Upgrade vs. clean install
As with other versions of Windows, you have the option of
performing a clean install or an upgrade from a previous
version of Windows. The upgrade pack will allow you to do
both. But, you must have a copy of the full version of your
current operating system if you want to perform a clean
install using an upgrade disk.
A clean install is a nice way of saying that
you'll be erasing the entire contents of your hard drive and
starting over from scratch. The NOSPIN Group only recommends a
clean install if for some reason the upgrade fails.
Formatting a hard drive and starting over isn't a
complicated process once you know how, but it does require
extensive patience and time to follow through from beginning
We won't be covering how to perform a clean install of XP in
this article. We have
covered that in a different article. However, we will
cover what you need to do to successfully upgrade you current
PC to XP.
XP Upgrade: Before You Start
After determining your upgrade eligibility, it's time get
down and dirty with XP. Just like previous releases of
Windows, Microsoft is selling XP Home Edition Upgrade for $99.
This release was designed with the average user in mind. It
doesn't feature some of the more advanced networking options
and remote file-sharing capabilities. Pick up a copy of XP
Professional Upgrade for $199 if you're looking for those
Back up all data and settings
The first step along the upgrade path is to
back up all your data, settings, and anything else you can't
After you've fully backed up all your important files and
settings it's time to begin. Insert your upgrade disk into
your CD-ROM. You'll notice the CD-ROM will automatically
launch the installation menu. For now, minimize the menu.
We're going to look at something else: Read1st.txt.
Read first file
The Read1st.txt file is located in the Docs folder of your
XP CD-ROM. Start by locating this file and examining its
contents. The Read1st.txt file will contain last-minute
information that didn't make it into other documentation and a
roadmap on which to find other useful XP information.
Now that you've become close to all of XP's readme files
it's time maximize the installation menu and proceed.
XP Upgrade: Step-by-Step Instructions
Look at the installation menu. It offers three main
Install Windows XP
Perform additional options
Check system compatibility
Even though it doesn't specifically say "Upgrade to XP"
anywhere it is there.
Here's a general roadmap for performing an upgrade to
- Insert the disk. This should automatically launch the
- Next, click the green arrow or text next to it labeled
"Install Windows XP."
This will launch the first process titled "Collecting
Information" which quickly identifies if you're eligible for
Next, you should see a popup window welcoming you to the
Make sure the "Installation Type" pull-down menu reads
Click the Next button.
Click the radio button next to "I accept this
Click the Next button.
Enter your 25-character registration code.
Click the Next button.
You'll be prompted to display an upgrade report after
the installation. Leave the recommended setting alone.
Choose one of the other two options if you need to have more
complete or no information at all.
Click the Next button to proceed to "Dynamic Update."
The dynamic update will go online and download updated
installation files that have been released after your copy of
XP was made. Choose to download files from the Internet only
if you have a broadband connection. Otherwise, just skip this
section and choose to update after your install.
- Choose the dynamic update option that best suits your
- Click the Next button to proceed to "Preparing
After a few minutes you should receive a read-out of how
much time is estimated to complete the installation process.
This would be a good time to take a break if you need to,
because you're about to be bombarded with all the wonderful
new features inside XP.
You'll soon witness the installation beginning to copy all
its setup files. When this is completed your computer will
automatically restart itself. You'll then be prompted to
choose an installation of Windows you'd like to start.
Don't worry. You don't have to choose anything; Windows
will automatically proceed with the correct version within a
You should now see the beautiful XP logo while your
computer is booting up. The installation will finish copying
all setup files and then restart itself. After restarting
you'll be into the next phase, "Installing Windows."
You will notice a slight difference in your display
properties. The setup will continue copying installation files
and other components over to your hard drive. If you're paying
attention, you'll notice that your screen may flicker a few
times during this process. That's OK and a good indication
that the setup is almost ready for you to name your computer.
Next, you'll be asked to come up with a wonderful new name
for your computer if the old name doesn't meet the new
standards. Pick a name and then click the Next button to
continue copying all the Network components.
If you've reached this phase you're done. Congratulations
on a successful upgrade to Windows XP. You should now see the
"Tour Windows" screen. Click the Next button at the bottom to
proceed to the activation process.
Windows Product Activation (WPA) is the last step along the
XP upgrade path. We recommend holding off on the product
activation until you've finished installing any other
This will bypass having to activate your product again
after making any changes to your hardware configuration. Click
the Finish button to proceed to setting up your user accounts.
The final step is to name your user accounts. Do this now
and then click the Next button to finally see your new
You are all done.