Windows

The Windows 8 upgrade experience

Tony McSherry details his experience of upgrading one of his Windows 7 PCs to Windows 8.

I ordered two Surface tablets last week and am anxiously awaiting their arrival. I purchased a 32G with Touch Cover, and another with the Type cover. In the meantime, I decided to update one of my home PCs to Windows 8.

The days of optical media are fading, and a 2G download now seems acceptable, so I popped "buy Windows 8" into Bing and went to the Microsoft Australia site.

However, Microsoft is not in a hurry to grab your money as, sensibly, it first runs a compatibility check with your installed OS and software. After a few minutes, it presented me with a list of programs that would fare well in Win 8 and a few that might require updates. Nothing really serious, as all my major tools, even my video-editing suite, were fine. I was then asked what type of upgrade I wanted and elected to preserve all my documents, settings and applications, and then finally I gave them $39.99 — a great price for a full OS upgrade.

The download took around 2 hours, a lot longer than I expected, but I was on my Wi-Fi and I suspect that the download servers may have quite a large load on them. Once it was downloaded, the installation took around an hour on my computer, but I'm sure that this will vary from computer to computer. I used my Windows account for sign-in, and when Windows finally came to the new Start screen, it was reassuring to see the same tiles that I'm used to on my phone, populated with the same data and pictures.

The only minor problem in the installation was Windows believing that I had a European keyboard, and I had to find the @ symbol on the double quote key when putting in my email address.

I've had the Windows 8 preview for some time, but I still had the momentary confusion when I went to the desktop and didn't have a Start button. However, moving the mouse to the upper right corner brought up the Charms menu and I was back at the now familiar Start screen.

Desktop habits die hard, and I was still trying to figure out how to close the new RT apps since they lack a close button. There are of course multiple methods, but the real answer is that you don't have to. indows 8 will suspend apps and remove them later, if needed. However, if you really need to, you can swipe from the top edge to the bottom with mouse or finger, or use the upper left corner to display all apps and right click to get the Close menu. You can also use Task Manager as well.

I had a quick tour of the installed apps, and everything looked clean and wonderful. The typography and the use of large photos presents a new standard in desktop OS design, and one can only hope that Apple and Google take note.

It was now quite late, so I decided to shut the computer down, only to realise that I had no Shut Down button available. I knew it would be somewhere in the Charms menu, but since I was tired, I just used the other method of pressing the power button on the PC and everything closed down normally. Next morning, I did a quick look up on the internet and I was right; Charms Menu –> Settings –> Power –> Shut down.

I haven't run any definitive benchmarks, but my computer does shut down, boot up, and return from sleep faster, and I'll examine my main applications and games next week.

All in all, this was one of the smoothest OS upgrades I've ever done and, in my opinion, well worth the price.

You will have the occasional confusion, as you need to unlearn some old desktop habits. Your apps will still work and your desktop is still there, but everything is a little faster and slicker.

About

Tony is the owner and managing director of Microcraft eLearning and is one of the creators of the AUTHOR eLearning Development System.

31 comments
annygetyogun
annygetyogun

I like the Windows Vista. Just brought the Windows 8 and cannot find any games of quality. Everything I try to download takes forever and most states that they are not compatible. When you open up the compatibility window, it doesn't even have a windows 8 check box. Can't believe Microsoft put this os out.

roy.evison
roy.evison

The supposed PC desktop on Win8 (as opposed to the Tablet type that is the default) provides a "search" box for programs but this pre-supposes you know the name of the program. This is not as user -friendly as a drop down list(s) and it reminds me of the HUD thing in Ubuntu 12.04. Why put a Tablet layout on a PC? As an aside, $40 is too much for an O/S. You buy the O/S then you buy their software that will only work on their platform, seems like a convenient arrangement to me. Roy.

cjblade
cjblade

I've heard the gripes regarding W8, but have never had time to investigate in depth. I have the joy of supporting all levels of user, on various platforms, so always knew I would have to get to grips with W8 So yesterday gave myself a day to install on a laptop (not high spec) Probably the easiest windows i've installed, yes there are several things that could have been done better, but everythings up and running smoothly, all hardware, programs and apps o.k. Various tweeks done handed over to client, client happy. I have to admit to quite liking the W8 interface and am somewhat at a loss to understand all the complaints.

dave
dave

and have they tried it on Win 8? I'm interested in Win 8 but with 2 virtualized Win 7 instances and 2 more XP I can't afford to migrate. The biggest reason I selected VPC, over others including Hyper-V, was due to virtual USB support.

sparent
sparent

I also struggled with the keyboard layout, as I used the Canadian-French one. I had to disable the sleep within power management as I could not get my monitors to come back on along with the computer. Other than that, it's bit fairly straightforward. I was a bit surprised that I can add or remove Devices but not update them. I've got my Google mail and calendar coming through just fine. I find the scrolling a tad slow but not enough to annoy me.

