Upgrading to Windows 8

October 27, 2012

I watched the launch stream of Windows 8 last Thursday, and seeing as I usually update to the latest Windows as fast as I can ever since Windows XP (Yes, I’m one of the people who actually liked Vista), I felt I couldn’t wait any longer.

My first thought was to try out the evaluation version that’s free to use for 90 days, but I knew that running a VM is not the same as using it on bare metal, I decided to use the upgrade assistant that Microsoft provides. It gives you a list of programs that will work with Windows 8 and after a quick glance, marking of applications that are mission critical for me, like openVPN, I decided to buy it.

But, there’s always a but, I don’t have the tools I usually have at my disposal here in Sweden, all my gear is still locked up in Finland, the only things I have is one external 200GB drive with me, and a package of blank DVD’s.
I don’t yet know whether or not I’ll actually be able to use Windows 8, or if I’ll like it, and I don’t have my Windows 7 install disk here. So I’ve resorted to using Windows built in tools to conquer this problem.

Backup

The first thing I did, even before actually buying the Windows 8 Upgrade, was to create a complete disk image of my system to my external disk. Windows 7 (And I believe Windows Vista as well) has it built in. Just open the start menu, search for “backup” and you’ll see “backup and restore”. Under this window you can select whether you want to create a repair disk or a backup image. I started of with creating the image, took a while because my external disk only has the USB 2 interface.
After the backup was complete, and because I don’t have the windows 7 install disk, I had to create a repair disk. This disk is needed if you want to roll back to your previously created image. Just pop in the repair disk and boot from it, and you’ll be presented with different options, like restore from backup image (while your backup disk is connected of course).

Buying Windows 8

As earlier mentioned, I used the Windows upgrade assistant to buy Windows 8 Pro, and it couldn’t really get any easier than this. Just run the application, it’ll check what applications you’ve got installed, and give you a lsit of confirmed support. After this step it will give you what version of Windows it recommends for you. You get to select if you want it as a download only or if you want the physical media sent to you as well. I chose the download only.
Give up some information about your self, add you credit card, and boom, done. You get the upgrade serial up front as well as getting a receipt email to you mailbox. The total cost for me was 279 SEK, but I guess, in a different country it might be another price, your mileage may vary as the say.
The upgrade assistant will download the iso from the server and you get to choose if you want to install now or later, if you choose later you also get to choose if you want to use the USB drive installer or a conventional DVD iso. Again, because I’ve got a few extra DVD’s but no extra USB drive, I chose the DVD install. Save the iso to your desktop and burn it to a blank disk with your preferred application.

Installing Windows 8

The installation is pretty straight forward, the usual standard-praxis applies, next-next-next-PROFIT!, unless of course you need to do some changes.

A new feature, which I suspect hasn’t existed with earlier Windows versions is that you’re no longer required to “upgrade” a system when you’ve bought the upgrade pack, you can, and I suppose, you’re allowed to, do a clean install with an upgrade license, as long as it’s applied on a system with a valid Windows OS installed prior to the upgrade (Makes sense?).

Earlier, at least with Windows 7, you had to do some hacks to be able to do a clean install with an upgrade license, now, it’s only a matter of clicking “Format drives” after you’ve entered the serial key. And this my friends, is good.

After the system is installed, you get to create a new user, and this is again something that has changed since Windows 7. Your user should be based on a Microsoft Live Account. In my case I just put in the same account I use for Xbox Live and for my Windows Phone 7. I don’t know if you can create an account without this connection, and to be honest, I didn’t check either.

Anyway, now I’m off to start finding all the applications I need. (In other words; The boring part of re-installing an operating system).

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