Another major question we get asked all the time is – can I upgrade to Windows 8?
Windows 8 allows for upgrading from previous versions of Windows. Specifically, you can upgrade to Windows 8 from Window XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
First of all, let’s take a quick look at the versions of Windows 8.
How many versions of Windows 8 are there?
There are four versions of Windows 8. The four versions are Windows 8, Windows Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise and Windows RT.
Consumers can only upgrade to two of those versions – Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.
Windows RT will only come with tablets, and Windows 8 Enterprise will be sold with large-volume corporate PC purchases.
Windows 8, Windows Pro, and Windows 8 Enterprise will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions, with 64-bit being most common.
Let’s go through each scenario.
Upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows XP
To upgrade to Windows 8 from Windows XP, you will need to be running Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3).
You will have an option to migrate your personal files from XP to Windows 8.
These are documents and files stored in the Users folder (C:\Documents and Settings by default). In this case, you will lose (and therefore need to reinstall) desktop applications and their corresponding settings.
You also have the option to do a clean install and start from scratch.
Upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows Vista
If you’re moving from Windows Vista to Windows 8, there are a few more options available. You will need to be on Windows Vista SP1 or higher.
- You can bring over personal files (documents and files stored in the Users folder C:\Documents and Settings by default) and Windows settings.
- You can also just bring over personal files without the settings.
- You can do a clean install.
Upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows 7
Windows 7 is the Operating System that gives you the widest range of upgrade choices. With 700 million copies sold, that only makes sense.
- You can bring over personal files, Windows settings and (some supported) applications.
- You can choose to bring over personal files only and reinstall the apps you need in Windows 8.
- You can do a clean install.
Upgrading to Windows 8 from the Windows 8 Release Preview
Microsoft wisely at the last minute decided to support upgrading from the Windows 8 Release Preview to the full version of Windows 8.
There are two options for this upgrade.
You can bring over personal files only. This way, you will lose your desktop apps, metro apps and some system settings.
The good news is that you can reinstall those desktop apps and as long as you got them from the Microsoft store with your Microsoft account, you can get the metro apps back as well.
You can also just do a fresh install.
This diagram shows in detail some of the choices moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8.
Some Windows 8 Upgrade FAQ’s
How much will the upgrade cost?
Depends, see our how much will Windows 8 cost page for updated information.
What are the differences between Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro?
Windows 8 will be a baseline version of Windows 8 which will work for the average consumer. Windows 8 Pro will probably be a better fit for tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals.
What are hardware requirements for Windows 8?
- 1GHz or faster processor
- 1GB RAM (32-bit) or 2GB RAM (64-bit)
- 16GB available hard-disk space (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Can I upgrade from a Windows operating system older than Windows XP?
If you want to upgrade from an earlier Windows operating system than Windows XP (for example, Windows 95 or Windows 2000), you’ll need to purchase the Windows 8 System Builder. You won’t be able to keep any files, settings, or software programs when you install the new operating system.
Can I upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows 8?
If your PC has a 64 bit-capable processor (CPU) but is currently running a 32-bit version of Windows, you can install a 64-bit version of Windows 8. You also won’t be able to keep any files, settings, or software programs when you upgrade from a 32-bit to a 64-bit version.
If I upgrade and select “keep nothing,” how can I restore my files after the upgrade?
If you’re running Windows Developer Preview or Windows 8 Consumer Preview when you upgrade, or if you choose the option to “keep nothing” when you upgrade, your files won’t come with you to Windows 8. However, you might still be able to copy your files over after you upgrade. If you don’t reformat your hard drive during installation, your files are saved to the Windows.old folder, where you can retrieve them after the upgrade.
If I change my mind, can I uninstall Windows 8 and go back to a previous version of Windows?
Not exactly – To go back to your previous version of Windows, you’ll need to format your hard drive and then reinstall the previous version of Windows from the recovery or installation media that came with your PC. Typically, this is on a DVD. If you don’t have recovery media, you might be able to create it from a recovery partition on your PC using software provided by your PC manufacturer. Check the support section of your PC manufacturer’s website for more info. After you install Windows 8, you won’t be able to use the recovery partition on your PC to go back to your previous version of Windows.
How can I tell if my devices (keyboards, mice, webcams) will work with Windows 8?
Windows 8 generally works with the same peripheral devices and apps that work with Windows 7. In some cases, a device or program might require an update. The best way to tell if your devices will work before you upgrade is to run Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, a free program that scans your current hardware, software programs, and devices for compatibility.
If you have an existing desktop PC or notebook that came with Windows 7 and was purchased between June 2, 2012, and January 31, 2013.
You qualify for an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. Go to the Windows Upgrade Offer site to register.
You want to install Windows 8 in a virtual machine on a Mac or PC.
A virtual machine is treated as if it were a new PC.
You want to install Windows 8 on a new PC that you built or bought that did not include a Windows license.
You can preorder an OEM copy of Windows 8 that includes Personal Use Rights. Two weeks before the Windows 8 launch, those prices are around $100 for Windows 8 and $140 for Windows 8 Pro.
You have a new Windows 8 PC and you want to add DVD playback capabilities and Media Center software.
If it’s a new PC that came with the base edition of Windows 8, you need the Windows 8 Pro Pack (currently $70 or less from online retailers). This product uses the same technique as Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade to unlock the Pro features on your installed copy. You use the Add Features option to enter a new product key, which you can buy online or as a key card in retail packaging.
If you upgraded Windows 7 or Vista or XP to Windows 8 Pro, regardless of which method you used (online or boxed software), you qualify to add the Windows 8 Media Center Pack for free. Ill have more details when this option is actually available.
I want to downgrade to Windows 7.
If you purchased a new PC with Windows 8 Pro installed by the OEM, you can use your own Windows 7 media to install Windows 7 Professional. You’ll need to activate your copy over the phone using the product key from the sticker on the PC.
If you bought a new PC that included the base edition of Windows 8, your only official downgrade path is to buy a retail copy of Windows 7 and install that.
Upgrade copies of Windows 8 Pro do not include downgrade rights.
For more information about Windows 8, check out:
- What is Windows 8?
- New features in Windows 8.
- What’s different from Windows XP, Vista or 7?
- Upgrading to Windows 8 – the definitive guide.
- How much is Windows 8?