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Installing, Upgrading or Re-Installing XP

These principles apply if you go from XP to Vista or Vista to Win 7

Moving up to XP? Or Re-installing XP? Who, What, Why, Where, When, How?

First - Why? For any number of reasons, you might be faced with this scenario.
1. You have 98 or Me and want the benefits of XP.
2. You build your own computer and want to install XP.
3. The computer crashes and you decide it's time to upgrade.
4. You have XP and the computer crashes and you have to reload XP.

The Who? The nice thing about XP is that almost anyone can install it.

The How? There are different ways to install XP. As an upgrade if coming from a computer with a previous OS or as a new installation. Now for the advice. Experience is dictating a fresh install over an upgrade. Lets examine a typical scenario. You have a Gateway computer that was supplied with Me. You start having problems with crashes and errors and decide the best way to solve the problem is to upgrade to XP. Good choice, but some cautions are in order. First you check the Gateway site to see if there are any special requirements. Some computers require a BIOS update before installing XP. I have had this experience on my Sony laptop and a client's Dell. I just did a Gateway that did not need it. Second, look at the manufacturers site to see if your model is listed and see if there are updates needed for the hardware. Check Video, Sound, Modem, etc. Then check the manufacturers sites for your printer, scanner, camera and any other external devices. You can also check the Microsoft site for compatibility. There are 3 groups of hardware updates. 1- XP will install it automatically, 2- XP will install it if you have the updated software, and 3- the product will not work at all in XP. The 3rd group is rare, but the Canon 5000 printer is one of them. Canon refuses to write updated drivers for that printer to work with XP. Third, you want all the preinstalled programs retained. In order to do that, you need to restore the factory software (Windows Me) and then upgrade to XP. Our experience has been that an upgrade is very difficult with XP. The install is easy, but the conversion process leaves a lot to be desired. I'll give you 2 examples:

1. I just spent an entire Saturday from 1 PM to 11 PM reinstalling XP on a Gateway. I had spent 5 hours 3 weeks ago upgrading it from Me to XP after restoring the factory software. In that 3 weeks, the computer crashed repeatedly, an unusual situation for XP. Obviously there were conflicts with software installed by the factory restore. (These times included installing and configuring all the extra software and hardware)

This time, we did a fresh install without Me. That did not take long, but we could not get the scanner and sound to work or the Gateway Internet keyboard. The time was consumed downloading the new drivers from Gateway and trying to find some problems. Turned out the scanner was bad and we had a bad floppy disk drive. The lesson in this is that a fresh install is much cleaner than an upgrade, but you must be ready to find drivers that are not in XP. Once we solved the hardware problems, everything else went fine.

2. I tried to upgrade my Sony laptop from Me to XP and it refused to do it. I went to the Sony site and found instructions to update the BIOS, download and install 15 files to satisfy the upgrade. Then they said, "If you do a fresh install, these files are not necessary." I then installed XP as a fresh OEM install and it went in without a hitch and XP found all the hardware and installed the drivers. The problem is when you have an OS that already has drivers, XP can't modify them. On a fresh install, the correct drivers are there.

I have seen many comments from other techs and writers that have said to do a fresh install rather than an upgrade. Then install only the programs you want.

2-11-05 update. I ordered the SP2 disk from Microsoft & installed it on all my computers primarily for security reasons. They installed with out a hitch. I received a couple of unexpected benefits. I had to get some hardware working on my laptop due to HP's poor service (see I Hate HP for details). SP2 made it a no brainer. Second I set up a network at home so we could access the Internet from our laptop. Not quite a no brainer, but pretty close.
Did I say I love XP? I still don't like Microsoft for being big brother & taking control, but XP is finally real plug and play.

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