Okay, so it’s not really easy to read, but it is a chart.  And actually it gives users looking to break into the world of Windows 7 right away a good idea of what to expect.  Basically, if you want to know what TYPE of installation you will be allowed to do with your new copy of Windows 7 based on the version of Windows Vista you have, this is for you:

Windows 7 upgrade paths revealed in easy-to-read chart form - General Tech 2

First, some definitions: a “custom install” is really Microsoft’s way of saying “fresh install” either to completely replace your current OS or to install Windows 7 on a specific drive or partition separate from your currently installed Windows Vista partition.  That means that no matter what way you slice it, your Windows 7 installation will be a base, clean install without your applications or files.  An “in-place upgrade” allows you to keep all of your files and applications and simply install the new Windows 7 system as a replacement to Windows Vista.

While the in-place upgrade option allows for the easiest transition since you don’t have to reinstall applications or move files around, most enthusiasts will likely want to use this upgrade as a chance to get a fresh start on a new PC by using the “custom install” option anyway.  Your mom though, she’d probably be okay with the in-place upgrade. 

With that out of the way, it would appear that Microsoft is NOT being very flexible here.  The only way to get an in-place upgrade option if you want it is to either match the version of Vista you have with the version of Windows 7 you will purchase (Business to Business, Home Premium to Home Premium) or to get the Ultimate version of Windows 7 that is a total rip off.  Also, you have to match the “bits” so to speak – you can only do an in-place upgrade FROM a 32-bit OS to a 32-bit OS – so if you were planning on using this chance to upgrade your system to 64-bit ready – sorry, only going to happen with clean installation. 

There are NO in-place upgrades available for Windows Vista Starter Edition users or for Windows XP users.  Another “booo” from us here. 

But hey, at least now we know.