Microsoft’s Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant utility can help you discover if your PC is ready for Windows 8. Windows 8 was released yesterday and is now available to buy as an upgrade (or OEM version). If you’re thinking of upgrading an existing PC or laptop, you need to find out if your hardware and software is compatible.
Microsoft have released a utility to help. It scans your PC to see if it is ready for the upgrade and provides a compatibility report and [optional] steps for you to buy Windows 8 – you do not have to download/buy it, you can just exit the tool after it produces the compatibility report.
Upgrade Assistant – Download it from Microsoft by visiting the page here – click the ‘Can my PC run Windows 8.1?’ question and the answer provides a link to download the Assistant. Note: to check if your peripheral devices (e.g. printers) will work with Windows 8, make sure they are plugged in and connected to your PC before you run the Upgrade Assistant.
Run the Upgrade Assistant to start – the first stage checks your apps and devices for compatibility. After the checks complete (can take a few minutes) you will see a summary showing the numbers of apps and devices that are compatible and of items for you to review:
The report also advises whether you will need to reinstall your compatible apps and devices in Windows 8 – if upgrading from XP or Vista you have to but if upgrading from W7 you do not (unless switching between 32bit and 64bit versions of Windows).
Click ‘See compatibility details’ to open a detailed list of the items for you to review and the compatible items.
Each item to review has a link under it leading to more info, website help or an upgrade version. Press Close when you have finished reviewing the items – you can also save or print the list. Exit the W8 Upgrade Assistant to finish or press ‘Next’ if you want to continue the process to buy it online (via download or ordering a DVD).
Common Items To Review – The items to review include possible incompatibilities which may need to be addressed before upgrading – or may mean that you can’t upgrade. There are thousands of potential incompatibilities, depending on what apps and devices your PC has.
However, some of the most common items to review that will be detected on many PCs include:
Install an app to play DVDs – As we noted yesterday, Windows 8 does not include Windows Media Center and therefore can’t play DVDs (but you can still use third party software e.g. VLC Media Player). However, if you are upgrading to Windows 8 Pro, there is a time limited free offer to add Media Center (and therefore DVD playback) to it (usual price $9.99)
Secure Boot Isn’t Compatible – Secure Boot is a new security feature to secure the boot (startup) process and requires that the computer (motherboard) has UEFI v2.3.1 firmware – the successor to the traditional BIOS. Whilst new W8 PCs may come with UEFI, older PCs have the traditional BIOS so can’t use Secure Boot – you can still upgrade, it just won’t be quite as secure as on a new PC.
Screen Resolution Not Compatible With Snap – Again, you can still upgrade but won’t be able to ‘snap’ apps unless the screen resolution is at least 1366 x 768 – this incompatibility may appear more on older laptops with a low screen resolution.
Microsoft Security Essentials – Windows 8 includes Defender as its default antivirus solution which is basically the same as the current Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) product – it uses the same anti-malware engine and looks almost identical.
The existing MSE product is therefore not compatible with W8 – you must uninstall it before upgrading. See our review ‘how does W8 Defender compare?’