When will Microsoft ever learn that most consumers don’t enjoy having a multitude of choices when it comes to updating their operating system?

Clearly not today or in the near future because it seems as if they’re persistent to continue a trend where numerous versions of the Windows operating system are still necessary, with Windows 7 being no different.

Windows 7 will release in three major versions: Home Premium, Professional, and the Ultimate editions. While most consumers will go for the Home Premium package, businesses will probably go for the Professional edition. Where does this leave the Ultimate edition? Probably for minority population who must have every feature of the refreshed OS for whatever given reason. In my opinion, I think Microsoft should have just decided to release one version of Windows 7 and call it a day.

Aside from the number of editions Windows 7 will have, the next annoying issue would be the number of different upgrade paths one will have to follow depending on which version of Windows you are currently running on your PC. Put simply, if you have a PC running Windows XP or any version of Windows older than XP, you will have to do a clean install of Windows 7. If you have Vista on your PC, then you have the option of doing a upgrade straight from Vista or a clean install of it, whatever you prefer, but only if you are running Windows Vista. This makes the mass transition to Windows 7 that much more painful and frustrating, when Windows 7 has been heavily marketed as an operating system that’s the easiest to use so far, but has one very frustrating upgrade process for users of existing versions of Windows.

To help visualize this, click here for the official chart from Microsoft to see how many ways you can upgrade to Windows 7. It’s simply bamboozling, 66 possible upgrade paths, wow. =O

The real problem here is how Microsoft has decided that Windows XP users have to do a custom installation of Windows 7, deleteing everything on their current PC. Seeing how the vast majority of the world still use PCs running Windows XP because they either downgraded from Vista or it came shipped with it, by telling users that they’ll essentially be gutting their PC before they can install Windows 7 is a huge turnoff to upgrade and is also going to be extremely painful and frustrating if things go wrong in the process.

I am absolutely stunned that Microsoft has made that the only possible upgrade path for Windows XP users, and while they have made an attempt to make the process easier with tools to help you backup your data during the transition, it still doesn’t go without saying that in the end, users will have to re-install all their programs. And if you don’t have the installation discs or the installer files for your programs, that’s more agony coming towards your way.

In the end, for Microsoft to promote Windows 7 and encourage every PC user to upgrade to it, they sure did provide an awfully painful way to get there.