You want to install your copy of Windows XP over your existing operating system, thereby preserving your current applications, settings, and data.
Insert your Windows XP CD into the drive, and allow the automatic menu to appear. Click on the Install Windows XP option, and wait for Setup to launch.
One of the first things you will see upon the upgrade process beginning is a prompt, asking whether you want to connect to the Web to update the install routine. This is known as the Dynamic Update process, and updates to the Setup program itself are downloaded to make sure it's completely up to date before the OS upgrade commences.
A few steps later, the Setup program will generate a report from the Upgrade Advisor. You were introduced to this program in Recipe 2.1. If you haven't yet run the tool, leave the default and let Setup identify possible problems it thinks will crop up, including both hardware and software compatibility issues.
Then, simply follow the procedure in Recipe 2.2, beginning with step 8 after your first reboot.
Upgrading to Windows XP is uneventful. You might think this section is ridiculously short, but in reality, Microsoft has done such a good job addressing upgrade scenarios that they really are simple, almost akin to applying a service pack. (After all, it's not a big confidence booster in a core operating system when upgrades completely fail.)
The only key to an even smoother installation is to ensure that your existing Windows operating system is configured exactly as you want it, and that all third-party software installed on the system, be it application software or drivers, is compatible with Windows XP. It can be a nasty surprise to launch the newly upgraded system and see a blue screen before ever logging on.
A note for older hardware owners: even if the compatibility test gives a green light, upgrading Windows 95 and Windows ME systems with older hardware specifically not detected or known to XP can be very traumatic. Relying on the compatibility checker is not the best method. Emphasis must be placed on checking at a minimum each and every hardware vendor for Windows 2000 or Windows XP drivers and doing BIOS updates if available.
But other than that, for the vast majority of users, upgrades to XP are mind-numbingly easy.
If you purchased the lower-cost Upgrade edition of Windows XP, you'll find it works best when you run the Setup program over your existing operating system. However, contrary to popular belief, you are allowed to use the upgrade media to perform a clean install on a system. You will be prompted to insert media from previous versions of Windows to justify your upgrade. The valid versions include:
The Windows Support Center's Recipe 2.8 site at http://aumha.org/win5/a/xpupgrad.htm