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Upgrading to XP? Proceed Carefully

Posted By On November 12, 2004 @ 12:30 PM In System Tune-Up Help | Comments Disabled

Upgrading to XP? Proceed Carefully

So, you finally decided to give in and upgrade to Windows XP. There are some issues you should know before making the switch.

Before you do anything, it might be a good idea to visit the Microsoft Windows XP website [1] . You can compare XP to Win 98 , and get answers to compatibility issues . There is even an Upgrade Advisor page that will check your system to see if it’s ready to upgrade.

Like The Force, XP has a Dark Side.

# 1 – Multiple Copies – You need to buy a copy for each computer you own. You can’t simply buy one and put it on all your machines (and your friend’s machines, etc). If you only have one computer, no big deal. If you have several, the price adds up quick.

If you think you can get around this, you really can’t. MS uses an “activation” system that only lets you install the software on one computer. That said, activation really isn’t all that bad. It only takes a few seconds, you can still swap out cards, add memory, and such without needing to re-activate Windows. In fact, Microsoft claims that if you swap out too much (over 60% of your computer if I recall), you can still get re-activated without a hassle. So, I wouldn’t sweat it too much.

# 2 – Driver Issues – OK, this one can be troublesome. Most of the problems people e-mailed to me involved driver issues – their old hardware doesn’t work with XP.

Before you upgrade, it’s a good idea to check and see how compatible your old hardware is with XP. MS has a “compatibility checker” that lets you check your system to see if there are any potential problems. Here’s the link:

Bad thing with the upgrade advisor is its size – the thing is about 50 meg. If you’re using a dial up connection, it’ll take forever to download. XP setup includes it and will check your computer before the upgrade takes place. I don’t know what happens if you find you don’t want to upgrade. I guess you call Microsoft and try to get a refund from them???

Oh, you may want to check with your printer, scanner, and digital camera manufactures too. I’m not sure if this gets covered with the Upgrade Advisor. I do know that those areas seem to be the most problematic.

# 3 – Software Issues – Not all software will run on XP. I’ve had readers tell me that it seems the majority of their old software doesn’t work with XP, but I can get just about anything to run on it. I’d say 90% of the software I test on XP runs just fine. As for the other 10%, who needs it anyway? Just kidding. Some software, such as a firewall and antivirus, should be uninstalled before the upgrade, then reinstalled in Windows XP to run properly.

Anyhow, those are the major points. If you’re thinking of upgrading, it’s a good idea to check around and make sure you’re going to be able to use your favorite hardware and software. Your best bet for this is the manufacturer of the hardware / software in question. Be sure to carefully follow directions when you do the upgrade—it is not as simple as popping in a disk and clicking Run, you need to do some ground work first .

Even after all of the above negatives, I still think that XP is a good way to go. One of my biggest gripes is working on a project only to have the computer lock up and lose everything. XP hardly ever locks up, freezes or misbehaves for me (and the vast majority of folks who have written me about it).

Windows XP Website
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/

Compare XP to 98
http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsXP/pro/evaluation/whyupgrade/sidebyside/

XP Compatibility Issues
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/compatibility/

Upgrade Advisor
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/howtobuy/upgrading/advisor.asp

Upgrade Center
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/howtobuy/upgrading/

~Steve


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[1] Microsoft Windows XP website: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/