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Restoring the data files took another 10 minutes or so. As it turned out, Lisa really only used a few of the programs on that enormous list that had previously been installed.

I was able to download and install Firefox, Thunderbird (her preferred e-mail program), Adobe’s Flash and Reader utilities, and the Windows Live suite.

After all was said and done, this system was able to start up and get to a workable desktop, with a working internet connection and a web browser fully loaded, in under two minutes flat (35 seconds of that, by the way, is the Sony hardware starting up).

In this case, the upgrade literally cut in half the startup time required by the original XP installation.

Although it had plenty of resources for its time, it can be upgraded in only the most limited ways. With the help of image backup software, I was able to compare and contrast separate upgrade paths: a clean install, with and without Windows Easy Transfer, and a migration using the PCmover software. In this section, the pros, cons, and tips for each one.

Are its ancient CPU and limited RAM up to the challenge of a 2009-vintage OS? Part 3: PCmover tries to do what Microsoft won't You can’t directly upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7.

But the screen resolution of 1366x768 and the superb build quality of this machine, which has been well cared for, make it a better choice than a netbook.

It’s still running the original Windows XP installation, updated to SP3 and cluttered with Sony utilities, original unused trial programs, and lots of junk.

I had to download and install two updates from Sony (under the Windows Vista category) to enable the flash memory card slot and the Firmware Extension Parser, labeled as unknown devices here. It helped that I had an external hard drive at hand (everyone should have one) and that I knew how to search Sony’s website for the necessary drivers. I used a spare 2 GB Sony Memory Stick and dedicated it to Ready Boost.

That’s a feature that was disappointing in Vista but has been tweaked in Windows 7 and now delivers the performance improvements it promised.

I have a pre-ordered copy of Windows 7 Home Premium due to arrive on October 22.

There are no other costs associated with this upgrade. Next: Deciding which upgrade path to follow -- Copying all that data took literally a few minutes.

Laplink Software’s PCmover steps into the gap, promising to move programs and data and settings.