After April 8, 2014, Microsoft support for Windows XP is ending. This will result in greater security vulnerabilities. It’s advised to stop using any Windows XP computers and either upgrade them or replace them with Windows 7 or Windows 8 systems.
Upgrade Compatibility Check
It’s helpful to use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to identify potential problems or incompatibilities that you might encounter with hardware or software after upgrading. There is a Windows 8 Upgrade Advisor and also a Windows 8 upgrade FAQ with helpful answers to common questions.
There are three primary options for upgrading: (1) New Computer, (2) Vista upgrade path, (3) Laplink PCMover. These options are explained in more detail below.
(1) New Computer
The simplest and least expensive solution for most people will be to purchase a computer that comes with Windows 7 or Windows 8. Then copy your data files to the new computer.
This may require purchasing new versions of your existing software programs if your current versions aren’t compatible with the new operating system, or if you no longer have the original installation disks.
(2) Vista Upgrade Path
It’s not possible to upgrade from Windows XP directly to Widows 7. However, it is possible to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista and then upgrade to Windows 7. This might be the most reliable way to retain your programs and settings through the migration process. If you choose this option, you must find a copy of Vista and Windows 7 that are the same product family (such as Windows home edition 32 bit, or Windows Pro 64-bit, etc.). This is typically the most costly and time consuming option, but it should preserve your programs and software licenses. If applicable, click here for Windows 7 to Windows 8 upgrade instructions.
(3) Laplink PCMover
The PCMover Professional product from Laplink is supposed to easily transfer your data, programs, and settings to a new computer. At a cost of about $60, this option generally will save time and money, but won’t be as reliable as the a Vista migration path (option #2 above). Some programs and settings may not work properly after transfer. This is either because of a compatibility issue, or some underlying problem in the original computer that corrupts the transfer to the new computer. This software should be available from most stores, on from Amazon, or directly from Laplink. Microsoft offers a free copy of PC Mover as a download. However, there is a disclaimer about the free version stating, “The free data transfer will not migrate your apps.” Presumably this is to make people purchase software again rather than transfer it.
For greater assurance, you may want to perform an Acronis image backup of the older computer prior to any transfer attempts. This will allow you to restore the system to its original state.