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Migrating from XP to Windows 7

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Elna Tymes and Charles Prael provide instructions for doing what Microsoft chose not to support: doing a software upgrade from Windows 7 from Windows XP without performing a clean installation of Windows 7.
This chapter is from the book

One of the most looked-for features in Windows 7 is a software upgrade directly from Windows XP to Windows 7. The reasons are simple and straightforward: there are three times as many XP licenses out there as Vista licenses, and many large corporate customers have specifically asked for an XP upgrade capability. In this, we are disappointed, because although Microsoft will allow a license upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, no software upgrade exists—you must perform a clean installation of Windows 7 and migrate your data into the new OS installation.

In fact, if you try to perform an in-place upgrade, you'll see the error message shown in Figure 3.1.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 Attempting to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 will result in a unwelcome error message.

When migrating a system from Windows XP to Windows 7, you should use the following sequence of activities:

  1. Run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and determine any potential hardware issues.
  2. Use a migration tool to snapshot your Windows XP system state, including all installed applications and data, and prepare for migration. We highly recommend Windows Easy Transfer.
  3. Install Windows 7.
  4. Resolve any driver issues within Windows 7.
  5. Use your migration tool to install applications and data.

Before you attempt a Windows XP to Windows 7 migration, we strongly recommend that you read this entire chapter, as well as Chapter 8, "Windows 7 Security," make sure you have all the software and hardware tools you need at hand, and use the plan you created in Chapter 1, "Planning Your Migration," as a map to proceed. Over a number of years, we have found that well-planned migrations generally work out quite well, whereas ad-hoc migrations, where you jump right in, inevitably run into problems. Remember: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

Before upgrading a Windows XP system to Windows 7, you should first download the Microsoft Windows Upgrade Advisor from www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/upgrade-advisor.aspx.

Depending on how your browser is set up, you may directly run the installer or be prompted to save it. If you're dealing with only a single computer, it is a simple process. If, however, you're dealing with multiple computers, you should probably save it because you will need to install and run the upgrade advisor on each of the computers.

After you've downloaded it, install the Upgrade Advisor on the system you want to upgrade. Then run the Upgrade Advisor (see Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Start screen.

Click the Start Check button, and let the Upgrade Advisor examine your system. It will look at your hardware configuration and compare it to a comprehensive database of supported hardware and software.

Depending on your specific system configuration, your system may pass on first examination, such as the system shown in Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 This system passed the Windows Update Advisor's tests (although it recommends running Windows Update after Windows 7 is installed to update the video driver).

However, you might run into issues that need to be resolved before you can install Windows 7, as shown in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 This system failed the Windows Update Advisor test.

In the example in Figure 3.4, the reason the system check failed was because the hardware necessary to run Windows Aero wasn't available. You can still run Windows 7 without Aero; you just won't have access to Aero's features, meaning you'll be missing out on much of the visual appeal to Windows 7.

In a case like this, you need to figure out how you're going to resolve the problem before moving forward. How exactly you resolve the problem with a system will vary. You might, for example, be able to use updated drivers from the manufacturer. You might find a documented workaround online. Or you may well wind up having to upgrade select portions of your computer hardware to a new version that has Windows 7 drivers. In the example shown in Figure 3.4, you might need to buy a new video card that has a Windows 7 driver if you can't find a suitable driver online. In the most extreme cases, you might need to buy a new computer, but as long as your system meets the specifications outlined in Chapter 1, that probably won't be necessary.

What we suggest doing, however, is saving the Windows Update Advisor reports for each system on which you want to install Windows 7 so that you can refer to them as part of your update process, resolving any problems that are reported. Having done that, you should go through your system and determine what applications are installed, so you can make sure they're reinstalled after you get into Windows 7.

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