There have been a few discussions about upgrade paths in the past, so I thought I would record a few experiences that I
encountered while upgrading a machine from Windows XP.
The PC is a 5 year old machine with an activated Windows XP
licence and all updates in place. It has 4GB ram installed and runs an Intel Core 2 E6700 CPU @2.66GHz. It's currently used
by a 14 year old relative for typical teenage stuff and a little schoolwork.
I decided to run through the standard
upgrade path partly because it costs only £24.99 and partly because I wanted to see exactly what the standard path would
entail going from XP.
I went to the Windows 8 Upgrade assistant site, ran the tool which told me that a custom
install would be needed and that my upgrade option was limited to Windows 8 Pro - not a problem because that's what I
intended anyway. As per the recommendation, I disabled the antivirus and all startup application, though for non technical
people that may prove a little challenging.
Proceeding to the "We are getting a few things ready" screen the
machine hung for 3 hours. There was no CPU activity to speak of, but there was a reasonable amount of network traffic, so I
left it for a while thinking that it may be downloading the installation files. But no, after 3 hours and still no progress,
I dropped out of the Websetup application and tried again. This time the Upgrade Assistant ran smooth and after selecting
Windows 8 Pro, I was taken to a screen where I needed to enter my personal details and payment options. That screen did not
appear the first time. After payment was confirmed the Websetup displayed the new Windows 8 key and it was sent to me by
The setup proceeded to download the installation file, gave me the option to install now or save to the
desktop for later installation: I chose install now. Installation was a little slower than for a clean install, based on
installations of the RP, CP and Technet RTM, but I guess that's because it was running an upgrade, even though I told it to
After about 40 minutes and several automatic reboots later, we were in Windows 8 first run setup
screen. At no point did it ask for the licence key. Inspection shows that Windows is already activated with the key that
There were a few things that hadn't worked as expected:
The hangup during the Websetup
waiting for the personal details and payment options screen to appear.The graphics driver was not loaded correctly. Despite
the Upgrade Assistant telling me the slightly old ATI X300SE card was compatible, it defaulted to the Windows basic video
driver, so I have to find the ATI driver separately.There was a Windows.old folder from the XP install left on the machine,
plus a couple of pre-existing application folders in the root of the system volume, despite me asking for a custom install
and to keep nothing. A quick cleanup fixed that.Perhaps most irksome, the system never asked me which version of Windows 8
Pro to install (32 or 64 bit). It downloaded and installed 32 bit. The CPU and system is capable of 64 bit, but I assume
the upgrade from XP 32 bit is only available to Windows 8 Pro 32 bit. Not a big problem, 3GB usable will be ok, but it would
have been nice to consider being able to drop additional ram into the machine.
Overall the upgrade needed a little
thinking, possibly because based on previous WIndows 8 installs I was expecting to see slightly different screens at several
stages). Perhaps for the general public, it may prove an easier route as it is very well guided. Having obtained the
upgrade licence key, I guess I might have been able to use a separate ISO download and run a clean install wiping out XP
completely, but I specifically wanted to see the upgrade warts and all.
Normally, I default to clean installs.
However, this process, although needing a little attention, appears to have resulted in a pretty robust install. Video
driver excepted, it appears cleaner than previous test upgrades that I have made going from XP to Vista or Vista to 7.
I'm currently leaving the machine without any customisation to see how my young relative gets on with it in its raw
form. I suspect that her use will mainly be in Metro using IE10, Facebook, etc, and she would come to me for any heavy
lifting on the desktop. That said, I'm without doubt going to be asked to sort out video playback in Media Centre or VLC
equivalent if she doesn't discover how to do that herself. I'll probably be asked to install Office at some point for her
schoolwork and that may lead her into uncharted territory regarding Windows 8 UI switching.