How to upgrade your computers to Windows 8

Friday 9 August 2013

With Microsoft set to end support for Windows XP and Office 2003 next April, businesses using these legacy solutions should be planning their migration. Remaining on the old operating system (OS), and continuing to use this version of Office, will potentially leave businesses vulnerable to reduced performance, service downtime and heightened security risks. And given the technological advances seen in the last ten years, businesses are missing out on all manner of potential productivity gains by failing to upgrade.

Businesses now have the option of upgrading their operating system to Windows 8, which has been designed to meet the needs of agile modern businesses. The OS is ideal for mobile workers, given its intuitive, touch-based interface, which enables tablet and smartphone users to replicate the PC or laptop environment. And with access to Office 2013 and Office 365, they are now able to utilise a host of Microsoft software packages across multiple devices, and take advantage of the latest online collaboration and communication features.

Upgrading to Windows 8 from XP

If you are looking to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8, the reality is that new hardware may also be required. It may be possible to add the new OS to your system using Service Pack 3, but even then, only personal files will be retained. Realistically, if you've been using the same PCs for the last ten years or so, performance is likely to have tailed off by now. As such, your organisation may be missing out on the full potential value of its IT. Old PCs and laptops are just not equipped to capitalise on new solutions and techniques - in particular the hosted services available in the cloud.

If you're still using XP, this might be a good time to think about fully modernising your technology side. Consider the benefits of equipping employees with mobile technology and using IT applications in the cloud - these may include reduced costs, greater levels of vendor support, more regular upgrades, a longer life-cycle, increased flexibility and agility, and improved security.

Upgrading from a more recent OS

If your computers are using Vista or Windows 7, it may be worth simply installing Windows 8 on to your existing systems, in order to minimise capital expenditure. If you are considering this course of action, run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. This performs a number of functions, including a scan of all hardware, apps and connected devices to ensure they will work with Windows 8. It also checks the PC hardware to ensure it meets the Windows 8 system requirements to install on your PC. Processor features such as CPU speed, PAE, NX, RAM size and hard drive capacity may be relevant here.

The assistant provides a compatibility report and details the steps required for you to buy, download, and install Windows 8. You have the option of upgrading to Windows 8 immediately - which can be done online, without the need for a physical disc - or saving the report for later. It will be available on the computer desktop in future, enabling you to begin the upgrade process at a later date if this is more suitable.

How to install Windows 8

Once you have paid for the Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro upgrade and downloaded it on to your computer, there are a number of installation options. You can choose to 'Install now' - which begins the process immediately - or 'Install later' - in which case a shortcut will be added to the desktop for future use.

Alternatively, you can 'Install by creating media' - an advanced option which requires a USB flash drive or a blank DVD. This option is not available to users who are upgrading from Windows XP. It may appeal to users who need to install Windows 8 in a virtual environment, as a dual-boot configuration or on a separate PC.

Whichever option you choose, Windows Setup will prepare your system and create a checklist of tasks which need completing before the installation can be completed. Once this has been done, you will be given the option to 'Install'. After beginning this process, the computer will restart a number of times as it transfers files, apps, and settings to Windows 8.

Find out more about Microsoft's latest operating system Windows 8 by clicking here.

Posted by Alex Boardman