Upgrading XP to Win 7 or Win 8.1

I need to carry out an upgrade of 15 workstation computers in a network, all running Windows XP Pro SP3 to either Windows 7 Pro SP1 or Windows 8.1 Pro.
The DC of the network runs Windows 2008 R2.

I know that a fresh installation ("destructive") would be necessary in each case.
Followed by re-installation of application programs and re-setup of users' customised settings.

I am writing in the hope that I could benefit from the experience of Experts who have undertaken this sort of exercise successfully with minimal problems.

The little experience I have with using Windows 7 Easy Transfer utility is not favourable.
I found that it took a long time. Settings are not properly transferred and applications had to be re-installed and setup again from scratch. Time saving is definitely not a big plus, using the utility.

Is there a better way?

Thanks, Experts.
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Stelian StanIT Services ManagerCommented:
You can use laplink: http://www.laplink.com/index.php to do the migration. Also another option is to use Microsoft Deployment Toolkit: http://redmondmag.com/articles/2014/01/09/xp-to-windows-8.1-migrations.aspx
I upgraded a machine to 8.1 lately that had every OS on it since nt4.

it does work. If your systems work well, why not. Please note that you don't have to own any licences but the last.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You should be using Windows 7 64-bit or Windows 8 64-bit.  You cannot upgrade in place from 32-bit to 64-bit, so you should really do a clean install of the final 64-bit operating system (as I think you allowed in your question). Yes, it will take a bit longer but create a page of settings and you can set one up in an hour or less after all the software is installed.

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garychuAuthor Commented:
Thanks, Experts.

It is not clear to me. Did you use Laplink PCMover to do it?
Instead of doing an in-place upgrade, I will take John's advice as regards a clean install of Windows 8.1. And then just move settings, applications etc.
Can PCMover help with that?
 And presumably I will need the Pro edition..
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Laplink (PC Mover) will only copy old software. You generally need new software (Office, Adobe, Drivers and all manner of software). PC Mover will not help will that.  So it really best to do a clean install.

presumably I will need the Pro edition   Pro edition of Operating System?  Yes, for sure.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
any upgrade from Windows XP Pro requires a PRO.. MDT (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit) allows a hard link migration that will keep  the user files and users.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/video/user-state-migration-with-windows-7.aspx  older but it still applies with Windows 7/8 and MDT 2012 Update 1
Jeremy TyreSystem Project AnalystCommented:
PCmover will only transfer some programs and has a tendency to crash.  I have done hundreds of migrations from XP to 7 without data lose.  The best way to accomplish this with PCmover is to disable ALL non-microsoft services, startup items, and disable any anti-virus (this helps prevent PCmover from crashing) then run WET to backup the documents and settings.  After this run PCmover but do not transfer any profiles or data.  This will help mitigate the crashing issues.  After all this, do a custom install of the new windows, but do not format the drive first, just select it.  This will let windows create a windows.old folder with the old profiles and docs in it, just in case.  After all that is done, do the basic setup such as drivers, updates, and joining a domain if required.  Then have the user(s) log in (this is required for WET to work properly).  Disable all startup, non-microsoft services, and anti-virus then run PCmover under an admin account.  If it crashes just keep running it.  It will eventually go through.  After this run WET.  Lastly, reinstall any missing programs.

This is a long process, but ensures data and (most) program transfers.  It is still shorter then doing it all manually if you have a decent amount of programs.  I have not had data loss because of this process.  If you need any help configuring a PCmover policy for automation or any issues let me know.

PCmover will transfer Office and some versions of Adobe.  Office is fine, but sometimes Adobe will break and need to be repaired and activated.  Just make sure the software supports the new OS.  An example is trying to transfer Adobe Acrobat 7 or CS3 to 7 does not normally work, but I have seen it work once or twice.  Don't ask my why it did.
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I always do it from scratch.  No special tools.  Just a data backup.  Safe and clean.
- First, are these 32 or 64-bit machines.  If 32 then you're stuck with 32-bit OS, apps, etc.
- Second, are there drivers available for the computer?  I have had good results with Windows 7 32 using Vista drivers.  For example, if you go to the Dell website and look for drivers for a particular computer, the site will tell you which OS for which there are drivers available.  So at least that's worth a try.  Windows 7 doesn't seem to require many drivers because it already has them.  
- Third, expect that some older printers (and other peripherals) will no longer work because there ARE no drivers!
- If the computers are the same, or even if they aren't, I'd try one first to see what the issues might be .. as above.
Since you are running a 2008 r2 server, there shouldn't be any need to move or transfer the user's files or settings.

Just install Windows 7 and then install the software you need, and as has been mentioned. make sure you also use versions of that software that runs under Windows 7. Probably, as has been mentioned earlier, use MDT to automate things. You would need Volume licenses of Windows 7 Pro.

It is unlikely that Windows 8.x will install or run on your old PC's, while Windows 7 will probably run without issues. So I don't recommend going for Windows 8.x.
garychuAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the various suggestions and tips, Experts.
I have formed the conclusion to broadly proceed along the following lines;
1. With exception of 2 computers, the rest will all be upgraded to Windows 7 Pro (32 or 64 bit).
2. A clean OS installation in all cases.
3. A fresh re-installation of all application and utility programs.

Where I am now stuck at is.
a) Use of WET to backup documents & settings. What is WET?
b) Use PCMover - but do not transfer profiles & data. Then what is PCMover'r role?
c) Can PCMover Express from Microsoft/Laplink be used in this scenario?

Further assistance via clarifications would be appreciated. Thanks
As I mentioned above, the data (and probably also user profiles) are already on the server, so there should be no need to transfer anything.

