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This chapter is from the book

Upgrading Over an Existing Operating System

If you're upgrading rather than performing a clean installation, the process is a bit different. Setup checks on the advisability of upgrading and asks a few more questions. This section provides a few points concerning the upgrade or dual-boot with preexisting operating systems.

The process of performing an upgrade install is much simpler than the clean installation process. Just be sure to select Upgrade instead of New Installation on the initial Windows Setup wizard. After accepting the License Agreement and providing the Product Key, you have little to do (refer to the previous section and perform the steps for doing a clean installation). You won't see all of the steps listed in the clean install, but you'll easily be able to follow your way through it catching the steps the setup wizard prompts you to respond to.

Just before the setup routine begins copying Windows XP over your previous OS, it inspects your system. This inspection produces an upgrade report (see next section). After the upgrade report, you just need to wait until you are prompted by the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP screen where you activate the system. You can jump into step 44 of the typical clean installation step-by-step to complete the process.

Upgrade Report

After you supply your product key, Setup creates an upgrade report summarizing everything that might not work with Windows XP and giving you a chance to access updated files that hardware or software vendors might have available (check their Web sites). If you don't have upgrade files for the listed items, you might skate by their Web sites anyway.

The upgrade report is a pretty spiffy HTML-based dialog box that details what might not work if you go ahead with the installation. It has a link to the Windows XP Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) for easily checking to see whether the Brand X video card you just bought really won't work or if the compatibility test was just out of date. Do check the list, assuming your computer is connected to the Internet.

Although your list might be long, it might not be catastrophic news. Most of the stuff my systems showed didn't end up causing problems. For example, I know that the video card I have is supported, as is the Epson printer. Both were listed as potentially problematic. Most of the other things such as shares, Recycle Bin, backup files, and DOS startup file issues were no big deal. The new operating system takes care of most of these issues, mostly due to Plug and Play and good hardware detection during Setup. Plus, I probably had some old junk in my AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files (holdover configuration files used in the days of DOS) that's no longer valuable. The DOS exceptions were Sound Blaster drivers that DOS-based games used—the kinds of things that most Windows XP users are not going to worry about.

If you see anything listed about your video card, disk controller, sound card, or tape backup, you might want to check on those items a little more closely and download a driver update pack from the manufacturer before you update. Basically, you should take seriously anything that might suggest incompatibility that prevents basic operation or bootability of the system, and you can acknowledge but not sweat the rest.


If you just want to run the upgrade report and not execute the complete Setup program, insert the installation CD in the CD-ROM drive, or connect over the LAN to the CD. If the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP splash screen appears, click Check System Compatibility, and then Check my system automatically. Follow the wizard's prompts to perform an upgrade or XP compatibility test. If the splash screen does not appear or you are working from DOS, then issue the following command:

winnt32 /checkupgradeonly

This command generates just the report.

Just follow the rest of the instructions as they come up on the screen. Your computer might have to restart several times in the process. If the computer seems to be stuck, wait several minutes to ensure it's really stopped functioning properly. Then reboot it. Windows XP uses an "intelligent" Setup feature that should restart where it left off. Eventually, after much spinning of the hard disks, the system boots up into Windows XP. But before you are granted access to the new system, there are the issues of activation, registration, and user accounts to deal with. Jump to step 54 in the typical clean installation step-by-step, to complete the installation procedure.

If Windows refuses to boot after the installation is complete, see "Windows XP Fails to Boot After Installation" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

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