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Follow thse steps to ensure a smooth and painless transition to your new OS
Insert the Windows Vista DVD and click “Check compatibility online” to open the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor in Internet Explorer. In just a few minutes, you’ll find out whether your hardware can run Vista, which Windows Vista edition Microsoft thinks is the best match for your hardware, what system upgrades are necessary to make your system compatible with a particular Vista edition, which devices need driver downloads for compatibility with Vista, and which currently installed programs are incompatible with Vista. The Upgrade Advisor warns you if you need replacements or updates for any of your programs.
Step two in the Vista upgrade process is backing up your old data. While the Windows Easy Transfer program (step three) will transfer email, documents, favorites, and other files and settings, you should also back up any remaining important files, such as email messages from non-Microsoft email clients, layouts for CD and DVD mastering created with programs such as Roxio Easy Media Creator or Nero Burning ROM, and so on. To ensure that your data can be easily retrieved, drag and drop your files to another drive or burn a CD or DVD, rather than relying on a third-party backup program (which might not be compatible with Vista).
To start Windows Easy Transfer on your Windows XP system, insert the Windows Vista DVD and select “Transfer files and settings from another computer” from the Install Windows menu. Click Next from the opening dialog. You cannot have any other programs running while Windows Easy Transfer is running. If you still have programs running, a Close Programs dialog appears. Click Close to close your programs. You can perform direct transfers between old and new computers using either a special USB cable called an Easy Transfer Cable, a network connection, or a USB or removable-media drive. The easiest solution is an external USB hard disk, which you can choose in the next dialog box. You can also select a CD, DVD, USB flash memory drive, or network folder. Click Next to continue. Click Browse and navigate to the drive where you want to store the backup and then click Next. To transfer all the user accounts on your old computer to your new computer, select “All user accounts.” You can also transfer just your own user profile or click Advanced Options to specify exactly which profiles to transfer. The next dialog box displays the files and folders that will be transferred and tells you how much disk space is required. Use Customize to fine-tune your selections. Click Transfer to begin the file-copying process. When it’s done, you can move on to installing Vista.