This is a question we hear bandied around an awful lot by people who are considering making the move from Windows Vista to Windows 7, and even more so by people who have bought a machine with Vista installed and decided to revert back to Windows XP and are now facing an upgrade path that is, frankly, fraught with complications.
The big issue is that many people seem to have had it made very clear indeed to them that there will be massive benefits to making the jump from a 32-bit to a 64-bit operating system. While that’s all well and good for those who will actually see a benefit, the vast majority of users out there aren’t going to be seeing the massive bonuses that some niche upragers will.
The Upgrade Path:
A fairly significant part of the problem with upgrading to Windows 7 64-bit on a machine that’s already running Windows Vista is that there’s no support for upgrades from 32-bit to 64-bit. There are all kinds of entirely reasonable reasons for this to be the case, but we needn’t go into them here.
Many will be upgrading from some flavour of Windows Vista...
The long and short of it is that upgrading from Windows Vista 32 to Windows 7 64 is going to require you to have a sit down with your current OS while you say goodnight. It’s always a bit of a headache to run a complete backup, get all of your content onto another drive and install a new OS, then copy it back.
The simple fact is that for most users, there’s just not enough benefits in the upgraded OS to justify the various headaches of preparing your machine for the install, and then copying everything back across afterwards. Are there advantages to be had? Yes. Will they be worth it? Not for everyone.
Of course, I should put in as a disclaimer that you could (and many have) write an entire article on the various issues that people might encounter while they’re running a standard Windows upgrade. Things have come a long way since earlier versions but the fact is that there can be problems with upgrades. Could those problems be so bad that you’ll end up formatting anyway? Well… that depends on your threshold for annoyance ;)
Indeed, if you don’t have more than 4GB of RAM then you’re likely not going to see any real benefit at all, and even then…