Windows 7 is officially out which means it’s time to think about upgrading. Unfortunately upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 is made difficult by that fact that, by default, Microsoft has not provided a way to do an in place upgrade.
Normally this would mean that you would need to wipe your hard drive clean and start from scratch but a program called PCMover from LapLink makes upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 as easy as any other upgrade.
LapLink, which costs $19.95, acts like a moving van for all of your programs, files and settings. It packs them all up and moves them to your newly installed version of Windows 7 so that you are ready to go without the need to re-install every program. The ability to keep your programs installed from Windows XP to Windows 7 is one of the things that sets LapLink’s PC Mover apart from other settings and file transfer solutions. Unfortunately PC Mover can’t move every application, like iTunes or other software that is picky about DRM, but it in our test it handled most programs with ease.
To test out LapLink’s Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant I used an HP Mini 1000 netbook with 16 GB hard drive and a standard Windows XP installation. On it I installed several programs such as AVG antivirus, Skype, Trillian, Camstudio and iTunes. As for files I loaded it up with a mixture of image, video, office and other file types from my DropBox account for roughly 2 GB of files.
The process was, for the most part, very simple. The most confusing part I ran into was when I had to tell PCMover what computer I was working with. The software identifies clicking on the Old computer as the second step when in fact you need to click on it first. Since the process is explained in the instructions, and the quick guide, this wasn’t a big issue but worth noting.
Thanks to the small hard drive in my netbook it didn’t take long to complete the first step of the process which includes choosing what to transfer to my Windows 7 installation. By default LapLink will move everything, but you can exclude specific folders, programs and even users if you don’t need them on the new computer. This is a good time to uncheck old programs that won’t work in Windows 7 without upgrading to a new version.
If you want to see the process in action you can watch the video below. Your time to run PCMover will depend on the size of your hard drive and your computer’s specs.
After running LapLink I installed Windows 7 like normal, though I chose the custom installation which keeps your old Windows installation on the computer in a “Windows.old” folder.
From what I can tell that’s where the moving van parks while you install Windows 7. The installation process took about 2 hours which seemed to take a little bit longer than previous Windows 7 installations (This was my fifth) but that’s due to moving old files around and you still come out ahead in the end because you don’t need to re-install a bunch of programs and copy your data back.
Once my Windows 7 installation completed I simply installed PC Mover again and this time chose the “New Computer” option. After a few simple prompts the moving van started to unpack all of my programs, files and settings to Windows 7.
Again, thanks to my small netbook hard drive the unpacking process took only about 10 minutes and after a restart I had access to all of my old files and programs. I even had the same lovely rolling hill background that Windows XP shipped with.
Windows 7 after finishing the PC Mover Upgrade Assistant
Of the programs I had installed; Skype, Trillian and Camstudio transferred over alright. AVG antivirus had an issue; but after tracking down my AVG serial key things seemed to be in working order. Like Katherine Boehret at All things D I had issues with iTunes, but it was fixed easily enough and the instructions warn you specifically that there could be issues with iTunes.
LapLink’s PC Mover makes upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 a hasslefree process. If you want to bring your programs, files and settings with you to Windows 7 the ease of use and low price make LapLink’s PC Mover a no brainer.
Josh Smith is a longtime mobile tech user, currently using a Droid as his primary smartphone. Josh is also an editor at Notebooks.com where he reviews notebooks and other mobile tech. Follow Josh on Twitter @Josh_Smith or email him Josh@Notebooks.com.