Windows 10

How to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1

The upgrade process from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 is pretty smooth, even for the Technical Preview, but it helps to understand potential issues and pitfalls before jumping on board.

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It’s possible to set up VMs running older OS versions and make them available to users who need them to access otherwise incompatible software, but this simply kicks the can down the road in terms of resolving compatibility issues. Another solution is to replace older applications that can’t be upgraded with newer ones that provide the needed functionality in an alternate form.

For Windows 10, applications are something of a good news/bad news scenario. The underlying APIs for desktop applications do not change much from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, so what you test for compatibility now with Windows 8.1 has an excellent chance of remaining unaffected by the introduction of Windows 10. The good news: If the application works with 8.1, it will also likely work with 10. The bad news: If it doesn’t work with 8.1, it won’t work with 10, either.

That’s why it’s time to start testing -- and getting remediation underway -- if must-have applications don’t work with Windows 8.1 now. This also means you can start with the Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant to get a quick read on applications by running it against a typical reference or standard image for desktops, notebooks and/or tablets right away.

Preparing for the Upgrade: Managing Device Drivers

Another bit of good news for Windows 10 is that device drivers are more like those for Windows 8 or 8.1 than they are different. If you can build a reference or standard image for your PCs running that OS, you can create an excellent working set of drivers for the upcoming upgrade by backing up those drivers into a reference or standard driver library.

Most deployment tools support explicit construction of such a library, or you can use a driver backup tool of some kind to make a snapshot of the drivers associated with any given image instead. SourceForge DriverBackup! is a great free tool admins can use to quickly and easily kick this process off for themselves.

Measure Twice, Cut(over) Once

In general, planning for an upgrade involves a great deal of initial testing and analysis, followed by a concerted planning effort to create the necessary install images and processes and then to work through a carefully staged deployment. If you use what we already know about Windows 10, and the tools already available for Windows 8.1, you can get a considerable leg up on the process well in advance of general availability.

By following our advice, and using some of the tools and techniques we recommend, you can keep this process under control. Be prepared to spend some time and to expend considerable elbow grease along the way.

This story, "How to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1" was originally published by CIO.

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