Either way, back up your home directory somewhere it won't be overwritten. You can use Mint's backup feature for that as well as for saving a list of installed software. Then, if something breaks using the process described at the link above, such as the new packages don't work with the old kernel before you can update the kernel, the worst thing that happens is that you have to reinstall anyway. And the process of installing a new Mint version from scratch is very likely to take a lot less time than installing a new Windows version from scratch.
Desktop 1: DFI Lanparty UT nF4 SLI-D/AMD Athlon 64 San Diego 2.2 GHz/G.SKILL 1GB x 2 DDR 3200/BFG GeForce 7800 GT/Mint 17.2 MATE
Desktop 2: Gigabyte 770T-USB3/AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4 GHz/2GB x 2 + 4GB X 2 DDR3 1333/EVGA GeForce 9800 GT/Mint 17.3 MATE