When Windows 8 launched, Microsoft wanted to encourage people to upgrade early so they offered a great incentive to existing Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 users. As a result, an upgrade that would normally cost $200, costs $40 (or if you bought a Windows 7 PC on or after June 2, 2012, you can get it for $15 here).
They can go to this website and download the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant which examines your PC for compatibility, gives you a list of hardware and applications that may have compatibility issues (for most machines I’ve seen the fixes have involved re-installing the software after the upgrade) and it gives you a list that you can save.
The upgrade preserves your files, but you may need to re-install desktop applications like Office, Photoshop, etc.
The 2GB installer download took about 4 hours on a relative’s low-end RoadRunner Lite connection (1 Mbit/s), so factor available broadband speeds into your upgrade plans.
Here’s what I recommend:
- In case anything goes really wrong, always backup your files before an operating system upgrade.
- To be extra sure, I recommend downloading the SkyDrive desktop app here and transferring any files you’d like to back-up on the cloud. SkyDrive offers 7GB of storage. Other offerings from competitors offer 5GB if you prefer using them.
- Install the Windows 8 Pro upgrade via the official Upgrade to Windows 8 website.
- Protect your user files with the new File History feature of Windows 8.
- Add Windows Media Center to Windows 8 Pro – this is a limited time offer that also expires on Thursday.
- After the Windows Store app tile has time to update (it should show 15 or so updates for built-in apps) click on it and in the upper-right-hand corner click the update link, then at the bottom of the page click to install all of them.
- Finally, Microsoft is migrating Windows Live Messenger users to Skype and shutting down the old Windows Live Messenger service on March 15th, 2013. I recommend downloading the Skype app from the Windows Store, and also the Skype desktop app. When you sign-in on the desktop app you’ll be given the chance to link your Microsoft accounts, and even connect so you can IM all of your friends on Facebook. This explains what happens when you merge your Skype and Microsoft accounts. I recommend it because for most people it helps simplify by getting all of their IM contacts in one well-organized place.
Remember, you can always get back to the old Windows 7 look and feel by holding-down the start button on your keyboard (the Windows flag logo) and pressing the letter “d” key at the same time.
I hope this helped. With this you should be able to save about $160 per PC – but only if you act before 1/31/2013.
Update: c|net posted a list of links to related articles. I’m including them here in case anyone would like to do some further reading: