Software Compatibility Issues
If you’re moving from directly from Microsoft Windows XP to Microsoft Windows 7 then there is a possibility that you may have some software compatibility issues that you will need to address.
When Microsoft updated Windows XP to lauch Windows Vista they made a number of low level changes to the way the architecture of Windows operated, and thus there were a few compatibility problems with some software. If you have older versions of software we recommend you try to check their suitability for your new Windows 7 computer before you upgrade. The Windows Upgrade Advisor facility we told you about in part 1 will warn you if some software is incompatible, but it is by no means foolproof.
If you are moving from Windows Vista to Windows 7 you are unlikely to have any compatibility issue as the two operating systems operate in a virtually identical manner.
32-bit / 64-bit Compatibility Issues
The majority of home users have traditionally used 32-bit operating systems as they rarely needed the power and features provided by a 64-bit operating system. If you have older software and are looking to install a 64-bit operating system on your new machine then we recommend thoroughly checking out that the software you want will work on 64-bit. The way that 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems work means that it is possible for a program that works fine on a 32-bit operating system to fail entirely on a 64-bit system.
On of the biggest compatibility issues with upgrading to Windows 7 whether it’s 32-bit or 64-bit is that of driver compatibility – Drivers are small pieces of software that hook into the operating system and handle the communication between hardware devices and the operating system. Because of this drivers are generally specific to an operating system, and are nearly always different for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the same operating system.
If you have old hardware that was purchased before the release of Windows Vista, there is a good chance that there may not be a compatible Windows 7 driver for your hardware, unless the manufacturer has made the effort to provide a specific driver.
Windows XP Compatibility Mode
As mentioned in Part 1, the Business and Ultimate versions of Windows 7 have a feature known as ‘XP Mode’ this is basically a whole Windows XP operating system running inside a Virtual Machine under Windows 7. As this guide is intended for Home users we won’t cover it here, but if you’re interested in this feature please read our separate article on the subject.
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