Windows

Move your entire Windows XP installation into Windows 7 with Zinstall XP7

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, Greg Shultz shows you how to use Zinstall XP7 to move your Windows XP installation onto Windows 7.

If you are still using Microsoft Windows XP but thinking of moving to Windows 7, you're probably feeling a bit apprehensive about the project. What if I told you that you could convert your entire Windows XP installation (data files and applications) into a virtual machine that you could then run inside Windows 7? Well, you can do just exactly that by using a unique product called Zinstall XP7.

Zinstall XP7 is a product designed to make it possible for Windows XP users to migrate/upgrade their existing systems to Windows 7. With Zinstall XP7, you can move your Windows XP installation, intact, from an older computer to a newer computer already running Windows 7 as well as revive your Windows XP installation after performing a Windows XP to Windows 7 Custom installation procedure on your existing computer. Zinstall calls this latter method an in-place migration, and it employs a truly unique process, which I'll describe in detail.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to use Zinstall XP7 to move your Windows XP installation into Windows 7. As I do, I'll focus on the single computer, in-place migration procedure.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

What is Zinstall XP7?

Zinstall XP7 is one of a family of products designed to make it easy to migrate your existing Windows XP installation into Windows 7 where it will essentially run as a virtual computer. If you plan to migrate a few Windows XP systems into Windows 7, you'll want to use Zinstall XP7.

Zinstall XP7 sells for $89 and can be obtained on the Zinstall site. If you will be migrating 100 or more systems, you should investigate the Zinstall Enterprise Server edition. The server edition sells for $1,799 and includes 11 migration licenses. Additional migration license packs (10 and 25) are also available.

While the Zinstall XP7 product carries the XP moniker in its name, Zinstall XP7 also supports Windows Vista and Windows 7, from the Basic edition to the Ultimate edition, and also works for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. (For example, you can use Zinstall XP7 to migrate from Windows XP Professional 32-bit to Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.) Furthermore, each operating system is supported as migration source or as migration target.

Preparation

In order to ensure a successful migration, there are several tasks that you'll want to perform on your Windows XP system in preparation for the operation. Let's take a closer look.

  • Hardware Compatibility: In order to perform the migration operation on a single computer, the hardware of the Windows XP system must be able to support Windows 7. If you are not sure if your hardware is on par with Windows 7's requirements, you can download and run Microsoft's Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.
  • Backup: You'll want to back up your system using Windows XP's Backup Utility or a third-party disk imaging tool, such as EASEUS Todo Backup, which is a free package that I used for my test configuration. (You can read a review and download Todo Backup on the CNET Download.com site.) That way if anything goes awry, you can restore your Windows XP system and get right back to work. Just to be on the safe side, you may also want to back up all your data on CD/DVD or on an external hard disk. While it may sound like overkill, having an extra backup of your data will give you peace of mind.
  • Optimization: You'll want to make sure that your Windows XP system and hard disk is in tip-top shape by running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter. Doing so will help make the operation run quickly and smoothly. By running Disk Cleanup, all unnecessary files will be removed, such as trash in the Recycle Bin and Temporary Internet Files. By running Disk Defragmenter, your hard disk will be ready for optimal performance.
  • Windows Update: You'll want to run Windows Update on your Windows XP system and make absolutely sure that all current updates are downloaded and installed.
  • Security Software: The folks at Zinstall have noted that many antivirus and firewall products can interfere with Zinstall during the actual migration procedure. As such, you should disable any antivirus and firewall products on your Windows XP system before you begin. Keep in mind that if the migration procedure fails, you are given the opportunity to send a diagnostic report to the Zinstall Support Team, who will then offer to provide a live, remote support session to fix the problem. (I found the folks at the Zinstall Support Team to be prompt, courteous, and knowledgeable.)

Window XP to Windows 7 upgrade

As you may know, when you insert a Windows 7 Upgrade DVD into a Windows XP system, you will be performing what Microsoft calls a Custom installation. A Custom installation is not designed to migrate your programs, data files, or settings into Windows 7, and as such it is also referred to as a clean installation for that reason. However, a Custom installation does in fact save your entire Windows XP configuration in a folder on your hard disk called Windows.old.

Using their years of accumulated knowledge in enterprise IT, virtualization, and computer forensics, the folks at Zinstall have figured out a way to use the data stored in the Windows.old folder to revive and recreate a virtual copy of your original Windows XP installation. With this in mind, let's begin with a look at the Windows 7 installation procedure.

