Want to learn how to upgrade Windows XP to Vista? This complete guide with over 70 screenshots takes away the pain in migrating your computer to Microsoft’s newest operating system. In fact, this guide makes it so easy that anyone can do it.
Who says that you need to take your computer to the tech-shop or hire a computer-geek to perform the upgrade?
Not with this guide, you don’t.
Although it can be a very time-consuming (and sometimes confusing) procedure, it’s really not that hard.
Heck, even if you do want to hire a professional to upgrade Windows XP to Vista, you might still wonder what it is that they are doing to bring your computer to a new incarnation.
This guide explains all the steps in detail, so you will learn how to upgrade Windows XP to Vista. Who knows, maybe next time your friends or relatives will ask YOU to upgrade their computers.
Anyway, let’s get started.
What you need
If you want to upgrade Windows XP to Vista, you will of course need a Windows Vista installation DVD.
There are of course a lot of places where you can get a Windows Vista edition DVD, but one that is often overlooked (and is often times priced much cheaper than the local store) is Amazon.
That’s right, the online-shop that is well-known for its virtually endless list of book titles also carries software. You are upgrading from Windows XP, so look for an upgrade version. (We will cover a Windows Vista “clean install” in a separate article). These are the upgrade versions of the different Windows Vista editions.
Before you get started
Before you upgrade Windows XP to Vista, you should always make a complete backup of your entire system. You simply cannot believe how much better it feels to actually have a backup available when you don’t need it than to have no backup when you need one.
Ok, so you have your Windows Vista DVD ready, you have your backup, you are all set to go. Now load your Windows Vista DVD in your computer’s DVD rom drive. The software should load automatically, so after a few brief moments you should see the following window on your screen. (If the DVD doesn’t load automatically, you can always try navigating to your DVD rom drive in your Windows Explorer, then right-click on the drive and select “Autoplay”.)
Now, before you do anything else, it’s always a good idea to click “check compatibility online”. This will launch the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor, which will check if your computer will be able to run Windows Vista. If you want to upgrade Windows XP to Vista, it’s usually a good idea to run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor in advance. I wouldn’t want to be the one that launches the upgrade only to find out in the middle of the setup that the migration cannot be completed because of compatibility issues.
After you have clicked “check compatibility online”, you will see this:
The Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor is a tool that’s freely available from Microsoft’s website, all you have to do is click “Download Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor”. Windows will prompt you with this next screen:
Click the download button to start the download process. You will get this security warning:
Click the save button and proceed to the next dialog. Enter a name for the destination directory for the download. In this next screenshot you can see that we created a directory called “upgradeadvisor” in a temporary folder “temp” that we created on our hard drive.
Once the destination folder is created, Windows will show a “Download complete” dialog, like this:
Depending on your settings, your computer might have skipped the dialog above, then it’s only a matter of navigating to the location where you downloaded the software. In this case that’s very easy, we just need to click on the “Open Folder” button in the above screenshot.
That takes us here:
This is the Upgrade Advisor executable, the one we want to run before we upgrade Windows XP to Vista. Doubleclick the executable to launch the program. That will result in another security warning, like shown here:
It’s ok to run this software, click “Run”.
Again, depending on your current computer environment, you might see the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor complaining about a missing version of MSXML. If you don’t see the dialog from the screenshot below, that means that you already have a compatible version of MSXML. If that is the case, you can click here to skip these steps. If you do see the following dialog, just continue below.
Click the “Download and install msxml” button. You will see the next dialog
In most cases the first download button is fine, because the other versions are for 64bit computers (files with “64” in the name) or software development environments (the one with “SDK” in the file name).
Clicking the dowload button results in another dialog where Windows wants to know where to put the download files. We’ve created another directory in our temp folder, called “msxml”.
After the download, depending on your computer settings, you might have to manually navigate to the downloaded file, or you might be able to click the “Open Folder” button.
Anyway, the next step in our upgrade Windows XP to Vista journey brings us here:
Doubleclick the downloaded file to launch the msxml installer. Another security dialog will pop up, just hit the “Run” button to continue.
The MSXML Parser Setup wizard will come up:
Just click the “Next’ button in this wizard to continue to this screen:
Accept the terms of the license agreement and hit “Next”. The wizard will take you to the following dialog
Simply hit the “Next” button again to proceed to this screen:
Click “Install” to start the installation. This may all look like a pain, because all you wanted to do initially is upgrade Windows XP to Vista and now you are dealing with MSXML installations, but remember, it’s always better to be able to run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor prior to launching the actual upgrade without knowing if your computer will be able to make it through the upgrade.
Anyway, the MSXML installation continues …
… and the last step is to hit the “Finish” button to complete the installation.
