Monthly Archives: December 2012

How to migrate from Windows 8 Preview Releases: Default Installation

Back in October I wrote an article about migrating from the Windows 8 Preview Releases in a dual boot configuration. For example, if you had Windows 7 on your boot drive and Windows 8 on a logical partition. In this article, we look at migrating from Windows 8 Preview Releases in a default install configuration. This means, if you are an enthusiastic early adopter who had installed Windows 8 over your commercial copy of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.

With the expiry date for the Windows 8 Preview releases (Developer, Consumer and Release Preview) approaching (January 15th 2013), you will need to start migrating from it to either the final release of Windows 8 or your previous commercial copy (XP, Vista or Windows 7). In this article, we take a look at doing that.

If you decide to upgrade to the final release, in order to install Windows 8 Pro upgrade, you will first need to reinstall your original version of Windows that was running on your computer prior to installing the Windows 8 Release Preview. Whether that is (Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7). After installing it, you can then do an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro. The Windows 8 Release Preview does not support upgrades to Windows 8 Pro.

Even if you are able to do the install, you might encounter problems trying to activate it because a compliance check was not done again a qualifying version of Windows (XP SP3, Vista or Windows 7).

Getting Started


Windows 8 preview release

In this example, we will be migrating from Windows 8 Release Preview to Windows 7. The same principles should also work for the Developer Preview or Consumer Preview. In the above screenshot, I have a typical Windows 8 Release Preview install I have been using for a while. Over time, I have accumulated a lot of data on it. Of course, you don’t want to loose this data, so you will need to back it up.

Backup data

Option 1: You can backup your data by copying over your User folder to an external hard disk. See our previous article which discusses the steps to do this.

Option 2: You can use the built in Windows Easy Transfer wizard to backup your personal files and settings and restore them on Windows 7 or if you plan to migrate to the final release of Windows 8. This is an optimal method that ensures your migration is as smooth as possible.

Option 3: You can use your Windows 7 disc and do a custom install over your Windows 8 preview install and recover your data from the Windows.old folder. If you have the full version Windows 8 OEM System Builder disc, you can use this method too and forgo the need to reinstall a qualifying license.

We will be looking at Option 2 & 3 for this article.

Windows Easy Transfer

The reason why I recommend a Easy Transfer is as a precautionary measure, which you can have in case something goes wrong in Option 3, for example if you format the partition instead of doing a custom install. You can launch Windows Easy Transfer by pressing Windows key + R

Windows Vista users:

This method will not work for you because the Windows Easy Transfer .mig file created in Windows 7 or Windows 8 are not backward compatible with Windows Vista. This means you will have to do a manual backup your personal files, see the following article for instructions:

How to migrate from Windows 8 Preview Releases- Dual Boot Setup

To launch Windows Easy Transfer in Windows 8, open the run command (Windows key + X):


Then type the following:



Click OK

This will launch the Windows Easy Transfer wizard.


Click Next


You have a few options to choose from, the best one would be an external hard disk which is excellent for storing large amounts of information. If you don’t have an external hard disk, you can save your backup to a network share if one is available.


Select this is my old PC.


Wait while your personal files are scanned.


Check off the accounts you would like to have backed up.


You can create a password if you want to protect your Windows Easy Transfer backup. If don’t want to, no problem skipping this step. Click Save.


Open the external hard disk and save the file there, you can give a unique file name if you wish.


Wait while your items are backed up and saved. This can take some time depending on the amount of information you have stored on the Windows 8 Preview.

Wait while the backup completes. When it is finally finish, you can proceed to reinstall Windows 7 and do the restoration.


Doing a Custom Install

Using the custom install option allows you to reinstall your original copy of Windows while preserving your personal data by moving it to the Windows.old folder. Of course, you will need to reinstall your applications and hardware drivers. To begin, retrieve your installation disc for your copy of Windows and make sure you have the product key.

  • Boot to the Windows 8 desktop.
  • Insert your Windows 7, Vista or XP disc
  • Click Install Now (Windows XP users, please restart from the installation or recovery disc).

To learn how to change your BIOS options to boot from the DVD drive, see the following tutorial:

If you have an RTM disc

If you have the original RTM disc for Windows 7 or Vista, you can download an updated disc with Windows 7 SP1 or Vista SP1 integrated. This should at least take some of the load off when it comes installing post SP1 updates or Service Pack 2 for Vista.

Download the corresponding edition of Windows 7 you have a license for from the following link. You can identify the edition on the COA sticker attached to your machine, at the bottom or within the battery compartment (laptop) or top/side if its a desktop computer.
COA Certificate of Authenticity:
What is the Windows Certificate of Authenticity?

Windows 7 (English) with Service Pack 1

Windows Vista SP1:

(The above Windows Vista image allows you to install the appropriate edition by having the appropriate key).

32 vs 64 bit
Is my PC running the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows?

