You want to get ready to install Windows XP on your machine.
You'll need the following items handy to complete the installation:
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.
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:
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.
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