So you have decided to upgrade to Windows XP. Before throwing the CD in your CD-Rom drive and starting the upgrade, why not take a bit of time to plan the upgrade so it goes as smoothly as possible. This starts with determining if your current operating system can be upgraded and if Windows XP can run on your existing hardware.

  • Windows XP supports a direct upgrade from the following operating systems:
  • Microsoft Windows 98
  • Microsoft Windows 98 SE
  • Microsoft Windows ME
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 with Service Pack 5 can be upgraded to Windows XP Professional, not Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional can be upgraded to Windows XP Professional, not Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition


Windows XP does not support direct upgrades for the following platforms:

  • Microsoft Windows 3.x
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation/Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows 95

Hopefully, your current platform supports an upgrade and you can move on to verifying hardware compatibility for upgrade. Microsoft used to release a Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) for its operating systems. The HCL lists all the hardware supported by the operating system. If your hardware is not present on the list it does not necessarily mean you can not proceed with the upgrade but you should verify with the hardware manufacturer that the component is Windows ready. You can find an up-to-date version of the HCL on Microsoft’s website. Microsoft now publishes the Windows Catalog that lists the products that have been designed to run on Windows 2000 platforms and later.

If you are running a previous version of Windows, an alternative to checking the HCL is to run the hardware and software compatibility check. You can run the check by inserting the Windows XP CD and choosing the Check system compatibility option or by typing the following command from the command prompt, where x is the letter assigned to your CD-ROM drive:

X:\i386\winnt32 /checkupgradeonly

When you start the actual Windows XP set up, the hardware and software are again checked for any incompatibility issues. Performing the pre-compatibility test is definitely not necessary. However, it’s better to know of any issues before hand than having to halt an installation.

[tags]xp,windows upgrade,setup,checkupgradeonly,hcl[/tags]