Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Secrets for a Successful Upgrade: Windows XP 32bit to Windows 7 64bit

DRAFT POST  Section  2.0

How to Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 Without Too Much Aggravation.

Helpful Tips, Tricks, Secrets, and Frustrating Pitfalls They Don’t Tell You About.

Here we describe the procedure and a timeline for the upgrade from Windows XP 32bit to Windows 7 64bit.  This particular upgrade has a reputation for being tricky, frustrating, and difficult for the home user to do.  We will highlight information and tricks they don’t tell you about. 

We were able to upgrade from Windows XP 32bit to Windows 7 64bit in 7 hours 20minutes elapsed time, and it works perfectly.

Update August 26: This week we successfully upgraded the RAM in our old PC. The old system had XP 32 bit OS and 2GB as 2x1GB DIMMS. So we removed the old RAM and replaced it with 4GB using 2 x2GB DDR2 DIMMs from Newegg. Our install of Win7 64 works great and much faster on HD H.264 video editing and rendering than it did under Win XP 32 /2GB. With this result, I feel our work in upgrading to WIN 7 64 and 4GB RAM was worth the time and effort.
BTW the CPU is an AMD Athlon 64bit Dualcore 2.9GHz clock speed. Oldie but goody.

... now back to the narrative....

Besides referenced sources, we are relying on a set of hand written notes we made during our own, first time experience with the XP to WIN 7 64 upgrade. Provides the POV of the home user. Our notes may contain some inaccuracies and omissions, but I think we have a reasonably accurate story here.

Step 1: Confirm that your XP computer is ready to run Windows 7  (Takes 15-30 minutes)

In this step Microsoft Upgrade Advisor is downloaded and used to determine if your XP computer can handle Windows 7, and the essential Microsoft Tutorial: Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 is downloaded and printed.

It’s a good idea to complete steps 1A and 1B below, before you purchase Windows 7 install disk.

Step 1A: Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor: Download and run it on the computer you want to upgrade.

And yes, Microsoft misspells the word Adviser as Advisor throughout their documentation. So we will follow that convention. It's Upgrade Advisor (sic)
Get Upgrade Advisor at the Microsoft Download Center:
After you download Upgrade Advisor, install it and run Upgrade Advisor.
Upgrade adviser will generate a report telling you if your computer can be upgraded to Windows 7.
If your hardware passes the test, go ahead and start the upgrade process.
If not, add RAM, free up disk space, etc. as recommended, or give up and buy a new PC with Windows 7 pre-installed.  
To install 64bit Windows 7 you must have a 64bit CPU.
Assuming your PC is ready for Windows 7 64bit continue to step 1B.

Step 1B: Print out Microsoft Tutorial: Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7
This necessary tutorial is available for viewing and download here:
This Microsoft site offers the option to download a pdf or xps document version of this tutorial.
We recommend you download the pdf and print it. The printed document is 17 pages long.  
You will need to refer to the Tutorial step-by-step procedure during the upgrade process.

Be aware that your computer will not be available for use during most of the Upgrade process.
So print it out and read through it before you do anything further. The tutorial offers further advice about the consequences of upgrading Windows XP to Windows 7.

This completes Step 1

After completing 1A and 1B, you can decide if you still want to attempt to upgrade from XP to WIN 7. If not, have a nice day.  If you want to go for it, then you need to go ahead and purchase the Microsoft Windows 7 upgrade edition package.  I got my copy for $109 at Staples.

Step 2: Prepare your computer’s hard drive and OS for installation of Windows 7.
(This step took 5 hours in my case)

Step 2A: It is best to make sure your installed version of XP is fully up to date with the latest Microsoft updates and  Service Pack 2 or better. Do this now.

Step 2B: Download Windows Easy Transfer utility for windows XP 32bit or 64bit depending on which version of XP you are currently running. It’s a free download from Microsoft.

YOU MUST SAVE Easy Transfer to your EXTERNAL HDD

If you mistakenly run Easy Transfer from your boot (drive C:) the Windows 7 installer will erase the file you created.  We don’t want that.
You can download Windows Easy Transfer utility for XP for free at:

The Easy File Transfer step proceeds as described in the MS Tutorial pages 5 to 8.
In this step, you will transfer your C drive contents to an external hard disk.

The upgrade from XP to WIN 7 requires a “clean install.”  This has implications.
The files on drive C will need to be transferred to the external HHD (call it drive J) before you can install Windows 7.

After you complete the upgrade to Windows 7 64bit you will need to re-install your application programs like Office, Photoshop, ...  

Most XP 32bit applications will run fine under Windows 7.

I used Windows Easy Transfer utility and external HDD (drive J) connected via USB to transfer 100GB of files from internal drive C to external drive J.  

