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Question about upgrading Windows XP to Windows Vista?

I am trying to upgrade a Windows XP Pro system with Service pack 3 to a Vista Ultimate system with the end goal of then upgrading to Win 7. Again the intention is to do an upgrade, not a clean install. This particular OS started life as a Win 95 system. Was upgraded to Win 98 then 98 second edition and then finally to XP. It has run on multiple motherboards and processors and many many hard drives. But I have hit a snag.
Vista ultimate will not give the option of upgrading. And by the way, this IS the upgrade version. It says so on the box and on the DVD.  The option to upgrade is there but it is grayed out and a note says that it needs to do a clean install. If I wanted to do that I would skip Vista and go right to 7 to start with. So something is causing the install process to not want to make the upgrade. I am thinking it might be the service pack 3 of XP since the SP3 came out after Vista did. But I can't find any information about it. After all this is more than 10 years in the past.  I am of course working off a clone drive so I can experiment and would just uninstall SP3 to try it but the uninstall is not available.  As far as I can figure a repair was done using a SP3 disk of XP and that eliminated the uninstall. Now I can try doing a repair with a SP2 disk of XP in order to roll it back to SP2  but that might cause it to become unbootable and if not would for certain cause it to need to be activated again, which now will not happen over the internet but requires that you call somebody in India and read long strings of numbers back and forth to each other. I would hate to go through all of that and discover that it still will not upgrade. So the question is: is anyone familiar with this upgrade process and is there a way to force the upgrade option? By the way, I have both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Vista and the XP is a 32 bit version. So that should not be the problem.  Any thoughts about this?

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I can tell you from enough experience that upgrading is only worth it if there is no other chance.
Too much clutter left behind, too much stuff that slows the new system down for no reason - and in the long run far too much hassle.
I mean you are "upgrading" from one dead OS to another dead OS with the endgoal of getting an OS running that will be dead soon too.
Is there any GOOD reason not to do a clean install?

+1

Damn my curiosity....
Misused my 32GB of Ram to install a virtual system for testing LOL
Only had the 64bit Versions at hand but in two cases I could replicate the problem with the update from Vista.
Vista Ultimate only allows to update certain XP versions.
I had no chance at all updating from anything below XP pro 64.
The 32bit versions might cause less trouble here but I doubt it.
I had to try 3 different activation codes for XP pro until Vista agreed it can upgrade it.
IMHO it comes down what MS had planned for the serial number range in question.
Some XP version were sold at a bargain price and I guess some of them did not include the upgrade feature.
So if in doubt use the grey zone and exchange the serial numbers for your XP instatallation after checking the version itself actuall allows an upgrade to the Vista version in question.

I did not include any software at all as I was just curious here but I do know from the past that upgrading from one OS to the next already causes the registry to blow up for no good reason.
Doing this twice will most certainly result in a lot of unwanted and not required entries.
Might pay off to set restore points and to use a registry cleaner to prevent misleading entries from causing teoubles.

Last but not least the "need" for upgrade over new installation...
Most people upgrade only to avoid the hassle of installing and setting up programs to save time.
Under XP and 95 there was not really much in terms of user assigned files and setups unless you needed multiple users.
It should be sufficient to backup the program data, basically everything you changed and created and to copy this over to the Win7 installation.
At 95 times most if not all personal settings in programs were saved within the program and the rest can be copied over to the user folder of the program in a Win7 installation after the program was installed new.
You also need to consider the driver problem here.
Programs that specify certain drivers for their use inside the registry can cause massive headaches at a later stage.
The Win7 system might have found the correct driver and installed it but the program using it still refers to a driver that no longer exists.

And on a good computer there is always the option to just install Win7 and to use all the old setup including the OS in a virtual enviroment...

Vyger (author)  Downunder35m1 month ago

I believe your curiosity has proved true. While looking it up I found several comments about only certain versions of XP upgrading. So I found a torrent of XP, actually the best version I have ever seen of it and downloaded it. This version has all the last updates that were released up to and including 2013 and it has SATA drivers built into it. It also has the key embedded into it so it needs no activation. It is a great copy. So, I have a 120 gig SSD that I was testing to see if it was defective because it refused to boot at the library. Wiped the drive and installed the XP, then tried the upgrade to Vista. No problem. In fact with the SSD the installation flew. Interestingly looking back it is possible that my Pro version of XP was an academic version. Because I was working for a school district I bought a lot of academic versions and it is possible that mine either started out as one or was repaired from an academic disk somewhere down the line. I think that is where the problem came from. Now the question is can I do a repair/reinstall using my new found XP and get the identity of the version to change to the new one so I can upgrade it? That is the next thing I will try. In the mean time I have now upgraded the Vista to Win 7. I did have to download some updates first and put in SP1. But after that it took right off. So now I know I can do it. The question is weather I can get my xp identity to change so I can upgrade that one. By the way I will still have my XP version running, but I want to use 7 as a dual boot. So this is in some ways more of a learning experiment than anything else. I wonder if "Atomic Bomberman" will run on 7. That was one of my favorite games, It runs on XP even though it was made for Win 95.

