Before the release of Windows 8, this was my default reply to anyone who dared suggest doing an in-place upgrade of Windows. I’d done it before in upgrading from 98 to ME and I’d seen and heard many horror stories of failed in-place upgrades that it become clear that it wasn’t even worth the effort, you were going to have to do a fresh install either way, so you may as well make it plan A. Then along came the £15 upgrade offer for Windows 8 shortly after it’s release in October 2012. It seemed like a no-brainer just to get the latest version of Windows for such a small price. So I went for it, in the expectation that I would have to do a clean install anyway, reducing the upgrade to simply the hoop I had to jump through to get the offer.
Imagine my surprise when it worked. There were no BSODs, no applications failing to load after the update, no driver issues, nothing. It. Just. Worked. The only thing I had to do was re-intsall Linqpad to get Windows Search to show in the results lists when searching for “linq”, but in retrospect, if I’d given it a day or two to reindex everything it probably would’ve picked it up on it’s own eventually. In the months after, I upgraded several more machines and witnessed a number of other upgrades, all of them completed with at most minor issues easily solved by driver/Windows updates, or no issues at all. My faith in Windows in-place upgrades was restored.
That upgraded OS served me faithfully until I elected do a clean install when replacing my spinning rust HDD with an SSD 6 months later. While I now trusted Windows upgrades, I still don’t trust transferring OSes between disks, been burned on that front numerous times too.
Then in early 2015, Microsoft announced the Insider Preview programme for Windows 10. Why not I thought, so I took a laptop, signed up, and in the following 6 months, saw in-place upgrade afer in-place upgrade take place, successfully too for the most part, while keeping in mind this was pre-release so breakages were expected. By the time Windows 10 was released in July, I had no hesitation in just going ahead with the in-place upgrade. To my delight, but not really to my surprise anymore, it just worked. I have since updated a number of machines from both Windows 7 and 8.1 to 10 and haven’t had a single failure yet or major issue that hasn’t been simply resolved by running Windows updates.
Whatever you may think of Windows 8 or it’s successors, Windows in-place upgrades are no longer the joke they once were. They’re a very appealing and extremely reliable way of updating to the most recent version of Windows without going through the chore of a clean install. I’ll take an hour to do an in-place upgrade vs spending a day doing a clean install any day!
Having said that, always back up anything important before doing an upgrade. Even if the upgrade process works 9999 times out of 10,000, you don’t want to be that unlucky 1.