Easy Transfer is automated. You can set it and forget it.  

Easy Transfer displays a progress bar and time to completion estimate.  This transfer took 5 hours to completion, in my case.

When Easy Transfer is complete it will convert the transferred data into one big file having file type MIG. In my case, Easy Transfer created a single 95.6 GB mig file on my external drive J.

This completes Step 2

Step 3 Installing Windows 7

Aside comment:  This section is from the point of view of a first time user going through the upgrade in real time. So, it's "I, we, you" from here on.

In this step, we will install the Windows 7 64bit operating system on a Windows XP 32bit computer that has the capability needed to run from Windows 7 64bit.  

We will run into some problems that are not covered in the Microsoft Tutorial.  

This installation is called a custom install.  Before beginning custom install you may want to run Microsoft MRT.  First disconnect your external are drive.  Then run the MRT.  I used the Quick Scan option and then reconnected the external HDD.

In custom install, you can reformat the internal HDD, but reformatting is not necessary.  If you have a recovery partition in a D drive, it is a good idea to keep the recovery partition. We recommend that you do not reformat the internal hard drive.

Now we can actually insert the Windows 7 64bit disk into the optical drive and restart the computer.  Should be easy from here on, right? Wrong. This step is tricky and partially undocumented...

Resuming narrative: Then during restart, press any key when prompted, and follow the instructions.  On the install Windows page, enter language and other preferences.  Then click next.  

If this step is successful, then go ahead and restart the computer.  

This is where things get tricky....
Be ready to quickly press the escape key.  This is done to bring up the boot options menu.  

The installer only gives you about one second to hit the escape key!  
If you miss it, the computer will boot XP, and not install Windows 7.  
(It may be that pressing any key will work here, but in any case, you have to be very fast.)

You may have to try it a few times to get to the boot options menu.

During my install, the boot options menu offered two choices.  Neither worked.  However...

I went ahead and restarted the again computer, and again pressed "any key" during the one second window of opportunity.  This time, the computer began reading the install disk from the optical drive, and a progress bar appeared indicating that windows files were being loaded. 
An excellent sign we are on the right track.

After loading completed, the Windows 7 splash screen appeared.  Excellent news, but there's more to do.

At some point a preferences menu came up. Notes are incomplete here, but I was able to select preferences and then the option "Install Now" appeared. 

 Then I was asked: "Do you want to install Windows 7?" And a choice of locations was offered.  

I picked a big 256GB partition named drive C.  

You need something like 22GB of total HDD space to install Windows 7 64bit.  Make sure your partition has plenty of extra free space available.

After I picked drive C from the menu items, installing began.  

The install screen shows a progress bar, and takes about five or ten minutes to complete installation.
When "installing updates" finishes, the computer will automatically restart.  

DO NOT PRESS KEYS DURING THIS RESTART! It will screw things up if you do.

During this restart, you will see some messages:  "Setup is updating registry settings."  Then "completing installation." During "completing installation" a big green progress bar appears.  

In my case, the full install step took about 30 minutes.

After installation of Windows 7 is complete, you are asked to choose a username, and name for the computer.  Just type in what you want.  

After this step is complete, you are asked to enter the Product Key code. It's on a sheet of paper in the box that contained your Windows 7 disks.  After the Product Key is accepted, you can set the time and date. Windows then "finalizes settings." After a few more minutes, the Windows 7 Desktop appears on the monitor screen.  Now you are home free!

There was an automatic step in here someplace called "cleaning previous windows installation."  This took about 15 minutes in my installation.

Next it's good idea to connect your computer to the network. I did it via an Ethernet cable through a router, which worked fine under the new OS.  After the network is detected, you will have the option to set up a home network. Do that if you want. After that...

Celebrate! You have completed installation of Windows 7 64bit on your computer.  

You can connect your printer, and browse for 64bit Windows 7 drivers.  You will need to update drivers to 64bit in many applications and devices. Many devices are 64bit enabled and will work fine.

Congratulations! Windows 7 64bit is up and running and you can print stuff out. 

The total elapsed time for this install, including the file transfer step, was 7 hours and 20 minutes.

Windows 7 comes with a good collection of accessories and applications like WordPad, and others.
It's a good idea to create a Windows 7 recovery disk set.  Instruction for that come with the installation disk set.

I've been using this installation of Windows 7 64 bit for a few days now, and it works great with no problems.

Aside comment: << Besides referenced sources, we are relying on a set of notes we made during our own, first time experience with the XP to WIN 7 64 upgrade. The intention is to tell the story from the POV of the home user. One concern is that our hand written notes may contain some inaccuracies and omissions.>>

If you spot anything unclear or inaccurate please comment. Of course, all are welcome to share experiences in the comments section. ...Looking forward to hearing from you...