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Devising a plan to upgrade an old XP machine to Win8 on a new SSD


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#1 lalaland5000

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 03:25 AM

Hi,

I have an old desktop with an ASUS P5W DH motherboard, a E6600 Core 2 Duo processor, and 4GB of RAM running 32-bit Windows XP. Currently, there are two hard drives: one 640GB HDD with an OS partition and a data partition, and a 1TB HDD with a single data partition.

My primary objective is to install Windows 8 64-bit onto a new 120GB SSD, and use the two old HDDs as data drives. If I could dual boot XP and Win8, that'd be even better, as I'm not sure how well Win8 is going to run on my aging machine.

I've done a fair amount of reading this evening, but I'm confused about how to proceed. I hoped this would be straightforward. :)


It appears that there are actually two problems I'm trying to solve:

1) How to install the SSD itself, manually aligning the drive, installing the XP drivers for AHCI, putting the machine in AHCI mode without disabling the old HDDs.

and

2) How to take advantage of Microsoft's current upgrade offer of $39.99 but getting ahold of the the 64-bit version, installing it onto the new SSD (rather than overwriting the existing XP install on the old HDD), and then hopefully dual booting. I can live without the dual boot, so as long as I'm able to disconnect the SSD and return to my old XP install.

I could really use some guidance in terms of where to start, and what's the best way to achieve my objective.

Would the easiest way be to forget about the upgrade offer, and go out and buy the full DVD and do a clean install on the SSD, and then re-attach the HDDs afterwards? It seems like a lot of the questions I have (AHCI problems with XP, manually alignment of the SSD, and getting the 64-bit version of Win8) might go away if I did that. But it's hard to pass up a bargain, so I'd like to know if that's in fact the better way to go.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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#2 Grinler

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:03 AM

Hi lalaland5000,

I can't help you on doing the clean install upgrade and dual booting as that would circumvent Microsoft's license agreements. When you upgrade XP, your not supposed to be using it anymore.

If you choose to buy the full version, then here is some info.

First and foremost, be prepared for things to not go so smoothly. Windows 8 can be very temperamental when upgrading older machines. These upgrades typically fail with the not so useful message "Install Failed" that leaves you scratching your head. Make sure you have run the Upgrade assistant before hand to see what MS thinks: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/upgrade-to-windows-8

As you have already mentioned, XP wont align the SSD partitions properly. You can download gparted and use that tool to properly create the aligned partition on the SSD. If you plan on installing Windows 8 onto the SSD drive, it will align it during installation so you do not need to worry about that.

As for switching to AHCI and not messing up your current install of XP, I found this : http://www.blah-blah.ch/it/how-to-s/enable-ahci/ No grantees this will work as I have never switched it after install and not sure how well it will work for you.

Once you have the AHCI switched properly, you can move onto the installation. You can just install the SSD as another drive in the system. Then when you install Windows 8 onto that drive it will automatically configure it to dual boot between xp and 8 if all goes well.

Make sure you backup all your data first to be safe.

#3 lalaland5000

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:38 PM

Hi everyone,

In case anyone is following this thread, I thought I'd update y'all on my upgrade experience.

In short, it went amazingly smoothly, so much so I did it twice. :)

After doing a little more research and reading, I came across this article:

http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/29/windows-8-upgrade-diary-2/


In it, the author offered the key to the puzzle, which was to boot from the Win8 disk itself, rather than running the upgrade from within the existing Windows install.

So my process was:

0) Purchase the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade disk from Newegg. They were running a promotion that made the physical product (which includes both the 32-bit and the 64-bit disks) only $13 more than the downloadable upgrade from Microsoft. Given that the only way I was going to be able to get a downloadable copy of the 64-bit version was to find someone with a 64-bit Windows machine who would let me commandeer it for a few hours, and the fact that 95% of my friends use Macs, I felt like the extra $13 was well worth it.

1) Physically install the new SSD into my desktop. This was by far the most time consuming part of the process for me, because I had to remove and re-attach my existing HDDs to make room for the new SSD and also to set them up so the power cables could reach all of the drives.

2) In the BIOS, I set the boot priority so that the DVD drive was first in line, followed by the new SSD.

3) I put the 64-bit disk into the DVD drive and booted up the machine.

From there, I was able to choose the new SSD as the destination for the new Windows 8 installation. I just let Windows 8 do its install thing, and everything was up and running in less than 30 minutes.

It was only after I got Windows 8 up and running that I realized I'd forgotten to switch the SATA mode to AHCI. I tried to fix it after the fact, but it quickly became apparent that it might be more trouble than it was worth. Instead, I decided just to flip the appropriate switch in the BIOS and do the install again (hence the "doing it twice"). Not a big deal -- the second time was even faster because I'd already set up a Windows account and I knew which options to select.

My primary concern after installing Windows 8 was whether the Windows 7 drivers for my aging M-Audio Delta-66 audio interface would work in Windows 8. I installed them and they work perfectly.

I've been using the machine for the past couple of days, and it's been completely stable (knock on wood).

All in all, I'm extremely impressed with how easy the install process was -- kudos to Microsoft for this, at least. As for Windows 8 itself, I can tell already it behaves better with my hardware in some ways than XP did -- for example, I could never get my machine to go to sleep properly before, but it works with Windows 8.

The UI, on the other hand, is kinda weird and unintuitive in some respects, and is going to take some getting used to. I'm going to try living with it for awhile before looking for fixes (such as bringing the Start menu back, etc.).

#4 Grinler

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:38 PM

Glad you were able to get it working. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.




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