What exactly does it mean that this system is not compatible with Windows 7? Does it mean the drivers that came with it won't work? How would I find out what those individual drivers are and whether they're truly incompatible? Microsoft's compatibility tool tells me that I can safely install Windows 7, does that mean I can use the drivers anyway?
I would really appreciate any help anyone could give me on this matter. I apparently am not allowed to ask Dell directly any questions like this unless I am under warranty.. not that they have answered any emails in the first place.
If the upgrade advisor tool says your system is compatible, then you know you don't have any incompatible hardware. Whether you'll be able to find all the drivers to enable all the functionality you have now is a different question, but in many cases, Vista drivers work fine.
What I suggest you do is perform a complete backup, then install Windows 7 and see what drivers were not provided. Given that much older systems than yours have been shown to work fine with Windows 7, I really think you'll be fine.
If Dell says it's not compatible with Windows 7, it means they don't support it for use with Windows 7. Windows 7 will still install and run properly, even if you have to download the chipset drivers from the hardware vendors like I did for my Vostro 220s.
What exactly does it mean that this system is not compatible with Windows 7?
Windows 7 is fully compatible with an Inspiron 531. I'm running both 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows 7 on two Inspiron 531 computers. For the most part all the drivers came with Windows 7. Had only one issue with installing the 64 bit version. No Away Mode driver, so I installed a null driver.
Windows 7 runs on most systems.
The Main issues are Audio Cards and Video Cards and Ram and Disk Space.
If you only have a 40 gig drive and 512 megs of ram there is your first hurdle.
If you dont have a DX9 or better compatable video card with 128 megs or more of video ram there's your 2nd Hurdle.
If you have ISA cards or Sound cards that are not supported in WIN7 you may have to buy a PCI or USB sound card.
If you have an Older modem you may need to buy a USB modem for faxing and dial up access.
I have installed 32 bit and 64 bit Windows 7 on many OLDER dell's like GX260 etc.
The main issues are ram and speed.
You don't have to buy a brand new machine to run Windows 7.
Personally I Recommend an AGP or PCI-E system with 1.5Ghz Pentium 4 and 2 Gigs Ram with 80 gig hard drive OR LARGER
from 2006 or later. Pre 2004 machines are limited to 120 gig IDE Drives.
An Optiplex GX280 or Dimension 4700 series is a good starting point.
Ive installed on GX520, GX620, GX7XX series as well as Dimension 4700,8400 etc.
If you want to run Windows 7 on your PC, here's what it takes:
1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver (Geforce FX5200/Radeon 9600)
Additional requirements to use certain features:
Internet access (fees may apply)
Depending on resolution, video playback may require additional memory and advanced graphics hardware
For some Windows Media Center functionality a TV tuner and additional hardware may be required
HomeGroup requires a network and PCs running Windows 7
DVD/CD authoring requires a compatible optical drive (Dual Layer Drive is Recommended)
BitLocker requires Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2
BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive
Windows XP Mode requires an additional 1 GB of RAM and an additional 15 GB of available hard disk space.
Music and sound require audio output (XP/VISTA drivers installed in compatability mode usually address this)
Product functionality and graphics may vary based on your system configuration. Some features may require advanced or additional hardware.
PCs with multi-core processors:
Windows 7 was designed to work with today's multi-core processors. All 32-bit versions of Windows 7 can support up to 32 processor cores, while 64‑bit versions can support up to 256 processor cores.
PCs with multiple processors (CPUs):
Commercial servers, workstations, and other high-end PCs may have more than one physical processor. Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate allow for two physical processors, providing the best performance on these computers. Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium will recognize only one physical processor.