Upgrading to a new operating system can be a major undertaking, particularly for businesses which have an extensive network of computers. Windows 8 has proven to be one of Microsoft’s more controversial releases mostly due to its apparent bias towards tablet computers and other devices with touchscreens. However, there are still many reasons why users of traditional desktop and laptop computers may want to consider upgrading as well. Windows 8 presents a wide range of new and improved features – it is not all about the completely new Start Screen interface. With faster boot times, a vastly improved task manager, an improved Windows Explorer and much lower upgrade prices than previous operating systems, Windows 8 does present a range of benefits for everyone. Regardless of your reasons for upgrading, there are various preparations that you should make beforehand. Consider the following factors before you purchase and install the new operating system.
1 – Do You Really Need Windows 8?
Most people certainly do not need to upgrade to Windows 8 and businesses in particular will generally be best holding off upgrading for the time being. As the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Mainstream support for Windows 7 will continue until 2015 with extended support being available until 2020. If you are planning to use touchscreen computers such as tablets or all-in-one desktop systems, then there is a lot more reason to upgrade to Windows 8. If you are planning to use the operating system on a traditional computer, there are still some good reasons to upgrade providing that you do not find the time and cost involved in upgrading prohibitive. With upgrade prices of the Pro edition of Windows 8 being as low as $40 for early adopters, however, the incentives are certainly high for many. With its wealth of new features particularly geared towards mobility, cloud computing, apps for everyday computing tasks and various other improvements, home users in particular will undoubtedly benefit from upgrading.
2 – Compatibility Issues
Beneath its completely new user interface, Windows 8 is very similar to Windows 7. The core of the operating system has barely changed and thanks to this fact, compatibility issues should rarely arise, if at all. All of your old programs, games and even some device drivers that worked with Windows Vista or Windows 7 should work with the new operating system. In addition, you will be able to use the new full-screen Windows 8-style (formerly Metro-style) apps that are exclusive to the new operating system. Before you upgrade, however, you will be asked to run the Windows 8 Upgrade Advisor (if you are purchasing and downloading Windows 8 from the Microsoft Store). In the unlikely event that there may be a compatibility issue with any of your currently installed hardware or software, the Upgrade Advisor should inform you of this.
3 – Obtaining Windows 8
Unlike previous Microsoft operating systems, Windows 8 is available by various methods. By far the cheapest and, for many, the most convenient way of getting Windows 8 is simply to purchase it through Microsoft’s online store and download it. You can then create a DVD or bootable USB drive to install the operating system. The full download is approximately two gigabytes for the 64-bit version, making it a perfectly manageable download for most broadband Internet connections. For the first few months of its release, the upgrade edition of Windows 8 Pro will be available for around $40, although this price is set to double in early 2013. All that you need in order to upgrade is an original Windows XP, Vista or 7 operating system. In spite of this, however, once you have created a bootable DVD or USB drive, you can also carry out a clean install of Windows 8 on a formatted hard drive.
4 – Clean Installation vs. Upgrade Installation
Though purchasing the upgrade version of Windows 8 online may seem to imply that you can only upgrade an existing installation of Windows 8, this is not actually the case. Once you have purchased, downloaded and burned Windows 8 to disk, you can format the hard disk and perform a clean install from within the setup utility. This is highly recommended even though it does take a great deal more time. A clean installation gets rid of all of your old applications, drivers and personal files, leaving you to start from scratch. Ultimately, this leads to a much more efficient and reliable installation. Just be sure to back up anything you don’t want to lose beforehand!