How To Upgrade To Windows 8 (Part 2)

11/16/2012 6:25:43 PM

As part of the online upgrade process, you must download and run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, a piece of software that will walk you through your Windows 8 installation. You have the option of ordering a backup DVD or creating your own Windows 8 backup on a DVD or USB drive; we recommend that you burn your copy of Windows 8 to a physical disk to ensure that you have it handy in the event of a computer failure.

Once you start the Windows 8 installation, the screens that you see will vary depending on factors such as what version of Windows you’re currently running, whether you’re upgrading to Windows 8 or performing a clean install, and how your hardware is configured. One major decision you’ll face after launching the Windows 8 Setup Assistant utility is whether to go online and download software updates to help the installation process run more smoothly. The setup utility will scan the applications and devices on your PC, notify you if anything isn’t compatible with Windows 8, and then present options to fix the incompatibilities. For example, you may need to update some of your favorite software or download new drivers; however, if you double-checked your software and hardware with the Compatibility Center earlier, you shouldn’t have issues.

Description: Once you start the Windows 8 installation, the screens that you see will vary depending on factors such as what version of Windows you’re currently running

The setup assistant should now take a moment to scan your system and suss out problems; if it finds any issues, it will notify you and offer options to help you automatically download and install updates before continuing with the installation process.

Next, you’ll need to enter the product key that came with your copy of Windows 8. If you purchased a physical copy, your key should be somewhere on the case that holds your disk. Digital customer should have received their Windows 8 product key in an email from Microsoft. If you need to obtain a replacement key, contact Microsoft customer support (at; you may be asked to pay a fee). Note that if you don’t have a valid product key, you cannot install Windows 8; unlike with previous versions of Windows, no trial option is available (as of this writing). If you prefer to try before you buy, the Windows 8 Release Preview is still currently free for download (

Choose what to keep

The next major step is the appropriately named ‘Choose what to keep’ page, where you get to choose exactly what aspects of your current Windows setup you want to carry over to Windows 8. If you choose nothing, your current Windows installation will be deleted and replaced with Windows 8, with many of your old documents and files moved to a Windows.old folder located in your home directory. If you’re upgrading from windows XP, you’ll have the option to bring along your “personal files”, a term that refers to anything stored in the User folder, including anything in subfolders such as the Documents and Desktop folders. Make sure files you want to keep are in the User folder before continuing with the Windows 8 installation.

Description: ‘Choose what to keep’ page, where you get to choose exactly what aspects of your current Windows setup you want to carry over to Windows 8

‘Choose what to keep’ page, where you get to choose exactly what aspects of your current Windows setup you want to carry over to Windows 8

If you’re upgrading from Windows Vista, you’ll have the option of bringing along your Windows settings in addition to your personal files. Though this doesn’t include all of your Windows settings, most of them (including your sound settings, desktop background, and Internet history) will make the transition to windows 8. If you’re upgrading from Windows 7, you’ll have the option of carrying over your Windows settings, your personal files, and even your applications. Note that some of your apps may not work in Windows 8; and even some that will work may not make the transition and will need to be reinstalled.

After you choose what to keep, Windows 8 Setup will run one last check to ensure that your PC can handle the version of Windows 8 you’re trying to install. If it finds a problem, a window will pop up outlining the issue and suggesting a solution; for example, during one installation we were told that our version of 64-bit Windows 8 Pro required at least 20GB of free space on the hard drive (which we lacked), and we were presented with a ‘Free up space’ button, which launched the Windows Cleanup Utility. If you run into any issues with your installation at this stage, you will have to address them before continuing.

If all goes well, you should see an appropriately titled ‘Ready to install’ screen. Close all open programs, and press the Install button. Windows 8 will then begin installing; the process should take roughly 15 to 20 minutes, so go ahead and take a break. When the installation is complete, your PC should reboot one last time and then greet you with a slick interface and certain options for personalizing it. Congratulations!

Step-by-step installation

Description: Step-by-step installation

1.    Before you do anything else, verify that Windows 8 is compatible with your current hardware by visiting the Compatibility Center for Windows 8 Release Preview website.

2.    When you start the Windows 8 Setup application, you have the option of going online to automatically download software and driver updates for greater Windows 8 compatibility. We recommend that you do so.

3.    You must enter a valid product key before Windows 8 Setup will continue. If you do not have a valid product key, you will not be able to upgrade your PC to Windows 8.

4.    Next, choose how much of your current Windows setup you want to carry over. Your options will depend on your current version of Windows.

5.    After you make your choices, the Windows 8 Setup Assistant will run a final check to ensure your PC is ready for Windows 8, and will notify you if anything needs your attention.

6.    Before Windows 8 begins installing, double-check that you’re happy with the choices you’ve made, and confirm that you have backed up all of your important data.

7.    Windows 8 should begin installing, a process that can take anywhere from 10 minutes to more than an hour. Don’t be surprised if your PC restarts several times during the process.

8.    If everything goes smoothly, the first thing you’ll do in Windows 8 is choose a color scheme for your new Start screen. We suggest picking a nice emerald green.

9.    Congratulations – you’ve successfully upgraded to Windows 8! This is what the new interface looks like. To get back to the traditional Windows desktop, simply select the Desktop tile or hold the <Windows> key and press D.

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