Gisabun
Gisabun

I was actually expecting a blog about some issues that could be made into a made for TV movie or something. Instead - nothing. I did a fresh install [as a second part of a dual boot with Win 7] on my nretbook and no real hickup except the video card. initially it couldn't find the drivers and stuck me with an 800*600 resolution. I killed the drivers in the device manager, did a refresh and the proper drivers were grabbed off the Internet. With a minor registry tweak [same used in windows 7] I had a more "normal" resolution.

wdtvandsound
wdtvandsound

The @ in the wrong place on the key board seems to be the norm. My Australian install did the same with the Explorer also running in UK Local mode (I went on line with Microsoft and got that fixed) and had currency in pounds not dollars!!!!! This affected MYOB that displayed Pounds not Dollars!! I went in to search, typed currency, selected settings, then currency in control panel. I selected Australian dollars and fixed!! I recieved this info from Microsoft later. "Press windows key + R and type Control Panel in the search box, and click on Region, and Location -- make sure Australia is selected Select Additional settings, Currency, change currency symbol using the Currency symbol drop down."

Tiger-Pa
Tiger-Pa

I have used Windows 8 since the Developer Preview. A little learning curve but nothing to write home about. Best feature - Speed! I have now completed upgrading three Windows 7 computers to Windows 8 Pro using the $39.99 upgrade currently in effect from Microsoft. The downloads were very quick using Comcast's fast internet. I Custom Installed Windows 8 into new partitions on all three PCs to prevent bringing any baggage along from the old partitions. Everything went exceptionally smooth. The only glitch I ran into was retrieving my three free Windows Media Center licenses. Getting one is quite simple by entering your email address, but the process can't send you more than one license string per email address. Simple workaround was to use a couple of my more obscure email address (gmail, Yahoo) to obtain the final two licenses. All three systems upgraded easily, using the built-in Add Features process. All three are now using WMC to connect to Comcast via a free Cable Card, installed in my Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCi Quad Tuner that is installed on a fourth PC running Windows 7. The Network Tuners feature (allowing you to share the 4 tuners to other PCs on your network) of the InfiniTV 4 is not yet supported in Windows 8. Four DVRs for the price of None! Bottom line my wife and I both like the new Start Page interface which can easily be reorganized to place your most used apps where you want them, including pinning them to the Task Bar of your Desktop. My wife now also wants a Windows Phone. Myself, I'm holding out for the next Surface, with an Intel processor, to be released in January that supports the full version of Windows 8. As for you Linux Ubuntu enthusiasts, I have an old laptop HD that I can boot into Ubuntu via USB so I can check out what it can't do!!

essex133
essex133

Tony mentioned that he had to find the @ symbol on the double quote key when putting in his email address because Windows believed he was using a European Keyboard? Was this because he purchased his upgrade from Microsoft Australia site? Or does this happen wherever you purchase the upgrade? If so, is there a way for the end user to change the keyboard setting to UK?

Vandy-SJ
Vandy-SJ

I've chronicled most of my experiences on MS Community Support, but it continues to be a work in progress to get everything working. Not fun. Four unsuccessful upgrade attempts on a laptop that's been running Win7Pro flawlessly for the last two years. No real help from MS to resolve the upgrade issues. Finally worked around the 'upgrade script' and got a successful upgrade, but the Win8 functions and experience have not worked nor been easy to troubleshoot. Now after four days there are still a few unresolved issues, but at least I can start and login OK. Performance - Win7 vs. Win8 - is improved, but not by a big margin. Upgrade was not ready for primetime.

gwardell
gwardell

Draging from top to bottom doesn't seem as easy as clicking or taping an X to close an app. And three clicks to shutdown instead of two doesn't seem particularly green to me. But I suppose these are minor complaints.

d_tisdal
d_tisdal

To close a app, I just move the mouse to the top of the app until a hand appears and drag it to the bottom of the screen and presto...it's closed! I love Windows 8 so far. I've not had any issues.

dembree
dembree

I upgraded my system, and everything went well. I did not have time show my wife the ins and outs Win 8, but she figured it out on her own. I do not understand all the fuss about the new interface. In the latest poll many companies say they will pass on Win 8 because it's such a big change. It would only take a few minutes of instruction to get people on their way with Win 8.

sarai1313
sarai1313

pay attention open control center. open personalization. open task bar. click on desktop. apply and now everything and I do mean every thing is in one place. sorry would have told every one but I forgot did so long ago. I mean everything. programs and all settings have fun. hope it helps those who need it

