Upgrade Windows XP to Windows 8

In mid-January 2013, I decided to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8 for 2000 INR (about $40 then). But it wasn’t that simple really. I first had to do away with my Windows 8 Developer Preview that had expired. Upgrades for this build had stopped mid-2012. I’d managed until the (forced?) upgrade by downloading and manually installing OS-specific patches. This process was a pain in the behind as the free utility I used – WUD (Windows Upgrade Downloader) – would download all updates available (grew from 150 MB to 262+ MB) using one script. Before exiting and making me run a second script to check how many were already installed. Before presenting me with a list to install. A key downside was I couldn’t control which updates to install. It was all or nothing.

WUD is great if you have an older Windows version that somehow fails validation (e.g. misplaced serial number or other issues) or like Windows XP is no longer officially supported by Microsoft. But its script-based Update List method can be trying when you are on a download quota-based plan. Especially when your new update goes and downloads everything its grabbed before.

The current WUD version is more intelligent. When you run the update process, it first checks if your Update List copy against the version on its server. If it is it then also checks (this process runs in a command line window) if files on the List are available in the WUD download folder and if the local version matches the online version. It then only downloads files/versions that are fresher (even if the local and remote versions have the same file name). is older than and before uploading checks

But getting back to the actual XP to 8 upgrade, I had to first reinstall XP.But before I could that I had to hunt through my multiple CD-ROM boxes to locate an original Windows XP copy. Then root through a large pile of box files in storage for a matching serial number. Eventually I found both. Now I needed a compatible disk drive (I no longer use removable disks; only removable drives that are more robust and portable). Once I got everything together and working, I started the XP install by popping its setup disk into the drive and booting up the computer.

Before I could begin the actual install I had to setup disk partitions and let Windows XP know which would be the boot drive. XP didn’t recognize the existing 2 x 1 TB partitions so I had to remove them (my data, luckily, was all backed up) before re-partitioning the disk into 2 XP readable ones. I left the rest of the disk unformatted.

One issue I encountered was my XP copy only supports IDE SATA; not AHCI SATA (more advanced). Still I got through that, completed setup, let XP restart and waited while it configured itself. Luckily it was a standard motherboard and basic driver configuration didn’t wave any red flags. Another restart and I ejected XP and popped in the mboard driver disk and ran its setup so I got all the XP-specific drivers installed.

I was finally able to setup my Internet connection, connect to Microsoft and activate my copy. I then went to the Windows 8 site to downloaded the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant and let it run riot. Like the proverbial eager beaver it sniffed around gathering data on my hardware and Windows configuration. Except (as I found later) it didn’t gather all the right data. The Assistant finally asked for the Windows 8 setup files (previously downloaded to USB) before it ran the upgrade.

The problem began after the upgrade completed and I’d bought my new Windows 8 serial number. On restart there was no keyboard detected. I’m old-fashioned and still use a PS/2 keyboard. It would detect a USB keyboard fine after a restart. But you couldn’t have both PS/2 and USB versions present as then neither would work! I finally went USB, got online and found that I needed to upgrade the Microsoft Keyboard Driver. I then shut down, exchanged keyboard types and this time Windows 8 detected my keyboard and I could use my newly re-minted computer. Whew! Lots of learning there.

And now I await the forthcoming Windows 8.1 release except I hope I don’t have to pay all over again to upgrade it.

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