How shall I upgrade to XP?
June 28, 2005 4:55 PM   Subscribe

The time to upgrade my desktop from Win98se to Win XP Home has come. I have XP on a Dell disk that came with a laptop. Can it be used? Or, do I buy new software? Can I do it myself? How much trouble am I going to have if I do it myself. Will I have less trouble if I take the computer somewhere and have it done? Personal experiences appreciated.
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
I don't know how interested you are in following copyright law or the EULA that came with your Windows XP, but if you are you're probably not going to be able to do what you want.

If you're still using XP on that Dell laptop, then you are breaking copyright law by installing it on a second machine.

Even if you've removed XP from the laptop, you are probably forbidden by the EULA from installing it on a different machine.

If you want to use an OS more advanced than Win98se, then try one of the fine distributions of Linux. I hear from a friend that "Ubuntu Linux" is fairly friendly to beginners. It comes with a browser and office suite, and is free to use and distribute.
posted by jepler at 5:12 PM on June 28, 2005

generally xp disks from OEMs are locked so that they will not install on hardware that is not from the same OEM.

Also, as jepler says, it is probably against the EULA too.

One other factor to consider is that while your desktop may run Win98 very well, it may not have the oomph to run xp. Check Here for more info on upgrading. While WinXP is better in almost every way than Win98SE, if you don't have adequate hardware for it, you will be very frustrated.
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 5:25 PM on June 28, 2005

Upgrading Windows 98/98SE/ME to Windows XP is a bad, bad idea. Install XP from scratch now, or upgrade, suffer endlessly, and reinstall from scratch later anyway.

If the Dell cd is a “restore” cd you'll have to figure out where Windows is on it and hope you can get it off there. I was once able to do this with a Compaq restore cd. Otherwise, most of these restore cds check your bios to make sure you're installing on the machine it came with. If you can't figure out where the Windows installation files are on your Dell disk or they've got them more cleverly hidden than Compaq did, your best bet is probably to use someone else's standalone XP Home cd and install it using the Dell's product key.
posted by evariste at 5:31 PM on June 28, 2005

My understanding is that the OEM Win XP install disks will only work on the corresponding vendor hardware. I don't know how granular it is -- that is, whether Dell laptops count differently from Dell desktops.

Then the problem is that if that Win XP disk has actually already been used to install XP, and that instance of XP has been activated, then you're going to have problems activating the desktop.

You're probably going to need to buy XP. If you have your Win 98SE installation disk, you can get the cheaper upgrade version.

MSFT has tried to make installing/upgrading something end users can do easily, and they've actually been reasonably successful, so it's worth a shot doing it yourself. If there's any data on the current drive that's important to you, back it up to removable media (like a CD) before starting an upgrade. (And, after backing it up, you probably want a full install from scratch instead of an upgrade -- that's an option with the upgrade edition of the XP install CD; it'll just prompt you to put in your installation disc of your previous version at some point, to verify you had one.)

The upgrade edition will probably set you back at least $90. If you have a friendly neighborhood geek, installation could probably be had for the price of a dinner; paying a hired tech would probably cost not less than $50. For not much more than twice that total, you could get a new Dell with much better hardware and XP pre-installed. Depending on how tight the cash is, you might want to consider it.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:32 PM on June 28, 2005

As much as I hate to me-too the others your request is likely to be in violation of your EULA contract and impossible since OEM disks are generally locked down.

I recently moved my old Dell from 98 to XP. I did this purely because I needed to work with files larger than the FAT32 file system could handle. I have to say that the performance hit is more than a little annoying so be prepared. My suggestion, post upgrade-installation of XP, is that you find a guide that details turning off all the eye candy features of the UI and shutting down all the services you don't need.
posted by cm at 6:13 PM on June 28, 2005

Here's the problems you will have right now:

- Disk may be locked to Dell laptop
- Activation will not allow two machines to install windows XP with the same serial number
- Your disk isn't an upgrade disk, it will refuse to do that
- Your disk might just be a ghost image of XP for the laptop

Since I just spent an hour hating microsoft on the phone for a computer with broken activation (again, what a surprise...), I'm going to help you a bit. If the disk is locked you're SOL, but it might not be. You're totally SOL if it's a ghost image as well.

To bypass activation and allow upgrades, you need a corporate windows XP. Press your corporate windows XP license up to the monitor. Hmm, I can see it, you must be legit!

Some notes on corporate XP: It has a blacklist for certain keys. Don't use these or you can't install service packs and are just going to end up with a virus infected machine.

Can you get a corporate XP disk out of an OEM windows XP home disk? Yes. Can I tell you how to do it? Yes. May I tell you how to do it? No, sorry. Although, FYI, the file that controls the disc type is setupp.ini
posted by shepd at 6:15 PM on June 28, 2005

Personal experiences appreciated.

Before installing a new OS, I realized that a hard drive upgrade would be a good idea. Yeah, needs a better burner too. Should also max out the RAM.

Spent a lot of money, spent a lot of time reinstalling everything, still had a four-year-old machine.

Anything running Win98 is no spring chicken. Zed_Lopez is pointing you in the right direction. Go get a new Dell.
posted by sageleaf at 6:53 PM on June 28, 2005

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