Upgrading to Windows 8 questions and answers – Making a smooth transition

Answers moving to Win 8

In previous how-to guides, I walked you through how to prepare your PC and how to move to Windows 8, and while millions of users are already doing a clean install or upgrading to the core or professional version of the operating system, many users are still doubtful or a bit confuse on how to jump to the new OS.

To clear things up, below I’ve compiled a list of common questions that users may need answers moving to Windows 8, from installing, licensing to error messages, to help get you going and make the transition a little easier:

1.What is “clean install” of Windows 8?

Note: Starting with Windows 8, it doesn’t matter if you perform a clean install or an upgrade, regardless a fresh copy of Windows 8 will always be installed.

A clean installation of Windows 8 only means to start from scratch installing Windows, this include: Erasing the computer’s hard drive and installing a fresh copy of the operating system and reinstalling all previous applications. This is a bit different from upgrading which only updates old files in your system, and it is also different from a new installation which means that you are installing Windows in an empty drive or partition.

I will always, and I am not the only one, recommend to do a clean install where possible. The benefit is that you will end up with a fresh install, you won’t be moving old issues to the new system, and best of all, if you had any viruses, they will not get transferred to the new installation. In other words, you will end up with a more stable PC.

2.Can I do a clean installation of Windows 8 with the Windows 8 Pro upgrade media?

Yes, you can. You can clean install Windows 8 using a Windows 8 Pro upgrade license — This is also true for Windows 8 (core). The installation media that you buy online or at your local store comes with both options: Upgrade or Custom (clean).

Follow these guides to get ready and move to Windows 8:

3.Can I install Windows 8 Pro Upgrade on an empty hard drive, without a Windows 7 or a previous version of a Windows OS?

Here is when things gets a bit tricky, you can perform a clean install of Windows 8 with an upgrade media, but you must have a Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista or XP installed in your PC. The reason for this is that Microsoft needs a way to know that you previously owned a Windows license, and having present a valid Windows installation is the way to check this requirement. Therefore an empty hard drive does not qualify for a Windows 8 upgrade. The same rule is true if you want simply upgrade your current operating system.

Info: It is huge that Microsoft is allowing people to upgrade or start from scratch, with the upgrade installation media, before users needed to pay for a full version of the OS in order to do a clean install. The benefit is that people will now pay a lot less for a license of Windows and for having a more stable system.

4.I am using Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day trial, can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro using the upgrade media?

Yes and No! Let me explain. If your PC has a valid license of Windows 7 you are entitled to upgrade to Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro and you can do an upgrade or a clean install with the installation media. The problem is that Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day trial cannot be upgraded, to solve this issue, you need to reinstall Windows 7 and make sure that is activated — Here you don’t need to do much updates or install your applications, make it simple –. Then once Windows 7 is back in your PC, you can go ahead with the installation of Windows 8 — I know it is a bit of work, but this way you’ll save some money and you will not be getting the error “Code: 0xC004F061”, as I will mention in the next question.

5. I am getting the message “Invalid product key” and with the “Code: 0xC004F061”, What’s happening?

The following failure occurred while trying to use the product key:


The Software Licensing Service determined that this specified product
key can only be used for upgrading, not for clean installations.

This error occurs if you are using the Windows 8 upgrade product key, but you didn’t have an upgradable copy of Windows or the hard drive was just empty.

As I explained in question #4, you can do a clean install but only as long as you have a previous version of the operating system. If you don’t have a Windows installation in that particular machine, you’ll need to purchase the full-version of the software, which in this case will be the Windows 8 System Builder version.

6. What is the difference between the upgrade and full versions of Windows 8?

It is just about licensing and money! You can perform an upgrade or a full installation of Windows 8 with almost any media. However, purchasing the upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro or Windows 8 (core) will only allow you to perform an upgrade of your current operating system, or (new) do a clean installation. All this means that if you have a previous version of Windows, you’ll pay a lot less money for the license.

On the other hand, the full version (or Windows 8 System Builder), which has a license that Microsoft calls “Personal Use License for System Builder”, allows you to install Windows 8 or the professional version in a PC without a previous version of Windows. This will also be well suited for Mac users.

7. Which previous versions of Windows are valid to upgrade?

Almost every version of Windows is compatible for an upgrade:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP SP3

8. I purchased a retail box of Windows 8 and I don’t have a DVD drive, how do I install the OS?

If you have a Ultrabook or a PC without a DVD drive and you have the DVD installation media from a retail store or you downloaded the ISO file and burned it to DVD. You can create a bootable USB flash drive with the installation files — Follow this guide to accomplish this.

9. I upgraded Windows 7 to Windows 8. Now, can I use the Windows 7 license in another computer?

Absolutely NOT! Put it this way, the current Windows 7 license, together with Windows 8 upgrade license, have just become your new Windows 8 license.

10. Can I transfer the Windows 8 license to a new computer?

Yes, however Windows licenses are not transferable unless it is a full retail copy and you completely wiped out the hard drive from the computer you are migrating the license from. And remember that you have a limited number of times to transfer the license — often times it’s 3 transfers.

11. Can I transfer my Windows 8 upgrade license to a new computer?

Again Yes! But bear in mind that the same rules also apply here. You need to remove the Win 8 upgrade from the old computer and you need to have a valid upgrade version of the Microsoft’s operating system to perform an upgrade or clean install with the Win 8 Pro or Win 8 (core) installation media.

12. In the case I buy a new PC with Windows 8 Pro, can I downgrade to a previous version like Windows 7 or Vista?

Yes! PCs that come preloaded with Windows 8 Pro will have the option to downgrade to either Windows Vista Business or Windows 7 Professional.

13. I own a desktop and an laptop. Do I still need to buy separate Windows 8 licenses?

Yes, you do!

14. Are the current prices for Windows 8 final?

No. Right now we are in a promotional period. If you want to upgrade for cheap, this is the time. Promotions are set change after the 31st of January 2013. To understand more about Windows 8 prices, check out this article.

15. Is there a limit of how many time I can reinstall Windows 8?

No! There is no limitations to the number of times you can reinstall Windows 8 as long you do it in the same computer and you follow the rules we discussed in this article.

16. Do I need an antivirus for Windows 8?

Yes! But you should know that Windows 8 and Windows RT come preinstalled with Windows Defender and it is one of the most secure antivirus you can have, and it is free. However, you can always opt to spend money and install a different antivirus software. Here is a list of compatible security software.

If there are other questions that you need help with, just leave a comment in the section below.