A reader wants to upgrade from 32-bit Windows Vista to a 64-bit Windows 7 install. Our Helproom Expert explains. (Updated January 30th 2012.)

QUESTION I want to upgrade from Vista Home Premium 32bit to Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit. All my document and picture files are saved in the 32bit version. Will I still be able to access these files in the 64bit system? I also have a number of 32bit applications that I frequently use, and I need to know whether these will continue to be compatible. Robert Kitching

HELPROOM ANSWER Your documents and pictures will transfer just fine to the 64bit OS as the two versions handle these files in the same way. The vast majority of 32bit applications are also compatible with Windows 7 64bit. Head to the Windows 7 Compatibility Centre for more detailed, program-specific information.

QUESTION Robert K asked a question concerning upgrading from Vista 32bit to Windows 7 64bit in November. Your answer covers transferring pictures and so on, but doesn't mention the most important issue: you can't upgrade from X86 to X64. You have to complete a clean install, which I think is what Robert was asking. Tarmo Kappa

HELPROOM ANSWER You are, of course, correct, Tarmo. Upgrading from the 32bit version of Windows 7 to the 64bit version requires a ‘custom' installation. You can't simply perform an upgrade installation and keep your files and settings and programs intact.

Microsoft provides instructions on how to perform the upgrade on its website.

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