upgrade or "clean install"

I have a Dell Dim XPS B733  256 M. Five years old. If I want to upgrade to Win Me or Win XP what is the diff. of upgrading or doing a clean install? Would Win XP be a problem on this older computer? Would it be better to just stay with Win 98 SE on this computer?
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paraghsDy General ManagerCommented:
Don't even think of installing Win ME. You are much better off with 98.

However, you can consider XP. As stengelj says, it is better to install clean.
Using upgrade install, you may get all the settings of all the programs installed.

Here are few pretty good links :

1. Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Upgrading to Windows XP from Windows 9x/Me:

2. Step-By-Step: Master the Windows XP Upgrade Process:

3. Beginners Guides: Upgrading Win98 to Windows XP :

4. MSKB - How to prepare to upgrade Windows 98 or Windows Millennium Edition to Windows XP :


5. Windows 9x to Windows XP Upgrade Issues :

All in all :
1. Forget ME.
2. If you drcide to go for XP, use clean install.
3. Whether to go for XP, or stick with 98SE depends on how your PC is performing presently, and what you intend to do with your PC.
You might want to upgrade the RAM to at least 512mb but I run XP on a P3 350MHz just fine (for what I need it to do).  It should run everthing you're currently running under Win98 at least as good (with the extra RAM).  Don't expect it to outperform Win98.  Only expect to get the added features of WinXP.

As for upgrade vs. new...New would be best to make sure you start out clean but you would need to save your settings and data on a backup disk and, after the XP install, you would need to re-install all of your programs.  An upgrade will be much faster and may be problem free-or it may not.  You can always try an upgrade and it has problems, do a clean install.

Either way, make sure you test your system for XP compatibility before deciding anything.  Here a tool for doing that: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/upgrading/advisor.mspx

Best of luck!
Me is a trouble-prone os,,,,to be avoided.
XPwill run ok on your system but a little slow.  A ram upgrade to 512 wouls help a bit but it would still be a little slow. (a friend of mine runs a full-blown version of autocad on a p700 or so, and he's happy with the way it performs, although he's not that demanding a user in terms of the speed it runs at)
Win2000 wuld be my recommendation if you want to upgrage .... runs ok on 256.
I;d stick with 98se if I were you unless you have some particular reason to change it.   I've recently upgraded my dad's computer from w98 to w2000....it's
one of those inexpensive fairly new 3200+ guys with a fairly good graphics card, phone modem and ok sound card added to it.   Main reason I upgraded was to make it simpler for him to  install/reinstall the newer cards.  
(I guess you could argue that xp is a more secure system if you're worried about security, but I'm not.  I may also be prejudiced in preferring fat32 to ntfs.  It's just not that big a deal to me and I feel a lot more comfortable with fat32 when things foul up.)

re upgrade versus clean install .... I tried an upgrade once and it created more problems than I wanted to deal with.  About the only stuff that worked properly after the install had a microsoft name attached to it.  But my experience is limited that way.  A clean install with a reformat DOES give you though, a brand new, un-messed up, operating system with no excess junk attached to it and an ideal time to run a ghosting program
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Windows ME was the worst so-called upgrade ever delivered by Microsoft.  I doubt you could even buy it now if you wanted to.
paraghsDy General ManagerCommented:
As dxf224 suggested, installing Windows 2000 will be best for you, in all terms.
The best thing is that Windows built on New Technology (NT, 2000 and XP) are crash-resistant.

Althogh clean install is best, if you decide to go for upgrade, here again are few links :

1. Upgrading Windows 98 With the Full Version of Windows 2000 :

2. Windows 2000 : Upgrading from Windows 95 or Windows98 :

3. Windows 2000: Your Ticket to a Hassle-Free Upgrade :

4. Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Should you upgrade to Windows 2000? A Windows 2000 technology showcase :

I would go for upgrade ONLY if I can not backup data, and have some app installed in 98 which I desperately need, and don't have installation program available with me now.
Why the recommendation to upgrade to a 5-year old operating system (Win2000)?  

Win2k was/is slower than XP, less compatible overall, less reliable, less supported, less secure, and has fewer reasons to upgrade from Win98.

I don't see any incentive for you to spend a couple hundred $$ 'upgrading' to a legacy OS that, for most home users, is very similar to Win98.

Recommended RAM for both XP and 2K is 128mb, so the argument that Win2K needs less memory doesn't even make sense. Its applications that use most of your memory and, it just so happens that XP is able to make better use of additional available memory.

If there is a good reason for 2K vs. XP please post it!
JohnnySaxAuthor Commented:
To Stengelj
 I will most likely stay with Win 98 SE. I am a musician and this old computer does music quite well for me. I worry about software, some music, that does not work with anything less than Win 2000 and Win XP.
I have a Dell Dim 4300 Win Me that I am going to upgrade to Win XP.
I get a lot of "fatal exception" messages on Win 98. I have backed up the HD and I am going to format then reinstall Win 98. Hope that helps. I think I have had some virus problems. I think the OS is corrupt. That is what I am told by Dell support.
"I worry about software, some music, that does not work with anything less than Win 2000 and Win XP."

A valid concern.  Windows XP is surprisingly compatible with older software and even allows you to run in compatibility modes that mimick older operating systems.  But, you wouldn't know until after the upgrade if it was really going to work.

Fatal Exceptions are a real pain but are not always a software/OS problem-could be faulty hardware.  We'll hope for the best! Good luck.
JohnnySaxAuthor Commented:
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