Computers & Technology

by Darryl Budge

Prepare your PC for Windows 8

Released on October 26, 2012, Windows 8 comes in two versions for desktop users and one version for tablets.

Released on October 26, 2012, Windows 8 comes in two versions for desktop users and one version for tablets.

Windows 8 Pro: Contains all possible features like Bitlocker encryption, domain join, group policy, Remote Desktop Host, and the ability to Add features (for free) like the ‘Windows Media Center’.

Windows 8: Has none of the above features, but you can later purchase the ‘Windows Pro Pack’ to upgrade the PC to all the features of Windows 8 Pro, including ‘Windows Media Center’.

Windows 8 RT: Only available pre-installed in tablets and portable computers with ARM processors, this version includes almost all the features of Windows 8, but as it cannot install normal desktop applications it includes Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote).

An excellent summary is available at www.intowindows.com/windows-8-editions-comparison/

What’s the price?

Windows 8 is compatible with almost every computer sold in the last five years, so when you hear the upgrade price is only $40 if you already use Windows XP, Vista or 7, why wouldn’t you go for it?

This upgrade offer will run until January 31, 2013, and is only available by downloading Microsoft’s Upgrade Assistant that is available from windows.microsoft.com.

If you want a physical copy then Windows 8 Pro is at retail shops for $70 until January 31, 2013.

You can also purchase Windows 8 for $15 if you buy a new PC between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013, see www.windowsupgradeoffer.com for more details.

Hardware requirements

If your computer runs Windows 7 it will no doubt run Windows 8 too.

Your computer processor (CPU) needs to be at least 1Ghz (and some specific features like PAE, NX, SSE2 must be enabled, check your BIOS to see if your computer has them).

If you are running a 32-bit Windows install (check by right-clicking My Computer and click on properties), then you need a minimum of 1 GB of RAM. If you have a 64-bit installation and want to continue to keep that configuration, you must have at least 2GB RAM.

Your graphics card needs to be DirectX 9-capable with WDDM driver.

Drivers and software

Drivers support operating system functions that the operating system wasn’t designed for — things like sound and brightness keys on your keyboard, and controlling your webcam and printer. If a device driver is Windows 7 compatible, then it should install and work normally in Windows 8. Like Windows 7, Windows 8 will download many drivers that you don’t have install disks for. For those drivers you had to install yourself in Windows 7, you will need to retrieve the driver disks or visit the manufacturer’s website.

Upgrading from Windows XP and Vista will require you to reinstall ALL of your programs. So, collect the license keys (maybe use a freely available tool like Belarc Advisor to help), and gather together the installation files or disks.

What is migrated when I upgrade?

From Windows 7: all user settings, personal files and applications.

From Windows Vista: all user settings and personal files, but not applications.

From Windows XP or Windows 8 Release Preview: personal files only, not applications or user settings.

It is well advised to install all Windows and Microsoft updates before you upgrade. It is also a great idea to defragment your hard drives.

Backup everything

Don’t risk losing any of your personal data in the upgrade process. Copy all your documents, pictures, music, videos, and browser bookmarks — even email files used by your email client — to an external hard-drive and disconnect that drive during the upgrade.

If you have the technical know-how, create a clone image of your previous Windows installation on another partition or external drive. Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image are two excellent paid products with trial periods available. A clone backup will enable you to quickly roll-back to your previous set-up if you find a driver or one of your devices fails to work.

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