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Windows 8 Guide - (Last Updated 02/08/2013)

On October 26th, 2012, Microsoft released the latest version of the Windows operating system, Windows 8, to the world. Below are some links and other useful info about the new OS, along with some of the common questions asked in this section. If you don't find what you need here, please start a thread.

Windows 8 minimum System Requirements:

Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 (more info)

RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)

Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)

Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
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  1. 1. In the event that Windows 8 does happen to be missing a driver for a particular device in your computer, your first attempt to locate a compatible driver should be the device manufacturer's website. If none are available, try to use any Windows 7 drivers for your device. In the majority of instances, Windows 7 drivers will function under Windows 8. As a last resort, seek drivers from third party websites. There are a number that host large volumes of them, but it must be stressed that this is most definitely a LAST resort.
  2. 2. Q) What are the differences between Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows 8 Pro?

    A) In a brief, table formatted article, Wikipedia shows the differences in product features between these 3 Windows SKU's (as well as Windows 8 Enterprise, but if you need to ask about that, you should not need to read this FAQ). Note that Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 that runs only on ARM processor based computers. Intel based x86 CPU's cannot run this version, and you cannot buy it on store shelves. It will ship with the devices it runs on.
  3. 3. Q) I have a properly licensed copy of Windows 8 Pro and I use Windows Media Center, but it's not in the OS. What gives?

    A) Windows 8 Pro does not ship with Windows Media Center, but you can obtain the add-on pack which adds WMC to Windows 8 for free for a limited time (per the link below, the promo only runs until January 31st, 2013). Click the link below to go to the Microsoft website. There you can enter your email address and a short Captcha (if you are signing in to your Windows 8 PC using a Microsoft account, it would probably be best to use that email address when you request the key for the Add-on Pack), and Microsoft will send you the key via the email address provided.
  4. 4a. Q) How can I upgrade from my existing Windows install? What are the possible upgrade scenarios?

    A) Upgrade Paths for Windows 8 are outlined here: Windows 8 Upgrade Paths

    Here we will briefly describe the types of installs available in a bit more detail than what is posted at Microsoft's TechNet site above. There are 3 types, and depending on what version of Windows you are starting from, you will have different options available to you.

    In-Place Upgrade: This type of install is what most people think of when they think of the term Upgrade Install. This type of install preserves most Windows and application settings from your existing install, and your applications will be there when your computer boots Windows 8 for the first time.

    Migration Install: This type of upgrade will backup your data files (only those under the C:\Users folder though), but will not retain your existing Windows settings, or any application installs.

    Clean Install: This type of install can be run from the Windows Upgrade Assistant, or from a physical copy of Windows 8. This type of install will wipe your system out and not retain any of your data. Be sure that you have everything you need backed up before starting this type of install.

    If you run the Windows Upgrade Assistant to obtain your copy of Windows 8, you will see different labels for the different options before the upgrade gets underway. Here are the equivalent terms within the Upgrade Assistant window at the Choose what to keep section:

    In-Place Upgrade = "Keep Windows settings, personal files, and applications"

    Migration Install = "Keep personal files only" or "Keep Windows settings and personal files"

    Clean Install = "Nothing"

    Upgrade Scenarios:

    From versions prior to Windows XP: Not supported. Your only option here is to perform a clean install of Windows 8. Be sure to back up any important data before you begin the setup process.

    From Windows XP: Upgrades to Windows 8 are possible, but are limited to Migration installs only. Only personal files can be moved. Refer to the Windows 8 Upgrade paths link above.

    From Windows Vista: Upgrades to Windows 8 are possible, but are limited to Migration installs only. Personal files and some Windows settings can be moved. Refer to the Windows 8 Upgrade paths link above.

    From Windows 7: In-Place upgrades to Windows 8 are possible. Refer to the Windows 8 Upgrade paths link above.

    4b. Q) What about 32 bit to 64 bit upgrades?

