With the arrival of Windows 8, I decided to do a series of posts detailing how to upgrade from various versions of Windows to the new version. Windows 8 represents a major change to the desktop and embraces new experiences that focus on mobility, connected and social. The idea of the traditional desktop operating system is being redefined. Years ago, an operating system was defined as the software between the hardware and the user. Managing the resources between applications and hardware. Those things are still true, but with Windows 8 an operating system means so much more.
Windows XP which is what we will be looking at upgrading from is still popular among many users world wide. Factors for its continued use might vary from hardware requirements to budget issues for a large company. Whatever the reason, Windows XP has served its time well on the market. First launched in October 2001, Windows XP defined the digital decade where a lot of what you did on a computer, pretty much stayed on that computer. In 2012, persons are more open to sharing photos on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, storing data in online cloud drives such as Skydrive or Dropbox, streaming music and movies using Netflix or YouTube, really putting the Internet at the center of their computing experience.
Windows XP came at the dawn of the Internet’s ubiquity, while Windows 95 introduced many to it in the early 90’s, Windows XP has not been able to keep up with its advances over the years and the definition of what computing is today for many. Anyway, I want to get on with the upgrade, hopefully, what I just said will at least enlighten you to look into trying Windows 8, lets start the show.
Before you can upgrade to Windows 8, you need to meet the minimum system requirements. If you meet the following, you should be in good shape.
Whether you have a logo PC or you’ve built your own PC, the recommendations for the Windows 8 include:
- 1 GHz or faster processor
- 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
- 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
One new element to Windows 8 is the requirement that Metro style applications have a minimum of 1024×768 screen resolution, and 1366×768 for the snap feature. If you attempt to launch a Metro style app with less than this resolution (e.g. 800×600, 1024×600) you will receive an error message.
The other day my 9 year old Dell Dimension 8300 decided to kick the bucket. Unfortunately, I had not done a backup of my most recent data. So I took the hard disk out, put it in an old spare computer I had lying around the house. The computer had 256 MBs of RAM installed, I didn’t realize this until I booted the computer up with the old drive. Windows 8 automatically recognized and configured the new hardware. When I checked system properties, I noticed it said I had 256 MBs of RAM installed. The system was acceptably responsive, although I did not have much on it and was using Windows 8 as a means to browse the Windows 7 boot drive and copy my files over. Its quite interesting considering how old this hardware is and the specs.
Can you really upgrade?
In truth, Windows 8 does not support a direct upgrade from Windows XP. This means you will have do a custom install, which means, any applications or drivers you currently have installed will have to be reinstalled. You might likely need updated drivers for some hardware. Windows 8’s built in upgrade compatibility wizard should help you determine what is compatible and what needs to be removed before proceeding with the upgrade.
- Gather all important application discs and hardware driver discs you might need to be reinstalled.
- Check the hardware manufacturer and software developers website for updates available and to find out about the status of compatibility with Windows 8. It is possible that if the software is compatible with Windows XP is might not work with Windows 8. You might have to look into purchasing an upgraded version or alternative if there is no new version of an app or hardware device.
- If you are using software such as iTunes or Adobe programs, remember to deauthorize and deactivate them before running setup.
Backup your Data:
When making significant changes to your computer such as an upgrade, it is always recommended you backup your system prior to installing a new version of Windows. Windows XP’s backup options are quite archaic and limited. If you want to have the option of restoring your Windows XP installation in case Windows 8 installation fails, look into using a third party solution such as Acronis True Image which is available as a free trial you can use:
Check out the following article by Microsoft MVP JW Stuart about how to backup a Windows XP installation here using Acronis True Image here
Another solution you can use for backing up Windows XP is Easeus To Do Backup, JW Stuart also has an article about it here
Other steps you can use to ensure your data is safe before upgrading is creating a Windows Easy Transfer backup. Learn more here This option is quite limited and should only be used if do not plan on returning to Windows XP since Easy Transfer backups can only be restored in Windows 8.
What you can do before attempting the upgrade?
