Upgrading Windows XP Professional SP3 to Windows 7 Ultimate (beta build 7000)

by Jason Zandri - February 23, 2009

Windows 7 is the next generation of operating system due from Microsoft and it is still working on a planned release for early 2010 – on target for the three year window after the release of Windows Vista.

This article is a complete walk through on the steps taken when attempting to upgrade your Windows XP Professional SP3 installation to Windows 7 Ultimate edition.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD]It is important to note that Windows 7 is only in beta release at the present time. The version of Windows 7 that I am using for this walk through is Windows 7 Ultimate edition, build 6.1.7000.

Because the content is still under development and in beta release it is a preliminary tutorial and is subject to change upon the final release of this new version of Windows.

So, when is an upgrade of your currently installed operating system installation not really an upgrade? Anytime you choose AUTORUN within a non-supported operating system and you choose the "upgrade" option because the setup installation routine will eventually stop you from completing this action.

As a point of reference, the Windows Vista upgrade options from prior installations of Windows XP and Windows 2000  are shown on the Microsoft website on the Get Windows Vista: Upgrade options page and it shows you which installations allow an in-place upgrade and on which ones you'll need to perform a clean install.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD]Windows 2000 Professional requires a clean install to get to Windows Vista; there is no supported in-place upgrade path to Windows Vista.

If there was some desire or need, you are able to upgrade Windows 2000 Professional to Windows XP and then from there you could upgrade to Vista (and from there I suppose you could go to Windows 7 if you really wanted to). These multiple steps from OS to OS would allow for an in-place upgrade each time and it would save all of your installed applications and settings (provided they run and are supported on the newer operating systems through each of the successive jumps) but from a support standpoint of the system itself it is not recommended.

From a Windows XP standpoint when it comes to attempting an in-place upgrade, the setup routine will halt because it is not a supported upgrade path.

Having said that, Microsoft did build in the logic to allow the setup to provide the option for the installation to continue from that point as a clean install and we'll outline all of this in our walkthrough.

The prerequisites for an upgrade installation of Windows 7  is that the upgrade system must be running Windows Vista with Service Pack 1.

Additionally, if you're running x64 hardware and you have an x86 version of Vista (32 bit) installed you can only perform an in place upgrade to Windows 7 x86; you cannot make a decision to perform an in-place upgrade to x64 despite the fact that the hardware allows for it. (You can of course perform a clean installation and do this).

Localization matters as well. If you are running a Spanish version of Windows Vista SP1 (as an example - it could be any localization) and decide you want to perform an in-place upgrade you cannot choose an English version of Windows 7 to do this. Nothing prevents you from performing a clean install but an in-place upgrade isn't supported.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD]It is probably important to note as well that according to the Microsoft website the currently released version of Windows 7 Beta is time-bombed to stop working on August 1, 2009. Before or at least by that date you'll need to reinstall a prior version of Windows on your system or a subsequent release of the Windows 7 beta if there is another release.

Microsoft has historically released more than a single beta version and / or a release candidate or two before going to manufacturing with their products so there may additional opportunities to upgrade current systems with other Windows 7 betas between now and the actual release to manufacturing (RTM) of the operating system.

At the time of final release of Windows 7, Microsoft is recommending that users that had been working with the beta installation to do a wipe and load (clean installation) and then install the RTM bits.

As I mentioned, there is no supported way to do an in-place upgrade from Windows XP Home or Professional so while this walk through does start off that way we are not going to be allowed to complete the install unless we switch to a Custom Installation which effectively sets us into a clean installation.

To get started you would place the Windows 7 media in the DVD drive and then wait for autorun to execute on its own or you could start it yourself.

The Install Windows dialog box will appear as shown below.

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You can take the time to review the "What to know before installing Windows" note by selecting the option near the bottom or you can go ahead with the installation. An even better review of information as it changes can be found on the Beta download: FAQ

Once you kick off the installation setup will begin copying the temporary files as seen in image 2 below and once that completes you'll be presented with the "Get important updates for installation" options.

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You can choose one option or the other; unless you have some specific reason to do otherwise, it is almost always the best bet to go ahead and get the latest updates for installation (as recommended by the setup wizard).

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD]For obvious reasons, if you're not connected to the internet you'd want to choose not to get the updates at the time of install. If you choose the "Go online" option and your connection is not present setup will force you off of that option.

It will allow setup to continue without updating.

If you do not want to take part in the Windows improvement program you'll need to clear the "I want to help make Windows installation better" check box as it is selected by default.

We are going to choose the "Get important updates for installation" option for our walk through.

Setup will search online for installation updates (if any) as shown in the screenshots below and will reboot the system when this part of the installation is complete.

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[NOTES FROM THE FIELD]When the system restarts you want to make sure you are not doing anything with the keyboard if your system is set to check the DVD drive for a boot device; otherwise you'll hit a key and then begin booting from the DVD which starts the setup process all over.Once the system gets back up from rebooting you'll reach the "Please read the license terms" screen (and I have yet to find anyone in ten plus years of being in information technology that actually has done this). You need to accept the license terms to proceed to the next phase.

