Upgrading Windows XP to Windows 8?

Instead of buying a new computer, you have decided that you want to upgrade your computer running XP to Windows 8. I hope that you checked and made sure your computer meets all of the minimum requirements to run Windows 8 before you bought a copy of Windows 8. (You can check the requirements by visiting http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/system-requirements)  While Windows 8 runs on many older machines, I did recently find a computer where I work that would not run Windows 8.

Once you are positive your computer will run Windows 8, all you have to do is go out and buy a copy of Windows 8, put the disc in, and the computer will update from Windows XP to Windows 8, right?

Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. Microsoft has an internal policy that their programs will not upgrade a computer more than two versions. You might say well there were Windows XP, then Windows 7, and finally Windows 8, so that is only two versions. However, like me, many of us forget (or want to forget) there was Windows Vista that also followed Windows XP, making it three versions instead of two. Therefore, Microsoft will not allow us to simple put a disc in and upgrade.

What is necessary is a clean install. This means during the Windows 8 installation process, it erases everything on the hard drive.  For this reason, it is important to backup any important document, photo, video, game, and music files before you install Windows 8. You will also need to backup any contacts lists and calendar dates if you use a program like Microsoft Outlook to manage your email. You will also need to be prepared to reinstall all the programs you use on your computer if they are compatible with Windows 8. If they are not compatible, you will need to purchase Windows 8 compatible versions.

The best way to back up your files is to go out, purchase some flash drives or an external hard drive and then cut, and copy your documents from the hard drive to the flash or external drive. This way you know exactly what files you have backed up and which you have not.

There are backup programs out there that can assist you in this task.  I have not researched them enough to recommend a program however. In some cases, your flash drive or external hard drive may have a free backup program with them. I did try Microsoft’s Easy Transfer program and it works beautifully if you want to back up your Windows XP computer and upgrade to Windows 7. However, the two version policy prevents the Windows 8 Easy Transfer file from reading a Windows XP Easy Transfer file. Fortunately, I was able to use a Windows 7 computer with Windows 7 Easy Transfer, to unpack and then repack the file. From there I used the Windows 7 repacked file on the Windows 8 computer.

To contacts lists, calendars, and game files, you will need to check with the software’s manufacturer. In many cases, you will need to use a file export option. Using that option allows you to save the crucial files to your backup drive. Once your new computer is running and you have reinstalled the software, you will be able to import the files and everything should run as before.

Once you are sure you have everything backed up, you are ready to install Windows 8. The installation process is simple when compared to early Windows installations.  Rather than reiterate all the steps, I suggest you visit http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/clean-install which is Microsoft’s website outlining how to do a clean install of Windows 8.

After you complete the installation of Windows 8, install your programs and then cut and paste your files back to your old computer. If you used a backup program, install that program and then restore your files. And there you have it; your Window XP computer is now running Windows 8.