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Installing and Upgrading Windows XP

In this sample chapter from Windows XP Unleashed, learn how to start the Setup process that will upgrade your current Windows operating system to Windows XP or do a clean installation.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In the last chapter, you discovered some of the things you need to do before starting an upgrade or fresh installation of Windows XP. Of course, one of the main things that you need to decide is whether you want to upgrade your current Windows operating system to Windows XP or do a clean installation. In this chapter you will learn how to start the Setup process that will perform either of these functions. You will learn how to start the Windows XP Setup Wizard and what information you may need to supply the Setup program.

If you have performed an upgrade or installation of a previous version of Windows NT or Windows 2000, then most of the steps that the Setup program performs will be familiar, although the screen displays will look a little different. Windows XP has a new graphical user interface (GUI), and you will get your first look at this during part of the Setup process.


For the purposes of this chapter, Windows XP Professional was used to demonstrate the installation process. The steps you see here will be very much the same if you happen to be installing the Home Edition for Windows XP.

Overview of the Windows XP Setup Process

The very first thing you should determine before you try an upgrade to Windows XP is whether there is an upgrade path from your current version of Windows. Table 3.1 lists the various choices for upgrading to Windows XP.

If your operating system is listed as having no upgrade path, then you really have two options: (1) you can perform a clean install of the XP operating system or (2) you can upgrade to a computer with Windows XP preinstalled.

If the upgrade path you need is available, then you will need to begin to set up Windows XP.

Setting up Windows XP is done in several phases. Once you start, the Setup Wizard will prompt you for a little information and then will copy some files to your hard disk. The system will then reboot into what is usually called Text Mode Setup. During the Setup process, you will be allowed to select whether to upgrade or install Windows XP and to choose the disk partition on which you want to place the system files. You can create partitions in unused portions of your hard disk, as well as delete and recreate partitions during setup. You can format the partition using either file allocation table 32 (FAT32) or NT File System (NTFS), both of which are supported by Windows XP.

Table 3.1 Upgrade paths to Windows XP Professional

Previous Version


Windows 3.1


Windows 95


Windows 98/Windows 98 SE


Windows Me


Windows NT Workstation 3.51


Windows NT Workstation 4.0


Windows NT Server 4.0


Windows 2000 Professional


Windows 2000 Server


Windows XP Home Edition


*A new release of Windows XP, Windows XP Server, will be available sometime in the first half of 2002 and will serve as the upgrade for Windows 2000 Server edition.


As you will learn in later chapters, one of the advantages of using the NTFS file system over FAT or FAT32 is that it provides for greater security. Although FAT and FAT32 are okay for Windows 95/98/Me versions of Windows, which are not capable of reading NTFS partitions), only NFTS allows you to set access permissions on a file-by-file or directory basis, and audit the access to those files or directories. If you are doing an install of Windows XP and don't need to let other operating systems have access to the installation partition, then I would recommend you use NTFS so that you can exercise this increased security over your operating system files.

Starting the Setup process can be done by booting from the source CD, by inserting the CD in your CD-ROM drive while another version of Windows is booted, or by using a network connection to the Setup files. You can choose components you want to install, such as networking components or installing a modem, or you can choose to delay these until after the installation. Unlike previous versions of Windows, you can also create local user accounts during the Setup process, or you can create them later by using an applet in the Control Panel.

The time required to set up depends on the hardware installed on your computer. Obviously, the speed of your central processing unit (CPU), whether you are using the CD to run the Setup program or whether you are accessing the Setup files from a network, will make a difference for installation time. You can expect, however, that on a typical computer that meets the minimum hardware requirements discussed in Chapter 2, you will spend a little more than an hour setting up your computer to run Windows XP.

In the next few sections, we will look at some things you should do before you begin to upgrade or install Windows XP, such as creating a checklist. In addition, you will learn about the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard and Dynamic Update, both of which are designed to make the transition to a new operating system, or computer, an easier task.

What Is Dynamic Update?

One of the problems with distributing an operating system on a CD is that once the new operating system starts to become widely adopted, vendors of hardware components such as network cards, display drivers, and so on either create new drivers for the operating system or create updated drivers to fix problems that weren't anticipated when the driver was first created. You also may find that new hardware comes on the market after the Windows XP installation CD is created, so there is no driver for the device available during installation.

Dynamic update makes use of the Windows Update service and can be run during the Setup process to download new drivers if a better one is available from the Windows Update site than the one supplied on the distribution source CD.

If you are connected to the Internet during the Setup process (for either an upgrade or an installation), then you will be able to use the Dynamic Update service to check for additional device drivers so that you won't have to worry about installing them later. You can also use Windows Update at a later time to update drivers, if you want. However, by using Dynamic Update, you can be sure you have the most recent drivers and any other patches or updates that Microsoft has created since the installation CD was created.

What Is the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard?

If you are installing Windows XP on a new computer, you can save some time by using the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. This wizard allows you to migrate some of the files, documents, and settings for some applications to the new computer. You do this by using a floppy disk or other removable media, or even a local area network (LAN) connection to transfer the data to the new computer. Although the wizard won't actually migrate the applications (you will have to reinstall those), it will migrate the settings for some of them.

The wizard will take you through a step-by-step process to collect the data on the old computer and transfer it to the new computer. Although the wizard doesn't support transferring settings for all applications, it does for many of the more popular packages like Microsoft Office and will also allow you to select any additional files and folders that you want to transfer.

