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Windows XP, Installing and Setup

By: Arie Slob

Backup your files

If you're upgrading, you should back up your current files. You can back up files to a disk, a tape drive, or another computer on your network.

Don't forget to back up your e-mail messages and address book.

It might also be advisable to record your Network settings

Upgrade vs. Clean Install

During the setup process, you must choose between upgrading or installing a new copy of Windows ("clean install").

During an upgrade, the Windows XP Setup Wizard replaces existing Windows files but preserves your existing settings and applications. Some applications might not be compatible with Windows XP Professional and therefore might not function properly after an upgrade. You can upgrade to Windows XP Home Edition or Windows XP Professional from the following operating systems:

  • Windows 98
  • Windows 98 Second Edition
  • Windows Millennium Edition

You can upgrade to Windows XP Professional only, from the following operating systems:

  • Windows NT 4.0 Workstation (Service Pack 6 and later)
  • Windows 2000 Professional (including service packs)
  • Windows XP Home Edition

If your computer is currently running an unsupported operating system, you can't do an upgrade. The wizard installs Windows XP in a new folder. After the installation is complete, you will have to reinstall applications and reset your preferences.

If you have the time & spirit, I recommend you choose to do a "clean install". The advantage is that this will get rid of a lot of duplicate files, and left over files from software which didn't get deleted when you uninstalled the software.

If you choose to do this, you need to make sure that you have all the disks and installation codes, or the downloaded files for your software, as you will have to reinstall all your applications.

FDISK & Format

You don't have to worry about running FDISK (to partition your hard drive) or format, both can be done during the installation process.


This is important to know. Windows XP includes an uninstall capability, but only when upgraded from Windows 98 and Windows Me. But you have to remember that you cannot change the file format (convert to NTFS), or you will lose the ability to uninstall.

If sufficient disk space is available, Windows XP will automatically save your previous OS files. Should you wish to go back to your previous OS, it is advisable to do it sooner rather than later. The more time that passes, the greater the chances that you may encounter certain "issues" (in other words: you could run into problems!).

Save System Files

Dual Boot

If you want to set up a dual boot with your existing OS, you will need a separate volume (a separate partition on the same physical hard drive), or a separate hard drive.

The only thing to remember is that the oldest OS should be installed first, but this would usually be the case. When you install Windows XP, it will detect the existing OS, and because in this case you will not select to upgrade your existing OS, Windows XP will make a boot menu, where you will be able to choose which OS you want to boot to.

Now installing Windows 9x and Me after installing Windows XP should be safe, as long as you install it to a separate volume. Windows 9x / Me do not use the same system files on the boot drive. In fact, you will notice that they will be added automatically to the Windows XP boot menu. I discovered this when I installed Windows 98 in the boot partition of Windows XP. XP itself was installed on drive E, but the boot files were on drive C. The OS you installed last will be the default choice when booting. The easist way to change this is to boot into Windows XP, select System in the Control Panel, select the Advanced tab and press the Settings button under Startup and Recovery. Now you can change the Default operating system.

I haven't tried, but I would imagine you might have additional problems when you install Windows 2000 or a version of Windows NT after installing XP. This is because these OS'ses use some of the same boot files.

To be able to use dual boot with Windows 9x and Windows Me, you will need to have your boot volume (usually C:\) file system as FAT or FAT32. So do not convert your boot volume to NTFS during or after the Windows XP install!

Windows 2000 (and Windows NT 4.0 with service pack 4 or higher) can use NTFS, so it doesn't matter if the boot volume is in NTFS file format or not.

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