I apologize if this is the wrong location for this question, I believe these sorts of questions are applicable to broader IT professionals.

My old Dell 8600 laptop with Windows XP OEM is on its last legs and I need to purchase a new laptop and copy the existing Windows XP image directly over to it. I cannot reinstall windows from scratch.

  1. Will my XP install work on a completely different hardware configuration without windows genuine notifications coming up?
  2. How do you take an image of a windows install from one hardware configuration to a completely different hardware configuration without having serious driver issues?

Anything else that might be relevant to doing this would be appreciated. Thanks!

migrated from serverfault.com Aug 4 '09 at 21:13

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

  • Why can't you reinstall Windows? – Anonymous Jul 27 '09 at 9:17

If your old machine's current configuration is that important to you, I'd consider turning it into a VM and then running that VM as a guest on your new laptop.

You're going to have a few issues, I'd suspect - you will probably be faced with a Windows Activation/Genuine Advantage popup because the virtual hardware will be different to your existing hardware. On the half dozen different times I've virtualised a real machine, I've had some kind of 'Windows thinks the hardware has changed' experience.

Even if you ghosted the machine onto a new machine, you're going to get that problem, though.

  • This is what I'd do too. – Scott Jul 26 '09 at 20:52

Since the Macbook Pro will probably much quicker anyway, I would suggest getting the VMWare Migration tool from VMWare which packages up your system to be run as a VM on the new Mac. Windows XP in VMWare is quick and you even get 3D support so to me this seems like a good option. I've been running a Windows XP VM since I switched (back) to OSX a year ago and can't complain. The Activation will come up so, but you will get it reaktivated by just calling MS and telling the Story.


The new laptop yuo buy will have a copy of vista on it. You can then ghost the machine, fix the driver problems and call Microsoft to reactiviate. I wouldn't recomend this as you could probably re-install the apps on a 64 bit version of vista and get better performance. I wouldn't go the macbook option unless you are stuck with it. In which case you will have to buy a copy of vista, find a copy of XP, buy vmware for the mac, migrate the vm and cal microsoft for the activation. Since you have a retail version of vista you can say you are using your downgrade rights to run the vm.


I would sysprep the machine and then use either ghost or a winpe cd (with imagex compiled in) and capture a image of it then apply that image onto the new system (either on the "real" system or virtual pc)


I have found that the Acronis TrueImage WITH Universal restore works well for migrating from one machine to another if you generate the boot image, attach the "old" disk to your new machine, i.e. by USB, and boot on the boot image and let it migrate.

It can also resize the disk while doing so. Very handy.

They have a 30 day trial version available for download.


Macrium Reflect is the best solution I've seen. You can create a bootable CD to restore your Macrium Image file to a chosen hard drive.

Your XP will probably chuck a wobbly trying to boot into different hardware. Vista and 7 are more forgiving about booting in different hardware configurations, but XP - not so much.

If your CPU and chipset are roughly similar, you should be able to image your installation and whatnot from another computer.

You might also have better luck using the Transfer Files and Settings Wizard.

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