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If you should accidentally do this you can fix it by power cycling the system and letting the routine restart from where it left off which it will do if you do not hit the keys on the keyboard on the next cycle.

The following screen is where you have the option to perform your installation type as shown below.

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You would select Custom (advanced) to perform a clean installation or to set up the system in a dual or multi-boot configurations. As mentioned, we are going to attempt to perform an upgrade by selecting that option.

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As you can see from the results shown above we have been kicked out of the upgrade option. In order to perform the upgrade installation to this version of Windows 7 (beta) the running operating system must be Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 installed or later.

When you close this window you'll be brought back to the previous "Which type of installation do you want" screen where you can choose Custom (advanced).

When the routine continues from here you'll be presented the "Where do you want to install Windows" options which will show you the available partitions where Windows can be installed.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD]If you are expecting to see another partition and it is not available you can try refreshing the screen but it is more likely that setup needs to load a driver for that device and it is not present.

To load a drive for a missing controller or other device you would choose the Load Drive option shown at the bottom left of image #9 below.

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For our walkthrough the partition we are looking for (the one with the Windows XP installation already present) is available and we're going to choose that one to use.

When we make the selection we are presented with a dialog box that indicates that setup detects that the partition might already have a previous Windows installation and lets you know that if you continue these files will be moved to a folder called Windows.old as shown below.

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[NOTES FROM THE FIELD]The Windows Vista installation routine also moves previously installed version of Windows found into the Windows.old folder.

Setup prior to Vista would delete these old operating system files and then go through the rest of the regular installation (with a couple of exceptions) in the same directory.

By leveraging Windows.old you at least can access information stored there if needed in the future.

Once the setup routine continues forward from here it will copy the Windows files and then begin expanding them. Once the Expanding files option gets to about 30% (it was 27% on my system) it will stop and reboot before continuing.

During this reboot cycle you'll notice the first Windows 7 splash screens as shown below.

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Once setup comes back online it will finish expanding all of the files (and it'll reboot again) before it formally restarts in Windows 7 (and not the setup environment).

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Now that Windows 7 proper is running you can begin the final stage of setting up the system. On the first screen (the last screenshot above) you are prompted to choose a country or region setting, the time and currency settings and the keyboard layout you'll be using.

On the next screen you'll type in a user name to use on the system and that entry will give you a computer name suggestion based on what you entered. You can choose to keep that computer name or change it and choose NEXT.

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The next screen is "Set a password for your user account" where you enter your password information and a hint in case you need it to help you remember what your password was.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD]I don't want to get on my security soapbox too much in this article but you really should be using passphrases on your systems because hacking "Andrew2004" is a lot easier than "My_son_Andrew_was_born_in_2oo4!"

Additionally, the password hint is suppose to be a better helper for users than a sticky note on a monitor or under the keyboard but it will be displayed on the screen at log on to help when a password is forgotten so it shouldn't be THE password nor should it be so obvious a hint that someone that shouldn't be able to access the system can by guessing.

The step of entering in a product key for activation is going to be dependent on which type of installation media that you have but we are using this media for the install and this would be the screen where you'd provide this information.

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After the key is entered and you choose NEXT you'll land on the "Help protect your computer and improve Windows automatically" page which is where you'll initially configure the Windows Update settings. If you feel like you need additional information on what to do there is a link presented that allows you to review some more details.

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The next screen is the "Review your time and date settings" page which allows you to change the time zone settings. You are also able to change the time and date as well (in case the information pulled from the system has not populated correctly).

Additionally, the "Automatically adjust clock for Daylight Saving Time" checkbox is selected by default so if you're in an area where it is not observed you'll need to clear the option. (This can be done after installation is complete as well).

On the next screen you are presented with the "Select your computer's current location" page where you choose to identify the network settings as Home, Work, or Public which will automatically configure network resource settings, firewall settings, network discovery and other parameters based on the profile you choose.

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[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – If you choose Home you'll see the configuration being made and it will be displayed as shown in image 20 below.

Part of this configuration setup prepares your system to participate in a HomeGroup (and I've written another more detailed article on this topic).

Once the network location has been set the option to join the HomeGroup will be present; you do not need to do this if you do not wish to configure the network for this type of use or to join an existing HomeGroup and the option to choose SKIP is presented (and we'll use that for the walkthrough).

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After you make that selection Windows 7 will finalize your settings and the operating system will so the user desktop and you will be good to go with the Windows 7 installation completed and the system ready for regular use.

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This concludes my walk through tutorial of "Upgrading" Windows XP Professional SP3 to Windows 7 Ultimate (beta build 7000). I hope you found it informative.

I am looking forward to any feedback you have on the article and I would also welcome any suggestions for topics of interest that you would like to see covered. Based on demand and column space I’ll do what I can to deliver them to you.

Best of luck in your studies.

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