Ed Bott takes a look at the improved Windows Anytime Upgrade feature in Windows 7, first introduced in Vista. The Windows Team have done an excellent job with the user experience as Ed notes. I attempted it once under Vista when I tried to do Anytime Upgrade from Vista Home Basic to Business on my sister in laws notebook, but discovered this was not supported. I got an opportunity to take it for a spin under Windows 7 to see if all Ed said was really true and I must say I am very impressed and I know you will be too if the need arises.
In practice, the Vista version of Anytime Upgrade was a spectacular failure. The upgrade process itself was a cumbersome kludge that required physical media and a full Windows reinstall (a process that can take hours), the price tag was way too high, and there was no perceived benefit in it.
You can check out Ed’s experience here
The amazing thing about Anytime Upgrade is how quick and simple the process is, Microsoft estimates at least 10 minutes in comparison to Vista’s 30 minute or more process. Based on my trial, it was at least 7 minutes, some persons have even reported at least 5 mins for Anytime Upgrade from Windows 7 Home Premium to Ultimate.
If you are running supported SKU’s such as Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium or even Professional, you will have the option of upgrading to a higher SKU. Microsoft has made each of the SKU’s a subset of features, so a user can do an Anytime Upgrade from Windows 7 Home Premium to Professional, unlike Vista which only allowed Anytime Upgrades from certain SKU’s:
Vista Home Basic – Home Premium or Ultimate
Vista Business – Ultimate
All that has changed, if you want to move from Home Premium to Professional, you will have that option. No need to reinstall your applications or backup your personal data.
Just like Windows Vista, you can launch the Anytime Upgrade wizard from the Start menu > All Programs group or from within the Control Panel. The wizard provides two methods to unlocking a higher SKU, you can go online, purchase a license or if you already have a key, just enter it. This is major positive for customers who might not have a credit card or Internet Access.
Enter your product key
Verifying product key
Accept License Agreement
During the Anytime Upgrade Process, your computer will be restarted.
10 minutes? Try 7!
And there you have it, a smooth upgrade, no issues.
Microsoft has made this such a convenient procedure, no need for physical media, no need to go online, just enter your key and forget about it. What’s most impressive is how quick the process is. Other standing issues left to be resolved about Anytime Upgrade for Windows 7 Ed mentioned is pricing. I agree it needs to be a sensitive issue that must be handled carefully, especially for a customer who has already invested in the operating system and is just looking for some additional key functionality that is not currently available in their current SKU. If you spent $200 for Windows 7 Home Basic, are you willing to spend another $200 just to get Domain Join and Encryption in Professional resulting in over $400 spent on Windows 7 alone? What about Windows 7 Enterprise? For persons who might have acquired a notebook with a retail SKU and would like to take advantage of the home use rights or a University program but have a lot of data stored on their systems. Will they be allowed to do an Anytime Upgrade from Starter, Home Basic and Premium to Enterprise without backing up and wiping first? I guess we will learn more as Windows 7 approaches RTM.