Skruis
Skruis

I downloaded it onto my main pc, ran the upgrade assistant and it flagged a couple of minor things, then downloaded the installation after paying for it. I really wanted to do a clean install so I saved the install media to a thumbdrive, backed up my computers (series 7 slate, multi-mon i7 workstation - ran the assistant on both to get the upgrade pricing/purchase), rebooted, wiped the disks through the standard install method and let the install run. It was a pretty quick install off the thumb drive. All went smooth and after being on the RP for so long, it was nice having access to all of the new apps and app updates. Metro is a take it or leave it UI but I like it - specifically because I have 2 devices that compliment each other.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

have that it let run? I must admit I do prefer the simple Start Button - shutdown in Win 7 to what you describe above. And the little 'x' window to close an app.

JJFitz
JJFitz

make a shortcut to the Microsoft > Windows > Start Menu > Programs folder and put it on your taskbar. That's an interesting idea about making Microsoft OS free although it's not entirely true that you buy their software just because you buy their OS. There are plenty of programs that could serve as alternatives to Microsoft products. I do like the idea of a free Windows 8 though. It would get more people using it and possibly boost sales of other Microsoft software.

JJFitz
JJFitz

and shut down is one click away from the tile screen and the desktop. Clicking Start > Shutdown in Win XP, Vista, & 7 never made much sense to me. Why click [i]start[/i] if I want to shutdown?

Slayer_
Slayer_

And your clicks are green!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Did you have to Google it, take an online tutorial, etc.? I ask because this isn't a behavior an experienced Windows user would likely discover without some type of assistance.

mckinnej
mckinnej

ends up being a big cost and a lot of lost productivity. Add that on to the fact that some applications will not be compatible and you have all the justification businesses need to pass it by. PS. I have a hard time believing this: "[...] she figured it out on her own." I have futzed around with the consumer preview since it came out. There is nothing intuitive about W8. I find it only slightly less intimidating than a C:\ prompt was back in the day. If you mean she figured out how to click on tiles to run programs, that I can believe, but beyond that, no. Not unless your definition of "on your own" differs significantly from mine. (Mine does not include the use of Google or other online resources.)

JJFitz
JJFitz

I played with the tiles a bit - not worrying about closing them. I left clicked and right clicked the screen to see what would happen. Then I opened the desktop tile. The first thing I noticed was that the start button was missing but I thought maybe it's hidden just like "Auto-Hide the Task Bar" in Windows 7 so I moved my mouse to the lower left corner where the Start button used to be - And there it was! Then I dragged the mouse up the left edge and saw that I could right click them to close them or left click to open them. Then I tried the lower right corner where the task tray is Win 7 and the charms showed up! It didn't take long before I tried right clicking the corners of the screens to find other goodies. I must admit that I was surprised when I typed something on the tile screen and search came up. Now I use it all the time. It was really pretty easy to figure out.

Slayer_
Slayer_

So I kept trying to put up multiple apps until I tried to put one on the bottom and it disappeared. Even then I didn't figure it out, I thought the program crashed, it wasn't until I asked on TR that I figured it out.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

For the record, no, I didn't! I gave it up after about 30 or 40 minutes. Fortunately, I purchased it after the craze, for $5 in a discount bin.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Let me guess... You didn't like Myst. :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

None of these occurred to me at random. When I accidentally moved the mouse to the bottom left corner, a Start button did appear. It was located a few dozen pixels up and right of the corner. Based on previous experience with Windows, I assumed it was button and I needed to click on it. When I moved my mouse out of the immediate corner to position it on that button, it disappeared! I repeated the cycle several times, convinced that either my mouse wasn't compatible or that i was doing something unimaginably wrong. Nothing in previous versions of Windows prepared me to click without having the cursor on the 'button' I wanted to activate; my learned behavior of positioning the cursor on the button before clicking was actually counterproductive. Equally, nothing led me to think anything would result from just dragging along an edge, or just randomly typing outside a box or prompt. It never did anything before; why would it occur to me to try it now? If I moved into a new house, I wouldn't think to go around randomly pushing on the walls or turning on the water faucets in random combinations. Nothing in previous homes would lead me to expect secret walls or free beer. Yes, training would have resolved all of my issues. That's been my major point all along. We IT types have time to wade through an F1 menu or to Google these things. It's the costs of training end users and the loss of productivity while they unlearn old habits that will stall corporate implementation. The list of previously fruitless behaviors is too large to randomly guess which ones to try first. This is (supposedly) an operating system, not a video game where I should expect to Google for cheat codes.