Why none of the Windows 8 upgrade guides you find will help

update

Recently I upgraded my Windows 7 PC to Windows 8 and during the process an unexpected number issues happened that required above-average computer knowledge to solve them. Because of this, I decided to tell my experience to show you that every Windows installation is a unique scenario with its ups and downs, that there are many how-to guides on the internet (or the ones you’ll find on a brand new book) to help through the process, but none of them will one-hundred percent guide you every step of the way, and it will be only up to you to figure out the solutions.

As you know Microsoft Windows is an operating system that is widely use around the world, millions of PCs run this software every single day. In  fact Windows owns the 81.55% operating system market share as December 2012 (report from NetMarketshare). And because there are so many type of devices (including old and new models), it becomes difficult to support every piece of hardware and peripherals.

Heck, at CES 2013, just a little over 2 months after the official launch of Windows 8, there were over 1,700 new Windows 8 certified devices introduced to the market, some are already on sale and others will be available in the coming months. With all this taken in consideration is not hard to think that errors and other problems will occur during the installation process.

Samsung Windows 8 PC CES

The hardware

I recently bought my Windows 8 Pro upgrade and to save some money, I used the Microsoft’s upgrade promotional offer. I own a three years old laptop, which still has a pretty decent hardware configuration: dual core processor, 4 GB of RAM, 1600 x 900 pixels screen resolution and with some modifications.

Not too long ago, to boost the laptop’s performance, I upgraded the hard drive with a solid state drive — and let me tell you that it makes a difference –. Then I bought a cady drive to install the new spare hard drive as a secondary data storage drive, after removing the DVD drive, which I rarely used.

The upgrade process

Now getting into the upgrade process. The first thing I did was to run the “Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant” to verify that my PC met the minimum system requirements, followed by purchasing the electronic download version of the operating system. But instead of starting the upgrade process right away, I created a USB installation media, because this allows me to perform a clean install of Windows 8, something that wasn’t possible with previous versions.

Then I proceeded by exporting my bookmarks and passwords from the web browser. Afterwards I made a full backup of my system to an external USB drive, which took approximately 5 hours (I have a lot of data!).

Getting the original system back

Followed the backup, my first problem arrived. I was using the Windows 8 Enterprise RTM trail edition, which you cannot upgrade. The only way to install Windows 8 in this situation is by starting a new installation from scratch, no matter what. Restoring the PC to its original factory settings added an extra 2 hours to the overall upgrade process, because in order to take advantage of Windows 8 Pro upgrade, you need to be running a valid and eligible supported copy of Windows.

The second problem arrived. In order to restore the computer to the factory defaults, I needed the old DVD drive back, so I removed cady drive and I reinstalled the original DVD drive. Then I popped the first recovery DVD and started getting my Windows 7 Home Premium back. Two hours later — well, the recovery wizard said that I was only going to take 17 minutes, but of course that didn’t happen –, the recovery was done.

Time to install Windows 8 Pro

Once Windows 7 was back, I connected the USB flash drive with the Windows 8 installation files, rebooted the laptop and I proceeded with the “Windows Setup” wizard. I entered the product key, accepted the license, then I chose the Custom Install to do a clean install of the operating system. Finally, I selected the solid state drive and I clicked Install. The installation started, and the overall process took no longer than 15 minutes.

The big problem

The third problem arrived. I connected the PC to the network and continued by doing a Windows update. There were over 700 MB worth of updates and I did install them all. After the updates were done, I shut Windows 8 down (WinKey+I / Power button/ Shut down). I reconnected the cady drive, booted once again, only to find out that I stumbled upon the error 0xC000000f. I rebooted one more time and again the same error. Right away I knew that had to do something with reconnecting the secondary drive. I removed it and I tried one more time and indeed Windows 8 was working again.

The first thing that came to my mind was that somehow Windows 8 was trying to start from that secondary drive, but this didn’t make any sense. Then I thought on checking the BIOS to double-check if the boot order was correctly configured and surely enough it was. The next move was to disable the DVD drive bay altogether. That didn’t work either.

BIOS Settings

Next I removed once again the cady drive, restarted Windows 8 again and I tried updating the BIOS. I even tried to downgrade the BIOS, but neither changes worked.

After all I tried, I thought on installing the secondary drive again, but this time I went straight to the BIOS boot menu options, where I was able to specify a drive to boot from, I chose to start from the primary hard drive and magically Windows 8 started loading. Next I went to the Disk Management console and I found that all drives where working properly.

I thought that after successfully loading the OS, Windows 8 will notice the change, but I was wrong. I also tried the new features: Refresh your PC and Remove everything, but I was unsuccessful making them work. Even Automatic Repair failed to fix the problem.

The resolution

Now, the only left thing to do was to re-install Windows 8 from scratch again, but with the secondary drive installed from the beginning. This time Windows 8 configured the hardware correctly and everything started working the way it should. Finally I completed the installation with all the necessary updates and driver installations.

Booting now takes about 6 seconds in average and in 15 second I am now surfing the web. I also took advantage of the Media Center Pack for free, which added the ability to play DVDs, watch and record live TV.

Wrapping up

Like I said at the beginning every installation is unique, because it will all depend on your particular hardware configuration and the version of Windows you choose to install. As I showed in my experience making the jump to Windows 8, error and other issues are likely to happen, whether you are an advanced or just a beginner user.

At the end a good well-detailed Windows 8 upgrade guide will help you, but only up to a certain point, then it will be up to you to resolve any issue you stumble upon along the way. However, you are not alone, there are many sites with resources like our site and our forums, the Microsoft Answers forums, and other people who might have gone through the same problem.

Windows 8 is a whole new operating system and a big shift from Microsoft since Windows 95, but still not a perfect one and yet there is much room for improvement. Microsoft is already working on in the next version codenamed Windows Blue, which is a wave of updates to improve Windows 8 and basically all Microsoft’s products, and the company plans to release feature-pack updates like this every year.

If you upgraded to Windows 8 and you want to tell your story, please leave a comment. Your experience may help other users.

Featured image via Flickr (techsavvyed)