Restrictions on Windows 8 in-place upgrades detailed

Windows 8’s retail release is fast approaching. Unless the new Metro user interface gives you a rash, you might be thinking of upgrading—and an in-place upgrade would be the least painful way to do that. Well, ZDNet has gathered some helpful information about which past editions of Windows will support in-place upgrades to the new OS. The information isn’t strictly official, but it should be legit. It reportedly originates from "select" Microsoft partners who were briefed by the software giant earlier this month.

Generally speaking, ZDNet says doing a full upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 won’t pose a problem—but there will be two small caveats. Upgrading to a version of Windows 8 based on a different architecture won’t be possible (so, no upgrading from Win7 x86 to Win8 x64), and users of Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise won’t be able to upgrade to the vanilla version of Windows 8.

What about Windows XP and Vista? A full upgrade from Vista to Windows 8 will be possible, but only if you have Service Pack 1 or later installed. Upgrading from Windows XP or pre-SP1 versions of Vista will cause your settings and customizations to be wiped; only your personal files will survive. ZDNet says cross-archiecture upgrades will be a no-no, just like with Windows 7, but it doesn’t clarify whether cross-edition upgrades will also be verboten. (In other words, I’m not sure whether you’ll be able to hop from Vista Pro or Ultimate to the non-Pro version of Windows 8. I’m guessing not, though.)

Of course, in-place upgrades are but one way to install a new operating system. No matter what version of Windows you’re running, you should be able to back up your files to a safe location and do a clean Windows 8 install. I might go that route myself, actually. The Windows 7 installation on my desktop PC dates back to August 2009 and is getting slightly crusty.

Comments closed
    • rrr
    • 7 years ago

    Question is: why should anyone bother with upgrading to this steaming pile of fail called W8?

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Never have I tried upgrading from an old OS to a new one. I always do a fresh reformat/install after I back up all the things I still care about to a safe place.

      • jstern
      • 7 years ago

      I reinstall my Windows 7 every 4 months rearming it because I’ve been waiting to get a new computer to use my key, and I just reinstall it and then drag the Desktop and Library from Windows.old. So I don’t even bother backing it up, and it has never been a problem. Note: I do always have a fairly recent back up of my computer files, so if something does mess up, it wouldn’t be too bad.

    • Shouefref
    • 7 years ago

    Even the idea of upgrading gives me a headache.
    That’s litterally true, you know, it’s not meant as a figure of speech.

    • flip-mode
    • 7 years ago

    Windows 8 will push me to SSD if it hasn’t already happened. I’ve had a burning desire to move off my mechanical drive lately, with SSD prices cratering as they have been. I’m struggling to decide if I should go with a 120 GB or a 256 GB. I don’t really need 256 GB but it is definitely the safer route, should be faster, from what I understand, and should last longer with all that additional free area. Plus, I’d need 256 GB if I want to transition my current boot partition which is sized at 250 GB

    I’m absolutely aching for an SSD. Ugh. Have to stop talking about it… too painful….

      • Silus
      • 7 years ago

      Already took the plunge for my laptop (a 240 GB SSD) and I’m never going back…3 year old laptop with still pretty decent specs that was bottlenecked by the default 5400 rpm HDD. With the SSD it’s like night and day. No noise, boot time of 12 seconds (Windows 7 x64) and less strain on battery life…not to mention every other disk intensive task is mind boggling fast now…

      Also if your boot partition is really 250 GB you’ll need a SSD with more than 256 GB. 256 GB is the advertized capacity, but in reality it’s only 245ish GB of available free space, much like my 240 GB SSD only had around 230 GB of free space.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 7 years ago

    wait…does this imply there will be a 32 bit version of Windows 8? Seriously?

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 7 years ago

      Why won’t they just let 32 bit die already. Keeping it alive is the worst. There is no reason on gods green earth to put out win 8 32 bit.

        • sonofsanta
        • 7 years ago

        Given that they’ve already killed off x86 on the server, I’d have expected it to be gone this cycle as well. I do seem to recall them saying that they have a timescale for the death of x86 though, I just can’t remember where/when/what it was.

        • A_Pickle
        • 7 years ago

        Atom-powered tablets.

      • jstern
      • 7 years ago

      Just a couple of hours ago I was searching to see if there was going to be a 32 Bit version so that I could perhaps install it on a PC to play 32 Bit games that won’t play on 64 Bit Windows. So I’m glad.

      Don’t see the reason for the outrage over there being a 32 Bit version, most will get the 64 Bit version and never even think about it. The RC can also install in 32 Bit, yet I didn’t know until now, that’s how much the existence of it affected me. Also good for some virtual machines.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      of course there is goign to be 32 bit. there are millions and millions of computers that will easily run 8 that aren’t x64. as well, feel free to run x64 yourself, but on many computers with less ram than yours they appreciate it.

