Updating From Windows ME To Windows XP

by on December 11, 2007

Q: Can I upgrade my mother-in-law’s antique operating system (Windows ME) with my Windows XP disk? If so, what will be the loss of software and .doc files?

A: Yes you can update a computer from Windows ME to Windows XP. The only reason that you might not be able to upgrade your mother-in-law’s computer is if it does not meet the system requirements for Windows XP. That and other information about the upgrade process can be found in a Microsoft article entitled How to prepare to upgrade Windows 98 or Windows Millennium Edition to Windows XP. In my experience, the following has almost always proven true:

  • You should always create backups of the important data on a computer before upgrading or reinstalling an operating system. These would include your mother-in-law’s .doc files. You can use CD-R, USB flash drive, etc.
  • Some programs may not work correctly after the upgrade. This is because some programs detect which operating system is being used when they are first installed. If the operating system is upgraded after those initial detections, you might begin to notice malfunctions and other unstable behavior for your mother-in-law’s computer.
  • The system might also become unstable if your mother-in-law has previously upgraded on the same computer. That is to say, her computer could become extremely unstable if she upgraded from Windows 98 to Windows ME to Windows XP.
  • You can avoid such problems by doing a “fresh” installation of Windows XP. Instead of upgrading ME to XP, you can use the Windows XP installation CD (upgrade or full version) to erase ME and then install XP. This should work as long as your mother-in-law has a Windows ME operating system CD. NOTE: ME system restore CDs will probably not work. It must be the operating system disk itself. You will have to reinstall your mother-in-law’s programs, such as Microsoft Office. But it is worth the effort as the software will then be more compatible with XP.
  • Windows XP gives you the option to format a hard drive in NTFS or FAT. NTFS is generally considered superior to FAT formatted hard drives.

Good Luck!