An OS must be upgraded periodically to remain compatible with the latest hardware and software. It is also necessary to upgrade an OS when a manufacturer stops supporting it. Upgrading an OS can increase performance. New hardware products often require that the latest OS version be installed to operate correctly. While upgrading an OS may be expensive, you can gain enhanced functionality through new features and support for newer hardware.

NOTE: When newer versions of an OS are released, support for older versions is eventually withdrawn.

Before upgrading the operating system, check the minimum hardware requirements of the new OS to ensure that it can be installed successfully on the computer. Also check the Windows Compatibility Center for Windows 7 and Vista, or the Windows XP HCL to ensure that the hardware is compatible with the new OS.

Upgrade Advisor

Microsoft provides a free utility called the Upgrade Advisor, which scans the system for hardware and software incompatibility issues in hardware before upgrading to newer editions of the Windows OS. The Upgrade Advisor creates a report of any problems and then guides you through the steps to resolve them. You can download the Upgrade Advisor from the Microsoft Windows website.

To use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, follow these steps:

Step 1. Download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from the Microsoft website.

Step 2. Click Start check. The program scans your computer hardware, devices, and installed software. A compatibility report is presented.

Step 3. Click Save Report if you want to keep it or print it later.

Step 4. Examine the report. Record any recommended fixes for the issues found.

Step 5. Click Close.

After making the changes to hardware, devices, or software, Microsoft recommends running the Upgrade Advisor again before installing the new OS.