        • Sargent Duck
        • 7 years ago

        what? The amount of available ram you have has nothing to do with whether or not you can run x64. Just going off a hunch, but I believe it’s all to do with the processer and it’s ability to execute x64…Just a hunch.

          • Kurotetsu
          • 7 years ago

          I think he’s implying that a 32-bit version would use less memory in operation than a 64-bit version, making it ideal for machines with little RAM. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way though.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            IIRC since windows 7 came out it has a “low memory” mode that kicks in on machines with limited ram like 1 Gig for computers like netbooks.

            • WaltC
            • 7 years ago

            Yes, Win7x64 actually requires less ram to run than Vistax64 (I have both.) With 1 gig system ram installed you can boot Win7x64 and run some applications at full speed (others would be paged making them too slow.) With Vistax64, 1 gig is just enough to run the OS but almost *nothing* at full speed on top of the Vistax64 OS.

            Basically–absolute minimum for running some programs at full speed is 1 gig for Win7x64, 2 gigs for Vista x64. Although it requires more ram than XP x86, Win7x64 has a similar minimum-memory footprint to XP–Vista x64’s minimum footprint is ~double that.

            Note that I am not speaking of just enough ram to boot the OS…;) Nope, the real minimum for any OS is just enough ram to boot the OS *&* run small applications at full/acceptable speeds.

            The only reason to buy a 32-bit OS today is because you own a 32-bit cpu that *won’t run* 64-bit OS code…;) Intel’s original Core processors were all 32-bit, IIRC. I would imagine that 32-bit OSes will continue to ship so long as people hanging on to 32-bit cpus demand them in significant numbers. Otherwise, x86 OSes provide no advantage in running software as Win7x64 will operate as comfortably in 2-4gigs of system ram as Win7 x86.

          • rechicero
          • 7 years ago

          I guess he meant that it doesn’t make much sense using x64 with, let’s say, 2 GB of RAM. With x32 you have more driver compatibility and most of the software is 32 bit anyway.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            that’s basically what i’m saying. i’m fully aware, Sargent duck, as to what the restrictions ARE for x64, but on an older system, as rechicero accurately states, there are advantages to x86. Deanjo may be right about low memory mode, but windows 8’s OWN REQUIREMENTS want more ram for x64 vs x86,

            [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_8#Hardware_requirements[/url<] i do realize that any new computer SHOULD be x64, and myself have been running x64 since xp 64 (with all of it's horrible driver support). that doesn't mean that there is currently no place for 32 bit software in the world, however.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        The last non x64 released chip was the Pentium 4.

        How many people with Pentium 4s do you think will buy Win8?

          • bthylafh
          • 7 years ago

          Early Atoms and all Core Duos were 32-bit.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            I forgot that about Core duos, I think it’s even less likely that someone with an Atom CPU will get Win8 than a P4, but point taken.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            i’m sure lots of people with crappy netbooks might install win 8, and don’t forget about the third world. there are TONS of cheap atom systems in asia and africa that are 32 bit only that will ship with windows 8, or be upgraded with a (bootlegged) copy.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            “i’m sure lots of people with crappy netbooks might install win 8”

            I doubt it, in fact I bet 90% are running XP.

            “or be upgraded with a (bootlegged) copy”

            And MS should make a product for them, why?

            • bthylafh
            • 7 years ago

            Self-interest. It keeps the third-world pirates from switching en masse to another operating system like Linux, which might make for a critical mass of users.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            “And as long as they’re going to steal it, we want them to steal ours.” – bill gates

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            you’d probably be wrong about 90% of them being xp. they have been selling them for a long time with 7.

      • Omniman
      • 7 years ago

      In the medical realm many applications will still only run on a 32-bit machine. It’s also sad to see many applications will only run on IE6 or IE7 as well!

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        Oh, hell, I still see lots of retail apps, gas station apps and doctor’s and dentist’s office apps that are still running in a DOS window, fer chrissaskes.

          • bthylafh
          • 7 years ago

          Running in a text window doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a 16-bit DOS program. Windows does have 32 (and 64) bit console programs.

          The likelihood of it being 16-bit vs 32-bit is debatable, though. Lots of places have a “it works, why replace it?” mentality.

