I currently have Windows XP on a computer with Outlook Express as the email. If I boot up the computer with the Windows 7 disc and change operating systems will I lose all my folders in express and saved emails? Does Windows 7 use Outlook and not Express?
Changing operating systems won't, by itself, remove any programs or user files. You are likely to find that a number of your existing XP programs and hardware drivers will not be compatible with Win 7, but everything will still be there and most of your user files can be imported into other software if your current software won't work in Win 7. Bear in mind that when you install software, it embeds information in the system registry to enable it to run. If you boot an XP machine with a Win 7 disk, you will be loading the Win 7 registry, not the XP registry, so most of your old software won't work without reinstalling it.
Outlook Express was, from the start, a third party program that Microsoft bundled with XP but never really supported. It became orphanware even before Win 7 came out. Too bad; it was better than a lot of stuff produced by Microsoft. I had OE working under Win 7 for a while but encountered problems (don't recall what at this point), and eventually gave up and imported everything into Outlook.
Outlook is actually part of MS Office, it doesn't come bundled with Win 7. It is the dominant email program because it can handle almost anything, but that power can make it a little overwhelming for a casual user. If you have simple needs, it could be overkill and your learning curve will center around ignoring most of the features it throws at you. There are many other email programs, including many free ones, that are more than adequate for basic email needs. There are also many free Internet-based email clients. Many of the alternate email programs will import OE files.
There is no upgrade path from XP to Win 7 (unless you wish to upgrade from XP to Vista, then upgrade Vista to Win 7) so you will need to backup your data, install Win 7, then reinstall all of your apps.
Outlook Express is not compatible with Win 7, you can probably export your saved emails then import them into whatever email client you install. You can download Microsoft's replacement for Outlook Express which is called Windows Live Mail or you can use other email clients such as Thunderbird.
Don't be too worried about the need to export from OE. Most of the current email software didn't exist when OE was supported. It may export to Outlook but that's not necessary for Outlook because Outlook can import the OE files directly. Many of the popular email clients can also import OE files. If you pick email software that doesn't handle OE files, you will likely have to export to a generic format or Outlook format. Most email clients with the ability to import will handle one of those.
OK. Thanks. So I'm going to install Windows 7. I should be able to export all the emails and folders from Outlook Express that I have on the XP system and import them to Outlook on Windows 7 once installed? Quick tutorial? Thanks
You'll want to do the exporting BEFORE you install Win 7 or it will be too late. I can't give you a tutorial on how to export from OE because it's probably been 10 or more years since I used it and even then didn't care for it.
From the way you worded your initial question, my impression was that you were going to boot up with another drive and then access what was on your original drive. It sounds like you're talking about loading Win 7 on your XP machine. A few thoughts:
You didn't mention whether your computer is a laptop or desktop. If it is a desktop and it has a spare bay, I would get a new hard disk (I've seen terabyte hard disks under $100; smaller ones are not that expensive). Keep the original hard disk intact and put Win 7 on the new one. That way, you can go back to XP if necessary to run old software, export files, etc. Use the old hard disk as a scratch disk for Win 7 (many programs will run faster if your working files are on a separate hard disk from the software). You can also use the two hard disks to back each other up.
Take a serious look at the hardware on your computer. Is it 32 or 64 bit? Single-core CPU or multi-core? How fast? How much memory is installed and what is the maximum it will take? How big is your current hard disk? Unless it was a real high-end XP machine, give serious thought to buying a new computer if you can afford it (It will come with Win 7 or Win 8, which will save you that cost and you can find respectable computers well under $500). A "typical" 32 bit XP computer might meet the minimum specs for running Win 7, but it won't be pretty and the performance is likely to stink. You may even find that some of the internal devices or some of your peripherals may not be compatible with Win 7. If you need to start upgrading your old computer piecemeal, it will be throwing good money after bad.
Save your XP hard disk and use it with the new computer as a second hard disk. It can either go into a spare bay or put it in an external "cabinet" (an inexpensive kit that turns your hard disk into an external one that plugs in via USB port).
If you put Win 7 on your current hard disk, strollin is right about losing your ability to do XP stuff afterward. If you need to do anything like exporting your OE or other files, do it first. Do detailed research and planning about what hardware you will need, what software you will use, what is and is not compatible, etc., so you know what needs replacement or exporting, and what you will be exporting to. Write down all of the account settings in OE (POP and SMTP names, port numbers, etc.), so you can recreate them.
If you already know that you will be using Outlook, moving your OE files will be easy. You need to know where the files are stored. It’s been a long time, but I believe the email files are in a different directory than the address book. I forget whether OE has a calendar, todo list, etc., but if so, they might also be in different directories. You’ll need to look that up.
It’s beyond the scope of this thread to explain how to set up Outlook. However, once you have your accounts set up, importing the OE files is straightforward. In Outlook, the File menu has an Import and Export entry with a wizard that will step you through it.
If you haven't already done the new install, I have a suggestion; Boot up with the Windows 7 disk, and select "Custom Install". This will save your XP install to a "Windows.old" folder on your drive, and is fully accessible from Windows 7. One other suggestion, is to buy Laplink PCMover (I believe it is on sale). This will migrate all applications and install them! I used it on my upgrade, and only had issues with Office 2003. If you go that route, it makes the change much easier. I have quite a few programs with activation keys and all installed correctly, including a few that the Windows 7 Upgrade Adviser said were not compatible. For those that don't reinstall, go to the "Advanced" option and move them. Tech support is good if you have issues.