There are two major desktop versions of the Windows XP operating system, Home
and Professional. The two versions look and function identically, but there are
some major differences under the surface:
- Like Windows 9x/Me machines, Windows XP Home computers
can't become members of Windows domains. This makes Home less than useful for
large business environments.
- WinXP Home lacks the Remote desktop feature found in
WinXP Pro, which enables a single user to remotely connect to the WinXP Pro
machine across a network or the Internet using client software that can be
installed on just about any Operating system.
- WinXP Home does not have the ability to encrypt files.
- WinXP Home does not have the capability to restrict
access to specific files, programs and resources on a per-user basis. An
administrator of an Windows XP Professional computer can specify exactly which
files and folders each user has access to, a level of control which is not
possible in WinXP home edition.
- WinXP Home does not include Microsoft's Internet
Information Server (IIS) as Professional does, and thus cannot be used to
publish web pages without a separate program.
The version of Windows XP (Home or Professional) you can
upgrade to depends on what version of Windows you are currently using. As we mentioned, you cannot upgrade
to XP if you are using Windows 95 or earlier versions of the
If you are using Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition
or Windows ME you can upgrade to either the Home or Professional versions of XP. If you are using Windows NT 4.0 or
Windows 2000 you can only upgrade to Windows XP Professional.
The Upgrading Process
Now that you have decided your course of action and
purchased the correct update version of Windows XP, let's have a look at the
actual procedures involved in upgrading your PC. There are several steps you should
take before you perform the actual update. These help ensure that the procedure
goes as smoothly as possible:
Backup Essential Data
First and foremost, you need to ensure that your essential data is preserved.
This means backup any crucial files and folders that you cannot afford to lose.
Ideally, store this data on removable media like floppy disks or CD-Rs. Another
excellent option would be copying the data onto a separate physical hard drive.
While these precautions are probably will not be necessary, no kind of operation
better illustrates the 'better safe than sorry' principal than operating system
installations, patches and upgrades. If you need some guidance on file backups,
see our article on the subject here.
Once you've got your data archived, you can proceed without worry, or at
least without much worry.
Scan for Viruses and Adware
You should make sure your computer is free from viruses and spyware/adware
threats before upgrading, otherwise these could have unpredictable effects on
the process. Update and run anti-virus software and a reputable anti-spyware
checker like Ad-Aware or
Once your PC has a clean bill of health, disable any auto-running components
that your virus scanner may use, such as Norton's 'auto-protect.'