thanks deozaan and carol for your help!
inching along in the process, this is where i presently stand:
a) will scramble around to find an english XPPro install (or recovery cds) which corresponds to the same physical machine type, which (if my understanding of b.gates' rules is correct) should allow to use the Windows key/authorization and thereby replace the german O/S.
b) in the meanwhile, usehttp://www.vmware.co.../products/converter/
and put the old XPHome machine on the new machine, run it when necessary, but mainly "use" it to slowly build from scratch the new (then english) XPPro.
has anybody used these progs, any comments?
(especially interesting the uses which Vmware says are possible with VMTools, such as file transfers etc!!!...should make the transition really simple)
c) partition the new machine thus:
pagefile on external HDD (one issue i'm not sure about: if one places a small pagefile on C;\, as the experts suggest, how does one get it "to the front of the disk"?? indeed: same question re the big pagefile on the external HDD)
much appreciate any input, advice, insight etc!