Upgrading Windows Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 7 is the next generation of operating system due from Microsoft and it is still working on a planned release for early 2010 which would be three years after the release of Windows Vista.

This article is a complete walk through on the steps taken to upgrade your Windows Vista Ultimate installation to Windows 7 Ultimate edition.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – It is important to note that Windows 7 is only in beta release at the present time. The version of Windows 7 that I am using for this walk through is Windows 7 Ultimate edition, build 6.1.7000.

Because the content is still under development and in beta release it is a preliminary tutorial and is subject to change upon the final release of this new version of Windows.

One of the first aspects to consider when doing an in-place upgrade is to make sure you back up any data on the system that you must preserve. While 99.99% of the time an in-place upgrade of supported hardware and pre-installed software will allow the operating system upgrade to go smoothly there is no point in risking critical data by skipping a step.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – How to back up a PC is a very good write up that can be found on the Microsoft website that breaks down backing up PCs running Windows Vista as well as Windows XP.

Other important things to remember when contemplating an in-place upgrade:

  • You need to be running Windows Vista with Service Pack 1. According to the information on the Microsoft Website I referenced, if you don’t have Service Pack 1 installed you will not be able to perform the in upgrade to Windows 7.
  • In-place upgrades are the preferred installations when you want to preserve your settings and other data, currently installed programs, etc.
  • In-place upgrades will work when you’re upgrading from “like” installations such as from a 32-bit version of Windows Vista to a 32-bit version of Windows 7, or from 64-bit version to 64-bit version.
  • In-place upgrades need to be from the same Windows language. You can perform an in-place upgrade from Windows Vista (English) to Windows 7 (English); if you were running a localized version of Windows Vista for another language and attempted to install Windows 7 (English) the installation routine would fail.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – In most cases, when an in-place upgrade is halted because one of the conditions above is not met, the installation routine will generally offer you the ability to do a custom installation which could be a clean install or if the disk space is available on another volume, a dual / multi-boot configuration.

The Windows Vista upgrade options from prior installations of Windows XP and Windows 2000 are shown on the Microsoft website on the Get Windows Vista: Upgrade options page which shows you which installations allow an in-place upgrade and on which ones you’ll need to perform a clean install.

At the time I was writing this article I was unable to find formal upgrade paths from Windows Vista to Windows 7 anywhere on the Microsoft website. I come to expect that as Windows 7 is in beta release and all of the final coding hasn’t been formalized as of yet.

Informally we already know from my Upgrading Windows XP Professional SP3 to Windows 7 Ultimate (beta build 7000) article that presently you can only perform an actual in-place upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7.

I am speculating at this point but I presume that the upgrade paths from Windows Vista to Windows 7 would mirror those as outlined at Get Windows Vista: Upgrade options page where Windows XP takes the place of Windows 2000 and Windows Vista takes the place of Windows XP in the table (as applicable).

Setting the Stage

Once you have verified that your operating system can handle the in-place upgrade you can boot into that operating system and get started.

For this walk through we are going to upgrade our Windows Vista Ultimate Edition service pack 1 virtual machine to Windows 7 Ultimate beta build 7000.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – The system in use has been configured with a user account that does not have a password set for it. Because of this, some of the steps in the walk through will not require a log on for that reason when it otherwise should.

Once the guest OS is up and running we would insert the Windows 7 DVD to start the installation

Depending on how the autorun parameters are set up on your system you may see the AutoPlay dialog box come up or the installation routine may just begin.

Additionally, depending on how your User Account Control (UAC) settings are configured for the system, you may be presented with a prompt to allow setup.exe to run.

In that situation you would select the ALLOW action which would kick off the installation routine as shown below.


You would choose “Install now” to continue which allows setup to begin copying the needed temporary files to the system. During this process what is displayed on the screen will change a couple of times.

Once the file copy is completed you’ll be prompted as to whether or not you’d like to go online to get any needed updates that would be required for the installation.


[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – While this is an optional activity it is highly recommended.

For obvious reasons, an active internet connection will be needed throughout certain parts of the upgrade installation in order for it to be successful.

For our walk through we will choose the option to get the updates.

Once the option to get the updates is selected, setup searches for any applicable installation updates and then downloads them for use during the remainder of the installation routine.

