Preparing for an upgrade from WinME to XP: warnings?

My parents have a decent 1.4GHz P4 dell with 256MB RAM and WindowsME. While I can get around all the pitfalls of this OS, I only come home now for two weeks out of the year around the holidays. I have a Windows XP pro upgrade CD left over from when I upgraded my old computer from 98SE. I have since rendered my old computer useless in an attempt to return it to factory specs (long story), but I now have that disk free to upgrade my parents’ rig.

I’m in the process of backing up files at the moment, but is there anything I should know before attempting the upgrade?

Unless it’s a WinXP Pro with a corporate volume license product key, you won’t be able to activate it, at least not online. You’ll have to call Microsoft and convince a support tech that it’s the same computer you originally installed it on, but with a motherboard and hard drive “upgrade”. If he buys your story, he’ll give you an activation key to type in.

I don’t know if it is a possibility with the CD you own but if there is an option, do a clean install and not an upgrade.

Also, try and increase the available memory to at least double the currently installed, Ideally 1 Gig.

I think you’ll legitimately be able to re-use the CD, since you’re no longer using it on the old one, but you may need to call Microsoft to activate it.

I agree that you should add memory to the system before trying this. Also make sure you have a current back up of any important data on the system. I also recommend downloading Windows XP Service Pack 2, so you can upgrade it to that before going online.

Site that might be helpful
Windows XP Clean Install (Interactive Setup)

Depending on what your parents had installed under ME, it might be highly advisable to run BelArc Advisor. This utility will scan the machine for (among other things) installed software, so you will have an idea what they expect to be on there when you are done. It even copies install keys for some software.

As a fellow one-week-a-year parental unit IT tech, I feel your pain.

Not quite sure how this will fit, if it will, or if you ae still seeking advice.

What about waiting for Vista?

I don’t think Vista will run very well, if at all, on that spec machine.

The critical question for the OP is: do you still have the Certificate Of Authenticity sticker - the CD itself is not enough - you need the license key printed on the sticker. If you do have this, you may be able to activate the upgraded machine online, because MS doesn’t keep records indefinitely and may no longer have that license key attached to the other machine in their database.

Thanks for the replies, everyone. Getting smacked down with strep put the project on hold for the past couple of days. At any rate a full wipe and a re-install sounds like it’d be more efficient if riskier. Thanks for suggesting Advisor, Stan. I’ll admit that makes a re-install seem more doable. Thank you as well, astro: having instructions for the process helps a lot too.

I’m using XP, Meeko, because I happen to have the install disk on hand from when I upgraded my old rig from 98SE. I’m hesitant to do a wipe and recovery because my attempt to return that particular machine to factory specs to use the XP CD here has seemingly left it beyond my abilities. I don’t want to leave myself in such a position with my parents’ computer (although they also have a considerably newer laptop, so we’re not entirely screwed if this project goes south).

So the question is, will an upgrade leave behind baggage from WinME that I’m trying to get rid of with XP? Or am I putting things in a potentially unpleasant situation by blanking the hard drive without any means of putting things back together?

Lastly, to Mangetout: are you talking about the sticker for the XP upgrade or for this computer? I’ve got the certificates for both.

The sticker that came with XP - it has the license key code printed on it and you can’t activate the XP installation without it. You also can’t peel it off one computer and stick it on another - it’s designed to self-destruct if you try.

I see; no sticker peeling had been planned. :slight_smile:

None of the computers involved here came with factory installed XP. My old computer was upgraded to XP Pro from 98SE, and my parents’ computer has WinME. Am I correct in taking from what you guys are saying that Microsoft would take issue with me removing XP from my old computer and installing it on this one?

Incidentally, I downloaded and ran this BelArc Advisor. How do I access the results of my scans?

No; they shouldn’t (cannot?) take issue with that - what you’re describing is not in any way wrong, so you should have nothing to worry about.

… but MS have introduced obstacles notionally directed at piracy prevention, and these will serve as hurdles to be overcome in your case.

I haven’t run it in a while, and I don’t have a windows box handy to test it now, but my recollection is that it generates a report in HTML that can be opened and viewed in your browser. Is there a file called “advisor.html” on the Desktop or in My Documents?

The Belarc output will automatically load as an html page on your browser. You shouldn’t have to “look” for it anywhere.