Recipe 2.1. Preparing to Install Windows XP


Problem

You want to get ready to install Windows XP on your machine.

Solution

You'll need the following items handy to complete the installation:

  • The XP professional installation CD, if you're using this type of medium for the installation

  • The product key for your version, which can be found on the back of the CD jewel case for retail versions. For network installations and other volume editions, you'll need to check with the person in your organization that is in charge of licensing.

  • Details about your Internet or network connection, such as whether you are assigned an IP address or obtain one automatically from your provider via DHCP, usernames and passwords, and miscellaneous server addresses. You can probably find all of this information in a welcome letter or packet you received from your Internet service provider when you signed up.

  • The name of your computer, and the name of the workgroup or domain to which it belongs. For machines that will join a domain, you'll need an account on the domain and the password associated with that account. For workgroup installations, all you need is the name of the workgroup.

If you have a machine currently running another version of Windows, and you wish to upgrade to Windows XP, run the Windows XP Upgrade Advisor, which you can download from the Microsoft web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/upgrading/advisor.mspx. The Upgrade Advisor examines your system's hardware and software and lets you know whether Windows XP will run on the system. It will also ping Microsoft's web site and let you know of any updates you can download that will further prepare your system for the upgrade, and even install those updates for you if you'd like.

The code that makes the Windows XP Upgrade Advisor work is taken directly from the Windows XP installation code, so while you are running the tool, you may see messages that imply you're installing the OS. You can safely ignore that insinuation.


Finally, perform a bit of house cleaning on your system to make sure everything is in as tip-top a shape as possible. Try the following steps:

  1. Go to Control Panel and Add/Remove Programs, and remove anything you haven't used in the last six months. These programs take up hard disk space, litter the Registry with entries, and generally make upgrading more complex. Before you uninstall, however, make sure you have the original installation disks for the software so you can re-install if needed.

  2. Go to your computer manufacturer's web site and check to see whether you have the latest BIOS version. Most modern manufacturers post updated BIOS revisions every six to twelve months, and it's best to have this piece of hardware as updated as possible before you upgrade, as the installation process uses the BIOS extensively.

  3. Get rid of the temporary files that are probably littering your computer. Look in directories such as C:\Temp, C:\Windows\Temp, or C:\WINNT\Temp. Also, delete any temporary Internet files from Internet Explorer by opening IE and going to Tools and Options. On the General tab, under Temporary Internet Files, click the Delete button. Also, empty your Recycle Bin as well.

  4. Uninstall your antivirus software. Chances are that there is an updated version available specifically for Windows XP that you can install after Setup is finished, and in the interim, antivirus software can have nasty interactions with XP's installation method.

  5. Of course, defragmenting your hard drive is a great anti-problem strategy.

Discussion

One of the early decisions you'll need to make when installing Windows XP on a system you already own is whether to perform a clean installation of the OS or to upgrade your existing version of Windows to Windows XP. There are a couple of schools of thought on the matter.

Advocates of clean installations subscribe to the theory of Windows rot: that is, the performance and age of a Windows installation are inversely proportional. As Windows installations get older, a lot of trash and detritus builds up in key areas of the OS, including temporary folders, the Registry, startup groups, Internet Explorer's add-on manager, and so on. Couple that with the high likelihood that your system is infested with spyware, old cookies, and adware, and many administrators and computer experts believe that anytime you want to change your installed operating system, you should completely format your hard drive and install cleanly. Of course, the downside of this method is that you need to reinstall all of your regularly used applications, restore your data from a backup, and reconfigure your desktop settings, wallpaper, favorites, fonts, and other preferred customizations.

On the other hand, upgrade installations have become increasingly refined, accurate, and problem-free in recent years. Windows XP's installation program is hard to kill, and if it encounters a problem upon upgrade, it can usually work around it. By performing an upgrade, you maintain your current settings, there's no need for a lengthy data restoration process, and you don't need to reinstall all of your applications. The flip side, however, is that all of the junk and unwanted software travels with you on the journey between operating systems, and over time that can cause real performance and stability problems.

The debate can rage on and on, but the real decision maker for you should be the amount of time and effort you're willing to invest in the move to Windows XP. If your primary aim is a clean system and you have an entire weekend and perhaps longer to see the process through to completion, then go with the clean install. If you need to get Windows XP running in an afternoon, then use the upgrade installation.

See Also

Recipe 2.8 for more on upgrading to Windows XP, the PC Pitstop XP Readiness Test site at http://www.pcpitstop.com/xpready/xptests.asp, WSC's Recipe 2.8 site at http://aumha.org/win5/a/xpupgrad.htm, and Microsoft's "Get Ready to Set Up Windows XP Professional" page at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/setup/getstarted/intro.mspx



Windows XP Cookbook
Windows XP Cookbook (Cookbooks)
ISBN: 0596007256
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 408

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