Share via

Windows 7 Upgrade and Migration Guide

Applies To: Windows 7


If you are running a prerelease installation of Windows® 7 such as the Beta or Release Candidate versions, you cannot use the Upgrade option during Windows 7 installation. Instead, you can migrate files and settings to a new installation of Windows 7 or restore the Windows Vista® backup you created before upgrading. For more information, see this Microsoft Web site.

This document provides links and information for upgrading or migrating user content when deploying a new installation of Windows 7. Upgrade means you can install Windows 7 by inserting the Windows 7 DVD and following the instructions on your screen. When you use the Upgrade option, your files and applications are maintained on the computer and do not need to be reinstalled. The Upgrade option is available in Windows 7 Setup for some computers running Windows Vista®, but it is not available for Windows XP.

You must migrate user content that you want to maintain when installing Windows 7 onto any computer running Windows XP. Migrate means that you save files and settings in a safe location, such as on a USB drive or a network share, prior to installing Windows 7 on your computer. When the installation is complete, you can move the files and settings from the safe location to the computer running Windows 7.

For more information about upgrade availability, see this Microsoft Web site.


Before installing any operating system, check that your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements for the version of the operating system you want to install. You should also back up your data files, or save them to a safe location, before upgrading. For more information about hardware requirements, see this Microsoft Web site.

Large Deployments

For large deployments of Windows 7 where it may be impractical to upgrade individual computers, you can use Windows® User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 to automate the migration. USMT uses configurable migration rule (.xml) files to control exactly which user accounts, user files, operating-system settings, and application settings are migrated and how they are migrated. You can use USMT for both side-by-side migrations, where one piece of hardware is being replaced, or wipe-and-load (or refresh) migrations, when only the operating system is being upgraded.

For more information about the User State Migration Tool, see this Microsoft Web site or the Step-by-Step: Basic Windows Migration using USMT for IT Professionals.

For more information about some of the upgrade and migration issues that should be considered when performing a large deployment, see this Microsoft Web site.

For information about using USMT with Windows Deployment Services, see this Migrating Files During a Remote Installation with USMT and Windows Deployment Services.

Small Deployments

For single or small deployments of the Windows 7 operating system, you may be able to use either the upgrade feature in Windows Setup or Windows Easy Transfer rather than USMT to migrate or maintain user settings and files.

You can install Windows 7 as an upgrade to an existing installation of Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 or Service Pack 2 using the Upgrade option during installation. To maintain settings when installing Windows 7 on a computer running Windows XP, you must migrate files and settings using a tool such as Windows 7 Easy Transfer and then reinstall your software programs. Windows Easy Transfer (Migwiz.exe) is installed with Windows 7 and is available on the Windows 7 DVD in the Support\Migwiz directory. When running Windows Easy Transfer from the DVD, double click MigSetup.exe to run the application. Additionally, if you are installing Windows 7 on a new computer, you can transfer settings and files from any other computer running Windows Vista or Windows XP by using Windows Easy Transfer.

Select one of the following scenarios to upgrade or migrate files and settings to Windows 7:

  1. Upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7. This scenario provides steps to upgrade a computer that is currently running Windows Vista to Windows 7.

  2. Migrate files and settings to a new computer. This scenario provides steps to migrate files and settings from a computer running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 to a new computer running Windows 7.

  3. Migrate files from Windows XP to Windows 7. This scenario provides steps to migrate files and settings on a computer that is running Windows XP to a new installation of Windows 7.

See Also


Step-by-Step: Basic Windows Migration using USMT for IT Professionals

Other Resources

USMT User’s Guide