How to Upgrade From XP to Windows 7

Upgrading from XP will be harder than upgrading from Vista.

You had good reason to stick with XP and skip the Vista experience entirely. But now that the folks at Microsoft have created a new operating system that's worth moving to, they haven't made the upgrade easy, because you have to perform a clean install of the OS. Here are the issues you need to be aware of, and how to handle them. Then read the main article, "How to Upgrade to Windows 7" for more information on the process.

Hardware: Your hardware may not be up to the task of running Windows 7--and even if it is, your drivers won't work. Un­­fortunately, a simple upgrade install is out of the question, too; Microsoft requires that you XP users do a clean install.

It's a good idea for anyone contemplating the upgrade to run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor first; for XP users, this step is absolutely vital.

Upgrading your motherboard's firmware also becomes more important; check your system manufacturer's Web site to see if an upgrade is available.

Windows 7 can't use XP drivers: Check the Windows 7 Compatibility Center, which was still in its "coming soon" phase at the time of this writing. In the meantime, the Vista version of the Compatibility Center--look for a link on the page--can help, since Vista drivers work in XP, but the fit isn't perfect. Some Vista drivers download as .exe files that run exclusively in Vista.

Not all XP applications work in Vista, or in Windows 7, either. Again, the Compatibility Centers can tell you what works, what doesn't, and where you can download the necessary patches.

Windows XP Mode: Windows 7's XP Mode could be the solution to your application compatibility problems. This mode runs XP in a virtual machine inside 7, although the user interface is more integrated than in most virtual machines. For instance, XP and 7 applications appear together on the same desktop.

But XP Mode may not work on your PC. It requires a CPU with virtualization capabilities. Browse to the Microsoft's page of instructions on how to find out whether your CPU has this feature and, if it does, how to turn it on. XP Mode doesn't ship with Windows 7, but it's available as a free download. It also comes with a full version of XP.

One XP-to-7 issue is just something to be aware of: These two versions of Windows store your data files in different locations. The XP folder C:\ Documents and Settings is now C:\Users. Application Data is now the abbreviated AppData. Local Settings\Application Data is now AppData\Local. And your Music, Pictures, and Videos folders now sit be­­side My Documents rather than inside it.

The Windows 7 installation program moves all of your old folders to a folder called C:\Windows.old. You may need to remember, as you try to get your new program installations together with your old data, that the Outlook.pst file that is now in C:\Windows.old\Documents and Settings\yourlogon\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook belongs in the new location C:\Users\yourlogon\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.

For more of PCW's Windows 7 coverage, read our in-depth Windows 7 review, and read how we tested Windows 7. And for ongoing information about Windows 7, sign up for PC World's Windows News and Tips newsletter.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags WindowsWindows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Imou: At home with security

Modern living is all about functionality and security for everybody from the very young to the very old. With Imou anybody can enjoy smart life – the solution is at their fingertips.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?