Continuing a series of tips that examines upgrading from previous versions of Windows to Windows 8, I take a look at Windows Vista: Which upgrade types are supported, and what can you bring forward from this version of Windows to Windows 8?
You may recall from previous articles, or from Windows 8 Secrets, that Microsoft has changed the way they describe the processes by which we move from the one version of Windows to the next. In the past, we used the following terms to describe the different ways in which you could install Windows:
Clean install, where you install—or reinstall—Windows from scratch.
In-place upgrade, 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.
Migration, 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 three of them if you run Windows 8 (RTM) Setup from Windows Vista (SP1 or higher). Those choices are:
Windows settings and personal files. Here, some Windows settings, as well as any documents and other files that are stored in the Users folder (C:\Users\ 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 related application settings. This type of install is considered a full migration.
Personal files. Here, any documents and other files that are stored in the Users folder (C:\Users\ by default) will be carried forward to the new install. So you will lose installed Metro-style apps (though you can get them back easily enough by signing in to the same account in RTM and visiting the Windows Store), installed desktop applications (which you’ll need to manually reinstall), and any OS, app, and application settings (though many system-level settings are synced through your Microsoft account if you are signing in that way as recommended). This type of install is considered a partial migration, since Windows settings are not carried forward.
Nothing. Here, nothing is saved, and Setup will perform a clean install.
Put simply, Microsoft supports migrating from Windows Vista to Windows 8, but not an in-place upgrade, which would have includes installed applications and their settings.
Frankly, I think the number of users who will upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 8 is fairly small, and that most people interested in upgrading would have previously upgraded to Windows 7. (Most existing Vista installs are likely in corporations, and they will not be running interactive Setup to upgrade to Windows 8 as described here.) But it’s nice to know what’s possible, just in case you do have a fairly modern PC running this older OS.