Upgrading Windows XP to Windows 7 Gotchas

Windows 7 has finally launched! (check this post for a ton of articles related to this current post)

Just want to give you a heads up that this post is mostly my experience in upgrading Windows XP Home to Windows 7 Home Premium with lots of useful resources I came across thrown in for good measure.

First, let me quickly give you an outline of how I approached the upgrade.

Windows XP to Windows 7 is essentially a clean install. You cannot directly upgrade from XP to Windows 7 although it is not as bad as it sounds. We’ll come to that later.

Windows 7 Upgrade

First thing I did before anything was to run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. It didn’t find any issues other than that my graphics card doesn’t support Aero transparencies. That’s the fancy transparent effects, shadows, etc you might have seen in Windows Vista. I can live without that.

Backup Data

I recently bought an IOmega 1TB external hard drive and I just copied my important data to it. Since this was going to be a clean install i.e., format my whole hard drive, I also wanted to be ready in case Windows 7 didn’t work out too well.

So, I grabbed DriveImage XML – a drive imaging software  recommended by a colleague and made an image of my hard drive to the external usb drive.

This image would let me restore my machine with Windows XP and all the data in my hard drive should things go south with the Windows 7 install. I’d highly recommend doing both a backup as well as a drive image.

Windows 7 Installation Prep Work

You may or may not need to do this. If you had gotten an Upgrade copy or +pre-ordered Windows 7 with student discount, you might have gotten a link to download the upgrade media. More often than not, it is an executable file.

The way it is supposed to work is that you run the .exe file from within XP and it will run the Windows 7 installer. But, I wanted to install it from a bootable disk (lot of experts recommend it but not sure if it makes a difference).

These couple of links will help you convert the exe file into a bootable Windows 7 DVD:

I basically created a bootable Windows 7 DVD and was ready to get the install started.

Windows 7 Installation

I popped in the bootable DVD and restarted my computer. I had to hit a key to boot into DVD and I saw the Windows installer coming up. My screen flickered a couple of times and then there was nothing. Zilch. Nada.

So, I powered off my computer and restarted again. Same thing. Ctrl+Alt+del ‘ed couple of times with the same result.

I powered off the system and tried again, now I could see the cool Windows 7 glowing logo come up and the installer came up. It looked prettier than ever!

After it asked me a few questions, it readied the install files and said it is going to restart the computer.

When it tried, blank screen again. I am Ctrl+Alt+del’ing like a maniac at thus point but no luck. So I powered it off and went to get some water and came back and powered it up. It started going again now!

I was getting the hang of it now. Windows 7 was either having an issue with my graphics card which it warned me already doesn’t support Aero effects but i couldn’t fathom it would bomb out right away! Plus, it was a hit or miss to get it going and not like it couldn’t run it!

I had now found a way to get it going, barely. Installation itself was uneventful and after the startup hiccup, I was able to login to Windows 7.

Windows 7 Post Install

The first thing I did was to run Windows Update and installed Windows Security Essentials (free anti-virus security software from Microsoft) as well as the free and excellent Comodo Internet Security suite.

I then used Ninite (previously Volery) to install all my favorite applications in one shot! If you haven’t tried Ninite, that is the best thing since sliced bread for anyone who installs a Windows OS the first time or multiple times for friends and family.  You just select all the applications you want installed in your machine and Ninite gives you a program to download. You run that program and it will go out and download & install all the apps you selected!

You don’t have to lift a finger! I installed like 15 of my favorite programs within 30 minutes by going to 1 website. Yes, 1 website and not 15 websites!

Windows 7 Experience

I have to say I really like what they have done with the interface especially the tab bar. They have merged the Quick tasks menu and the task bar into one where you can ping an unpin programs, folders, apps of your choice.

Even with my unsupported graphics card, the Window switching, minimizing/maximizing effects were smooth and fast.

There are a bunch of new features in Windows 7 and I am yet to explore a lot of them personally.

So that’s it from me in the last 24 hours of my Windows 7 installation and usage experience. I hope this will help someone out there who is going to attempt this.

Besides the minor point that I wouldn’t know if it will work with another restart, I am happy with Windows 7. :-p I will be posting more on my Windows 7 experiences in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned. You can get updates with my RSS feed or by following me on Twitter.

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5 Responses to “Upgrading Windows XP to Windows 7 Gotchas”

  1. Wayne October 30, 2009 at 2:16 pm #

    Interesting site you dropped there. Will have to check it out.

    Now if someone would create an app that would reinstall Office, Visual Studio and the plethora of “other” apps that I’d also need to install.

    Not to mention the several email addresses I have hooked up in Outlook. Each of the settings needs to copied down and recreated after install. Usually takes me an entire day to get everything done.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your experience. Thinking I’ll go for it this weekend.
    .-= Wayne´s last blog ..50+ Favorite Movies =-.

  2. K October 30, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    That is true! I think Windows 7 has a utility that tries to transfer your old settings to Windows 7 for most MS apps. i never bothered with it as I didn’t have a need for it. It might help atleast some of what you are tying to do.

    Thanks for leaving a comment, Wayne!

  3. shri November 9, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Very useful post karthik!Keep posting about other features and the performance of Windows 7.Btw have you moved from vista to Windows 7?I guess this migration will help us know more about Windows 7.Keep us posted!

  4. Naples real estate November 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Great Job! Upgrading to windows 7 is very easy especially if you have a great tutorial like this one.


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