ImgBurn – In addtion to supporting the creation of CD’s from .ISO files,
it supports a wide range of other image file formats, and it’s free.

Note: Always use the slowest burn speed (4x or 2x) if offered a choice.

Unfortunately, Windows XP users will need to get a hold of a genuine copy of Windows XP with SP3 disc. It should not be hard to get one, but will require that you look for one if you can’t find yours.

If Windows came preinstalled on your computer.

If Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 came with your computer, this might be a bit tricky depending on the version of Windows you are running and the options you selected during the installation of the Windows 8 preview. I have noticed that installing later versions of Windows can sometimes render a recovery partition inoperable.

Some computers that come preinstalled with Windows often have what is called a recovery partition. This is used to reinstall the operating system in the event of a system crash. To access it, you will need to boot into it when you start your computer by pressing a function key. This can be either F1, F2, F9, F10, F11, F12 or even DEL or Tab key. Consult the owners manual that came with your PC for instructions about how to reinstall Windows.

This is how the recovery partition is accessed for the most popular computer brands:

  • For Dell, press CTRL + F11 directly after powering up the unit.
  • For HP, press F11 directly after powering up the unit
  • For Toshiba, press and hold ‘0’ BEFORE and during the power up
  • For Acer, press and hold ALT + F10 as soon as you see the logo.
  • For Samsung: Tap the F4 Key at the Samsung logo when you first power on.
  • For Asus, press F9 as soon as you see the Asus logo.
  • For Advent, restart your computer. Then Press F10 repeatedly until the message “Starting System Recovery” is displayed
  • Lenovo
    Lenovo notebooks include a feature called the Lenovo OneKey Recovery button, which is used to boot into the Recovery Environment and reinstall Windows.

If your recovery partition happens to be damaged, then you will need to use the link to download the corresponding edition of Windows you have a license for and use the product on you COA sticker. Again, Windows XP users will need to borrow a disc or likely use the recovery discs that came with your system.

Doing the Custom Install

A custom install allows you to reinstall Windows without actually formatting the hard disk.


You can Start the installation from within Windows 8 preview. Click Install Now.


Wait while setup copies files.


Select the option ‘Do not get latest updates for installation


Accept the license agreement, then click Next


Click Custom (Advanced)


Select drive C:\ where Windows 8 installed.


An important warning will appear on screen, click OK


Windows will now begin the installation process.


When installation is complete, setup your user account and password.

Recovering your personal files

Now the important part of doing this will be recovering your personal files. To do that, browse to the root of the drive where Windows is installed, normally C:\. There you will see a folder called Windows.old


In this folder you will find your old User folder with all your personal folders for Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos etc. You can copy the contents from within each folder and paste them into your respective personal folders in Windows 7.


After you have copied over your data, you can delete the folder if you wish. This is just the basics though and you might have other data stored elsewhere that you need to recover from the Windows.old folder such as email or even your iTunes Library. See the following article for instructions about recovering email and other data files.
These steps should work similarly for Windows Vista users.

For Windows XP Users

The steps will be a bit different. Instead of starting the installation from within Windows 8, you will need to boot from your original installation disc and do a custom install. Before you do that though, I strongly recommend you backup your User folder using the instructions provided in the previous article about migrating from Windows 8 previews. You can simply copy the User folder over to an external hard disk or thumb drive with enough space.

  • Insert your Windows XP CD, then restart your computer.
  • When prompted to boot from the CD, do so. This requires pressing any key on your keyboard.
  • Windows XP will go through its setup process.
  • Once you arrive at the Welcome Setup, press Enter on your keyboard to begin the setup process. (If you encounter any problems reinstalling Windows XP at this stage such as the hard disk not being detected you need to boot into the BIOS and set the hard disk to IDE mode).
  • Press F8 on your keyboard to accept the license agreement.
  • Select the partition and press D on your keyboard to delete it
  • Select Format the partition using the NTFS file system
  • Press F on your keyboard to begin the formatting.
  • Installation files will now be copied to your hard disk
  • Your system will be restarted, Windows XP setup will continue

If you have Recovery Media instead of a standalone installation disc.

If Windows XP came with your computer, then you need to backup your data manually since a recovery disc will format the drive and restore the computer back to its factory state. This also applies to Windows Vista if you don’t use the standalone link to a Windows Vista disc image provided earlier in this article.

Backup Outlook and Windows Mail data

How do I import and export email, contacts, and calendars with

Finding your product key

If Windows 7, Vista or XP came preinstalled on your computer, then you will likely need to use the product key located on the COA (Certificate of Authenticity) sticker located at the bottom of your laptop or top/side on a standalone tower computer.If the sticker is damaged or faded, you will need to contact the manufacturer for a recovery disc this since this will exempt the need to use a product key.


How to migrate from Windows 8 Preview Releases: Dual Boot Setup


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