There is no upgrade unless you are currently using Vista. XP users must "migrate" to Windows 7. Which is, to say, you must backup all your data, documents, photos, music, etc....and perform a clean install of Windows 7. Then you must install all the programs you want to run (you can't bring them with you from XP because of the clean install). There are transfer tools available from Microsoft (and other companies, I'm sure) that are supposed to make the migration process easier, but I cannot vouch for any of them, as I have never used any of them.
Here is the basic procedure for migrating to Windows 7:
First, make sure your system is going to be compatible with Windows 7. Run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
and report back here with the results.
The next step is to go to the website of your computer's manufacturer, and see if they have Windows 7 drivers for your model. Most do these days, so no worries there. Download all the Windows 7 drivers for your model's hardware (they will come in handy after the install).
Then, either use a backup program to backup all your documents, photos, music, etc.....or find them manually and copy them to an external device (depending on how much you have, a flash drive may or may not be big enough. I use an external hard drive).
Now, gather up all your program disks, downloaded installers, etc....and have those handy. That will likely be the first thing you want to do (install your programs) after the clean install of Windows 7 (drivers should come first, though).
And the fun part comes....you now have your Windows 7 install disk (hint: if you're waiting on it to arrive in the mail or to download from Microsoft's website, you can be doing the above steps in the time you have to prepare). Insert it into your optical drive, and change the BIOS setting in order to boot off the optical drive first (if you haven't done this before, somebody can walk you through it when/if you get to that point). Be patient while the installation takes place.
After about an hour or less (and having gone through the basic setup), you should see your new Windows 7 desktop. First things first: install the drivers you downloaded earlier. Install all of them one right after the other, then reboot (a lot of them will require reboots, and there is no need to do it more than once...so just wait til the end).
Next, install all your programs you want to use. NOTE: There a plenty of programs made for XP that still work in Windows 7 (Microsoft Money 2006 is a confirmed success, for example). However, you may encounter programs that will not work correctly in Windows 7 like they did in XP. This calls for "Compatibility Mode
" which works the majority of the time. And if worse comes to worse, you can install and use XP Mode
assuming you have an edition higher than Home Premium (Pro and Ultimate are the only ones that can run XP mode) and a processor than has "Hardware Assisted Virtualization".
I know this seems like a lot, but I just wanted to let you know what you are getting into. Windows 7 is an excellent operating system, and is very much worth your time. Not to say, that is, that you will not have problems (every OS has problems). But you can get them sorted out and enjoy Windows 7 like we all do. There are the sticklers out there that will use XP until their dying day, and they are missing out, in my opinion. And then there are people like you who need some convincing. If you want to live with the old, out-of-date XP, there is nobody to stop you. But if you want to experience the latest and greatest of Windows 7, you have a lot to gain and nothing to lose (beside the occasional game or program that gives you grief, but I addressed that earlier).
Everybody will have their own opinion about Windows 7, and not all of them are positive. There will always be the complainers. I personally love it, and wouldn't go back to XP or Vista if you payed me. It's just that good.
Sorry for the long post, but I thought it needed to be said.