Within the first couple of steps of the Windows 7 installation procedure, you'll see the Which Type of Installation Do You Want? prompt, Select the Custom option, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

When you insert Windows 7 Upgrade DVD into a Windows XP system, you must select the Custom option.
After you choose the Windows XP partition, you'll see the confirmation dialog box shown in Figure B. As you can see, the information displayed indicates that the Windows.old folder will be created. Once you click OK, the installation procedure will take off.

Figure B

This dialog box indicates that the Windows.old folder will be created.
While you don't actually need to do anything with the Windows.old folder, you may want to take a look at it after Windows 7 is installed just for curiosity sake. As you can see in Figure C, the Windows.old folder is located in the root folder of your hard disk. If you open the Windows.old folder and navigate around, you'll see that all your XP system and data files are intact inside the folder.

Figure C

You can find the Windows.old folder on your hard disk.

Running Zinstall XP7

Once you have the Zinstall XP7 executable file on your Windows 7 system, just double-click it and follow the straightforward steps to install and activate the software. You'll then see the Zinstall dialog box, which prompts you to select your migration scenario, as shown in Figure D. For this example, I am going to migrate by rebuilding from the Windows.old folder, so I'll select the I Only Have This PC option to continue.

Figure D

To perform the migration on a single system, you'll select the I Only Have This PC option.
You'll then be prompted to choose the hard drive that you are migrating from, as shown in Figure E. To continue, select the No, I Am Doing an In-Place Migration option.

Figure E

You'll then be prompted to choose the hard drive that you are migrating from.
You'll then see a Zinstall window that will begin searching for the Windows.old folder. It will show the Source and Target computers. When the Go button turns green, as shown in Figure F, you can click it to begin the migration procedure.

Figure F

When the Go button turns green, you can click it to begin the migration procedure.
The actual migration is a lengthy process involving multiple operations, as shown in Figure G, and can take several hours depending on the size of your Windows XP installation. For instance, my 120GB hard disk took a little over an hour to finish.

Figure G

The actual migration is a lengthy process that involves multiple operations.

Accessing Windows XP

Once you complete the migrations step, you'll see a Zinstall icon in the system tray. To access your Windows XP installation, you can just double-click on the Zinstall icon. You can also access your Windows XP installation by right-clicking on the Zinstall icon and selecting Switch to Old Desktop command, as shown in Figure H. Alternatively, you can select the Switch to Old Desktop command from the Start menu.

Figure H

You can access Windows XP by right-clicking on the Zinstall icon and selecting Switch to Old Desktop command.

When you switch, the entire desktop changes between Windows 7 and Windows XP -- you won't see Windows XP running in a window in Windows 7. When you are in the Windows XP environment, you can use the same technique to switch back to Windows 7.

Working with the two systems

To make working with the two systems as easy as working on one system, the Windows 7 and Windows XP environments are fully integrated. For example, you can copy files and text between the two systems just like you copy files and text between two different applications. To copy a file from the Windows 7 environment to the Windows XP environment, just right-click on the file, select Copy, switch to Windows XP, and paste the file.

For larger-scale file access operations, you can access files on either system by right-clicking the Zinstall icon and selecting the Show Old/New Desktop Files option. This will open a Windows Explorer window showing all the files available on the other system.

Network and Internet access is automatically enabled. If Windows 7 has access, so does Windows XP. This works with any kind of connection, wireless included.

Removable storage connected to the Windows 7 system is automatically available in the Windows XP environment. To access removable storage, use the Show New Desktop Files option in Windows XP.

What's your take?

Will you use this Zinstall XP7 to migrate your Windows XP system? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

51 comments
MAW74656
MAW74656

Ok, this is a nice idea, but there are free tools which claim to do this also. Theres vmConverter from VMware, and disk2VHD from Microsoft. However these will only work with retail Windows XP installs. Will this work with OEM also? Otherwise, its a waste of $90. And why bother with this at all, even if it can? Why can't you use xpMode and copy your files? If this is an old install, you'll probably be better off doing a fresh install of your programs anyhow.

pmat20
pmat20

Hi, How come PickMeApp is showing as a Trojan by my antivirus? Anyone else had the same experience? Thanks, pmat20

Appmen
Appmen

You may consider to use WET (windows easy transfer) and PickMeApp: two free solutions to migrate from XP to Windows 7. WET may transfer your XP program settings to Win 7 while portable PickMeApp tool may transfer programs from XP to Windows 7. PickMeApp claims to support unlimited number of programs.

BillieM
BillieM

Sounds like a very good deal- hiring a technician to do the same thing will double if not triple the cost Zinstall offers for their product.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

Way too expensive, VMware is free to individual, no cost to do virtual XP machine if already have XP.

jerry.skelding
jerry.skelding

You can use Disk2VHD and do the same thing and not sweat licensing issues

Japman_tdi
Japman_tdi

Why not choose the "upgrade option" that the Win 7 DVD gives you and still use your XP programs in the new Win 7 interface? Japman

Ocie3
Ocie3

is that you need to establish and maintain a connection to the Internet perchance you need to contact the Zinstall Support Team -- without antivirus and firewall, respectively, enabled. Maybe a router SPI firewall will suffice, but in my experience it only reduces the risk nominally. If anything malicious is aimed at the computer system, a router firewall is not likely to stop it. However, I've heard that two routers, one configured as a "gateway" (to which Internet access it cabled) and another configured as a "router" between the gateway and the computer(s) on the LAN, is much more secure. That said, the Zinstall XP7 application is certainly interesting. It seems to me that it would, basically, be like having two partitions on the same HDD, each of which has a different version of Windows. I suppose that it boots Windows 7 though.

hecate4stuff
hecate4stuff

I'm confused (not unusual). If an "upgrade" installation preserves all your programs, data, settings, etc. why is this needed when upgrading a computer to Win7? I can understand when MOVING the XP install to another machine that only has Win7 (the option you didn't cover) but this article is about preserving your programs, etc. on the same machine. Clarify for me?

fiosdave
fiosdave

Wondering if the (cheaper) Laplink products work as well, or better? I believe that the Laplink approach does NOT create an extra layer of a VM.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

So a one-user license is $89 and an 11-user license (server edition) sells for $1799. When I "do the math" the server edition is $163.55 per user, when a one-user license is only $89. Huh?

NWwoman
NWwoman

I did this with VMware and it was very easy for a non-IT person. Plus, it is free.

schafer
schafer

Doesn't VMware offer the capability for free to individual users with VMware Player and VMware Converter?

SvenVdS
SvenVdS

Are they included in the Windows.old folder? I can't find any mention of how installed programs are handled in this procedure.

hilary.elder
hilary.elder

I used Zinstall to move my old Windows XP computer porgramme, settings et al onto a new computer. Yes, it does move the whole thing to a virtual environemnt pretty well but what it doesn't do then is use the high end hardware of your new machine - i.e. graphics card, ram etc to run power hungry programmes like video editing; it uses whatever Zinstall sets up within the virtual environment, which is not enough to use much beyond simple word proceesing etc. The Zinstall environment cannot 'see' the machines graphics card, Ram etc. So not much use really.

ramnet
ramnet

Whilst I appreciate the fact this is a possible option for those silly enough to want to upgrade from Xp to W7 you really HAVE to ask the question WHY is Microsoft making it so difficult a task in the first place. To me this outcome is like saying to me I can make a boat out of your nice new car - well yes perhaps , maybe but is that what I really want. Do I really need to pay $89 for software to do something that should have been easy and straight forward to do in the first place , and further I don't really wish to be getting into virtualization when I just wanted one PC running the latest OS with the old build from XP being directly migrated to W7. Xp Users have been let down by Microsoft and everytime a 3rd party product says it can do something that Microsoft should have done on day one it exposes Microsoft as being totally unconcerned for its XP User base.

Fred Monty
Fred Monty

This app is sure interesting, maybe it will work for me? I have a client with several Vista Professional desktops, looking to replace those with Windows 7 running PCs. Will Zinstall XP7 transfer from a Vista PC to a Windows 7 PC? I understand Vista is supported as target, and I think the website says Vista is OK as source - just want to make sure. Thanks in advance!

dhamilt01
dhamilt01

My Windows XP system is 10 years old and incompatible for Windows 7. How or can I copy my Windows XP system so it will run "exactly the same" on my Windows 7 system? Thanks.

DaleCisco
DaleCisco

When I started reading, the concept seemed a bit weird, but this "two desktops" thing actually makes a lot more sense than, say, slaving over installing stuff in XP Mode. I am starting to warm up to it :)

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Will you use this Zinstall XP7 to migrate your Windows XP system? Do you at least find the application intriguing?

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, decided to provide an upgrade mechanism to move from Vista to Win7, but NOT from XP to Win7. So if you want to upgrade to Win7 from XP, you need to do a "clean" install which will wipe out your original XP installation. If you have apps that will not run under Win7, the only way to keep using them is to reinstall them under Win7's XP Mode (if you are using the Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise editions) or under another VM (VMWare, VirtualBox, MS Virtual PC 2007). A faster way to do this is to create a virtual machine of the XP system prior to performing the Win7 installation. There are several companies that provide tools to accomplish this including VMWare and Paragon Software.

The_Admin_Guy
The_Admin_Guy

Not all applications will work with Windows 7. So having a virtual machine of some time is wonderful...especially if there is no roll back mechanism. VMware do a free converter and player which is also a route to look at....I think someone here already mentioned it. So some games, apps printers, scanners, cameras (endless list) will not work with Windows 7.

DaleCisco
DaleCisco

My experience with LapLink was mixed - we've deployed it on 16 machines, and some stuff transferred just fine, such as Office. However, AV transfer was a complete failure - Symantec was unstable, had to reinstall manually. Also, it does not solve the incompatibility problems for older software. I personally could live with that, and intended to use XP mode - however my boss said he won't trust the result for a production system because of aforementioned instability - go figure. We are looking to try the Zinstall solution, haven't tried yet.

bboswell
bboswell

No, laplink does what all windows products should do-it migrates your user settings and files, irregardless of what the target OS is, and whether the target OS is 32 bit or 64 bit.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... you aren't taking the Server software into account. Please contact Zinstall for more information.

jhinquiry
jhinquiry

I wondered how deep I would have to dig in the forum before finding someone whu used the VMWare approach. It worked fine for me, too. When the transferred system was first started up, it did ask to go through the validation process again however, because the hardware had changed. But since the old laptop wasn't trashed yet, I was still able to copy the key information off the sticker and that process went without any further complaints. This has also saved the problem of a couple of programs that won't run under Vista (I haven't used my W7 upgrade disk yet). Although both of those programs are still active, their companies stopped supporting them after XP.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

"What if I told you that you could convert your entire Windows XP installation (data files and applications) into a virtual machine that you could then run inside Windows 7?" You switch over to XP and you can run any and all aplications that you have installed in XP.

Ocie3
Ocie3

to running programs in Windows 7 XP Mode? In that mode, don't they have access to all of the hardware, or is that "mode" just a MS virtual machine running in Windows 7 with Windows XP as its OS instead?

pghegseth
pghegseth

Migration is all about the applications and data you use within your old operating system (presumably XP), being available and usable within your replacement operating system (presumably Win7). From this perspective Microsoft has made a huge blunder in discounting its base of XP users, particularly business users. This software simply offers an alternative to starting over from scratch.

Ocie3
Ocie3

has no respect for XP users because we did not greet Vista with open arms and open wallets. From what I've read, Windows 7 is essentially a re-make of Vista without the Draconian security features (UAC). And MS initially did not allow upgrades from XP directly to Windows 7, demanding that everyone buy a new computer with Windows 7 pre-installed if we didn't want to pay the full retail price. Zinstall XP7 certainly appears to be an excellent alternative to running Windows 7 in "XP mode", but the $89 cost adds to the cost of buying the Windows 7 upgrade edition of our choosing, too.

tsukrn
tsukrn

On a Vista machine you migrate from Vista to Win 7, but on an XP machine you replace XP completely with Win 7. Therefore, no additional software is needed to migrate from Vista to Win 7.

rszymans
rszymans

I believe only certain versions of Windows will install their Virtual Machine. Does this software provide the virtual machine in addition to doing the conversion?

MAW74656
MAW74656

Win7 works differently than XP. The best you could do is copy all your files, and set the theme in 7 to classic. But it still won't work "exactly the same" as in XP.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... a PC to PC migration procedure just as easily as a in-place migration. I'll cover this type of migration in an upcoming article.

imsoscareed
imsoscareed

Or you could use Disk2VHD which is free, much simpler to use and accomplishes the same thing.

Mzanger
Mzanger

I did a migration from XP home to Windows 7 pro about three months ago. It did require some simplification of my Win XP system, which was on two hard drives, to get all the key programs on one. It did require the scary situation of killing all anti-virus ands firewall programs while remaining on live internet because Zinstall central has to validate the software (at that point you didn't pay until it worked). Now I do have a very workable XP virtual machine for old tax programs, games, and such inside the Win7 machine. Amazing! Drawbacks: nothing inside the virtal machine communicates with the internet, so the old email settings don't work. There are ways to move documents from the old desktop to the new, so I can probably export the settings, but nothing on the old machine upgrades. This is safe, since the security of the WIN7 machine takes care of it, but it set a deadline for real migration of most things. I suppose this happens because the virtual machine doesn't really exist in a way that registers on the Internet? More interestingly, the former machine, which still runs, will update and communicate with the Internet,except for microsoft update -- probably the migration canceled out the registration of that machine's Win XP?

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

I believe I know the answer but I still need to ask. Does this violate the MS license agreement concerning Windows XP. You procure the Windows 7 upgrade disk and therefore Windows XP license is no longer valid.

pmat20
pmat20

Hi, I use Avira free version and it always finds it as a Trojan. Thanks,

don_neal
don_neal

The expression should be "regardless of what the target OS is", or you could say "irrespective of . . .". The word "irregardless" is a double negative and not considered good English. I made the same mistake for years until one day some kind person pointed out the error of my ways.

joe_carton
joe_carton

I used Laplink's PCMover on 27 client's computers and it does a very good job of moving user profiles and applications.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

My VMware was free, I already have XP3, so the whole thing was free...somewhat cheaper than the MS way. XP3 works as well under 7 as though it were native. Not so good with Ubuntu 10.07, though, it locks up while loading in virtual machine. But then I installed Ubuntu as dual-boot (using linux' own dual-boot setup software) and have had no problem there either. Three major OSs on one drive.Cool!

pmat20
pmat20

I have used VMware and converter and it works fine. There is an issue of a black screen on bootup that is reported. It has to do something with the Video card drivers it seems. Anyone experienced it yet?

hilary.elder
hilary.elder

Didn't bother with the XP mode; the Windows migration tool moved most of my files - would probably have moved all of them but the cat dislodged the connection before it finished! What didn't migrate I moed manually (except for the e-mails), as well as the old XP programmes I wanted and, surprisingly, all my old programmes work fine in Windows 7.

Fred Monty
Fred Monty

Yes, they say on the website the VM is their own, and that it works unrelated to Windows limitations (i.e. on Windows 7 Home etc.). So that's why I think it installs on Vista as well.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

Disk2VHD is free and easy to use, but it has limitations as to disk size and where the VHD is installed. A new version, 1.62, was posted 7/29/10. Might be better. Haven't tried it yet. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx A note at the end of the posting indicates that physical-to-virtual migration is ok from retail versions of software and Software Assurance licenses, but it is not ok to make VHDs from OEM software.

hilary.elder
hilary.elder

I too did a Zinstall migration (as posted earlier this week). However, my installation still downloads e-mail (much to my annoyance)and it also sends out e-mail, but takes much longer than it should. I also get the Windows XP updates on close-down - another annoyance as I don't really want them as I only log onto the virutal machine to look up old files that did not migrate; like old e-mail s that I wanted to keep. With regard to the payment not until after Zinstall verify a successful installation; they took my money before and a friend's whose installation did not work. Their support is very slow too, though, eventually, they do respond.

Realvdude
Realvdude

Running XP on the computer it was originally installed on, I suspect is ok, since MS allows me to dual boot between my Win7 upgrade and the previous OS. Moving it to another computer, I would expect to be a violation of the EULA terms for the XP license.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...even though it does appear to violate the Upgrade EULA. Zinstall XP7 has been on the market for a while and I haven't heard of or found any news about MS suing anybody over using Zinstall XP7. What's your take on this aspect of the upgrade? Anybody...

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...is that Windows Virtual PC supports a maximum virtual disk size of 127GB. If you create a VHD from a larger disk it will not be accessible from a Virtual PC VM.

agarillon
agarillon

Win 7 (most if not all versions) includes a license for running XP virtually and downgrade rights too, I believe. So if you run XP virtually under win 7, you're within your rights.

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