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Windows 8 Upgrade FAQ & Usage Tips

By Ng Chong Seng - 31 Oct 2012

Windows 8 Upgrade FAQ & Usage Tips


Windows 8 Upgrade FAQ & Usage Tips

Windows 8 is finally here, and judging from the discussions in our Windows 8 forum, many have already jumped onboard the new OS. Still, at this early stage, many consumers are still confused about how to go about getting Windows 8; and many who've upgraded are still coming to terms to the new Modern UI. In light of these, we've compiled a list of commonly asked questions about the upgrade and installation process, and offer a few usage tips for those getting to know Windows 8 for the first time. Of course, if you've more time to spare, remember to check out our Windows 8 Mega Guide, where we delve deeper into the built-in apps and various new features. We also have a new Windows 8 Zone for all things related to Windows 8.


1. How many editions of Windows 8 are there?

There are four editions: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT, and Windows 8 Enterprise. For consumers using x86-based (both 32-bit and 64-bit) PCs and tablets, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro are the most relevant editions. If you’re buying a new Windows 8 device that runs on an ARM chipset, you’ll find that it comes pre-installed with Windows RT instead. In a nutshell, Windows RT doesn’t allow you to run traditional desktop software. Yes, there are some apps that run on the Windows RT desktop, such as Internet Explorer 10 and Office, but these are Microsoft apps. No third-party apps are allowed to run on the Windows RT desktop.

To learn more about the differences between the various Windows 8 editions, check out the detailed table we've prepared in this article.


2. How do I get Windows 8?

Starting October 26th, over 50 Windows 8 devices from manufacturers like Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba are available at more than 120 IT retail stores around the island, including Challenger, Courts, Harvey Norman, and Newstead.

If you aren’t buying a new Windows 8 device, the other way to get the new OS is to upgrade your existing PC. Through the end of January, consumers currently running PCs with Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, are qualified to download Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of S$49.99 from windows.microsoft.com.

Also, eligible Windows 7 PCs purchased between June 2, 2012, and January 31, 2013 can download Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of S$17.99 with the Windows Upgrade Offer, available at www.windowsupgradeoffer.com.

New Windows 8 Pro licenses can also be bought at all leading IT retail stores for S$89.00.

News sources for the above details: (1), (2) and (3)


3. What is the process like for the S$49.99 upgrade?

If you’re upgrading to Windows 8, you need to download and run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. It will scan your PC to see if it is ready for Windows 8, and provides a compatibility report. Through the Upgrade Assistant, you can buy, download, and install Windows 8.

If you want to install Windows 8 at a later time, you can choose to create an installation media on a USB flash drive (at least 3GB needed) or DVD (it’ll create an ISO file which you then need to burn onto the DVD).

On top of the digital download, you can also choose to order the software on a DVD for an additional S$25.

After payment (which can be made via credit card or PayPal), you’ll receive a receipt from Microsoft Customer Support. In it, you’ll find your Windows 8 Pro product key.

For more details on how the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant works, check out this article.


4. What is the process like for the S$17.99 upgrade?

When you register for the Windows Upgrade Offer, you need to fill in some personal information and information about your Windows 7 PC purchase. Upon successful registration, you’ll receive an email that contains a promo code.

The rest of the upgrade process is the same as the S$49.99 upgrade: that is, use the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. The only difference is that towards the end at the order confirmation page, you’ll have the chance to enter the promo code. So don’t be alarmed when you still see the S$50 price at the beginning.

After entering the promo code and clicking ‘Apply’, a S$32.01 discount will be applied, and the final price will become S$17.99.

Remember, this promotional price is limited to one upgrade offer per qualified PC purchased, and a maximum of five upgrade offers per customer. Also, the last day to register and order your Windows 8 upgrade (including, using the promo code) is February 28, 2013.


5. Can I do the S$17.99 upgrade if I don’t have a qualified PC?

Microsoft’s official word is that this offer is only for customers who purchase a qualified Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013. However, since last Friday, our forum members have reported that since there’s no request for proof of purchase, anyone can get a promo code. Indeed, many have gotten their Windows 8 Pro upgrade at S$18 through this loophole.

However, from what we understand, Microsoft has plugged this loophole since early morning today. Regardless of what you've entered, you'd be asked to enter a Windows 7 product key, and the system would then proceed to check for eligibility. The S$50 upgrade mechanism via Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant isn't affected.


6. Can I install the upgrade software on another PC?

The upgrade software need not be installed on the same PC that you run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant from. It may be installed on any compatible Windows-based PC with a qualifying operating system.

Take note that it's still a single product key per PC.


7. Can I upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows 8?

Yes, you can. However, this can’t be done through the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. If the Upgrade Assistant found that you’re currently running a 32-bit version of Windows (even if you’ve a 64-bit-capable CPU), it will proceed to download a 32-bit version of Windows 8.

