Microsoft Details Vista Upgrade Paths

With Windows Vista nearing its first release candidate in preparation for a final launch early next year, Microsoft is providing more details about possible upgrade paths. Of note: Windows 2000 cannot be upgraded to Vista.

While Windows 2000 Professional customers may purchase a cheaper "upgrade" copy of Microsoft next-generation operating system, Windows Vista must be "clean installed," which means users will need to back up their files and data manually and then copy everything into place. Applications will also need to be re-installed.

A standard in-place upgrade will "retain your applications, files, and settings as they were in your previous edition of Windows," according to Microsoft.

The x64 version of Windows XP will also have the same requirement. Although the final release of Vista will include both 32-bit and 64-bit iterations of the OS, Microsoft has not designed an upgrade path for the current x64 release.

Windows XP Professional, meanwhile, can be upgraded only to the Business and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista. This is due to features built into XP Pro not being added to the Home Basic and Home Premium SKUs of Vista.

"If the edition of Windows Vista that you choose to install will result in a loss of functionality over your current edition of Windows, a clean install must be done or the installation must be completed to a new partition on your PC," Microsoft says.

All versions of Windows Vista can be installed atop Windows XP Home, while Windows XP Media Center Edition can be upgraded to either Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate. The Tablet PC Edition of Windows XP is upgradable to Vista Business and Vista Ultimate.

Microsoft is providing a beta of its Upgrade Advisor tool that will evaluate whether a PC is ready to run Windows Vista. The application scans the computer and creates a report of all known system and device compatibility issues, along with suggestions for resolution.

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