Tag Archives: Windows XP

Move a Windows install from one machine to another using in-place upgrade

Update, May 17, 2016: With Windows 10, and maybe Windows 8/8.1 as well, you don’t need to jump through these hoops.  Just move or clone a drive to your new system and boot it up.  Windows detects that it has been moved and does a new device scan.  If your new system needs a disk controller driver that is not built into Windows (i.e. some kind of RAID device), you’ll want to make sure that the driver is installed before the move.

Windows usually isn’t very happy when you try to move it to a different PC. If you were to take the hard drive out of one PC, install it in a different PC, and try to boot it up, unless the system components were identical or very similar, you would probably be presented with a BSOD right after the boot begins.

There are a few different ways to prepare your Windows installation to be moved to a different machine. One way is to use Sysprep to generalize your installation. This will make it forget about a lot of the hardware-specific information that it has and allow it to be booted on different hardware. The downside is that it loses a lot of your personalizations.

I’m writing about the in-place upgrade method because I didn’t find another article explaining it in detail. This method isn’t necessarily better than the Sysprep method, but it will keep all of your settings and programs. You will lose some installed Windows updates, which you will have to install again after the switch is complete.

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Bye-bye, Windows 2000!

Today, support for Windows 2000 from Microsoft ends. Windows 2000 was released over ten years ago, on February 17, 2000. Although it may have had a shaky start as far as application compatibility goes, it is renowned as one of the most stable operating systems ever to come out of Microsoft, and it paved the way for Microsoft to merge the “home” (9x) and “business” (NT) lines of Windows with Windows XP, the following year.

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Can’t activate Windows XP after a repair install or in-place upgrade

Windows XP is a picky beast.  If you want to move it from one system to another, chances are that you’ll just get a BSOD upon boot.  To get around this, you can do a repair install or “in-place upgrade” to convince it to take stock of all of the new hardware and then it will probably boot up fine.  Of course, there’s other reasons to run a repair install, it might be able to save a system that isn’t working because of a strange configuration problem or a malware attack.

Anyway, here’s something that I’ve run into a few times now:  After running a repair install using a Windows XP SP3 disc, after booting up and logging in, you’re given the message along the lines of: “You must activate Windows before you can log on.  Would you like to activate Windows now?”  If you select “Yes,” which is supposed to bring up the activation prompt, nothing happens.  You get to stare at your desktop wallpaper until you decide to restart your computer manually.  If you select “No,” you are immediately logged out.  What to do?

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