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Windows Vista Upgrade

When considering a Windows Vista upgrade, your customers will need guidance to assess whether his or her current system can support the operating system. This excerpt from "Windows Vista Secrets" provides you with the necessary tools.

Upgrading to Vista

With all of the new features of Windows Vista, there'll be a mighty temptation for you to buy a copy of the operating system in a store and immediately install it over your existing instance of Windows XP, 2000, Me, or 98.

Before you do, you should consider some of the following cautions:

  • Your old PC may not be up to the challenge of running Vista. You may need substantial investments in additional RAM, a more capable video card, a larger hard drive, or all of the above to get adequate performance from Vista.
  • Some of your hardware, such as printers and networking adapters, may not work at all after you install Vista—unless you update the drivers they need to versions that are Vista-compatible.
  • Even if you find that one or more of your drivers needs to be updated, the vendor of your hardware may not make a Vista-compatible version available for months, years, or ever. (It's happened before with previous versions of Windows.)

Avoid Installing Vista over Another Version of Windows We do recommend that you get Windows Vista preinstalled when you're buying a new PC. But you may be surprised to learn that we don't recommend that you install Vista over XP or an older version of Windows.

The reason is that installing Vista on top of another version of Windows may cause incompatibility problems that you might not be able to easily fix. When you buy a PC with Vista preinstalled, it's almost certain that the components in the PC will have been selected for their compatibility and will have the latest driver software. If you install Vista to an older machine yourself, however, you may find that your printer, networking adapter, or some other vital component no longer works because the version you have of its driver is incompatible.

In general, you shouldn't consider installing Vista over an older version of Windows unless the following conditions are true:

  • You need a feature of Vista that you can't add to XP; or
  • You need an application that requires Vista; and
  • You can't afford even the least expensive new PC that comes with Vista preinstalled

Even if one of the above cases is true, you may be better off burning your old data to a CD, formatting the old PC's hard drive, and doing a clean install of Vista. This avoids the possibility that some components of the old OS will hang around to cause conflicts. If you've never before backed up and formatted a hard drive, however, don't try to learn how on any PC that's important to you.

A clean install, however, isn't a panacea. Your old PC may not have enough memory, disk space, video performance, or CPU performance to run Vista satisfactorily.

If you do decide to install Vista over an older version of Windows, at least run Microsoft's Vista Upgrade Advisor, described in this chapter, to see which drivers you may need to update first.

Windows Vista Secrets
  Home: Introduction: Upgrading to Vista
  1: Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor
  2: Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor tests the essentials
  3: Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor tests your drivers
  4: Microsoft's little known legacy drivers
Go beyond Microsoft's Help guide and discover the true secrets of Windows Vista that are essential to power users. Written by two of the most recognized Windows authorities, this resource provides you with numerous tips, tricks, and undocumented features that aren't available anywhere else. You'll find extensive screenshots, tables, and illustrations that clearly show how to achieve optimal performance, fix desktop problems, and take advantage of the robust features of Windows Vista.Purchase Windows Vista Secrets from Wiley
Brian Livingston is the coauthor of 11 Windows Secrets books. He is also editorial director of the weekly Windows Secrets Newsletter and author of the Executive Tech column for Datamation. Paul Thurrott is the author of more than a dozen books as well as the news editor of Windows IT Pro Media and editor of the SuperSite for Windows. He writes a daily Windows newsletter called WinInfo Daily UPDATE.

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