If you, or anybody else, is interested in a really good version of XP Pro let me know and I will give you the link to the torrent site.

There are more or less simple ways to get the full functionality out of a "crimped down" XP version, including changing the registration details.
But since I literally grw up with the stuff and refused to abandone my XP machines for a very long time I will give you a secret trick to spare you a lot of pain.
As it is not fully legal I will do so by PM, although I doubt MS would care for an outdated OS...

Vyger (author)  Downunder35m1 month ago

I have a "good machine" that I did a clean install of Win 7 64 bit pro on. It has an 8 core processor, 32 gig of ram, a 500 gig ssd and a 3 terabyte raid array for data storage. Actually it has 2 SSD drives because I updated it to Win 10 but kept the 7 so it can do a dual boot. Also has 2 DVD burners, one that is light scribe and a Blue ray burner. 2 hot swapable drive bays. Extra cooling --- its a lot, its also big, in a Cooler master gaming case with a 1000 watt power supply. Even though its a few years old the MB is still for sale so its actually not obsolete yet. So i am not worried about having an up to date fast system.

The one I am working on is older, although its still pretty fast. It used to be used for a lot of things and still has a lot of software that I use. Things like the program that prints out my business cards. So I still use it sometimes. In fact it has something like 400 programs on it. When I was doing a lot of computer work I always had people asking me about what software to use for things or sometimes specific questions about certain programs. The only way to really help them was to try out the various programs. So I installed a lot of them. I have a lot from Serif and a lot from Corel. I don't want to ditch all that. So I am looking for a way to help make an old warrior a little more stable.

If you talk to someone who is still running an XP system almost always the reason is because of the software. Microsoft is still making updates for XP for companies that are still running proprietary software that will only work on an older platform. This also includes a lot of government offices. But they are paying for the updates. I think it is a bit of a violation of Microsofts consumer agreement but what are you going to do about it? I think they would have had more success with seven if they had let people upgrade XP to Seven. But greed was a bigger factor I am sure.

When people asked me about Vista I told them to skip it. It had a lot of problems. SO they did. I did no upgrades to Vista, which was pretty unusual. I upgraded and standardized and entire school district to XP but everybody skipped Vista except those who got it installed OEM. Our County Library even paid extra to have the new computers they bought DOWNGRADED to XP .

Now ironically I find myself upgrading to Vista. What a pain.

Why you want windows vista.Windows 7 has got many features when compare to windows vista.You won't get upgrade service to Vista.Because Windows vista is outdated.Use windows 7.Win 7 use less RAM memory and Graphic memory.Also reliable to play games also when compared to win 8 and win 10

You did not read it all - he does not want to use Vista ;)

SP2 is the minimum required version of XP to upgrade to Vista, and SP3 will upgrade also, so I don't think it's related to your service pack version, I see no merit in rolling back the SP unless it's as a last resort just to rule it out.

Also you won't be able to upgrade from Windows XP 32-bit to Vista 64-bit. You can only upgrade to Vista 32-bit as upgrading is only supported between matching operating system architecture, so forget about the 64-bit version for now.

When you are attempting to install the OS upgrade, are you booting from the DVD media or are you booting into XP and then launching the Vista set-up from within Windows? I would recommend launching the Vista installer from within Windows XP and select the "Go online to get the latest updates" option if you are presented with it. I also recommend you stop any anti-virus and malware scanning software, as well as closing any other un-necessary applications running in the background.

As for what specifically may be preventing you from seeing the upgrade option, I suspect that it may be the file system currently in place on your hard drive. While Windows XP will happily operate on FAT32 or NTFS, Vista will only install on an NTFS file system. Open 'My Computer', right-click on the drive that has the OS installed (presumably C:) and select properties, this should indicate your file system. If it is anything other than NTFS, this is the problem.

If my assumption is correct, the fix is a simple one. Open up command prompt and type the following command: convert c: /fs:ntfs (assuming your drive is C:).

It will prompt you to force a dismount, choose Yes, it will then prompt you to schedule the convert at the next system restart as the drive is in use, choose Yes then restart. Once completed it will restart again, retry your Vista upgrade.