This is my Windows 8 upgrade experience on an old’ish (2009) home PB Tech i5 PC. It had run Windows 7 64 from new with a mix of Autodesk Building Design Suite, Microsoft Office, CorelDRAW and a few simulator type games (Flightsim, F1, WRC and America’s Cup yachting). This is what I tried, what worked and what I recommend avoiding when switching to Windows 8. A change I do think worthwhile.
Why bother with Windows 8 on an old non-touch desktop?
The common opinion regarding Windows 8 is that it’s for touch enabled and new hardware. While it is designed for touch Windows is, was, well is, a desktop OS. I tend not to upgrade OS, or upgrade hardware that often, and my current home PC arrived not long after Windows 7.
Although I’m considering new mobile hardware (currently that’s an iPhone & Netbook) I doubt I will upgrade my home desktop anytime soon. Upgrading the OS will keep it alive a few more years as still find it useful for CAD/image/video editing and data archive/server for more mobile machines.
Also, I just want to try Windows 8 and $50 upgrade is a cheap way to do that. I had tried the consumer previews on virtual machines but found it was no way to judge the UI interaction. Windows 8 is very dependent on mouse/screen interaction and I found things like finding screen corners/edges unreliable on a virtual install.
It was also a chance to evaluate Windows 8 before I get asked by my family PC support ‘clients’ if it is worthwhile, or to support their installs. So, credit card in hand it was time to try an online upgrade!
Unlike some, even experienced IT folks, I did do some preparation before proceeding:
- Backup: I did a full image backup with the Windows 7 Backup AND backed up user profiles with SyncBack. The idea was I could easily restore the full image if it all turned bad. SyncBack was set to just copy files, no compression etc, to a USB hard drive for easy access to any documents or settings without needing a full restore.
- Ran the Windows Upgrade Advisor: It precedes an upgrade install. You can run the advisor without doing the upgrade and save the results (as HTML file) to review before you go ahead. The Advisor suggested I needed to do several things before & after the upgrade:
- ZoneAlarm: It suggested checking with ZoneAlarm who had a free application upgrade waiting. I had to remove the existing ZoneAlarm before doing the Windows upgrade.
- Camtasia 7: Suggested a reinstall would be required after the upgrade.
- Suggested free & paid updates for a few utilities which were not vital to me.
I live tweeted my upgrade live, if nothing else, to give an idea of the process & time. The trail is reproduced in the extended post following this.
Before hitting Twitter at 21:00 I had started the process with Compatibly Check, removing ZoneAlarm and completed the 2GB download and kicked off the actual install at 22:00.
I used my machine admin account (with Administrator privileges) for the upgrade but the machine also had 3 user accounts with standard privileges.
What to upgrade?
Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant offers a clean install or allows you to retain existing data depending on your current Windows version:
- Windows XP: You can not migrate any settings or programs but can keep the data files from your personal profile
- Windows Vista: You can keep files and settings, but not installed programs.
- Windows 7: Being the closest to 8 you can choose whether you want to migrate files, settings & installed programs, just files, or nothing
I was curious to see how well the Windows 7 ‘migrate’ option worked so chose Files, Settings & Programs.
Once through the typical “Accept” dialogs it was hands off and watch it all happen. There were several reboots, through “getting ready”, preparing and installing. The Tweet trail in the extended post gives an idea of the process but I can confirm you get to know the new Windows 8 progress spinner, a circle of dots, rather well!
The install completed about 23:55 (just under two hours).
First run was into the local admin account I had used for the upgrade. It picked up most settings fine but the Microsoft keyboard was not set to US, discovered when shift+2 did not result in an @! That was easily fixed in the settings, found from Start by typing “Keyboard” and selecting settings to filter the results.
First logon & Microsoft account link:
Any existing user accounts are migrated as “local” accounts. With Windows 8 you have the option, and it is not required, to link a local account to your Microsoft Account. It you’ve ever used for Windows Passport, Live, Hotmail/Live Mail/Outlook email, SkyDrive that login should work.
This essentially gives a single sign on to most, if not quite all, Microsoft services and also allows you to sync settings with other Windows 8 PCs. Sign in and they adopt ‘your’ settings and personalisation. It was easy to link the account and add my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo Mail (used by my ISP) and Google accounts to the Windows 8 People, Mail and Calendar services.
Initially it appeared this did little other than add some icons indicating connected services but there was an advisory notice about preparing data. It wasn’t until several hours later, for me at logon the next day, that all the apps populated with data and contact details.
