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Furnish Vista with all the creature comforts of your old OS
After you fine-tune your Windows Vista installation, it’s time to reinstall your old applications—assuming they’re compatible with Windows Vista. If you ran the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor before starting the installation process, you know which applications work—and which ones need to be updated or replaced. Still, you may encounter some problems.
After the installer finishes installing some older apps, you’ll be prompted by a dialog box that asks whether the app installed correctly. If it didn’t, you can attempt a reinstall using slightly modified permissions, which frequently fixes compatibility problems that occurred during the initial attempt.
However, if an application installs but doesn’t appear to work properly, it’s helpful to know a few things that have changed between XP and Vista. Once the installer has run, applications are allowed only read access to files in the Program Files folder; they can’t write to anything inside the Program Files directory. However, some older applications need to store data and configuration files (such as .ini files) in the same folder as application files; if the app can’t write to those files, it won’t work properly. So how does Windows Vista accommodate these apps without compromising security? Vista automatically redirects write operations that occur in Program Files to a special folder in your user profile. For example, if you install an application that attempts to create C:\Program Files\<application>\Setup.ini, Vista’s virtualization saves the Setup.ini file to C:\Users\<your_account>\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\<application>\Setup.ini.
Note that the AppData folder is normally hidden. If you need to make adjustments to the config files for a legacy app or delete a file, you may have to access the VirtualStore folder manually.
Once your apps are installed, if you’re still having trouble getting them to run, try the Program Compatibility Assistant. With it, you can force Vista to emulate Windows XP, always run with full administrator privileges, or even disable Aero Glass. You can access the compatibility settings by right- clicking the app’s shortcut, selecting Properties, and clicking the Compatibility tab.
To finish moving your data from your old Windows XP install, you’ll need to run the Easy Transfer Wizard from within Vista. When you’re in the Welcome Center, click “Transfer files and settings,” then click Start Windows Easy Transfer to start the wizard. You’ll need to provide administrator-level credentials when prompted by User Account Control.
To transfer your settings from XP, select “Continue a transfer in progress.” Next, navigate to the drive and folder containing the SaveData.MIG file. Then, to properly migrate your profile, you’ll want to match up the user account on the new computer with the appropriate user account on the old computer. Review the selected files and settings, then click Transfer to start the transfer process. Once the transfer is active, you can leave your computer. Depending on the amount of data to transfer, it could take several hours to complete.
At the end of the transfer process, a “Transfer is complete” dialog appears, providing a summary of the user accounts, files, folders, program settings, and system settings transferred. You should take a look at the detailed Windows Easy Transfer Summary and save it as an HTML file, so you’ll have a manifest of files you brought to Vista.
After you restart your computer, you can use programs that depend upon the settings and files you transferred with Windows Easy Transfer. For example, when you start Windows Mail, messages from Outlook Express (which stores messages in database files) are imported as individual message files into the current user’s AppData folder.