    A) This is not possible. Upgrading from an existing 32 bit copy of Windows to a 64 bit copy of Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro requires you to backup your data, wipe the drive clean, and do a completely fresh install of Windows 8 (in fact, this was the case with 64 bit versions of Windows XP, Vista, and 7 as well). In addition, when you run the Windows Upgrade Assistant, the version of Windows you will be upgrading to is the same architecture as the one you are currently running. In the simplest terms, this means if you have a 32 bit version of Windows XP, Vista, or 7 and you run the Upgrade Assistant (even if you choose the Clean Install option), you will end up with a 32 bit version of Windows 8. This works exactly the same for existing 64 bit installs of XP, Vista and 7. If you have a 32 bit copy of a previous Windows version now, and want to move to a 64 bit copy of Windows 8, you need some physical medai with the Windows 8 install disk on it. This can either be a DVD, or a USB flash drive.

    Anyone claiming to be able to do a cross-architecture "upgrade" without wiping the disk out either has no idea what they are talking about, or is outright lying.

    4c. Q) Can I do a clean install of Windows 8 from an Upgrade disk if I do not have an existing copy of Windows on my computer. For example, if I am using some flavor of Linux, or my hard drive is blank?

    A) Unfortunately, no. While you can technically perform said clean install using an upgrade disk, that copy of Windows 8 will never activate, and you will have to completely wipe the machine out and start over. At Microsoft's website, they spell it out pretty clearly:

    If you see error 0xC004F061 when you try to activate Windows 8, it means that you're using a product key for an upgrade version of Windows 8 and a previous version of Windows wasn't on your PC when Windows 8 was installed. To install an upgrade version of Windows 8, you must already have Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP installed on your PC.

    If you formatted the drive before the upgrade version of Windows 8 was installed, you won't be able to use your upgrade product key to activate Windows 8. To activate Windows 8, you'll need to install your previous version of Windows, and then reinstall Windows 8.

  5. 5. I need to revert back to an earlier version of Windows because (insert name of program here) doesn't work in the new OS, and the program is mission critical. Is there an easy way to revert?

    A: Unfortunately, no. If you must revert to a previous version of Windows, you will have to back up any data you wish to save, format the drive, and install your previous Windows version of choice from scratch.
  6. 6. What if I purchased a copy of Windows 8 but the media was defective and cannot be returned?

    A: You can download a fresh copy by following the link below, as long as you still have the product key from the copy of Windows 8 you purchased.
  7. 7. In the event that you experience a bluescreen of death on your Windows 8 machine, please see below when starting a thread to ask for assistance:

    Please, please, PLEASE always locate the dump (.dmp) files in the minidump folder, add them to a zip file and upload them to a hosting service (there are lots out there), BEFORE you post your thread. The .dmp files are stored under C:\Windows\minidump, and are VITAL to understanding exactly what is causing the bluescreen you are experiencing.

    Provide as much detail as you can (without writing a novel) about what you were doing at the time on the computer, and in the case of recurring bluescreens, if you notice any pattern to their occurrence.
  8. 8. Licensing has changed
    The licensing model has changed in Windows 8. The "Full Retail" version is no more, and if you buy a non-upgrade copy to install on bare metal you will be buying the OEM / System Builder version and installing it as a "Personal Use" license.

    The biggest difference is that the Windows 8 version does not include Microsoft support.

    Despite being called an OEM license, the license is different from previous OEM licenses in that the "Personal Use" version can be transferred to a new machine (after decommissioning the old machine) and can be transferred to another user (only once?). So you should not have trouble moving your personal use license from the machine you build this year to the one you build next year.

    These two pages contain more info, plus doublespeak:
    and the license itself:

    The Windows 8 license that you can buy in a store or online does not come with downgrade rights; you can't use it to install Windows 7. If you bought a machine with Windows 8 Pro (only the pro version) pre-installed, there is a downgrade path to seven. See this:
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