You can do some pre-requisite tasks to ensure a smooth migration from Windows XP to Windows 8. If you are using a name branded computer such as a Dell or HP, go to the manufacturers website for the model computer you are using and download the latest available drivers for that computer. Store them on a disc or USB thumb drive. Important drivers you should try to obtain include Network and Video Drivers. It is possible that they might just have Windows Vista or Windows 7 drivers, those will work with Windows 8.
Other things you can do:
- Uninstall any security software before attempting to upgrade.
- Disable any encryption utility you might have installed.
- Disable/uninstall disk utility software such as DVD/CD burning utilities or third party defragment programs such as Perfect Disk.
- Disable any RAID configurations you might have installed.
- Make sure your computer is updated (devices and applications).
- Disconnect any non-essential external devices before installing.
- Check your hard disk for any errors:
- Click Start
- Click Run, then type: CMD
At the Command Prompt, type: chkdsk /r /f
Exit the command prompt.
When you restart your system, your computer will be scanned for errors and attempts will be made to correct them.
- Another thing you can do is disable Start items:
- Click Start
- Click Run, type: MSCONFIG then click OK
- On the General tab, click Selective Startup.
- Under Selective Startup, click to clear the Load Startup Items check box.
- Click the Services tab, click to select the Hide All Microsoft Services check box, and then click Disable All.
- Click OK.
- When you are prompted, click Restart.
- After the computer starts, check whether the problem is resolved.
32 or 64 bit
If you are running Windows XP, definitely go with the 32 bit version of Windows 8. Only exceptions where you might have 4 GBs or more RAM, which is rare when running Windows XP, 64 bit is more suitable for computers with beefy configurations. Windows 8 32 bit benefits from all the capabilities available to it such as running Metro applications, modern applications such as Office 2010 or 2013.
To start the installation, first boot to the Windows XP desktop. If you are installing Windows 8 from a physical DVD these instructions will apply to you. Insert the Windows 8 disc. Setup will automatically launch:
Setup will automatically launch.
If prompted to get updates, I recommend you do so. If you are not connected to the Internet, select ‘No, thanks’.
Enter your product key. If you purchased Windows 8 from the Microsoft Store and you are using the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, the key will be embedded. If you download a .ISO file or purchased Windows 8 on DVD, check your email when you registered to purchase the upgrade or check your Windows 8 product packaging for the product key. After Entering the product key, click Next to continue with setup.
Read and Accept the End User License Agreement.
Now this is an important part of setup. If you have any personal files on your computer, those will be preserved when you select ‘Keep personal files only’. As noted earlier, you will need to reinstall programs and drivers for your hardware devices. If you choose Nothing, Windows 8 will place your files in a folder called Windows.old. After making your decision, click Next.
Wait while Windows 8 does some last checks.
At the summary screen, review the changes that will be made to your computer. If you are not sure, click Back and make any appropriate changes. As noted, you will not be able to use your computer during this period. The time it takes complete the upgrade will be dependent on your system specifications such as processor speed, memory and your data set. Click the Install button to begin.
Windows 8 setup will go into full screen mode and restart several times.
After your computer restarts, Windows 8 will continue setup. Windows setup will go through several screens indicating Tasks it needs to complete:
- Windows setup will say its ‘Preparing’
- Getting your devices ready.
- Getting system ready
Then restart and setup will continue.
Windows 8 will now indicate it is ‘Moving your settings’
Out of Box Experience.
You will now arrive at the Out of Box Experience where you will setup and personalize your Windows experience.
The first option presented is the Color Picker, here you can choose a color that represents you. You have up to 25 to choose from. If you can’t decide now, you can always do it later. Click Next
The settings screen screen allows you to customize whether you want to have Microsoft send information about Windows to Microsoft to ensure it runs smoothly. Click Use Express settings. If you rather not, you can click Customize.
- Wait while Windows 8 finalizes your settings.
Wait while Windows 8 does some final configuration.
You have successfully migrated from Windows XP to Windows 8. To check if your files are there, launch the Windows Desktop App.
Launch File Explorer on the Windows Taskbar and open documents and you should see all your files previously in Windows XP.
You can proceed to reinstall your applications and install your drivers.
For more information about how to install applications Windows 8, see the following article: