How to Install Windows Vista

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To provide more options for its consumers, Windows has created several different versions of Vista. Each version has its own set of features and its own price point. Microsoft has different recommendations for the type of installation you should use based on your current operating system and the Windows Vista system you will install. After you have the proper program to install, you need to go through the process of changing your current system to Vista.

Get the Right Vista Software

  • Buy the Vista upgrade if you are going from Windows XP Home Edition to the Basic, Premium, Business or Ultimate Vista system. If you have XP Professional, upgrade with Vista Business or Vista Ultimate.

  • Purchase the full version of Windows Vista 64-bit product for current XP Home Editions. If you have XP Professional, you will need the full Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium version.

  • Choose the full system Vista software for the version of Vista you want if you currently use the Windows XP Professional x64 edition.

  • Upgrade to Vista Business or Ultimate from Windows XP Tablet PC Edition with the upgrade version. Buy a full version of Vista Home Basic, Home Premium or 64-bit versions for tablet computers.

  • Use upgrade versions of the Vista Home Premium and Ultimate if you currently have the Media Center 2004 or 2005 edition. Use full versions of Home Basic, Business or 64-bit Vista for Media Center 2004 or 2005 editions.

Perform a Clean Installation of Windows Vista

  • Start the computer and insert the full-version disk of the Vista version of your choice.

  • Choose the "Install Now" option when the installation menu appears. Some Vista versions may provide a few instructions before providing the "Install Now" option.

  • Check for updates to the program if your computer has access to the Internet. You will have the option to "Get Important Updates for Installation."

  • Enter the 25-character activation code from your Vista packaging into the boxes provided onscreen.

  • Read the licensing terms for Vista and click the button to accept the terms.

  • Select the "Custom" option when prompted with the phrase, "Which Type of Installation Do You Want?"

  • Choose the drive on which you will install Vista. It will most likely be the "C" drive.

  • Follow the onscreen instruction to go through the installation process, which will mainly consist of clicking the "Next" button as various aspects of the program install. You will also choose some personal options for the look and feel of the program.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't install Windows Vista on computers running Windows 2002 or older versions. Your system will not be powerful enough to run Vista and other programs smoothly.
  • Check your computer and peripherals to make sure they will work with your new operating system by using Microsoft's "Vista Upgrade Advisor" (see Resources below). Attach all the peripherals you use to your computer when you use Microsoft's advisor.
  • To upgrade Vista, slide the Vista disk into the appropriate drive. Follow the on-screen instructions after selecting the "Standard Installation" option on the menu. Most of the information on your computer will transfer into the Vista program. You will need to provide your activation code, register the software and answer a few questions during the upgrade.
  • You will lose everything on your hard drive during a "clean installation" of Windows Vista, so back up your files. You should back up your files on any upgrade just in case things don't go as planned.
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