The XP to Windows 7 Upgrade Path
Lucky52716 asked the Answer Line forum if XP users will have to upgrade to Vista before upgrading to Windows 7.
Microsoft will let you upgrade from XP to Windows 7, but they're not going to make it easy.
The official word from Redmond, or at least from an unnamed "Microsoft spokesperson," is that you will be able to "purchase upgrade media and an upgrade license to move from Windows XP to Windows 7; however, [you] will need to do a clean installation of Windows 7."
Translation: You can save some money by buying the upgrade, but you'll have to reinstall your drivers and your applications, set up your user accounts and network, and just generally have a big hassle. I suspect you'll have to backup and restore your data, as well. Big time sink, and big hassle.
On the other hand, you'll have a clean installation, without the garbage that came bundled with your PC, or the additional garbage left over from years of installing and uninstalling programs that didn't uninstall all that well to being with. A clean install is, arguably, the safest way to upgrade Windows.
Read the forum discussion at http://forums.pcworld.com/message/188139.