Microsoft Details Windows 8 Upgrade Options, Devil’s in the Details

For the most part, users waiting patiently to upgrade to Windows 8 when it becomes available are expecting a smooth upgrade path, particularly those running Windows 7. Those with Vista or XP may be more concerned that a straight upgrade will be impossible.

Details have emerged about the specifics of the Windows 8 upgrade possibilities. Here’s the scuttlebutt: If you’re upgrading from Windows XP (SP3) to Windows 8, you can do so, but you’ll only get to keep your personal files--no applications or system settings will come along for the ride. The same applies to those upgrading from a service pack-less Vista installation. If you have Vista (SP1), though, you can have your system setting, too.

When upgrading from Windows 7, the path is mostly clear and includes taking all your personal data, system settings, and even applications with you, although some of it depends on which version of Windows 7 you have and which version of Windows 8 you want.

To get the basic Windows 8 version, you can upgrade from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, or Home Premium; user can get to Windows 8 Pro from the aforementioned versions as well as Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate. Business looking to upgrade to Windows 8 Enterprise better hope they’ve already deployed Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate, because that’s the only way to get it.

It’s also worth noting that users won’t be able to keep their files and settings if they’re upgrading from a 32-bit to a 64-bit version.

Finally, to anyone concerned about buying a Windows 7-based system this summer and missing out on Windows 8 needn’t worry; Microsoft will let those folks have Windows 8 Pro (assuming the above conditions are met) for just $14.99 when it’s available.