By default, the configuration settings for the following applications are supported by the wizard:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Outlook Express
  • Dial-up connections
  • Phone and modem settings
  • Accessibility settings
  • The classic Windows 2000 desktop settings (this is optional)
  • Screen savers
  • Fonts
  • Folder options
  • Taskbar settings
  • Mouse and keyboard settings
  • Sound settings
  • Regional options (such as date/time settings)
  • Microsoft Office settings and file types
  • Network drive connections
  • The Printers desktop folder
  • My Documents, My Pictures, and My Favorites folders
  • Cookies


The Windows 2000 Resource Kit included a command-line utility called the User State Migration Tool (USMT). This tool creates INF files to store settings and other information. The system administrator can edit this file to customize the settings and data that will be transferred to a new computer. A newer version of this utility will be available after Windows XP is released, and it can be used in conjunction with or instead of the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to assist migration to new computer hardware for a large environment such as a business network.

As you can see, this migration wizard will save you a lot of time if you perform a clean install on a new computer. You won't have to spend time writing down a list of your current settings and then reapplying them once you have installed Windows XP on the new computer.

Collecting Information from Your Old Computer

Since the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard is a new application included with Windows XP, you won't find it on an older operating system like Windows 98. However, there are two ways you can use the wizard to collect settings from your old computer. You can use the Windows XP installation CD on your old computer to run the wizard, or you can use the installation CD to create a floppy disk that will run the wizard. In a large network, creating a floppy disk and duplicating it for your users is a simple method for running the wizard. This is especially true if you have a site license for Windows XP and don't have a lot of copies of the actual CD.

To create a floppy disk that can run the wizard, use the following steps:

  1. Insert the Windows XP CD into the CD-ROM drive of your computer. When the initial menu pops up, select Perform additional tasks.

  2. From the next menu, select Transfer Files and Settings. The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard will start with an informational dialog box telling you about its function. Click Next.

  3. The wizard will then present a dialog box asking if this is the old or new computer. Select the radio button labeled New Computer.

  4. The next dialog box will as if you have the installation CD. Select the No radio button and click Next.

  5. Another dialog box will then ask if you have a wizard disk. Select the radio button labeled I Want to Create a Wizard Disk in the following drive. Use the drop-down menu to select the floppy disk drive, or any other removable media drive on your computer. The floppy disk is all you need, since the wizard does not require more than one diskette. Click Next.

  6. Insert a blank, formatted floppy diskette into the drive and click OK to the prompt the wizard presents. The wizard will copy the necessary files to the floppy disk. When it finishes creating the diskette, you can click Cancel to close the wizard. You now have a wizard floppy diskette that you can use on your old computer.

To use the wizard diskette, insert it into the floppy drive of your old computer and run the program FASTWiz.exe from the floppy drive. This will start the wizard on your old computer.

The wizard will be able to detect that it is not running on a Windows XP computer, so it won't prompt you as it did earlier to find out which computer you are running this from. Instead, after the welcoming dialog box, you will be prompted to enter the method that will be used to transfer the files. This can be either of the following:

  • Floppy drive—This can be used if you are only transferring settings. If transferring both files and settings, the transfer process may require a number of floppy diskettes, depending on the amount of files you want to transfer.

  • Other—This can be another removable drive or a network drive share. For a business environment, using a folder on a shared network drive is a good solution to transfer large amounts of information.

The wizard will then ask what you want to transfer. As you can see in Figure 3.1, you can choose to transfer settings only, files only, or both files and settings.

Figure 3.1 The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard will prompt you for the information to be transferred to the new computer.

After you make your selection you can see in the right size of this figure a listing of what will be transferred. Click Next to start the process. The wizard will first scan your system and then copy the necessary information to a networked drive, or it will prompt you to insert a floppy disk if you chose that method. When finished, the wizard will tell you that it is done, and you can click Finish.

You have now saved information that you can transfer to your new Windows XP system. First, follow the steps outlined in the rest of this chapter to install Windows XP. When that is done, you can start the wizard by clicking on Start, More Programs, Accessories, System Tools and then Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. The wizard will prompt for the location of the data and restore your files or settings or both.

Installation/Upgrade Checklist

Before you start the Setup Wizard, be sure to read the previous chapter. Upgrading and installing operating systems is not a task to be taken lightly. When and if something does go wrong, you will need a back-out procedure (such as a good full backup and a set of startup disks or emergency repair disks) or a very good resume if you are performing this installation at work! Following are a few items you should be sure you have taken care of before starting the Setup Wizard:

  • Create a full backup of your system. If this is not possible, create backups of application data that cannot otherwise be recovered if something goes wrong.

  • Check that your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements such as CPU speed and memory.

  • Get rid of applications and Windows components that you no longer use. This will help make the Setup program run a little faster.

  • Check the hardware compatibility list (HCL) at http://www.microsoft.com/hcl to be sure that all the devices attached to your computer are supported under Windows XP. Replace components that are not compatible or obtain new drivers from the vendor if you have items not included on the HCL.

  • Defragment the boot partition (usually your C: drive) and the partition on which you intend to install Windows XP. Keep in mind that you can create and delete partitions during setup, so if you are going to place the Windows XP system root on a different partition than the boot partition, you won't need to defragment anything other than the boot partition. This isn't a requirement, but just a good suggestion to make things run faster.

  • Create a list of all hardware devices and configuration settings for devices installed in your computer. For example, what kind of network card do you use? Knowing the IRQs and other configuration settings for devices can be handy when troubleshooting the device if you have problems with it during the Windows XP Setup process.

  • Exit from all other applications if you are starting the wizard from a booted system or via the network.

  • Close any antivirus software that is running on your PC. Some may cause the Setup process to hang. This is especially true if you are upgrading from Windows 95/98/Me.

  • Keep your fingers crossed except when entering information required by the Setup process.

Okay, now you are ready to start the Setup Wizard and install Windows XP. Good luck!

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