          • moose17145
          • 7 years ago

          In defense of those DOS programs for cash registers and retail purposes… whats the point of upgrading? I have used a couple of them and they work perfectly fine. If it isn’t broke then dont fix it. And lots of small mom and pop shops cant really justify spending the money to upgrade to the new hotness just because ms decides to make a new os with a failure ui. At my current retail job we are still running windows xp and it works perfectly fine. Honestly i have seen many of those older DOS cash register programs work better than lots of newer programs because they were from a time when good coding that executed fast, used little memory, and had to still handle thousands if not more transactions a day/hour still mattered. Upgrading to the new hotness just for the sake of upgrading to the new hotness in a business setting serves no purpose and can in fact be dangerous and damaging to a company if the new hotness doesnt do everything as well as your older current software does. And there have been numerous times throughout history where a salesman told a company that this new software could handle everything their old stuff could and then some and it turned out the new stuff couldnt even meet the minimum damands of the given companies simple day to day operations.

        • bthylafh
        • 7 years ago

        *twitch*

        I’ve got one of those programs myself – medical, requires IE6 and ActiveX, incompatible with Active Directory[1], not especially stable. There’s a Vista- and IE7-certified version, but it would require the client to run Vista on the client box as well and that’s not happening on my watch (unless, sigh, they don’t get a Win7-certified image by April ’14). As it is, the client machine’s running a WinXP VM whose only duty is accessing this misbegotten thing.

        [1] I wasn’t consulted before they bought it.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]wait...does this imply there will be a 32 bit version of Windows 8? [/quote<] Are we speaking desktop only here? Considering every ARM device that has ever shipped is (at most) 32 bits then I would hope Windows 8 works in 32 bit mode or else WRT will *really* flop when the OS never even boots...

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      The OS should be both x64 and 32. Now should it automatically default to installing 64bit if your computer is 64bit compliant? That is a good question…

      Forcing change on your consumers generally isn’t a good idea unless there is always a option.

        • WaltC
        • 7 years ago

        Win7x64 is, in fact, a 32-bit OS within the larger 64-bit OS. You can run 32-bit programs all day long in Win7x64. Conversely, you cannot run 64-bit programs inside Win7 x86 (the 32-bit version of Win7), for obvious reasons.

        When you buy Win7 x64 Home Premium, for instance, you get two install disks at the current time. You get an install disk for Win7x64 and a second install disk for Win7 x86, for the 32-bit version of Win7. *Unless you have a 32-bit cpu (Intel Core, etc.)* there is no reason at all–none–to install 32-bit Win7. With a 64-bit cpu *always* install the 64-bit OS.

        There’s no forcing here–there is simply no reason to run a 64-bit cpu with a 32-bit OS. It would be like, for instance, buying two hard drives but electing to use only one of them; buying 8 gigs of ram organized as 2×4-gig dimms, and electing to use only one dimm for a total of 4 gigs of system ram, etc.

        Win7, as I explained, does not default to installing a 64-bit OS on your 64-bit cpu. Win7x64 retail install package lets you choose whether to go 32-bits or 64-bits by supplying you with a retail DVD copy of each OS. Choice is yours. Just remember that choosing to install a 32-bit OS onto a 64-bit cpu is simply making a *poor* choice, imo. 64-bit Win7x64 is absolutely nothing to fear–embrace it…;)

          • The Wanderer
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]Win7x64 is, in fact, a 32-bit OS within the larger 64-bit OS. You can run 32-bit programs all day long in Win7x64.[/quote<] While the latter statement is true, the former is not; Win7 x64 isn't "a 32-bit OS within the larger 64-bit OS", any more than e.g. Win95 was "a 16-bit OS within the larger 32-bit OS" just because it could still run 16-bit programs. Yes, there are explicit provisions in the OS for allowing 32-bit and 64-bit software to coexist side-by-side - SysWOW64, for instance, or Wow6432Node. That's userland, though; I'd be extremely surprised if the OS itself weren't still 64-bit through-and-through. [quote<]There's no forcing here--there is simply no reason to run a 64-bit cpu with a 32-bit OS. [/quote<] Yes, there is. A 64-bit OS - or, at least, 64-bit Windows - cannot run 16-bit programs. A 32-bit one can. There are still quite a few of those programs around, some of them in use, some of them even mission-critical.

    • kvndoom
    • 7 years ago

    So you can upgrade from XP to 8, but not from XP to 7? Derp?

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 7 years ago

      Hey, what do you know. Maybe they actually did listen to the wants of their customers…on this ‘feature’.

      • Shouefref
      • 7 years ago

      You can upgrade from Windows XP with Service Pack 3 or higher to Windows 8 BUT only personal files/data only will be maintained.

      I wonder: personal files does not included eg installed programs which are not of MS origine?
      If you have, eg Adobe Indesign installed, you should reinstall it after upgrading from W XP to W 8?

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