If you decide your nonprofit or library is ready to switch to Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system, it is time to make an upgrade plan. Verify that your systems meet the technical requirements and let us walk you through steps to take before and during an install.
If your organization decides that it's ready to switch to Windows 8.1 and has verified that it meets the technical requirements to do so, it is time to make an upgrade plan. This article will walk you through steps to take before and during an install.
This article is geared toward the accidental techie who is comfortable installing software and who has only a handful of computers (fewer than 10) to upgrade.
Those looking for tips on virtualized environments, unattended installs, or network-wide mass deployment can find support on Microsoft TechNet Windows 8.1 Technical Library. A more general Springboard Series for Windows 8.1 has a variety of resources on new features, planning installation, and supporting the operating system.
When Microsoft released Windows 7, we outlined a checklist of easy computing steps to ensure a painless upgrade from Vista or XP. Even though Windows 8.1 might look like a completely new operating system, these steps are still relevant for moving from Windows 7. Before you start upgrading your organization's systems to Windows 8.1, make sure to go through the checklist.
Also, visit our corresponding article Should You Upgrade to Windows 8.1: Questions to Consider to confirm that your systems are ready for an upgrade.
You have various options through which to obtain Windows 8.1 software:
Once you decide to make the switch to Windows 8.1, you have a few options for deploying it. If you are upgrading from Windows 7, you can do an in-place upgrade. Your system settings, as well as your installed applications and user settings, are preserved. This requires minimal reconfiguration, and you won't need to re-install your programs after you've upgraded.
You can also opt to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 through a custom install, which is also known as a "clean" install. This means your programs, files, and settings are not preserved. You will need to back up your files and programs before upgrading and then re-install them afterwards.
If you're upgrading from Windows Vista or XP, the line between in-place upgrade and custom install becomes a bit blurred. Depending on which operating system you're upgrading from, you will have a choice of what you can keep when you move over to the various versions of Windows 8.1. The following chart outlines what you can keep when upgrading from one version to another.
Current operating system
New operating system
What you can keep
Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate
Windows 8.1 Pro
Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise
Windows 8.1 Enterprise
Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 or 2 1
Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro
Personal files and Windows settings
Windows XP with Service Pack 3
Windows 8.1 or Windows Pro
Personal files only
1 If you are running Windows Vista RTM (release to manufacturing), you can keep your personal files only if you upgrade to Windows 8.1. We highly recommend downloading a free patch from Windows Update before upgrading so you can keep your Windows settings as well.
If you're questioning whether you should get a 32-bit or 64-bit version, Microsoft makes it fairly easy on you. You can upgrade to a 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 only if you're running a 32-bit version of Windows. And it is the same for 64-bit versions; you can't go from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 or vice versa.
Once you've decided on an installation method, the actual process of installing Windows 8.1 is simple. The Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant will warn you about hardware and software compatibility issues on your system. If you have a program that's not compatible, the Upgrade Assistant will remove it and restart the installation. Make sure to have your product key handy, as you'll need it to complete the installation.
Next, you have a choice of color themes for Windows 8.1 as well the opportunity to name your PC. Don't like the color you picked? You'll have more customization options after you finish installing Windows 8.1.
You will also be asked to pick between Express settings or Custom settings. For most users, Express settings are adequate, but be sure to read through the list of settings you'll opt into. Finally, you will be asked to enter your Microsoft account information. If you don't have an account already, you can sign up for one from the prompt screen.
And you're done! You are now running the brand-new Windows 8.1.
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