European users look set to experience upgrade difficulties as they will not be able to directly upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7, after Microsoft unveiled detailed upgrade paths from old Windows editions to its forthcoming operating system.
Microsoft is expected to ship special versions of Windows 7 to European customers, but the versions will need a clean install on PCs, according to a blog entry on Microsoft's website. The software giant has released special editions of Windows 7 in Europe including Windows 7 E, which lacks a browser, and Windows 7 N, which lacks a browser and media player technologies.
Windows 7 is scheduled for a worldwide launch on 22 October.
The company released Windows 7 E editions - including Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Starter editions - to comply with the European Commission's antitrust ruling against the company. However, the commission panned Microsoft's decision to strip the browser from Windows 7 E, saying that instead of providing more choice, Microsoft appeared to be providing less choice.
Users in other parts of the world will be able to upgrade directly from Windows Vista to Windows 7. However, Microsoft isn't allowing upgrades from Windows 7 Release Candidate or Windows XP, according to a document outlining OS upgrade paths for users worldwide. Nor are direct upgrades allowed from Windows NT Server 4.0, Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2.
Microsoft last week started taking pre-orders for the European editions of Windows 7 at discounted rates. The OS flew off the shelves, causing Microsoft's online store to crash. The OS also reached the top-selling list of online stores in Europe.
Microsoft may not be providing a direct upgrade path, but it is providing an option for users to select and install a preferred browser from external storage devices like USB drives or separate DVDs. It is also providing a tool called Windows Easy Transfer to help users transfer program settings and data from old operating systems to Windows 7.
A request made through Microsoft's external public relations company for additional comment regarding the upgrade paths was not answered at the time of writing.