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Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 Without Installation Media

Posted on 2014-03-23
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Last Modified: 2014-04-27
I have a Windows XP PC that I need to upgrade to Windows 7. However, it's located in a remote site with no one present at that location. I need to upgrade without having to physically insert a Win 7 install DVD into the system.

Can I buy a license key and then download the Win 7 installation file that I can then run remotely right from the PC's hard drive?
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Question by:anuneznyc
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29 Comments
 
LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:Scott Thomson
ID: 39949493
I would say short answer is no.

You can try with ghost builds etc but if the machine doesnt come up then you cant reset or restore the machine.

Is this machine vital in some way..?
You can USB it and then have someone on site plug it in and walk through setup..?
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 39949506
The only way to do this is through SCCM if I'm not mistaken - not an inexpensive option and it could kill your bandwidth.  You'd be better off sending them a new PC.
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LVL 10

Assisted Solution

by:Scott Thomson
Scott Thomson earned 50 total points
ID: 39949532
yeah there are things like SCCM but im assuming if he had that he woulda already tried.
i like the new pc idea (if the ompany can do that.)

really there still arent many options unless you are a fairly large Organisation
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LVL 7

Assisted Solution

by:Sivaraj E
Sivaraj E earned 50 total points
ID: 39949568
Backs-up-ing your stuffs from XP is possible through "Windows easy transfer" and can be restoring in Windows 7, without CD then it can be done through USB stick. If it is for multiple computers (10-20) then SCCM can be implemented.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-IN/windows7/help/upgrading-from-windows-xp-to-windows-7#T1=tab01

Regards, Shiva
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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 39950104
OK. Thank you for the feedback, guys!
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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:McKnife
ID: 39951838
The question is not really clear.

Would you like an inplace-upgrade or installing cleanly? If inplace: keep settings and applications, or not?
If you are not on-site and no one else is, what type of access do you have? RDP/psexec/...?

Please answer that, while considering that you can indeed extraxt windows 7 ISO files to a harddrive and start setup from there.
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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 39951842
We have access to this workstation via LogMeIn remote control.

Not looking to wipe & install. Want to upgrade from the current Win XP OS over to Windows 7.

Thanks.
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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:McKnife
ID: 39951856
And  (as asked before) is it a requirement to keep installed applications and settings?
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LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:_
_ earned 100 total points
ID: 39951938
As far as I know, you can't do a direct XP to W7 upgrade (unless somebody found a wrinkle I haven't heard of yet).

If you have a Vista "disc", you should be able to upgrade to that (without the need to Activate), and then do the W7 upgrade right after it.

Whatever you do, have a good Backup, just in case something goes sideways.
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:Scott Thomson
ID: 39952205
This isn't really a "helpful" comment.

but can i ask what is the great need to upgrade this particular machine to Windows 7? is there an application that it cant run or something?

It seems like a lot of effort to upgrade this machine (and upgrades are always messy and cause compatability problems later) unless there is a real need to upgrade it like it cant run certain applications etc.

Perhaps if we know the reason we may have a better solution than the upgrade..?
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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 39952312
Sure, Scott. This is an XP workstation and will present a security vulnerability once Microsoft drops support for XP on April 8th. That's why we would like to upgrade to Windows 7.
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:Scott Thomson
ID: 39952321
Makes sense :)

What happens if this machine goes down (ie the install / upgrade fails) will it cause serious issues?
If there is no one who can input the media does it mean that no one uses the machine..? if so perhaps use command prompt or something to shut it down remotely until someone can be there to upgrade it? that way it's off the network and cannot cause any hard..?
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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:McKnife
ID: 39952635
Please feedback on my comment as well.
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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 39972075
McKnife. We were hoping to keep the applications and settings.
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LVL 55

Accepted Solution

by:
McKnife earned 200 total points
ID: 39972086
Ok, then proceed as follows: get a setup dvd of vista business sp2 and extract it to your  harddrive using 7zip. Do the same with a win7 pro setup dvd.
Start vista setup (doesn't require a key) and upgrade xp->vista after that vista->7. Applications are kept, settings and files as well.

Stage that first to see if/when the upgraded machine is NOT reachable via network. (Of course setup it would need drivers for the NIC for vista and 7 IF it can't reuse those of xp).

clear to you?
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LVL 59

Expert Comment

by:LeeTutor
ID: 40023802
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

Not enough information to confirm an answer.
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LVL 96

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 100 total points
ID: 40023801
There is enough information.

