In the computer class I’m teaching for my kids, we built a PC from scratch a few months ago. Since it was assembled from parts, I simply re-used a Windows XP license that I had. It works (even with new hardware), it’s solid, and I’m familiar with it. The downside, of course, is that it will be out of support in 2014 and is three versions behind the newly-released Windows 8. Fortunately, Microsoft has finally taken a page from Apple’s book and made upgrading affordable. I had the time this weekend so decided to take the plunge.
So, for the $39 upgrade, you purchase online, download and installer, and upgrade the system in-place. When upgrading XP, the only part you can keep is the user data. All programs need to be re-installed. You can also burn the installer to a DVD for installing again in the future.
I kicked-off the upgrade before running out and saw the results a few hours later when I returned home. No smoldering pile of ash. No blue screen of death. A few minutes later, and I was ready-to-rock.
The don’t-call-it-Metro interface is interesting. I’ll give them credit for creating a unified UI to be used on mobile, tablet, and desktop versions of Windows 8, but it certainly is more suitable for touch-input devices than a keyboard-and-mouse desktop device. It’ll take some getting used to. This isn’t meant to be a Windows 8 review so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you want that perspective.
Anyway, if you are upgrading from XP, everything other than C:\Documents and Settings gets put in C:\Windows.old so you still have access to previous applications and system data. A bunch of application installs later, I’m pretty much back to where I began, just 11 years newer. All-in-all, not too painful of an experience.