Windows 8: No, I AM YOUR OS UPGRADE!

Summary:Say what you wish about this release being only for tech geeks: The Microsoft Empire will prevail with Windows 8.

So how should one install Windows 8? As an in-place upgrade or on a freshly formatted drive?

I personally did fresh installs on all the systems I have tested so far, and I re-installed my apps. But that's how I always do things and by no means should be considered an optimal practice for everyone.

That being said, I think the safe thing to do if you want to attempt to preserve your legacy applications installed on your system is to invest in image-based backup software, and get a new hard drive to clone your existing Windows 7 or Vista/XP system to before attempting an in-place.

Before investing any time and energy on attempting an upgrade, when Windows 8 is released in October, run the Upgrade Advisor tool which will be provided by Microsoft on its web site.

If your hardware and your application software is deemed compatible, you can do one of two things -- you can install Windows 8 on your system as-is (taking my previous statements about Fresh vs. Upgrade installs into account) or you might want to consider upgrading your RAM to 4GB or higher if you only have 2GB.

A memory upgrade is a relatively inexpensive thing you can do to improve performance on ANY PC, regardless of the OS you install on it.

If you don't know what kind of memory to use in your PC, you can go to any number of sites such as or which will allow you to choose your make and model of PC, and they will give a list of what sort of DDR memory you need to buy, and ship it to you direct.

Swapping out your old memory for new chips is a very simple process, it's not rocket surgery.

You might also want to consider purchasing an SSD drive as your primary boot device, but that's totally optional.

But what about the Enterprise? And no, foolish ones, I am not talking about that insipid Star Trek show.


For the most part I think Windows 8 is a consumer oriented release. An enterprise with substantial Windows 7 infrastructure is probably not going to see a ton of value with Windows 8 because they already have things like corporate antivirus-antimalware software installed on their systems and they have long, agonizingly drawn out SDLCs to deal with.

Still, there may be small and medium-sized businesses that see significant value with the built-in stuff that is being offered with the product that they would have otherwise had to spend money on.

However, if you want to take look at what Windows 8's enterprise sibling -- Windows Server 2012, we're talking a whole different ballgame here. 

Any CIO that passes over this server release is doing his enterprise a huge disservice because the value add is substantial, particularly in the areas of virtualization, networking, storage and multi-tenancy systems management.

But what of the new "Metro" user interface? Doesn't that present problems? Only for the weak-minded, I say.

There is no question that a certain amount of end-user adaptation is required. The tough cases which have always had trouble adapting to Windows releases may see it as extremely disruptive.

Still, most PC-savvy end-users should adapt easily. And if you must have it, there are 3rd-party utilities to bring back the original Start Menu for those who find difficulty making the switch.

So far, I've installed Windows 8 on four systems in my household, one of them being my wife's circa-2008 Dell Studio Intel Core Duo laptop. After I gave her a brief introduction on how to switch back and forth between the traditional desktop and showing her how to use full-screen WinRT apps, she's doing just fine. 

I do think Microsoft's post-installation "Let's get started" introductory video is a bit minimalist and better training tools may be required. I see a lot of relatives and friends calling their PC-savvy geek-in-laws the first week they use their newly upgraded or newly purchased Windows 8 systems. That much is for certain.

Indeed, the new Metro UI and Start Menu in Windows 8 very different from what everyone is used to, and will require adaptation as well as developers to create new WinRT-based programs to take advantage of it.

But it is worth adapting to the change because Windows 8 will improve the performance of your old PC, it will still run your existing applications, and also provides you with many new features that will invigorate your system with the power of The Dark Side.

Will you embrace the power of Windows 8 on your Old PC? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, PCs


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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