I just read this blog entry from Walt Mossberg on AllThingsD. Here’s the scoop — if you’re running the version of Vista most closely resembling the version of Windows 7 you’re installing to, or if you’re installing Windows 7 Ultimate, but it has the same “bitness” as your Vista install, then Windows 7 will install over your existing Windows install, i.e. you won’t need to (a) backup all your documents before you can start installation, and (b) reinstall every single freaking program on your machine. Those are the green boxes.
Now, most of the folks who’ve been playing with Windows 7 and lauding its wonderfulness have probably been power users doing clean installs on machines they don’t care about. And, obviously, a lot of new Windows 7 users will be people getting free upgrades to the (appropriate) new version or buyers of new PCs — they get the green box. However, given the remarkable lack of advancement in PC hardware (or Mac hardware for that matter) over the last several years, and the recession, and the “it runs lean and mean on older hardware” hype, and the huge backlog of XP boxes, I’m guessing a lot of new Windows 7 users will be people upgrading via the blue box.
A lot of people are going to be very ticked off.
It really doesn’t matter how great Windows 7 turns out to be once it’s installed. It’s an OS, how great can it be? First impressions last, and a lot of people’s first impressions of Windows 7 will be of being forced to back up their hard drive and then reinstall everything.