2) Backup your Windows XP or Vista operating system: One of the requirements for the upgrade package for a valid OS installed to be installed on the hard drive, gone are the days when all you needed to was to insert the CD of you previous or qualifying OS. Should something go wrong during the upgrade process the image backup you created is your lifeboat. Just restore the image file and start the upgrade process again or at least you will still have a usable computer until you resolve any upgrade issues. Microsoft Technical Support: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/help
The best backup method is to use an Image Backup software package such a Norton Ghost 14 or Acronis True Image Home 2010. Both Symantec and Acronis offer trial versions but currently only Acronis True Image Home trial version allows you to create a recovery/rescue CD which you will need to restore your Acronis image backup. However there is a chance that by time Windows 7 is released that the new version of Ghost, presumably version 15 will be available and the free trial may finally include the ability to create a “SRD” or the recovery CD you will to restore the Ghost image backup.
Can’t repeat this enough: If something should go wrong during the upgrade process, all is not lost as you can use that image backup to restore XP or Vista to the hard drive and try again. Note that you will need a second hard drive, external or internal as the destination for the image backup.
3) Download the latest Windows 7 drivers: Check your PC or motherboard manufacture’s web site and then burn the driver files to a CD. This includes but is not limited to your chipset drivers, network card, sound card, raid drivers, video chipset or card, etc. Note that older computers may need to rely mostly on the drivers included on the Windows 7 DVD.
4) Vista users: Upgrade to Service Pack 1 or 2 if you have not already done so.
5) Use the ‘Easy Transfer’ utility. Windows XP users can use this utility to migrate their data files and settings (you will need an external hard drive or Flash drive) “but not your applications” prior to upgrading. For instruction on Easy Transfer see: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd446674(WS.10).aspx
6) If you have more than one hard drive: Disconnect it until the upgrade has completed. This will prevent you from accidentally reformatting or installing Windows 7 on the wrong drive.
7) Disconnect your PC from the Internet: Windows 7 will phone home and most likely (this has not been confirmed) will deactivate your Vista or XP keycode. So without the Internet connection, if you need to start over again for whatever reason your old XP or Vista keycode should still be good.
8) Disable your AV software before you start.
9) Change the BIOS so that your DVD drive is the first boot device.
10) Starting the upgrade process: XP users: Insert the Windows 7 DVD and reboot your PC to perform a “Clean Install”. Vista users can start the upgrade while Vista is running.
Note: There is a method to perform an “In-place Upgrade” from XP to Vista and from Vista to Windows 7. Depending on your PC and the applications installed this may or may not work. For more information about how to do this see: http://www.pagestart.com/upgradexptowindows7.html
11) Don’t touch that keyboard: Windows 7 may reboot a number of times, if you see a message asking you to press any key to boot from CD/DVD don’t do it. Windows 7 will reboot all by itself without any action on your part.
12) Before entering the product key: Un-check the box labeled “Automatically activate Windows when I’m online”. You have 30 days to activate so hold off until you have a chance to install your applications and use Windows 7 for a week or two.
13) Windows 7 Trouble Shooting: Start/Control Panel/All Control Panel Items/Troubleshooting Use this feature to trouble shoot Programs, Hardware, Internet problems and more.
14) XP users, it’s a new world: Don’t get frustrated with the Windows 7 desktop interface. Relax, explorer, take a few breaks, use Internet Explorer or the built help to find help about any questions you may have. Try some of fun things like Widgets.