So, if you already had the MSXML installed on your computer, here is where we catch up to upgrade Windows XP to Vista. Now that we have the XML thing out of the way, we can finally continue by launching the actual Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. Navigate to the executable file that you downloaded in the previous steps …
… and doubleclick the file to launch
Click the “Run” button in the security warning dialog. The Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor also needs the .Net Framework to run, so if you see this dialog box …
… then that means that you will have to download and install the .Net Framework first. If you didn’t see the previous screenshot, you already have the .Net Framework on your computer and you can click here to skip the .Net Framework download and installation steps. If you did see the above dialog, just continue by clicking the “Install the .Net Framework” button on your screen. That will bring up this:
Click the “Save” button to download and save the .Net Framework locally on your computer in a separate directory like this:
Once the download is completed, go to the download location …
… and doubleclick the downloaded installer file to launch the .Net Framework installer
Click the “Run” button and continue to the .Net Framework Setup wizard:
Hit the “Next” button in this first screen of the wizard and …
… accept the terms of the license agreement and hit “Install” to continue the installation, which is very straightforward and finally brings you to this screen:
Click the “Finish” button to complete the installation. Now you are finally ready to start the Upgrade Advisor and upgrade Windows XP to Vista, provided that the Upgrade Advisor gives you the green light about your computer’s compatibility.
To continue, navigate one more time to the Upgrade Advisor’s executable that you donwloaded in the previous steps …
… and double-click it again to launch it
Here is where the “Upgrade Windows XP to Vista” – tour catches up again with those who already had the .Net Framework installed. The next screen in the process is the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor Setup Wizard:
Click the “Next” button to continue
Accept the software license terms and click “Next”
Specify the installation destination folder (or simply accept the default) and click “Next”
Specify whether you want a desktop shortcut or not and click “Next”
Once the installation is complete, you can choose to immediately launch the upgrade advisor and hit “Close”. The Upgrade Advisor will come up with this screen:
Hit the “Start Scan” button to begin the compatibility checking routine. The software will then start a number of routines to determine if your computer will be able to upgrade Windows XP to Vista. This will take a couple of minutes.
Once the Upgrade Advisor has completed all tasks, you will see this:
Hit the “See Details” button. If your computer hardware is sufficient to upgrade Windows XP to Vista, you will get a screen with the recommended Windows Vista edition that best fits your computer, according to the upgrade advisor. You will also get a brief overview of the different Windows Vista Editions.
If the upgrade advisor agrees that it’s a good idea to migrate your computer to Windows Vista, it is now finally time to upgrade Windows XP to Vista. Close the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor screen and return to the startup screen from the Windows Vista installation DVD (the one that appeared on your computer screen through the autoplay behaviour of the DVD). If you no longer see this window on your screen …
… simply eject and re-insert the Windows Vista DVD in your DVD player and the autoplay function should launch the “Install Windows” screen.
Click the “Install Now” button. The next screen …
… will prompt you to search online for the latest updates and hardware drivers to help successfully install Windows Vista. Select the “Go Online” option. You will see this progress indication screen:
In some cases Windows might tell you that no updates can be downloaded …
… but this is by no means an indication that you should stop the installation. Simply hit the “Ok” button and proceed to the next screen where you need to enter your Windows Vista activation product key ..
Find your activation product key on the installation disc holder, enter it in the product key field and click “Next”.
Accept the license terms and click “Next” to continue the upgrade Windows XP to Vista journey.
Selecting the “Upgrade” option will keep all your existing files and settings intact, so go ahead and choose this option. The next step might scare you a little bit when the following “Compatibility Report” appears …
… but you can continue the upgrade and look at the compatibility issue later, when the installation is finished. If you have older version of certain software packages or hardware devices, you might get an additional warning about their compatibility but, depending on the importance of these programs or devices, you can still choose to continue the installation.
Click “Next” and continue to the “Upgrading Windows” screen, where you can follow the installation progress. If you decided to upgrade Windows XP to Vista, rather than perform a “custom installation”, your current files will not be deleted during the upgrade.
Depending on the speed and performance of your computer, the upgrade may take a while …
… but you will have an indication of the progress.
Also, at certain intervals …
… the Windows Vista installation will decide to reboot your computer. When your computer reboots, you will see that the traditional Windows XP startup animation is already replaced with the Vista version …
… and the upgrade continues …
… while all you can do is sit and wait …
Now, even though the upgrade Windows XP to Vista wizard tells you that the actual upgrade may take several hours, in reality this is usually not the case.
… and then, finally …
Even though the above message might make you think that the next thing you will see is your new Windows Vista desktop (finally!), you will be confronted with the “Upgrading Windows” screen some more …
… and more …
until you will finally be offered some interactivity again. Windows wants to find out how you want to keep your version of Windows updated (and protected) through the Windows Update mechanism.
Select “Use recommended settings” for now (you will be able to change that after the installation is completed). In the next screen you will be able to adjust your date and time settings.
Make the necessary adjustments (if needed) and click “Next”
In this “Select your computer’s current location” you can specify what role your computer plays in the network and what type of network your computer is connected to. Usually, if you use your computer at home, the first selection will work fine. Again, these settings can be changed later on, if needed. Once you made it clear in what type of network your computer will work, you will be presented with the setup “Thank You” screen, where you have to click the “Start” button to get started.
Clicking the “Start” button will lead you through as series of introductionary screens …
… that briefly explain some of the features of Windows Vista, while Vista completes some final settings…
… and then you will finally arrive at your new logon screen:
Enter your password and click the blue arrow next to the password field or hit the ENTER key to logon for the first time to your new Windows Vista:
There you have it, a complete guide to upgrade your Windows XP to Windows Vista, from start to finish. Feel free to send your feedback or let us know if you found the guide useful.
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