Upgrading to new OS (Operating System) FAQs

by Mark Braught


Should I load the latest Windows OS (Operating System) on my machine?
That will be determined by your current hardware specifications and your future needs. Sometimes upgrading the OS is an effective solution to increase stability and functionality. Currently, Windows XP is the most reliable, stable and functional OS that Microsoft has produced.

Is it better to run the upgrade or perform a clean install?
Windows sells two types of OS installation CDs for each current Windows XP distribution of XP Home Edition and XP Professional.  There is a full version and an upgrade version.  The full version is sold to load on a machine that does not have Windows loaded on it OR you do not have the old windows CD (Windows 98, 98SE, ME , 2000). You must purchase the full version. 

The upgrade version is designed to upgrade an older Windows version to Windows XP. The requirements are that you have an older windows version currently on your system or on a CD. While Microsoft sells the upgrade to take you directly from an older windows the recommended procedure is always to do a clean install. Both full version and the upgrade can do a clean install. A clean install is better because it does not transfer the old programs and accumulated junk from the past. It completely lays down a fresh operating system. 

Is there a difference between XP Home Edition (Home), XP Professional (Pro) or XP Media Center (MC)? 
Contrary to many misconceptions about the differences between XP Home, Pro and MC they are all based on the same foundational Kernel. The Kernel is the core of the OS and is responsible for the operations of the OS. It is like the frame, motor and other major components of a car. There may be several models of a car that use the same infrastructure but the outside looks and functionality are different. Home, Pro, MC only have differences in appearance or functionality. XP Home is entry level OS designed to work seamlessly with many programs and games. XP Pro was designed to work within the Corporate environment with Domain servers and added security. XP MC seamlessly integrates Audio, Video and TV functionality into the interface. Most people do not need more than XP Home unless they want Corporate level security or High level of Media integration on there computer. 

What are the minimum Specs for Windows XP?
I have seen Windows XP running on a Pentium 233 MMX with 64MB of ram, However, it ran painfully slow and inefficient. Microsoft recommends no less than 128MB of Ram memory, A 300Mhz Processor and 1.5GB of Hard Drive space. Again the performance of the system will be limited. We at MBCS generally do not recommend upgrading an older system unless it has 256MB of Ram, At least a 500Mhz processor and a hard drive that has about 50% of the space free AFTER the install. This means if you have a 10GB Hard Drive in the system that is using 2.5GB, After the full install of Windows XP (which usually takes up to 2.5GB) you would have about half the drive full. 10GB-2.5GB-2.5Gb=5GB 

Can I upgrade my system to meet the minimum specís? 
Yes, you probably can. The question is what is the final cost. If you are spending one half the cost of a new machine to upgrade you may be wasting money on an old system. In the computer industry technology moves rapidly and there comes a time when investing or upgrading old technology is no longer cost effective. Older memory modules and parts generally cost more than current products and do not perform like the newer hardware. It is always a good idea to assess the cost of upgrades keeping in mind the extended life expectancy and expected functionality of the system desired. You may find that upgrade is right for you. 

At MBCS we want to make sure you get the best price/performance for your investment and recommend you talk to us before investing money in upgrades or new systems. We do not want you to waste money needlessly and would be glad to assess your system requirements, future desires and determine what course of action would be right for you. 

Return to FAQs