The next page of setup is the license terms page where you would agree to the terms of the software as outlined by choosing the “I accept the license terms” check box and select NEXT.


[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – You must agree to the license terms, otherwise the setup routine is forced to abort.

To Upgrade or to not upgrade

The next screen asks you which type of installation that you want. You have the option here to choose Upgrade which would perform an in-place upgrade of the operating system or a Custom (advanced) installation which would allow you to choose other options with respect to the installation.

For the most part, choosing anything other than Upgrade is going to force the installation routine to install Windows cleanly to another volume in which case you would need to reinstall all of your applications and settings.

For the purposes of this walk through we are going to choose the Upgrade option.

Once you choose which type of installation that you want the compatibility report that ran on the system earlier will be displayed as shown below (it will also be available on the desktop to review after the upgrade completes).

You can review the information and choose next to continue forward.


The next part of the process occurs without a lot of intervention.

The Upgrading Windows screen appears which shows you the active part of the process in bold from a list of steps that are in progress. You’ll notice there and in the Gathering files, settings and programs sections that there is some addition detail about where you are in the process shown near the bottom of the activity window (in the case of the second image below that would be Gather systems files and settings (3522 of 11548 gathered)).



The next segment of the installation is where setup expands the installation files and setup continues.

Part of the way through this part of the process the setup routine will reboot the computer.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – When the system restarts you want to make sure you are not doing anything with the keyboard if your system is set to check the DVD drive for a boot device; otherwise you’ll hit a key and then begin booting from the DVD which starts the setup process all over from the beginning.

If you should accidentally do this you can fix it by power cycling the system and letting the routine restart from where it left off which it will do if you do not hit the keys on the keyboard on the next cycle.

After the first reboot

Once this reboot cycle gets past the “Press any key” screen you’ll notice the first Windows 7 splash screens. The first will be black and show the “Windows Flag Logo” and the screen will indicate “Starting Windows”

The very next screen to appear would be a Upgrading Windows splash screen as the installation routine goes back to where it left off, expanding additional files, rebooting the system again (at least one additional time); it will also install additional features and an updates that had been downloaded as parts of earlier processes.

After this step an additional reboot occurs and the setup routine completes the in-place upgrade by migrating saved files settings and programs and reboots the system one final time.


On the last restart the setup routine gets your system ready for first use and brings you in to the product key screen where you would enter in you 25 character key.

You can clear the check box if you do not want to automatically activate Windows the next time you are online but if you take this action you will be prompted over the next 30 days to do so.

For the purposes of this walkthrough we are going to enter a key and leave that check box set.

After the key is entered the next stage is to allow you to set up how the system should be set to use Windows Update and how to perform other default actions and behavior for your system. These are options as to whether to defer any configuration at the time or to make the decision to install important updates only (which are just the security updates and other important ones for the Windows operating system as designated on the Windows Update site).

What is generally recommended is to select the Use recommend settings option which will configure the system to leverage Windows Update to automatically download and install updates as well as to configure the default browsing behavior of the system to be more controlled and secured so as to allow for a safe browsing experience. Additionally this option automatically has the operating system check online for solutions to encountered problems.

For the purposes of this walkthrough we are going to use the recommended settings option.


The next screen you’ll arrive at is the Review your time and date settings page where you would check to make sure the system’s time and time zone are correct. You would press NEXT to continue past this point.

After you make any needed changes to the time or the time zone you’ll have to choose how your network behaves by default by choosing from one of the three network settings as presented on the Select your computer’s current location page.

For our walkthrough we are going to choose Home network.


[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – If you choose Home you may see the configuration being made and part of this configuration setup prepares your system to participate in a HomeGroup.

Once the network location has been set the option to join the HomeGroup will be present; you do not need to do this if you do not wish to configure the network for this type of use or to join an existing HomeGroup and the option to choose SKIP is presented.

From there the finalizing steps are completed and the desktop is shown.




The system is completely upgraded to Windows 7 and all of your configuration settings and applications are ready to be used.

This concludes my walk through tutorial of Upgrading Windows Vista to Windows 7 Ultimate (beta build 7000). I hope you found it informative.

I am looking forward to any feedback you have on the article and I would also welcome any suggestions for topics of interest that you would like to see covered. Based on demand and column space I’ll do what I can to deliver them to you.

Best of luck in your studies.