How to Upgrade to Windows 8
Deon du Plessis - Connect Magazine
Windows 8 will be available for a limited time at a very, very good price. Here's how to go about taking Redmond up on its more than generous offer.
Windows 8 launches at the end of October, and it's a huge event in Microsoft's long history. It is the single biggest update to their overall operating system design since Windows 95 gave us the concept of a "desktop" and a "Start menu" way back in 1995. Because of the changes it will introduce, Windows 8 is considered by some technology pundits to be a rather risky move.
Its biggest competition is Windows 7, an operating system that has earned itself a reputation for speed, reliability and user-friendliness, and there's a good chance a lot of Windows 7 users won't want to make the switch right away because they're happy where they are. Anticipating this, Microsoft has cleverly chosen to give consumers 2 compelling reasons not to wait.
The 1st is to upgrade any PC or notebook that you already own for the cheap price of R350. What's so great about this option is that it covers PCs and notebooks running Windows 7, Vista and XP, which means there is finally no justifiable reason to stick with an old operating system. Also, R350 is an extremely affordable amount of cash, and a far lower price than the R1 500+ that was asked for Windows 7. This is a time-sensitive offer, though, and must be redeemed through Windows.com before 31 January, 2013.
The 2nd option is to buy a Windows 7 PC between now and January 31, 2013, as these PCs qualify for the cheapest of all upgrades: R125. That cash lets you upgrade to Windows 8 by registering on the Windowsupgradeoffer.com Website, which kicks off the automatic upgrade process that downloads and installs the new files.
These are the upgrade options in a nutshell. In this feature, we'll explore what each upgrade path involves, we'll discuss the version of Windows the upgrade entitles you to based on what you currently use, and throw in a few "nice to know" facts to keep in mind when you're contemplating your options.
How do the upgrades work?
All versions of Windows that qualify for the upgrade are upgraded to Windows 8 Professional. Qualifying operating systems include the following:
Windows 7 Home Basic/ Home Premium/Professional/Ultimate
Windows Vista Home Basic/ Home Premium/Professional/Ultimate
Windows XP Home/Professional
Once Windows 8 launches, you will be able to perform the upgrade by visiting Windows.com, filling out a few forms and confirming the serial numbers of your existing operating system. Once that is done, the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant will download, launch and assist you with the download and installation process. According to Microsoft, the download size is "around 2GB". The process requires that you create a "Microsoft Account" if you don't already have one to proceed.
Here is a breakdown of what you can keep from your old installation:
Windows 7: Applications, settings and personal files
Windows Vista: Settings and personal files
Windows XP: Just personal files
The nice thing about the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant is that it will tell you what needs to be done to make sure your system is ready for the upgrade, and even suggest ways of making that happen. We recommend that you perform a full backup of all your important files before proceeding anyway, just in case.
How many Windows versions this time around?
Only 4. Yes, believe it or not, Microsoft has listened to criticism and Windows 8 is only going to come in 4 flavours. If you're buying a new computer or shopping for a boxed copy of Windows 8, the choice will be between just 2 versions: Windows 8, which is for home users, and Windows 8 Professional for, you guessed it, business users. Windows 8 Professional includes features for encrypting a file system, domain management and virtualisation that regular Windows 8 doesn't have, features that businesses will find useful and home users won't miss. The other 2 versions – Enterprise and RT – are for big companies and portable devices that use special hardware.
Step 1: Purchase a Windows 7 PC, or boot up your Windows XP/Vista/7 PC.
Step 1a (optional but recommended): Ensure all important information is backed up.
Step 2: Create a Microsoft account. If you already have one, go straight to step 3.
Step 3: Go to Windows.com and log in. Click the upgrade offer.
Step 4: Fill in the upgrade form and complete your purchase (credit card required). Start the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant download.
Step 5: Let the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant take you through the download and installation of Windows 8.
A few last details
Once the download completes, you will be given the option to do the upgrade right away or at a later stage. Doing it later requires that you make your own installation media, which means creating a bootable DVD or USB drive, and is a somewhat more complicated process. We highly recommend doing the installation right away as it's by far the easiest option. Just be sure to have backed up your data before starting the Upgrade Assistant.
If you want to get a physical disk containing the upgrade data, you have the option of buying one directly from Microsoft for an extra $15 (about R125), plus shipping costs, but this is only if you purchase the upgrade online.
If you would rather do the whole thing offline, you can purchase the complete upgrade package from a retailer. It includes the operating system on a bootable DVD, and has a recommended retail price of $69.99 (that's around R580), but of course the actual price you pay might vary according to exchange rate fluctuations and the final pricing decided upon by individual retailers.
Timing is crucial
It's extremely important to note that this upgrade promotion only runs for a limited time. You need to purchase your Windows 7 PC between now and January 31, 2013, apply for the downloadable upgrade or buy the upgrade DVD before January 31, 2013 in order to qualify for this extremely affordable offer. Once purchased, you have until February 28, 2013 to redeem the upgrade. Once that date passes, you're looking at paying full price for Windows 8.