Upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7 - it is possible!
Windows XP has been around for over 12 years. With that much time in use, there are bound to be situations where exporting data, finding install disks, installing the new OS, reinstalling the program and then restoring the data is not a viable option or is doomed to fail. What can you do if you are faced with this situation? Simply, upgrade the system to Windows 7!
Despite Microsoft's claim that there is no upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, there is a way to make this happen. As a consultant, I am faced with this issue several times a month and fully expect this to rise as more companies transition to Windows 7. The reasons to upgrade the existing system range from legacy databases that cannot easily be exported and imported, software that is permanently associated with the specific PC hardware and software that require a hardware dongle that does not work with newer PC's. Regardless of the reason, there is a way to upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7.
Let me say at this point that the process to upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7 is involved and there are some things you will need to prepare for to make this process successful. If you have Windows XP 64 bit, you can upgrade to Windows 7 64 bit. If you have Windows XP 32 bit (as most installs are), you will have to use Windows 7 32 bit.
Tools you will need:
1. Download Windows Upgrade Advisor
2. External hard drive
3. Windows Vista Business Edition Service Pack 1 (no license needed)
4. Windows 7 Professional with license
As with any major change, you need to create a backup of the existing system. Use your favorite method of backing up the OS, data and system settings (I prefer to use Ghost to get an entire image of the hard drive in a short period of time).
Create the backup of Windows XP:
Before continuing, disconnect all hardware from the PC and uninstall all printers, scanners and any other hardware devices that will need a new Windows 7 driver. This step will save you time troubleshooting a failed device once Windows 7 is installed.
Also, verify the Administrator account log in and password or setup a new local Administrator level user login and password.
Run Windows Upgrade Advisor. This will indicate if there are any software or hardware that is currently in use that absolutely will NOT work with Windows 7. Evaluate all non-compatible software and hardware issue with the user and see if this is a "show stopper".
You can still proceed with the upgrade and see if you can make the software or hardware to work by changing the compatibility settings in Windows 7.
With Windows XP running, put the Windows Vista Business disk in and start the upgrade process. When prompted, choose UPGRADE. (This process can take some time so be patient.) Let this finish and the system will reboot. Verify Windows Vista is properly installed by logging in using the local Administrator account.
Reboot Windows Vista at least 2 times, logging in each time, to ensure the new OS is working correctly.
With Windows Vista running, insert the Windows 7 disk and start the upgrade process. Choose the UPGRADE option again and let this complete (again, this will take some time so be patient). Once Windows 7 is installed, the system will reboot. Use the local Administrator account to login and test the OS to ensure it installed properly.
Test everything - log into each program and verify access and functionality. Do not skimp on this step - get the user to log in and watch them run their programs.
Once initial testing is complete, re-install the printers, scanners and other hardware that will need updated drivers to work correctly.
I have followed these steps numerous times and it has worked perfectly each time. Removing the printers and hardware before upgrading will save you time and was a lesson I learned after my first upgrade.