installation disc you can use, do the following:
Open Performance Information and Tools by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Performance Information and Tools.
Click View and print details.
Under System, you can see what type of operating system you're currently running next to System type, and, next to 64-bit capable, whether you can run a 64-bit version of Windows.
If your computer is already running a 64-bit version of Windows, you won't see the 64-bit capable listing.
Next: Install Windows 7 using the Upgrade option.
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
Getting started with Windows 7
Know what works: Windows 7 Compatibility Center