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Upgrading to Windows Vista from a Previous Version of Windows


Upgrade to Windows Vista from a previous version of Windows.

Upgrade paths from previous Windows versions depend on the operating system version currently installed. Table 3.1 lists the available upgrade paths for older operating systems.

Table 3.1. Upgrading Older Operating Systems to Windows Vista

Operating System

Upgrade Path

Windows XP Home Edition

Can be upgraded directly to Windows Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium, Vista Business, or Vista Ultimate.

Windows XP Professional

Can be upgraded directly to Windows Vista Business or Vista Ultimate.

Windows XP Media Center

Can be upgraded directly to Windows Vista Ultimate.

Windows 9x/ME

Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

Windows 2000 Professional

Cannot be upgraded. You need to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista

Non-Windows operating systems (Unix, Linux, OS/2)

Cannot be upgraded. You need to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista.

Preparing a Computer to Meet Upgrade Requirements

In addition to running one of the supported versions of Windows mentioned here, a computer to be upgraded to Windows Vista must meet the hardware requirements outlined in Chapter 2, "Installing Windows Vista." In addition, all hardware components should be found in the Windows Logo Program for Hardware. Older software applications also may not be compatible with Windows Vista. Such applications might need to be upgraded or replaced to work properly after you have upgraded your operating system. Review the information provided in Chapter 2 when preparing your computers for upgrading to Windows Vista.

Vista Upgrade Advisor

Microsoft includes a compatibility tool on the Windows Vista DVD-ROM that generates reports describing hardware and software components that might not be compatible with Windows Vista. This report identifies any hardware or software problems associated with the computer to be upgraded.

Step by Step 3.1 shows you how to obtain a system compatibility report from the computer to be upgraded.

Additional Preparatory Tasks

Before you upgrade a Windows XP computer to Windows Vista, you should perform several additional tasks, as follows:

  • Check the BIOS manufacturer's website for any available BIOS upgrades, and upgrade the computer's BIOS to the latest available functional version if necessary. You should perform this step before a clean install or an upgrade to Windows Vista.
  • Scan and eliminate any viruses from the computer, using an antivirus program that has been updated with the latest antivirus signatures. You should then remove or disable the antivirus program because it may interfere with the upgrade process. In addition, you should use a third-party program to scan for and remove malicious software (malware).
  • Install any upgrade packs that may be required to render older software applications compatible with Windows Vista. Consult software manufacturers for details.
  • Install the latest service pack for Windows XP (SP2 at the time of writing), plus any other updates that Microsoft has published.

Upgrading the Computer to Windows Vista

After you have checked system compatibility and performed all tasks required to prepare your computer for upgrading, you are ready to proceed. The upgrade takes place in a similar fashion to a new installation, except that answers to some questions asked by the setup wizard are taken from the current installation. Step by Step 3.2 shows you how to upgrade a Windows XP Professional computer to Windows Vista Ultimate.

Dual-Booting Windows Vista

As in previous versions of Windows, you can install Windows Vista alongside a different version of Windows in a dual-boot configuration. By selecting Custom (Advanced) instead of Upgrade in step 6 of Step by Step 3.2, you can select a different partition on which to install Windows Vista. This retains all applications and settings you have configured in the previous version of Windows and creates a clean installation of Vista on the partition you have specified. You can even create multi-boot systems with more than two different operating systems, including different editions of Vista, on the same computer. Dual-booting or multi-booting has the following advantages:

  • You can test various editions of Vista without destroying your current operating system.
  • If you are running applications that are not compatible with Vista, you can boot into an older operating system to run these applications.
  • Developers can test their work on different Windows versions without needing more than one computer.

Windows Vista introduces several new boot management programs, which replace the older programs used with Windows NT/2000/XP/Server 2003. These include the following:

  • Bootmgr.exe—Controls boot activities and displays a boot manager menu on a dual-boot or multi-boot computer.
  • Bcdedit.exe—An editing application that enables you to edit boot configuration data on Vista. This is the only program that offers boot management editing capabilities for Vista.
  • Winload.exe—The operating system loader, included with each instance of Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 installed on any one computer. Winload.exe loads the operating system, its kernel, hardware abstraction layer (HAL), and drivers on startup.
  • Winresume.exe—Included with each instance of Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 installed on any one computer, this program resumes the operating system from hibernation.

For additional details on multi-booting Windows Vista with other operating systems, refer to "Boot Configuration Data in Windows Vista" in the Suggested Readings and Resources section at the end of this chapter.

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