Upgrading to Vista

Posted: August 18, 2009 in System Information, 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.


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