Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
There's no direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, but upgrading to Windows Vista first works, in theory. In practice? It's risky.
It's difficult to upgrade from XP to 7. However, it is a lot easier to upgrade from XP to Vista and from Vista to 7. If I am running XP and have not upgraded to Vista but have the Vista OS on CD which I never bothered to install as I never like to install MS products until they have been out a while since there are always a lot of bugs and then I heard that vista wasn't all that good anyway. Would it make sense to upgrade to Vista and then to 7 in two steps, one right after the other?
While there's no direct Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrade path, it's quite possible to do what you describe: upgrade first to Windows Vista, and then upgrade that to Windows 7.
Whether it makes sense is a matter of opinion.
And in my opinion the answer is no.
When Microsoft released Windows 7 they did not include a direct upgrade path for people using Windows XP. What this means is that you could not purchase Windows 7 and simply upgrade your existing Windows XP installation. Instead, the approach required is to backup, reformat and install Windows 7 from scratch.
As it turns out that's my recommended approach even if the upgrade path were available.
More on that in a moment.
One approach that several people have identified as being a potential workaround for that limitation is to first upgrade Windows XP to Windows Vista, which is supported, and then upgrade the resulting Windows Vista to Windows 7, which is also supported.
That requires a copy of Windows Vista, of course, and the time and patience to sit through two operating system upgrades.
As it turns out many people actually have copies of Windows Vista that they either have elected not to use, or in some cases reverted from, preferring to go back to Windows XP at some point. Whether or not they have the time and patience, I can't say.
The good news is that in theory, it should work.
The bad news is that I said "in theory".
Operating system upgrades are a pretty major event. And, unfortunately, it can be somewhat fragile. If the machine is messy, or has malware or there's something broken about the existing version of Windows the upgrade can fail or end up being incomplete. The result, if it works, can be a somewhat fragile installation of Windows that "just ain't right".
I'm not saying this will happen, I'm just saying that it can, and does. Many, if not most of the Windows installations I hear of that have weird problems are often installations that have been upgraded rather than cleanly installed.
It's a risk.
And you're taking that risk.
An operating system upgrade is not just a convenient place to start cleanly with a fresh install, it's also an opportunity to avoid some issues that can result from an upgrade install.
So to answer your question, no, in my opinion it doesn't make sense. The risk is simply too high. You'll spend a lot of time installing and perhaps dealing with resulting issues. In the long run that backup, reformat, clean install approach might actually take less time, and will almost certainly result in the cleanest most stable system possible.
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