It is hard--make that impossible--to recommend that Windows XP users upgrade to Windows 7. Especially when the new OS really wants a clean installation, goodbye apps, goodbye drivers, goodbye hours of people's time. RTM or not, Win7 isn't any closer to many users' PCs, including most of mine.
I'd hoped the clean install "feature" of Win7 would have been lost between the previews and release-to-manufacturing. Microsoft doubtless has sound technical reasons for not installing Win7 over XP. I just hope they aren't counting on many upgrades. (Greg Keizer describes upgrading in this piece, which soft-pedals the challenges just a bit).
Win7 does install over Vista without problems, which may be the only good thing many people will ever hear about the troubled OS. Sadly, it's really the XP users who benefit from Win7. If you're still using Vista, you've probably gotten over it by now.
I've never been one--and I've done dozens of these over the years--who thought upgrading a Microsoft OS was such a good thing. It has always been possible for previous Windows versions, including XP-to-Vista. But, the results were never as good a starting from a sparking clean hard drive.
Doing that, however, meant reinstalling applications, user files, drivers, etc. For companies that install from a common corporate PC image, that's not such a big deal, especially if user data lives on the network rather than the local hard drive.
Still, it's a lot of work and Microsoft may have a hard time convincing skeptical IT pros that Win7 is worth the bother. (Windows Server 2008 R2 has also RTM'd this week).
For smaller companies, where every PC is in individual system, the hours necessary to make the OS change sounds like wasted time.
And this supposes that the older XP machines will actually run Win7. I think the answer to that is "probably better than you'd expect." But, will that be good enough?
So, with Win7 now finished and on its way for an Oct. 22 launch, I've decided: None of my current XP machines will get upgraded, but the Vista machines will.
That's the easy way out and is, I believe, what Microsoft actually intends for us to do. Otherwise, Win7 would be different.