There’s a lot of information available about Windows 7 and it’s capabilities. One nice compilation is in Amazon’s Windows 7 resource pages.
Not only can you learn about Windows 7, you can preorder it, too. Microsoft is selling pre-orders directly, but also selling via Amazon. Since I often order from Amazon, it is my preferred source.
Since many users, including me, have stayed with Windows XP, one of the most common questions is " Will XP users be able to upgrade to Windows 7?"
The other basic question is "Will my hardware work with Windows 7?" Microsoft has a Windows 7 computer evaluation tool available for download. At this point, it’s still a beta version. I expect them to release the final version some time before the October release date of Windows 7.
The basic answer is that XP users will qualify for the upgrade pricing (well, anyone can buy it — the question is whether the program will accept the earlier OS as qualifying, and actually install).
The upgrade DVD’s will be capable of doing fresh installs.
If Microsoft makes the upgrade CD perform a fresh install as they have done in the past, you boot the installation DVD, get part way into the installation (as in, having deleted your old partition and started writing the new OS into its new partition) when Windows checks to make sure you already have the OS to qualify for the upgrade.
If you’re upgrading in place, it sees the OS and proceeds. If it doesn’t see the OS, it asks you to insert the OS CD/DVD so it can validate the install (I think it actually gets some files from the OS disk and puts them in the installation).
Vista users will be able to do the classic "upgrade in place," retaining their programs, data, etc. Don’t count on that retaining your Windows settings — just the settings in your non-Windows programs.
XP users will only be able to do the fresh install from the upgrade disk. Vista users will be able to do a fresh install.
The problem with the fresh install comes with the particular individual computers on which you try to do the fresh install, or more accurately, whether you have an Windows OS DVD or a Recovery DVD. The two are not the same – and the upgrade process requires the Windows OS DVD if you’re doing a fresh install.
That’s a big ouch for people who bought a computer that came with a “Restore DVD” or “Restore Partition” but not come with an actual Windows Vista or Windows XP Operating System CD. Those folks are going to be stuck with “upgrade in place.” If they’ve started a fresh install, hopefully they did a backup first, because they’ll need it.
That’s one of the reasons that I like buying Dell’s computers. Dell pays more (so we do, too) to provide us with an actual Windows OS disk. Local computer shops should also provide Windows OS disks with your computer purchases.
Oh, by the way, the news of today is that, because MS is making IE removable in Europe because of the anti-trust actions taken by the EU, there will be NO upgrade option in the European Union. MS will sell the full OS at the upgrade price for a while. Anyone wanting to go from XP or Vista to Windows 7, if they have the Windows 7E European edition) will have to do a full install.