Clean Install of Vista vs Windows Vista Upgrade

The folks over at Extremetech have posted a review comparing an clean install of Windows Vista to a copy that was upgraded from an eight month old copy of Windows XP with loads of games and software installed, both shareware and commercial software. This is made possible because the Windows Vista installation routine doesn’t just try to make it work overtop of the old operating system, like previous versions of Windows, it copies an image of Windows Vista to the hard drive and then does the hardware detection and configuration.

In a recent article, we kicked around the idea of dropping a Vista upgrade over an existing Windows XP installation. Windows Vista’s Setup program?the multitude of code that installs the operating system?doesn’t copy files and wriggle the new operating system atop the old one, resulting in a mishmash of both, as was more or less the case with prior Microsoft OSes. Vista’s compartmentalized installation routine actually copies an image of Vista onto the hard drive and then plows through things like hardware detection and configuration.

That means, at least in theory, a system upgraded from XP to Vista shouldn’t end up as bloated and sluggish as a PC upgrade from, say, Windows 98 to Windows XP (notwithstanding the bloat that Vista may or may not come with, depending on your opinion of the new Windows). Could that be true? Has Microsoft invented an upgrade process that doesn’t hopelessly clog your system’s arteries with virtual cholesterol?

To find out, we chose an innocent system that’s led an unassuming life as the main machine belonging to a former freelance journalist, a part-time game reviewer. Then we pretty much beat it over the head with Windows Vista Ultimate. In the process, we took a chunky batch of performance tests to see how the computer reacted to a Vista upgrade, and compared that to its experience with a fresh Vista installation. Source: Vista Performance Shootout: Upgrade Vs. Clean Installation

This test seems to back up what Microsoft said, that the upgrade is almost as good as a clean install, most every test is comparable to the other. Although a clean install will always be better, this is pretty darn close they say, and I may just try it to see for myself.