Upgrading to Windows 8

The newest kid in the technology block is Windows 8. If you want to check the features of Windows 8, Microsoft had provided Windows 8 Release Preview that brags the new shiny features of the upcoming OS. This guide will walk you through upgrading your system to Windows 8 Release Preview.

This guide should more or less apply to the upcoming final release of Windows 8, too.

Notes

  1. Do remember to back up all your important data before going through the installation. There is always a chance of things going wrong in such a process. So you need to remember that you are proceeding to the instructions, ready to take that risk.
  2. This instruction guide is made by upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 Release Preview. There might be minor differences while upgrading from other OS to Windows 8.

Requirements

  1. Get an installation iso image of Windows 8 Release Preview from Microsoft’s Windows 8 Download page. You can choose whatever language and architecture (32-bit or 64-bit) you want to use, depending on your preference and machine. Burn the image on a disc. If you belong to the don’t-use-optical-disks-anymore camp, you can make a bootable pen drive from the image.
  2. The installation requires a product key provided by Microsoft on the above specified page only. Copy it somewhere on your phone or a page.
  3. Ensure that your machine is connected to the internet. The installer validates the product key through the internet, and won’t proceed without doing it.

Now that we are clear of all the prerequisites, follow the steps given below to install/upgrade Windows 8.

Steps

  1. Load the installer from the DVD/pen drive. Note that if you want to upgrade from your existing OS, i.e., saving your personal data and settings, then run the installer from your existing OS itself. Otherwise, loading the installer from the boot menu is fine.
  2. The installer starts loading initial setup files, during which it shows the loading screen.
  3. The first interactive screen that comes up is the Language selection screen. Choose the language of the installer, OS’s time and currency format and the keyboard input method. Hit “Next”.
  4. The following screen gives you options to install the OS now, or rather repair your current OS. Click “Install Now”.
  5. The next screen asks to enter the product key. Type in the product key that you had noted down from the website earlier.
  6. The next screen contains the usual license agreement policy. If you agree to it (which I think virtually every one of you do!), then select the checkbox and hit “Next”.
  7. The next screen is the most important one. There you decide if you want to do a fresh install, or you want to upgrade your current OS.
    • a. The fresh install will wipe out everything from the partition that you choose to be the system partition. Selecting this will lead you to partition manager of the installer, where you can arrange your partitions for the new install, or format the entire driver, wiping out all the data from the hard disk. It all depends on what you want to do.
    • b. The upgrade option will retain your personal data, system settings, depending on what existing OS you have. Selecting this will directly start installing the OS. Skip to step 9 if you select this.
  8. Choosing a fresh install will lead you to the disk management screen. It lists all the partitions of the hard drive. You can select any of the eligible (enough space, primary partition, etc.) partition on which to install the new OS. Alternatively, you can delete existing partition(s) and recreate new ones. That may wipe out ALL the data from the hard disk. So, do what you choose, carefully. After you are done creating your desired partition table, hit “Next”. This will write the new partition table, thus, effectively overwriting the existing data on the disk.
  9. This screen appears after you have either recreated the partition table, or you chose to simply upgrade the existing OS. It basically is an informative “installing” screen, telling you that the step of the installation process that it is executing.  The above described steps install the basic operating system on your machine. After that, the machine reboots and Windows 8 leads you to a series of personalization steps so that you can customize the system according to your own taste.
  10. You are asked to choose a color theme that will reflect in all the metro applications and backgrounds. This screen also asks you to enter your PC name.
  11. The next screen lets you tailor your preferred system settings. You can either choose “Express Settings” so that Windows does that for you, or you can go through the process yourself by choosing “Customize”. We choose to “Customize”. Skip to step 16 if you choose express setting.
  12. This is the first screen of custom settings. It asks whether you want to turn on/off sharing across your local network.
  13. The next screen asks you to specify options regarding how you want Windows Update to work – if should install the update by itself, or inform you if there are any updates so that you can install them manually ,etc.
  14. The next screen lets you specify what information you want to send to Microsoft from your PC as feedback in order to improve their product(s).
  15. You can specify troubleshooting options on this screen. Also, you can specify if you want the metro apps to use your personal details like your username, account picture and location.This completes your custom settings.
  16. Here, you can create your user account. You have two options:
    1. Create a Microsoft Account: This account will sync all your personal data, settings, customizations across the machines that you use the account on. If you want to use Windows 8 to the fullest potential, use this one. Just enter your Microsoft Account credentials in the resulting screen, or create new if you don’t have them yet. There is an option below to create a new Microsoft Account.
    2. Create a local account: This account keeps all your data and settings local to your system. You will have to redo every setting in all your Windows 8 machines. Also, the settings will be lost from a machine if you format it. Use “Sign in without Microsoft Account” to create a local account. Enter the details asked in the resulting screen.
  17. This completes all the customization steps. The next screen asks you to wait till it makes the system ready for first use.
  18. The installation is complete now. You are facing the Start Screen of Windows 8.

Common Factors and Requirements

All Windows users wanting to upgrade to Windows 8 have certain common cost factors and requirements to fulfill, regardless of what Windows version they are using.

Minimum Hardware Requirements

  • To use the much-praised touch input features of Windows 8, touch enabled screen is required.
  • Metro applications require a resolution of 1024×768 or higher.

Software Architecture Constraints

  • Cross-architecture upgrade is not allowed.
  • 32-bit Windows XYZ can upgrade only to a 32-bit Windows 8; 64-bit Windows XYZ can only upgrade to 64-bit Windows 8 edition.

Upgrade Costs (applicable from October 26, 2012 to January 31, 2013)

  • Any existing version of Windows – XP, Vista, 7 – will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro at a cost of $39.99. This upgrade has to be purchased online through windows.com. In this method, Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant will guide you through the whole process, starting from the purchase through download, followed by the OS installation.
  • The offline option is to purchase a Windows 8 Pro DVD, which will cost $69.99.

Upgrade from Windows XP

XP user base still has around 20.6% share of Windows OS. Microsoft having declared to pull the OS support soon, these users has to inevitably upgrade to Windows 8. Surprisingly, they have got the best deal around, as they will be able to upgrade at the same price ($39.00 or $69.99) as its successor operating systems – Vista and 7. But they will lose a lot when it comes to data retention.

  • The upgrade will require that XP must have Service Pack 3 installed. XP below Service Pack 3 won’t be able to upgrade to Windows 8.
  • XP users have the toughest upgrade path. They will only be able to retain personal data. The system settings and applications will be lost. The settings will have to be reconfigured, and the applications will have to be re-installed.

Upgrade from Windows Vista

Vista still has 11% share of Windows OS user base. They will eventually be encouraged to upgrade to Windows 8 due to its publicity, and due to cheap upgrade.

  • Windows Vista without Service Pack 1 will be able to retain only personal files. Like XP, it will lose both system settings and installed applications.
  • Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 will be able to retain personal data as well as system settings. But, the installed applications will be lost.

Upgrade from Windows 7

Windows 7 will have the smoothest upgrade path. It will also have the largest variations of upgrade paths.

  • If someone buys a Windows 7 PC between June 7, 2012 and January 31, 2013, he/she will be eligible to get a Windows 8 Pro upgrade at a meager cost of $15.
  • Users will be able to retain their personal data, existing system settings, as well as the installed applications after the upgrade.

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