Shifting from XP to Windows 7
Nov 3, 2009, 10:59 GMT
Washington - If you're thinking about upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP, you're not alone. Legions of individuals and businesses either skipped the Windows Vista upgrade or, once they had tried it, decided to revert back to XP.
Windows 7, though, is a different story. Given the almost universally favourable reviews it has received, many tried-and-true XP users are preparing to give Microsoft's latest operating system a try. But Windows 7 is quite a bit different from XP, and that means a lot of upgraders have a lot of questions. Here are a few.
Q: I have some ancient proprietary software that runs well in Internet Explorer 6 but not in 7 or 8. I'm running Internet Explorer 6 on my XP machine. Can I run Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 7?
A: No. Internet Explorer 6 will not install on Windows 7. But Windows 7 does offer you the capability of running the Windows XP Mode add-in, available at (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx). XP Mode allows you to run a complete Windows XP system inside of Windows 7. That means, essentially, that you have two operating systems in one. So if you find that you have one or more older applications that simply require Windows XP, you can run them in XP Mode.
XP Mode requires that you download and install two components: the Windows XP Mode installation program itself and Windows Virtual PC. You should install XP Mode first, followed by Virtual PC. Once both are installed, you'll need to restart your machine. After your machine is back up, open the Start menu, and navigate to All Programs - Windows Virtual PC - Windows XP Mode.
Before XP Mode starts, you'll be asked some questions, similar to those you see during the installation of an operating system because, in fact, you will be installing a separate operating system: Windows XP. During the installation process, you'll see some instructions for accessing and using Windows XP Mode. It's not a bad idea actually to read those instructions, since they'll help to get you started with Windows XP Mode.
The edition of XP that is installed with XP Mode is Professional, so you should not be lacking for features with XP Mode. Nice, too, is that XP Mode will automatically inherit all of your device drivers from the Windows 7 installation, so you should not have to go running around for drivers for your peripherals, as you typically must when installing XP from scratch.
Q: I understand that because I used Windows XP, Windows 7 will require me to do a clean installation rather than an in-place upgrade. How can I be sure all of my files and settings get transferred to Windows 7?
A: The best way is to use the Windows Easy Transfer utility for Windows XP (http://tinyurl.com/yjwkbc5). Once installed on your XP machine, Easy Transfer will step you through the process of copying all of your critical system settings and files to the new computer, either by way of an external hard drive or through a straight cable-to-cable connection.
Although you will have a choice regarding how to copy the settings onto the Windows 7 machine, it's probably wisest to use the external drive method. Copying your settings to an external drive is both faster and probably simpler than using the other options of direct-cable or network transmission.
In the course of the transfer process, you'll have the option of reviewing the files and settings to be transferred. Look carefully at the Easy Transfer's default choices, especially if you keep files or settings in custom locations. Be aware, too, that the tool will not transfer program files unless you tell it to. In general, it's best to reinstall applications on the Windows 7 machine, although you may want to transfer customised files, such as macros you've made for specific applications.
Q: I don't like the idea of moving all at once to Windows 7. Can I install Windows 7 alongside my current XP installation?
A: Yes. You will not be able to install Windows 7 on the same partition as Windows XP. But assuming that you have enough disk space, you can create a new partition on your hard drive by using a free partitioning tool such as Partition Wizard (http://www.partitionwizard.com).
Choose the Custom installation option when installing Windows 7, and place Windows 7 on the newly-created partition. Once Windows 7 is installed, you'll be able to choose which operating system to boot into when you start your PC.
If, after some time, you feel comfortable enough with Windows 7 and you're satisfied that you have moved all necessary files and applications to the Windows 7 partition, you may want to delete the XP partition and dual boot option in order to free up hard drive space. The easiest way to do this is by using the free utility EasyBCD (http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1).
Download this nifty multi-boot utility, and read the documentation. With EasyBCD, you can determine which operating system loads by default, and you can also delete an operating system that you're no longer using. Deleting will remove the boot files, not the entire operating system. Once the boot files are removed, however, you can reformat the partition that contained Windows XP and then use Partition Wizard to merge the empty space back into your Windows 7 partition, leaving you with a clean Windows 7 machine.
--- Have a computer question? Send it to the Computer Helper at firstname.lastname@example.org.