Where you install—or reinstall—Windows from scratch.
Where you upgrade to a newer version of Windows from within the older version, retaining most of your settings and applications, and all of your documents and other data files.
By which Setup backs up your settings and/or data first, then clean installs Windows, and then reapplies your settings and/or data to the new OS.
In Windows 8, these types of installs can all still occur, though they’re not all available in all circumstances. More important, Microsoft has significantly changed how it surfaces these choices in the Setup user experience.
That is, if you run Windows 8 Setup from within a previously supported version of Windows—Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3), Windows Vista, Windows 7, or the Windows 8 Release Preview—the choices you get will vary from OS version to OS version. These choices appear at a stage of Setup called Choose What To Keep, which occurs right after you agree to the End User License Agreement (EULA).
While there are four possible choices, depending on the OS from which you’re starting, you will only see two of them if you run Windows 8 (RTM) Setup from Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (and yes, SP3 is required). Those choices are:
Personal files only.
Here, any documents and other files that are stored in the Users folder (C:\Documents and Settings by default) will be carried forward to the new install. So you will lose installed desktop applications (which you’ll need to manually reinstall), and any OS, app, and application settings. This type of install is considered a partial migration, since Windows settings are not carried forward.
Here, nothing is saved, and Setup will perform a clean install.
Put simply, Microsoft supports migrating from Windows XP with SP3 to Windows 8, but not an in-place upgrade, which would have included installed applications and their settings.
As with Windows Vista, the number of users who will upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8 is almost certainly fairly small, and most people who were interested in upgrading off of XP would have previously upgraded to Windows 7. Furthermore, anyone who has held out with the decade-old XP is unlikely to be particularly interested in Windows 8, especially on existing PC hardware. Still, it’s important to know what your options are.
Backup in Windows
- Get a backup drive. This can be just about any USB external hard drive, and you can get them at most electronics stores. Try to get one that has twice as much space as your computer, so you have room for multiple backups and so you have room for all the data you might get in the future.
- When you first plug it in, Windows will actually ask you if you want to use it as a backup. Tell it that you do. If you don't get this prompt, you can just go to the Start Menu, type "backup" in the search box, and hit Backup and Restore.
- From there, click the "Set Up Backup" button. Pick the external drive you plugged in and hit Next. Windows' default settings are probably fine, so you can just hit Next and the next screen too.
- On the last screen, hit "Save Settings and Run Backup". Windows will make its first backup of your drive, during which you don't want to turn off your computer. After that, it'll make regular backups in the background as you work—you don't need to deal with it again.
- If you ever need to restore a file you lost, you can just go to the Start Menu, type in "backup", and go back to "Backup and Restore". You can hit the "Restore My Files" or "Restore Users Files" buttons to get those files back.
Download and install Windows Easy Transfer on your computer running Windows XP PC.
XP 32bit: wet7xp_x86.zip 7.22MB 12 downloads
XP 64bit: wet7xp_x64.zip 8.84MB 2 downloads
First open and run Windows Easy Transfer on your computer running Windows XP.
Then open and run Windows Easy Transfer on your computer running Windows 8.
You can open the Windows 8 version of Windows Easy Transfer by clicking the Start button. In the search box, type “Easy Transfer” and then click Windows Easy Transfer.
Follow the instructions in the wizard to select and transfer your data.