I would (in your case) just upgrade - Your XP pro should recognise your academic version and upgrade for you - however if you have an OEM version you maybe out of luck. You can only give it a try.
However, the best way is always a clean install - read these two articles:-
Also read up about XP's "files and settings transfer wizard" in the accessories/systems tools folder.
As for your 70 odd programs you maybe out of luck there. Minor programs can be transfered with programs like Norton Backup but larger ones like MS word are just to complex. Also, manually making changes to your registry in 99% of cases is just too complex and causes errors in your system.
Hope this helps,
For the past couple of months, I have been using my sons Academic Version of XP/PRO. Before I actually shelled out $200+ for the Retail version, I wanted to make sure XP/Pro worked with all my Hardware. So now I know, it works great and really like the OS.
I have backed up my C: Drive using Ghost to my external Maxtor 80GB HD and am ready to install the Retail Verison I purchased. My question is two fold:
1. Can I just upgrade/repair the present OS on my C: Drive with the Retail Version or will I have to reformt my HD and install?
2. If I have to reformat to install the Retail version, can I use the ghost 9.0 backup image to install my apps (lots of them, about 50-70) and will they install the proper registry entries?
This is only a temp soulution as I am collecting the parts to build a Althon 64bit system (a part a month) and in about 8 months will have everything I need. Then I guess LongHorn is the way I'll go for an OS.
PS. Yes, I know I should'nt be using my sons OS, but to shell out $200+ is a big thing for me. I'm on total and permanent disability and a fixed income. So far I have a 380W PS, Case, Excellent Fan and Graphics Card for my new system. I'll be going from a 15" Flat Screen to a 19" Flat Screen and this alone is going to set me back about 400-500 bucks for a decent monitor.