The Anytime Upgrade program was introduced with Windows Vista, but it was slow (key purchase, validation, and download routinely took over half an hour, and installation likewise took 20-30 minutes or so). That’s why I approached the Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade with some trepidation. What I learned not only dispelled my fears, but also convinced me that MS got things right this time around.
Here’s what I observed while using Windows Anytime Upgrade:
- Any valid key for the target OS upgrade will work (I tried retail and MSDN keys, and they both worked fine).
- No big downloads are required to get the Anytime Upgrade rolling (I didn’t see much evidence of online activity on systems I upgraded, beyond the key validation stage; I’m guessing that the install image that Microsoft burns to DVD or encodes in an ISO includes the upgrade code as well as the base OS image itself).
- None of these upgrades took any longer than 12 minutes to complete, and going from Home Premium to Professional on my wife’s mini-ITX system with a T2300 Core Duo (1.66 GHz, 2 MB L2 Cache, 667 MHz FSB) took just a little over 9 minutes to finish. Curiously going from Starter to Home Premium took about 2 minutes longer…
- Indeed, there’s a memory limitation of 2 GB on Windows Starter (the official literature still says 1 GB) because I was able to recognize more memory on her system as soon as Home Premium came up and started running (it now recognizes 3318 MB of the 4096 MB of RAM installed, instead of saying “4096 installed, 2048 MB usable” as it did under Starter edition).
Here’s how Anytime Upgrade pricing and options for Vista and Windows 7 compare
- Windows 7 Starter to Home Premium: $80 (no comparable Vista upgrade)
- Home Premium to Ultimate: Vista $ 159, Win7 $140
- Windows 7 Home Premium to Professional: $90 (no comparable Vista upgrade)
- Business/Professional to Ultimate : Vista $139, Win7 $130
- Vista Home Basic to Home Premium: $78 (no comparable Win7 upgrade)
- Vista Home Basic to Ultimate: $199 (no comparable Win7 upgrade)
All in all, I think Microsoft has improved considerably on Anytime Upgrade for Windows 7, as has been the case for so many other aspects of that OS as compared to Windows Vista. Where apples-to-apples comparisons are possible, it’s a bit cheaper (looks like $10-19 cheaper, in fact). There’s also no question that it’s easier to obtain and install, and faster, too.