What you can do is to run the Upgrade Assistant on a PC running a 64-bit version of Windows, and make an installation media from there. Or, you can buy the packaged DVD version of Windows 8.

Remember, you also won’t be able to keep any files, settings, or apps when you upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows 8.

For more information about what you can keep when upgrading to Windows 8, and the possible Windows 8 upgrade paths if you’re on Windows 7, check out this article.


8. Can I do a ‘fresh’ install using the installation media I’ve created?

We’ve tried installing the upgrade software on a DVD on two PCs without any OS, and on both accounts, we were successful. But we’ve members in the forum reporting failures doing a fresh install, so the jury is still out at the moment on this. However, the consensus is that it’ll definitely work if you’ve a prior version of Windows on another hard drive or partition, and you’re installing Windows 8 on a either a separate drive or partition (this is termed a ‘clean’ install).

There were also reports that even after a successful fresh installation, Windows wouldn’t activate and/or throws out an error message. Some industrious users managed to get the activation mechanism to work after editing a registry key and resetting the licensing status and activation state from the command prompt.

For more information, check out these two (1, 2) threads in our Windows 8 forum.


9. How do I get Windows Media Center for Windows 8 Pro?

From October 26, 2012 to January 31, 2013, Microsoft is giving away the Windows 8 Media Center Pack for free for Windows 8 Pro users. Just go this webpage, and enter your email address to request for a product key. Take note though, it’s one product key per email address.

In 24 hours, you should receive an email that contains a Windows 8 Media Center Pack product key. The email will also list the steps to add the Windows 8 Media Center Pack to your PC running Windows 8 Pro.

Until January 31, 2013, if your PC is running Windows 8, you can get a Windows Pro Pack for S$89.99. This upgrades your Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro and gives you Windows Media Center.


10. Where can I get the OEM versions of Windows 8?

For those who aren’t eligible for any of the upgrade promos, or are building their systems from scratch and therefore need a non-upgrade copy of Windows 8, you can find the OEM versions of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro in several PC components retailers in Sim Lim Square. For example, Fuwell is selling the 64-bit OEM versions of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro for S$138 and S$198 respectively.

For more price updates, you can download retailer price lists from here.


11. OK, I’ve upgraded to Windows 8, and I’m now lost at the new Start screen!

Indeed, Windows 8 looks, behaves, and works very differently in many areas compared to Windows 7. For a start, instead of the Start button and Start menu, there’s this new tile-based Start screen.

To learn more about the new lock screen and the Modern-style Start screen, check out this article and video.


12. How do I search for files, share content, and access settings quickly in Windows 8?

In Windows 8, Microsoft introduces the concept of ‘Charms’, which are basically shortcuts to frequently used features. The Charms bar resides on the right side of the screen, and once summoned, you’ll see an array of Charms, namely: Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings. Now, this Charms bar isn’t a Start screen-only feature. It’s available system-wide, in your Modern-style apps, as well as in the traditional desktop environment. Simply put, there’s no escaping the Charms on Windows 8.

To learn more about Charms, check out this article.


13. How do I navigate about in Windows 8? What if I’m using a keyboard and mouse, instead of a touch-enabled device?

In our opinion, Windows 8 is best suited for touch, especially if you were to spend most of your time in the Start screen and Modern-style apps, where they’re built to be wide and scrolled horizontally. Yes, a keyboard or mouse will still work, but the shortcuts and maneuvers are often tricky to pull off, even for long-time Windows users. However, this applies only for the new Start screen. Once you enter the desktop view, usability is almost back to what you're familiar with.

To learn more about the various Windows 8 touch gestures, as well as their mouse and keyboard equivalents, check out this article.


14. I’m beat after a long day of installing and playing around with Windows 8. How do I shut it down?

To shut down your Windows 8 PC, go to the Settings Charm, and click on the Power button; here’s where you shut down or restart the device, or put it to sleep. For keyboard warriors, the shortcut for invoking the Settings Charm is Windows key + I.

If you’re on the desktop, press Alt + F4 to bring up the shut down menu, which should be familiar to most users.

Alternatively, you can create a shut down shortcut:

  • Right-click on the desktop and select ‘New > Shortcut’.
  • Enter ‘shutdown /s /t 0’ (without the quotes), and then give the shortcut a name.
  • Click ‘Finish’ and you’ll find a shortcut on your desktop.
  • Optionally, you can right-click on this shortcut, select ‘Properties’, and click ‘Change Icon’ under the Shortcut tab to assign an icon to the shortcut.
  • To make this shortcut also appear on the new Start screen, simply right-click on it and select ‘Pin to Start’.

On the desktop, hit Alt + F4 to get this shut down menu.

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