Once there it really is nice having a single view of people across linked services even if the current Windows 8 apps are quite basic. It would be even nicer if my Office Outlook contacts appeared there too…
Once up & running there were only a few more chores:
- Install ZoneAlarm 11: This was painless, even picked up my previous ZoneAlarm license no!
- Upgrade Live Essentials 2011 to Essentials 2012: I was surprised Microsoft didn’t offer to do this as part of Windows upgrade.
- Reinstall Camtasia 7: As recommended before the upgrade.
- Update Skype and merge Messenger/Facebook contacts: I did this to match my Windows 7 netbook which had done this already.
I also installed a few Windows Store apps to see how that went and there were no problems.
Welcome to Windows 8!
It appeared all the software I had installed at least launched and ran ok. Even some applications which I had doubts about, like an old Quicken 2010, appeared ok. The Autodesk design apps appeared to run fine but I must admit haven’t done any serious work with them yet. The Windows Store and its apps appeared to work well.
What didn’t, and why I don’t recommend the migrate Software & Settings option:
I found a few things a bit buggy. IE 10 Metro sometimes refused to connect to Facebook, say when you clicked on a People app Facebook notification. Seems to be a bit random, related to logon maybe as People sends a http: URL which changes to https if the connection worked.
I purchased & installed a few Windows Store apps. A couple of them have since updated ok, using the store application update, but that is only part of the Windows 8 update story.
It really is almost two operating systems and the old desktop side has it’s own traditional Windows Update (per Vista/7). By default it is set to run automatically but I noticed it hadn’t done so and manually forcing an update gave a Windows update error 80242005.
This means since installing Windows 8 only the Windows Store apps have been updating, not the OS itself. I found a few Microsoft Community posts regarding this error and none of the suggested fixes, some extensive, have worked for me.
I’m not suggesting everyone will get this error but it is a real concern for 7-8 upgrade machines. Windows gave no indication it wasn’t getting any core updates in the desktop or metro User Interface. I wonder how many upgraded Windows 8 machines out there are like this?
UPDATED 2013-01-23: Update 80242005 woes workaround
I got Windows Updates working after finding this Microsoft answers post. Go to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Windows Update > "Change Settings" and remove the check box for "Give me updates for other Microsoft products… …when I update Windows"
After that my settings dialog changed from this:
I can now check for and install Windows updates but presume other legacy Microsoft apps (Office?) are not now going to update?
It seems to be related to the upgrade as several have found clean installs on the same hardware/web connection work fine.
Where from here?
I’m probably still going to try the clean reset install and report back. For now I can say I do like Windows 8 — with some reservations — but can not recommend the “easy” way to get from Windows 7 to 8.
Oh well, if nothing else its a chance to try the reset options it offers as a way to quickly refresh your PC!
I live tweeted my upgrade to give an idea of the process & time…
Before you consider doing this it did result in a few comments from non-geek friends! Before hitting Twitter at 21:00 I had started the process with Compatibly Check, removing ZoneAlarm and completed the 2GB download and kicked off the actual install at 22:00
Installing Windows 8 (on desktop machine). Will it work? News at 10:00 + install time #Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
44% Complete #Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
60% Complete#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
'Your PC will Restart in a few moments' it says...#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
And it did restart, and I see the new logo and progress o twirling#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
Preparing 50, 75%#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
And another restart#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
and lots of progress o twirling, getting devices ready 1,2,3,4,5,6, 50 70.%... done#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
Getting Ready#Win8 (for what!)— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
Still lots of progress o twirling in this Getting ready bit (and disk churning)#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
Still 'Getting ready'#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
Saw it in the preview but like how the progress spinner o dots seem to fight gravity to get over the top#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
This 'Getting ready' bit seems to take a while #Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
Oh, 'Preparing" now#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
So it was 'Getting ready' to start "Preparing' I guess#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
'Preparing 20%" now #Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
'Preparing 53%" now #Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
'Preparing 90%" now #Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
And another reboot to "Moving your settings... %'#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
@jackyan I wonder how many followers, facebook friends this will clear out... or gain...— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
Ha "Get more followers" spam tweet arrives in less than a minute— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
Personalise (with an s even) #Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
'Hi'#Win8 ( it runs the into to gestures etc) ' We getting your PC ready'— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
And it is done, and the desktop looks fine (once thru the start menu). Now to try my user account— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
All looks ok, so far...Bed time#Win8— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
@martynday It is 1:00 am : )— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 9, 2013
The only thing which didn't work immediately after #Win8 upgrade was social connection content in Microsoft account. Now it's all here : )— Robin Capper (@robincapper) January 10, 2013