This post provides instructions on how to perform an in-place upgrade of Windows XP to Windows 10, preserving your personal files, settings, and applications.
Despite what you may have been led to believe, yes, an in-place upgrade of Windows XP to Windows 10 – preserving all your documents, personal files, settings, programs and applications – is entirely possible!
However, it isn’t a simple single-step upgrade like you would use for Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. The Windows XP in-place upgrade process requires several intermediate upgrade steps using Windows Vista and Windows 7 before a final upgrade to Windows 10 is possible.
You do not need product keys for Windows Vista or Windows 7 during the upgrade process, just copies of the installation media. However, you will need to purchase a product key for Windows 10 before you can perform the final upgrade. An alternate option would be to activate the Windows 7 installation if you have an available product key, which would then qualify you for Microsoft’s free upgrade offer to Windows 10 (offer expires 29th July 2016).
The following table summarizes which key items are preserved by the upgrade process.
|Personal files||Files that are saved in user folders, like the Documents and Desktop folders.||Yes|
|Settings||Settings like Ease of Access, desktop background, Internet favourites and history.||Yes|
|Applications||Compatible Windows applications that were installed prior to the upgrade (16-bit/32-bit).||Yes|