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Understanding Basic Installation/Upgrade Requirements

Microsoft is unusually clear in its instructions on when and how you can upgrade a computer with an existing operating system to Windows XP. For the Home Edition, your computer must be running either Windows 98 or Windows ME; for Professional, you computer must be running either Windows NT 4.0 Workstation or Windows 2000 Professional.

But it's also important to understand the impetus for upgrading or for choosing the new installation option instead. Basically, the upgrade option exists to permit individuals to keep their desktop settings, preferences, and applications more or less intact, rather than requiring them to rebuild their desktops from the ground up. On the other hand, for computers with no operating system already installed (and hence, nothing to upgrade), for other versions of Windows from which XP can't upgrade or in those situations where you'd just as soon start over and save nothing from a previous installation, the new installation option is the right way to go. Ultimately, only you can decide which option is right for your needs.

Table 2 lists the basic minimum and recommended hardware for systems suitable for Windows XP.

Table 2—Windows XP Home and Professional Hardware Requirements

Item

XP Home Minimum

XP Home Recommended

XP Pro Minimum

XP Pro Recommended

CPU

P233

P300

P233

P300

RAM

64 MB

128 MB

64 MB

128 MB

Disk space

1.5 GB

2.0+ GB

1.5 GB

2.0+ GB

Display

Super VGA

Super VGA

Super VGA

Super VGA

CD-ROM/DVD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Other

Mouse/Kybd

Mouse/Kybd

Mouse/Kybd

Mouse/Kybd

Network

Not req'd

10MB+Ethernet

Not req'd

10MB+Ethernet

Internet

Not req'd

Recommended

Not req'd

Recommended


As the preceding section indicates, even though the hardware requirements for XP Home Edition and Professional are the same, their capabilities are not (nor is the price). Clearly, this makes picking your version of XP more a matter of money and desired functionality than hardware.

Also, just for the record, list pricing on Windows XP Home Edition is $99 for an upgrade and $199 for the full retail version; Windows XP Professional is $199 for an upgrade and $299 for the full retail version. Various discounts are available online and at computer superstores like CompUSA and Fry's.

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