Windows 7 will be released today. We have already given plenty of love to Windows 7. If you are still using Windows XP and want to switch directly to Windows 7, you might get disheartened knowing that there is no direct path to upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7. However, with a bit of planning and with appropriate tools, you can move from XP to Windows 7 with minimal of fuss. If that is what you are looking for, this is the guide for you. Let’s set the ball rolling straight away.
Step 1: The checks
First off, you would want to make sure your existing hardware can support Windows 7. Windows XP has been out for a long time and your hardware might not support the newer and comparatively more demanding versions of Windows like Windows 7. These are the official system requirements:
- 1 GHz processor (32- or 64-bit)
- 1 GB of RAM (32-bit); 2 GB of RAM (64-bit)
- 16 GB of available disk space (32-bit); 20 GB of available disk space (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
You can use the Windows 7 Upgrade advisor to see if your computer will run Windows 7. Once you are sure that you are good to go, hop up to the next step.
Step 2: Backup and Migration
It is always a good idea to have backup of your important files and settings that you worked so hard to create. We have shown you various applications to backup your files and settings in the past. If you would rather not install any new software, a simple copy and paste would suffice for the time being. Just make sure to include everything you might need. While you might have set up your folders differently according to your taste, here are some key locations that you should check out and decide if you would like to back them up:
- My Documents
- My Music
- My Pictures
- (If you have more than one user account on your computer, make sure to back up their files as well)
- Your projects folders and files, if it is your work computer
- Browser bookmarks, saved passwords, etc.
- Other program data under %AppData% (This doesn’t always work. It is better if you use respective applications to export settings)
Another option you can use to quickly backup and transfer your settings is the Windows Easy Transfer tool that you can find on the Windows 7 DVD. Browse to the folder named support and then to migwiz on your Windows 7 DVD and launch migsetup.exe. This will launch the Windows Easy Transfer tool.
Choose how you would like to transfer the settings:
and then select what to transfer:
and Windows Easy Transfer will do the rest and give you a file you can store, on say a flash drive to transfer the settings to new installation later.
Step 3: Drivers
Next up are the drivers. It is always a good idea to search your computer manufacturer’s website to see if they have newer drivers for Windows 7. Older drivers may not always work, or may not work as intended. This is especially true for drivers made for Windows XP. I was able to use an XP display driver with Windows 7 beta but it didn’t work when Windows 7 RC came out. You might have more luck with Vista drivers on Windows 7, but nothing is guaranteed. So if you are trying to get older drivers to work, you better be prepared to play around after installation.
Step 4: Install
Finally, you are ready to install Windows 7. Pop in the DVD and restart your computer. Boot from the DVD and follow the prompts to install Windows 7.
Choose Custom (Advanced install) when given the choice:
Then choose the system drive (which was your C: on Windows XP) as the partition you would like to set up Windows 7.
Wait for the installation to complete, and boot into Windows 7 once you are done.
Installed, now what?
Already here? Way to go. Now that you have Windows installed there are few additional steps you should take before you are ready to go. First off, make sure you install an antivirus before you start browsing the web or transferring files using USB drives. MS Security Essentials, AVG, Avast and Antivir are good free choices. You might want to look into commercial ones if you want something better. ESET and Kaspersky are good choices over there (Oops! Did I start a flame war?).
Install your favorite applications now. This would be a good time to get the latest versions if you have been postponing pending software updates. Looking for some software recommendations? Check out the Mark pack.
Oh and don’t forget to restore the settings you backed up earlier. If you went the copy-paste route, its time to do some more copy-paste. If you used Windows Easy Transfer instead, click on Start button and type Windows Easy transfer, launch the application and let it know that this is your new computer, then browse to the location you stored those settings to and let it do the rest.
Hope this helps you plan your upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. Once you are done, use the comments area and tell us know how it went and if Windows 7 is worth the price tag!