Over at TechRepublic they had a list of 10 things, which I narrowed to 5, you should know before upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7. There is nothing magical about any upgrade and the basics have been the same with every new operating system. So I have taken what I feel are the absolute basics of performing an upgrade, which some of you may agree or disagree with. Since most of you who read my posts regularly may wish to comment, please feel free to add anything else you may feel is important.

1. You do not upgrade one operating system to another. You do a clean install. But before you even consider changing from Windows XP to Windows 7, you should use Microsoft’s tool for determining if your hardware will work with the new operating system. Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. The advisor will check your hardware, software and peripherals and give you a detailed report of what works and what doesn’t work.

What brought this to mind was an email I received from my buddy Denny, wanting to know if his software that wouldn’t work in Vista would work in Windows 7? The answer is no, with an exception. If you install Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate you can use what is called Windows XP Mode. This is basically a full copy of Windows XP SP3 running virtually from within Windows 7. It is free for the downloading and supports both 32 and 64 bit.

2. Back up your stuff. All of your stuff.  When you install Windows 7 over an XP install, all of your old Documents And Settings plus all of your old Program Files will be saved and accessible to you. This data is saved in a folder called windows.old. But for any of us who have installed Windows, updates, or other upgrades know, anything can go wrong. So having a safe backup is highly recommended.

If I remember correctly this was also done when I upgraded from Windows 7 RC to Windows 7 RTM.

3. Dual boot? I’ve done the dual boot thing many times in the past. I personally found it to be a PITA … pain in the ass! So I was surprised when TechRepublic recommended it. Here is my personal take on dual booting which may differ from others who may respond to this article.

Instead of dual booting I took advantage of XP Mode which is available as I have mentioned above. You get the best of both worlds. You can play with Windows 7 as you go, but have the advantage of using your old apps in XP Mode. I did this on my personal test system and it works fine. Just remember one thing. You will need a anti-virus program for each operating system. I am currently using Windows Security Essentials on Windows 7 install and AVG 8.5 free edition on the Windows XP Mode side.

4. Gather up all of your CDs and DVDs to reinstall your programs. Don’t wait until after you’ve done the upgrade to find your old programs. I had one program in particular that I wanted to use in XP Mode that required I contact the company and obtain a new license to install it, making sure I had uninstalled it from my old hard drive which I had replaced with a new drive when I was using Windows 7 RTM.

Having all of your ducks in order before the big change will make you a lot happier.

5. System Builder Editions. When was the last time you called Microsoft for help? I personally never have. But that is just me and may vary depending on your situation. I have depended on my wits, the Internet, and online forums to muddle through every version of Windows including Windows 7.

Though pricing for the System Builder Editions have not been officially released yet, you may wish to consider buying one of these versions. What is the difference between retail and SBE? You don’t get a pretty retail box, nor any instructions and lastly you provide your own support.

These are my recommendations. What are yours?

Comments welcome.

Here are all 10 recommendations from TechRepublic.