How to (and Why) Upgrade Vista or Windows 7 to Windows 8 — In case you’ve been on the fence about making the upgrade, there are many reasons to upgrade to Windows 8:

  • If you log in with your Windows account, you can access all of your Windows 8 settings and customizations whenever you log on to a Windows 8 computer.
  • Independent studies show that Windows 8 uses less memory and performs better than Windows 7 or Vista.
  • Changes, especially memory allocation safeguards, were implemented to give Windows 8 more protection against malware and rootkits.
  • Windows 8 boots up faster and consumes less RAM and CPU cycles than Windows 7.
  • Windows 8 comes with a built-in Security System in Windows Security Essentials.
  • Cloud integration is built-in and easy to use.

Windows 8 Start Screen

You can add two more reasons for upgrading. First, most Vista and Windows 7 computers have the hardware necessary to run Windows 8. Second, with the proper preparation, the Windows 8 upgrade is usually seamless.

To this point in time, I have upgraded about a half dozen computers. Some of these were completely smooth while others were like traveling a bumpy road. Here’s what I learned.

Preparation is imperative. When you purchase the online upgrade from Microsoft, but before you actually pay for it, Microsoft will have you install the Microsoft Assistant which will assess your computer for hardware and software issues that you may have with Windows 8.  My experience is that this will list many of the incompatible programs, but not necessarily all. In almost all problematic installations, programs installed by the computer manufacturer were the culprits.

Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant Compatibility Details

Because of this, I advise all upgraders to visit the website of their computer manufacturer before upgrading. Fortunately, some have excellent instructions for upgrading. Unfortunately, others do not. For instance, I found that Toshiba, Gateway, and Dell each had an easy way to see if the computer needed a BIOS and/or driver update.  If the Lenovo website had the information, it was difficult to find and that is the computer I had the most problems with.

In all cases, Windows 8 installed without a hitch. In most installations, everything worked properly. In several cases, however, I encountered sluggish performance, inoperability of certain integrated apps like Internet Explorer, or trouble printing. These required a little troubleshooting. On my first problem computer I used msconfig to disable startup apps until I found the problem. Then I found that the new Windows 8 Task Manager (Alt+Ctrl+Del) made that troubleshooting even easier. You can use it to directly disable Startup Apps, which was not possible in Window 7.

Windows 8 All Apps

All-in-all, the computers that I upgraded are all happily running Windows 8. If you want good results, be sure to:

  • Set aside at lease 2-3 hours for the upgrade.
  • If at all possible, use a wired network connection.
  • Use the Microsoft Upgrade Assistant and uninstall problematic programs.
  • Visit the manufacturer’s website for specific upgrade instructions.
  • Upgrade when you are not under deadline so you can take some time to learn the new interface.
  • Enjoy the trip!

All images credit Sandy Berger for

Based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Sandy Berger is a veteran tech journalist and senior editor at covering tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sandyberger, +SandyBerger on Google+, and on Facebook.

Sandy Berger
Sandy Burger, based in Pinehurst, N.C., is a veteran tech journalist and regular contributor to Tech Page One. As senior editor at, Sandy covers tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at [email protected]
Sandy Berger
Sandy Berger
Tags: Software,Technology