1. Hardware Requirements – It is no secret that Windows 7 is harder on your system than Windows XP. Before you upgrade to the new operating system, consider using Microsoft’s Upgrade Advisor to discover if your computer’s hardware is even capable of running Windows 7.
2. Migration – There is no “In Place" upgrade option from Windows XP to Windows 7. This means that you cannot install 7 over XP and keep all of your software, drivers, and settings. As an alternative, Windows 7 will stick everything on your hard drive in a folder called windows.old from where you can retrieve your old files.
3. 32-bit vs. 64-bit – This one is tough. When you upgrade to Windows 7, you have to decide whether to get the 32-bit or 64-bit variety. Confused? So are a lot of people. Look into this one carefully because once you install one or the other, you can’t change your mind without a full reinstall.
4. No Quick Launch Toolbar – Although a seemingly minor feature, the Quick Launch Toolbar was a popular option for storing applications and files to avoid fumbling with the Start menu. Although you can still pin shortcuts to the task bar, Windows 7 pins function differently than the old reliable Quick Launch Toolbar.
5. Learning Curve – If you skipped over Windows Vista, you have a moderately steep learning curve to overcome. This is especially true if you have become comfortable with Windows XP’s features and quirks over the last 9 years. Expect to fumble around for a little while until you learn where everything is and what has been replaced with what.
6. Software Compatibility – Some of your old software just will not work in Windows 7 regardless of whether you choose the 32-bit or 64-bit version. Again, checking with the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor or your software vendor will clear up whether you can expect your old software to work.
7. Hard to Find Drivers for 64-bit – If your computer is more than a couple of years old, some of your hardware may not have 64-bit drivers available. Check carefully with the manufacturer to ensure that all of your hardware is supported under the new operating to avoid any nasty surprises on the day of installation.
8. Active vs. Inactive Windows – Although not a major issue, many people report not being able to tell the difference between active and inactive windows that are on top of one another. Sometimes the only way to tell is to look for the familiar red “x" close button at the top right of the window.
9. Few 64-bit Applications – With all the hype surrounding the 32-bit vs. 64-bit debate, it turns out that very few applications can actually take advantage of a 64-bit operating system. Now that 64-bit seems to be taking over, more and more applications will likely be written for 64-bit. Until then, don’t expect your applications to run any better just because you opted for the 64-bit variety of Windows 7.
10. XP Mode Hassles – If you opt for the Professional or Ultimate edition of Windows 7, you can take advantage of virtual computing and XP Mode. As a quick fix, XP Mode can work wonders; as a permanent solution, it can be a real pain. If you are thinking about going to Windows 64-bit and expect to run XP Mode so you can use critical applications that are not compatible in a 64-bit environment, you may be better off dual booting your computer with Windows 7 and Windows XP than relying on XP Mode exclusively.