Contrary to popular belief, you dont have to reformat your Windows XP partition wipe it clean to do a Clean Install of Windows 7. When telling Windows 7 where to install itself, choose your Windows XP partition. Then, dont click the Format checkbox, and just click Next.
As it installs itself, Windows 7 gathers the most important parts of your Windows XP installation and packs it into a folder called windows.OLD. That folder provides yet another safety net: If something goes dreadfully wrong, Microsofts Knowledge Base explains how to use that folder to resuscitate Windows XP and remove Windows 7.
This trick only works if your hard drive is less than half full, though. Your drive needs enough storage space to hold the incoming Windows 7 installation, your PCs old files, and your Windows XP data that will flow back in through Windows File Transfer. If your hard drive lacks the room, youll have to reformat, and trust Windows Easy Transfer to hold up its end of the bargain.
Sure, this awkward and lengthy migration path will work. But after spending all day upgrading twice, youll spend the evening wondering whether your nagging residual problems came from XP, Vista, or Windows 7 itself.
For all its strengths, Windows 7 ignores the main reason why many people own a PC: To send and receive e-mail. Unlike its predecessors, Windows 7 doesnt come with any e-mail program.
To overcome this hurdle, choose a replacement e-mail program in advance, be it Windows Live Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, or an online service like Gmail. Then make sure it can import your existing e-mail and contacts, whether theyre located in Outlook, Outlook Express, or a different program.
Few netbooks come with DVD drives, yet Windows 7 arrives only on DVDs. Thats not an insurmountable obstacle, though. You can buy an external USB DVD drive, which most netbook owners lust for, anyway. Or, you can copy your Windows 7 DVD to a bootable 4GB flash drive, a procedure that can be done this way or this way.
Whether youre booting from a USB drive or flash drive, be sure to enter your netbooks BIOS, visit the Boot Options area, and tell your PC to boot from a USB-connected device before booting from the hard drive.
ALSO SEE: Windows 7 Review: Why I Like Windows 7