'W'indows 'E'asy 'T'ransfer =WET... but again, not required. PCMover would be to transfer already installed software, but you are installing fresh so not needed.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Actually the profiles will be different since they will now be Version 2 in Windows Vista and newer O/S.  Windows XP uses Version 1 profiles..

Actually Windows 8 and 8.1 have a lower footprint than Windows 7.  Wundows 8.1 will run on hardware that struggle to run Windows 7.. The biggest problem is getting drivers
garychuAuthor Commented:
The continued support from Experts is very much appreciated.

I am slightly confused now.
Will need a little time to review all comments again.
Thanks in meantime.
I don't agree. Windows 8.x will not run on most older hardware, while Windows 7 will. Windows 8.x requires a CPU that supports PAE, SSE2 and NX. Particularly NX wasn't yet included with most Pentium IV CPU's (I haven't come across any socket 478 CPU where it would install, and those were common CPU's in the XP days). You usually need at least a core type CPU for Windows 8.x, and a 775 socket or newer. If you want to use Hyper-V which is included with Windows 8.x Pro or above, the CPU needs to provide additional SLAT support, and that means even newer CPU's (the Intel i3, i5 or i7 series). Also AMD CPU's need to be of similar age to the Intel counterparts to have the required features.

Windows 7 usually will run faster and better on old hardware than XP did (in the same configuration). You do need enough RAM (1GB is regarded the minimum, although it will run on 512MB), but XP also needs 1GB to run fine, so there is really no difference here.

So basically, unless your current hardware is newer than 3 years old, it'll be very unlikely that Windows 8.x will run on it.
Some feedback on comments:
McKnife: It is not clear to me. Did you use Laplink PCMover to do it?
No. I did an inplace upgrade as described. I mentioned the inplace upgrade in order to challenge your incorrect statement that "a fresh Installation would be necessary". If it's the best method for you, I cannot tell.
@John Hurst:
You should be using Windows 7 64-bit or Windows 8 64-bit.
We have not done any analysis on what he needs. Sure, normally we use 64 bit OS with any new installation as well. But what if the ease of an inplace upgrade's benefits outweighs the benefits of having access to more than 4 GB of RAM? This recommendation comes too early.
Windows 8.x will not run on most older Hardware...unless your current hardware is newer than 3 years old, it'll be very unlikely that Windows 8.x will run on it.
You will not find any MS documentation supporting that statement and in my practical experience (we are doing a win8 rollout) it runs anywhere where Vista runs without any problems. I have not yet found a single piece of hardware that did not have a driver for 8, and we do have some hardware that's older than 3 years.

@garychu: the process of inplace upgrading xp to 8.1 is very a 4-step one, you would not want it. So if inplace-upgrading is an option for you, the two-step upgrade to win7 (xp->vista->7)  would be an easier one. I have done Upgrades from xp to 7 like this and they worked well.
It's not a driver problem, but rather the capabilities of the CPU (like NX and SLAT). Have you ever tried installing Windows 8.0 or 8.1 on a PC that has a socket 478 Pentium IV? or also on an Atom n270 or similar CPU? Those do not support NX and you can't install Windows 8.x on those. You get an error code while the installation media is loading, with 4 rows of error codes, but no real info for the reason. The only option after that is to reboot...

Actually the 3 years I mentioned above applies for SLAT capable CPU's so you can enable the Hyper-V feature (which in my point of view would be the only good reason to even consider going to Windows 8.x). Windows 8.x does install on older CPU's, but they have to be at least socket 775 CPU's.

Of course I'm also assuming that the asker is using the typical PC which was delivered with XP (Socket 478...). The later versions with Intel Core 2 Duo or similar CPU's would have had Vista or Windows 7 installed, not XP. On that hardware he would have had to downgrade to XP, typically..., so that isn't XP hardware anymore.
Of course I'm also assuming that the asker is using the typical PC which was delivered with XP
There is no "typical" Windows xp hardware, sorry. XP is from 2001, but was delivered on certain new devices until only some years ago. Again: we would need details to make proper recommendations. @garychu: your task :)
Jeremy TyreSystem Project AnalystCommented:
Sorry for the late reply.  

a) Use of WET to backup documents & settings. What is WET?
Windows Easy Transfer
b) Use PCMover - but do not transfer profiles & data. Then what is PCMover'r role?
To transfer programs
c) Can PCMover Express from Microsoft/Laplink be used in this scenario?
I have not used this but it appears to work.  However, PCMover must be used prior to installing the new OS if it is an in place upgrade.
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
One should not want to be disappointed using something like PCMover.  Read the fine print that says that some app's won't transfer at all and others ... etc. etc.
Just like the case where some older printers will no longer work for lack of a Windows 7 driver, this will happen.

But, if you have a compatible app and don't have the install disks any longer and/or if the company is out of business or no longer supports the product then PCMover may be a life saver!  I would tend to think of it more in this context and do a fresh install whenever possible.

But, if it truly saves time and effort then by all means.
garychuAuthor Commented:
Thanks again, Experts.
Your various comments have helped me greatly in understanding the issues involved.
Your suggestions make sense. Given varying circumstances, they are not contradictory. Although it seem so initially to me.
I have now carried out a survey of the computers involved and have decided that the most appropriate approach in my case would be to;
- Install Windows Pro 32-bit in 11 of the computers. The remaining 4 will be Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit.
- Backup user data stored locally, excluding profile and settings.
- Fresh clean installation of the OS and Application programs
- Reconnect computers to the network DC with new computer IDs
- Restore user data from backup.

Some might think this is a rather time consuming and less than elegant approach.
But while doing so, it will offer me real opportunity to test the use of PCMover and/or WET for possibly the next project.

I hope you will find my distribution of points fairly represent what I have got out of the various contributing experts.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@garychu - Thanks for the update and I was happy to help.
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