Windows 8 : your hardware and software upgrade options

The SP stands for Service Pack, and both of them are updates you can easily download before you get started.

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Should I get Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro?

First and foremost, if you've got Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate right now, you'll need to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro. Otherwise, vanilla Windows 8 should be fine for most installs. Both versions have the full Windows Desktop, the new Start Screen,all the new gestures, and the ability to install both traditional software and apps from the Windows Store.What Windows 8 Pro adds is primarily a bunch of business-friendly features like BitLocker drive encryption, file encryption, client-side Hyper-V, the ability to join a Windows Server Domain, and to host a Remote Desktop. If that all sounded like a bunch of meaningless jargon, vanilla Windows 8 will do nicely.

Note that neither version comes with Windows Media Center, and Windows 8 Pro is one step closer to getting that home entertainment software suite. From vanilla Windows 8, it will cost you at least $70 to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, but if you've already got Windows 8 Pro, Media Center will be an inexpensive incremental download. In fact, for right now, it's free:Microsoft is giving the Media Center pack away free with Windows 8 Pro until January 2013.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First, is your PC ready for a new operating system at all?

System requirements

  • 1GHz or faster processor
  • 1GB RAM for 32-bit, 2GB RAM for 64-bit
  • 16GB available disk space for 32-bit, 20GB for 64-bit
  • 1366 x 768 screen resolution
  • A working internet connection
  • DirectX 9 compatible graphics with WDDM 1.0 or higher drivers

32-bit and 64-bit refer to your processor's underlying architecture, but you don't really need to know much about that. With the exception of a few Intel Atom processors in netbooks and nettops, most machines where you'd want to install Windows 8 can use a 64-bit version of Windows. That's also what you'll probably want to get, because without 64-bit you can't take advantage of more than four gigabytes of memory in your computer. Most recent laptops and desktops come with 4GB at a minimum, with 6GB and 8GB becoming more and more common.

Mind you, these are the minimum requirements, and you might want a bit more horsepower if you're planning to run CPU- or GPU-intensive programs.

So, how much will the operating system cost, and how do you get it installed? Point your eyes to the right to see pricing options, then continue on down to the install process.

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Posted in Security Post Date 09/21/2018


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