If you are a loyal reader, there are several things you probably already know from previous posts. I’m not a big fan of Windows 8 and I can’t understand why Microsoft would make the horrid mistake of forcing users to an interface better suited for touchscreens. About a year ago I wrote Start Up Windows 8 With Start8 that gives you an option to use the interface we’ve used for many years. More recently I have put out warnings to Put a Plan in Place Now to Upgrade From Windows XP and Upgrade Before Microsoft Office 2003 Support Ends in April 2014.
Some of you will heed these warnings while others will stubbornly stay on outdated versions of Windows XP and Microsoft Office. Those of you who choose not to upgrade are risking your computers being attacked by hackers. Do you really want to have your computer that vulnerable if it is a vital tool in your personal or business life? I certainly don’t and I have a machine in our office that needs to be moved from Windows XP. Microsoft will be releasing Windows 8.1 this week and I’m starting to make myself a to-do list so I can upgrade the Windows XP machine to Windows 8.1.
Could I choose to install Windows 7 instead? Absolutely, I could. But it is already four years old and I don’t want to go through the process of upgrading a computer only to install an old operating system. I’d prefer to go with the fresh operating system that will be supported the longest. Will there be some pain along the way? I fully expect it, though I will plan the transition as best possible to minimize the pain.
Is there an easy way to “upgrade” the machine without having to re-install all the software? No, there isn’t. I will use this as an opportunity to start everything fresh, including the software. In fact, I’ll probably choose not to re-install all of the software as some of it may no longer be necessary. Should I later decide it is necessary, I can always install it at that time. Prior to starting the upgrade process, I’ll make a detailed list of all software that needs to be installed and I will collect the discs (or downloads) and the serial numbers required to quick install them all. If some of the current installations have been “activated,” I’ll need to remember to de-activate them on the Windows XP installation before wiping the C drive.
Another list that needs to be made are all the hardware components in the computer or connected to the computer. For most pieces of hardware, a new driver will be included with Windows 8.1. But I will make sure to check that it is covered by the default install. Should I find any hardware that is not included, I’ll make a point to download the Windows 8 (8.1) driver for that piece of hardware and put it on a disk that is accessible during/after the main install without having to be connected to the Internet.
Loyal readers already know that I keep separate hard drives for Windows (C), Software (D) and Data (E). So when I do the upgrade, I’ll format the Windows (C) drive and install from scratch. While the software is stored on the D drive, it won’t just magically work and will need to be re-installed. The data will be safely stored on the E drive though I will make sure it is backed-up before starting the upgrade. Unfortunately some software likes to store data on the Windows drive. As hard as I try to avoid this, I’m sure there is some important data on that drive I need to save elsewhere before the install.
So now I have three lists to make before the upgrade: software to install, drivers needed and data stored in the wrong place. I don’t take this task lightly and I’ll probably take at least a week to compile all the lists. Each day I’ll revisit every list and will find something I missed. When I no longer find items I’ve missed, I’ll be ready for the upgrade. The last step is finding a block of a few hours to get it all done. That may be the hardest part of it all.
If you have a Windows XP computer that needs to be upgraded, I highly recommend you start working on your lists and finding that block of time to upgrade. You can either plan ahead and make the move now or you can find your outdated operating system in the crosshairs of hackers in a few months.