The only valid UPGRADE scenario is the one outlined by McKnife - first to Vista, then to 7.  It's NOT A GOOD IDEA because there are many potential issues stepping through TWO upgrades with drivers and other applications, but it is the only option if you MUST upgrade.  The smart thing to do would be to replace the PC.
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40023803
That should have been an objection.
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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 40024125
I agree w/ Lee W. I will assign points and close now.
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Author Closing Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 40024129
Thanks for all the suggestions.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:_
ID: 40024143
Thank you much.   : )
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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:McKnife
ID: 40024226
@ Lee W
> It's NOT A GOOD IDEA because there are many potential issues stepping through TWO upgrades with drivers and other applications

I strongly disagree. The drivers are re-detected and the old drivers are not used if not suitable - automatically. About applications: What will not run on 7 will not run no matter if it is an upgrade or a clean installation. There won't be any problems with applications that you don't have with a clean installation. And I am not only sure in theory but did that so many times.
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40024916
EVEN IF the drivers and other such devices can be made to work TRUSTING upgrades is simply not a good idea.  For stability, the BEST option is always a clean install.
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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:McKnife
ID: 40024921
> For stability, the BEST option is always a clean install
I would not be so foolish to disagree ;)
But as for trusting upgrades, practice has taught me something else. We upgraded half the company like this: vista->7->8->8.1 and guess what: no problems. And since this are fat clients with tons of installations and configs, I am sure to say a lot of time was saved this way.
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40024930
Would likely be faster to just save the configs and script a backup and install procedure. You can always have the odd program that's poorly written, but having such a script allows reloads/new installs to run VERY quickly (have one at a large client - I deploy an image, then run a script answering 3-4 questions and it automatically installs updated apps, apps based on the user's requirements, and sets up and configures things...

I also don't consider 8->8.1 to be much of an upgrade - more of a service pack really.
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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:McKnife
ID: 40024937
You don't know our setups. The clients are pumped full with MS developer stuff. Script these? Have fun. The other lot is full of autodesk stuff. These installs are huge (setup files >50GB), they take long, and I mean it. But, no use disputing it: clean installs should be used unless we have valid reasons not to. Just wanted to point out that practice clearly shows upgrades ARE an option and not a bad one.

@8.1 being an upgrade vs servicepack: would you consider 2012 R2 a servicepack to 2012? It's the same code as 8.1.
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40024958
Yes, I would consider 2012R2 as essentially a Service Pack to 2012.  The same way 2003R2 was essentially a Service Pack (or more like feature add-on) to 2003.  2008 and 2008 R2 were VERY different in my opinion.  You might argue the Hyper-V differences in 2012/2012R2, but I'd remind you of the Hyper-V differences in 2008R2 and 2008R2 SP1.

Even so, these are my opinions... you COULD argue (and I know plenty at MS would) that 8.1 is more than a Service Pack to 8... but at the end of the day, that's what it feels like - a RADICAL redesign of the start menu and they realized it needed adjusting... Update 1 is also like a service pack (if you can get it installed).

There are certain aspects of deployment that can be difficult and if no two (or only two) users are alike, then scripting can be tricky... still, you can find your common products and get those taken care of.  I have a few developers at that client that I support as well... it can depend on what level of customization you (as the IT person) needs to do and what level the end user is responsible for.  In my environment, the end user is responsible for MOST of their settings, our job is to get the apps - SQL, Visual Studio 2010 and 2012, and several other related development tools on the box.  Save the profiles and most settings transfer... those that don't are up to the user to reconfigure.
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LVL 62

Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 40025601
Just my $0.02 here - While no great fan of using upgrade disks between Windows versions I have rarely seen any issues that weren't insurmountable.  What I have seen (and appreciate this is anecdotal at best) is jumps between two versions causing issues (i.e. XP to 7 via Vista).

When these crop up these have always been where changes have been made on the intermediary platform (Usually some time spent using the intermediary stage and then once again upgrading or applying Vista fixes or "tweaking" installed software to add Vista compatibility patches before applying the final upgrade).  My personal feeling is if you want to go the upgrade route do it the once & be wary "upgrading an upgrade" which has been in use with its registry gradually evolving.  Applying sequential upgrades  at the same time seem to be more stable.*  

*YMMV
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