How to Make a Trouble-Free Transition from Windows XP to 7: A Few Q & As

The astounding success of Windows XP is hanging heavily around the neck of Microsoft, when it is getting ready to launch its latest version of Windows, Windows 7.

Vista, the OS released by Microsoft earlier, was a damp squib among the computer users. The users were reluctant to accept Vista and throw away XP, as it was as comfortable to use as an old pair of jeans.

For the successful launch of Windows 7, Microsoft has to work a miracle as it did with XP, its most winning OS of all time.

This is easier said than done. Microsoft knows this better than anyone else does. While replying to its critics including Michael Silver of Gartner, regarding the company’s continual of XP ‘downgrade’, they acknowledged that the situation was a ‘real mess’. In fact, Microsoft extended the availability of XP for two more years, until April 2011.

Microsoft will be able to elicit a good response for the new OS Windows 7, if they can ensure a trouble-free transition from XP to Windows 7. Let us discuss what you can expect if you go for the upgradation.

Indications are that the upgrade may not be as smooth as required by the user. A few questions if answered would help the user are – What are the possible roadblocks? How problematic will the upgradation be? How the obstacles can be overcome?

Here we will try to answer some of the common questions that may pop up in the minds of the Windows users.

Is it possible to upgrade XP directly to Windows 7?

Yes, it is very much possible. The good news is that this can be done without going through the Vista nightmare.

When the offer is too good to be true, there is always a hidden twist present. In this instance, what is it?

Vista users can do ‘in-place’ upgrade to Windows 7. However, this is not possible for XP users. When Microsoft gave upgrade options to Vista, it was mentioned that the users would be allowed to exercise this option. Microsoft had earlier projected Windows 7 as an improved edition of Vista.

Microsoft has not forgotten the furor and the slew of complaints they received from XP users, when Vista was offered as an in-place upgrade. In April itself, Microsoft had dropped a hint about doing away with the in-place upgrade option in the ‘Engineering Windows 7’ blog. It was made clear that this was not an option even from the start, as the results may not be satisfying to the user. The blog says,” There are simply too many changes in how PCs have been configured (applets, hardware support, driver model, etc.) that having all of that support carry forth to Windows 7 would not be nearly as high quality as a clean install.”

The company is giving a multitude of explanations for not furnishing in-place upgradation. The net result is that XP users are left high and dry and forced to go through a ‘clean’ install for Windows 7. This comes with all its entailing problems like backing up of data, recreating Windows settings and reinstalling all the applications.

Another point to be noted for XP users is that ‘clean’ install is not an option while installing Windows 7. To achieve this, choose ‘custom’ from the list in the selection screen.

Are the system requirements for Windows 7 the same as that of Vista?

Yes, they are very much the same. Find listed below the system requirements for Windows 7.

  • 1GB RAM (32-bit) or 2GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 1GHz or faster – 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • 16GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)

On a 1GB RAM, Vista is very slow. Windows 7 has taken care of the speed issue, so it may be faster than Vista. Still do not expect too much, or you will feel let down.

How to assess the handling capacity of the computer before installing Windows 7?

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor comes in handy for this purpose. Download, install and run the Advisor, which was in beta version, as on July. The Advisor will tell you whether your hardware can handle Windows 7 or not. If it is incapable of handling the extra load, it will detail the items to be complied to make it compliant.

Is it enough to buy the upgrade version of Windows 7 or is it necessary to buy the expensive full version?

If you have a legitimate and activated copy of Windows on your PC, it is enough to buy the cheaper upgrade versions of Windows 7. The suggested price of Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade is $120.

The upgrade versions will first check the authenticity of the Windows in you PC before proceeding further. For those with original Windows 2000 and Windows XP Operating Systems, this will hold good. In case of Windows 98 users, it is doubtful. Moreover, the machine may not be able to handle Windows 7.

From XP Home, is it possible to upgrade to any version of Windows 7?

Yes, from any version of XP, it is possible to upgrade to Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate. They are priced at $120, $200 and $220 respectively.

Microsoft offered upgrades at discounted rates from June 26 to July 11. The discounted price of Home Premium was $50 and Professional $100. Now, this is all water under the bridge.

From XP Professional, is it possible to upgrade to any version of Windows 7?

The answer is the same as above. It is perfectly possible to upgrade to Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate.

What exactly is the procedure of upgradation?

The procedure is not clear even now. When Microsoft launches the final Windows 7 Upgrade DVDs, it will give a clearer picture of the procedure to be followed for upgradation.

Microsoft will help the user back up data and after installation to restore the data and settings. Windows Easy Transfer program included in the Upgrade DVD will help the users in this regard.

