Things to consider before the upgrade

Hi Everyone,

Windows 8 is coming and there is a lot of buzz about it already. Many of you have already used Windows 8 while it was in its Release preview. A lot have changed in this version of Windows, it’s a whole new operating system designed to meet the needs of the future. If you are planning to upgrade your environment to Windows 8, this blog series will help you with doing that. This first post will talk about the various upgrade options and things you should consider when performing an upgrade and also the common. The next ones will discuss walkthroughs, known issues, dual boot and rollback options.

What hardware do you need?

Nothing new - Windows 8 will install on almost any hardware that supports Windows 7. All you need is a 1 GHz or higher – 32-bit or 64-bit processor with 1 GB of memory, a hard disk with at least 20 gigs of free space, and a video card that is DirectX 9.x capable. Certain features in Windows 8 need additional support from the hardware:

  • To get the fully functional Windows Store and Windows Store Apps, the minimum screen resolution should be 1024x768.
  • To Enable BitLocker, your hardware should have a TPM 1.2 compatible BIOS/UEFI. BitLocker is only available in the Professional and Enterprise SKU.
  • To get the advanced security features like Secure boot, BitLocker network unlock and Extended Secure boot, you should have a UEFI Specification version 2.3.1.
  • Windows To Go is a Windows 8 Enterprise SKU feature and it is only supported on USB 3.0 compatible hard drives that are detected as fixed drives. Window To Go is not supported on Windows RT.
  • To make full use of the built-in virtualization (Hyper-V), the processor should support Second Level Address Translation (SLAT).

SKU considerations:

We announced in the Windows Team blogs earlier about the different SKUs that Windows 8 will be available in. For those of you who missed it, here is a summary -

  • The Windows 8 SKU is the mainstream SKU available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. This edition includes the new platform advancements such as touch, new user interface, the Windows store and the new metro-style applications. It will run on PCs of different form factors ranging from desktops to Ultra books and tablets powered by x86 processors. You can purchase a machine with Windows8 pre-installed by OEMs, or you can go buy Windows 8 off the shelf from one of our retail distributers.
  • Windows 8 Professional SKU targets enthusiast and small business customers. It offers additional features over the Windows 8 SKU, like BitLocker, Virtualization through client Hyper-V and domain-join capabilities. Windows 8 Professional is offered via retail, OEM and Volume Licensing channels. Windows Ultimate edition available in Windows 7 is now being retired and is merged into the Professional SKU.
  • Windows 8 Enterprise SKU targets enterprise customers and is only available through volume licensing channels to customers who have signed Enterprise Agreements (EA). The evaluation variant of this SKU will be made available publicly for download, and can be used for 180 days.
  • Windows 8 RT SKU is an OEM only SKU designed to run on ARM-based devices, including our own Microsoft Surface. This edition cannot be purchased through retail or installed manually by the end user, and will be shipped installed on the device. Look through this blog to understand the differences in features between the different SKUs.

Upgrade types and considerations:

The Windows 8 Setup has been revamped to improve the workflow and be more user-friendly. Depending on what operating system you are starting the installation from, and depending on what SKU you are installing, the UI shown to you will change. You will see one of the following when you launch the setup from within a down level operating system client:

 
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Here is what each of these options mean:

  • Windows settings, personal files and apps: This setting captures all Windows settings, personal files (files held in the C:\Users directory) and any applications installed on the system. This is equivalent to performing an in-place-upgrade.
  • Just personal files: This setting migrates items located in the \Users directory. No applications or user settings are migrated.
  • Nothing: This setting does not migrate any data and is effectively a clean install of Windows. The old operating system moves to the Windows.old directory.

You can performing an in-place-upgrade to Windows 8 and keep your Windows settings, personal files, and applications from Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium editions of Windows 7.

You can perform an in-place-upgrade to Windows 8 Pro from Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions.

You can in-place-upgrade to Windows 8 Enterprise from Professional and Enterprise Editions of Windows 7.

Some old rules still apply - You cannot upgrade a 32-bit version of windows to a 64-bit version. Upgrade from the release preview version or pre-RTM builds of Windows to the RTM build is not supported. You cannot upgrade or "Keep Windows Settings personal files and Applications" when running setup from Windows Vista or XP. You can migrate your User data folders or perform a clean installation.

The following table lists what options would be available in the Setup page when you are on a down level OS. For more details on the upgrade paths, visit this TechNet article.

 

Upgrade Options to Windows 8

Keep Windows Settings, Personal files and applications

Keep Windows Settings and Personal Files

Keep Personal files only

Nothing

Windows XP (SP3 or higher)

NO

NO

YES

YES

Windows Vista RTM

NO

NO

YES

YES

Windows Vista (SP1 or higher)

NO

YES

YES

YES

Windows 7 (RTM or higher)

YES

NO

YES

YES

Windows 8

YES

NO

YES

YES

Cross-architecture install (32bit to 64bit)

NO

NO

NO

NO

Cross language Windows Vista (SP1 or higher)

NO

NO

YES

YES

Cross Edition type (i.e. K to N) Windows Vista (SP1 or higher)

NO

NO

NO

YES

 

Hope this post was informative. There is more coming under this series soon, to introduce you to all things new in Windows 8. If you want to have a sneak peak at the user interface, you may also want to check this post on our AskPerf blog. We hope you love running Windows 8 as much as we do bringing it out for you!

Vimal Shekar,
Beta Support Engineer,
Windows Core team @ Microsoft