Last January, Microsoft had given step-by-step instructions on how to do the upgradation. The process is too drawn-out to be included here. BlogsDNA has gone one step further and added screen shots to these instructions to make it still easier to understand.

What are the steps to be followed before I start the upgrade?

The first and foremost on the list of to-do things is to make a disk image of the machine to record its present status. After upgradation, if you find Windows 7 not up to your expectations and want to revert to the comfort of XP, you can do so without much trouble.

For creating a disk image, there are hordes of free or paid backup programs available for XP users. Macrium, DriveImageXML and Reflect are some of the freebies available. With these, you can create a disk image on a CD, DVD, flash drive or an external drive.

The PC does not have a DVD drive and has only a CD-ROM drive. How can I install Windows 7 in my PC, as it comes in a DVD?

If you want to install Windows 7 yourself, you should rent or buy a DVD drive. Otherwise, you may take your PC and the DVD to a service provider to do the upgradation work. This is the recommendation of Microsoft regarding the issue.

There are rumors floating around that Microsoft may release the installation on a flash drive. A 4GB thumb drive can easily accommodate the program. However, these rumors are built on fantasy on the part of users not possessing DVD drives like netbook users.

Another option is to buy Windows 7 as a download from the e-store of Microsoft and create a USB drive that is loadable. More instructions regarding this option are available on the Net. Windows 7 is available through download only at Microsoft e-store.

Who are all eligible for upgradation to 64-bit edition of Windows 7?

All PCs can upgrade to Windows 7 (64-bit), if the processor supports 64-bit. When you buy Windows 7 Upgrade DVD, or download it from the e-store, you have the choice of 32-bit and 64-bit editions of the OS. When you are upgrading from XP, as clean install is required, you can move to 64-bit, if desired.

To check if your processor supports 64-bit, you may download and run the freebie ‘SecurAble’ utility. It also gives you the feedback of whether you can run the new OS in Windows XP mode. This provision is available for Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate users.

After upgrading to Windows 7, will I be able to run XP in the system?

The answer is yes, if you are upgrading to Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. There is a provision in these two editions to run the OS in the Windows XP Mode. This facility is an add-on and is not included in the DVD. This works with the help of Microsoft Client Virtualization technology. It creates a virtual XP environment running on a virtual PC.

Windows XP Mode is included in the licensed copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 or SP3. This rule out need for additional license. To run your PC on XP Mode, the computer should support process-driven virtualization. Freebie ‘SecurAble’ utility may be downloaded and run to assess whether the CPU of your PC is capable of this support.

A beta version of XP Mode is already available online to be run with Windows 7 RC.

What are my options, in case I do not want to shell out more money on XP mode?

If you do not mind a ‘wait and see’ approach, you may end up as the winner. Once you upgrade your OS to Windows 7, try each software program running previously in XP. Install and see whether they are working fine in the new OS. Most of them will work without any hassles. Softwares from Microsoft and other major vendors are the least likely to cause troubles.

If the program encounter problems and will not run, try to run it in ‘compatibility mode’. To do this, you should right-click on the shortcut of the program and select ‘Properties’. Among the tabs, choose ‘Compatibility ‘. Check off the box ‘Run this program in compatibility mode’. From the drop-down menu, select Windows XP as the version of Windows.

Alternately, you can run virtualization software freebies like VirtualBox, with Windows XP as the ‘guest’ OS. This requires a licensed XP for installation in the virtual machine. This may be a problem for many users, who bought their PC pre-installed with licensed XP. The XP OS, though licensed is not allowed to be transferred to another system, even a virtual and licensed one.

Even if you have the original XP installation CD, the activation key most probably will not work after upgrading the OS from XP to Windows 7. During the upgradation, the system sends key-cancellation request to servers to negate the activation and product key for XP and connect the PC to the new product key of Windows 7.

An expensive option is to buy a copy of XP. There are OEM editions of XP Home available for less than $100. Even this is enough to serve the purpose.

After upgradation, if I do not like Windows 7, can I revert to XP?

Yes, it is very much possible to revert to XP. However, the catch is that you should again go through the ‘clean’ install process. In addition, you should clear the drive of Windows 7 components and substitute it with that of XP.

Again, this needs backing up of data and noting down the settings. Easy Transfer utility for XP is not helpful in this scenario, as it is not meant for downgrades like this. You have to manually restore the data and settings and reinstall the applications.

If you have an idea beforehand that this is a possibility, you can create a disk image before you start the up-gradation process. You can return the PC to its original state from the disk image without much hassle.

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