• Upgrade 7 Pro to 8.1 Pro

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    This past year has been filled with trash-talk about Windows 10…I do not want to upgrade to Win10. How you guys can help: My Windows 7 Pro has been fabulous! But now I want to upgrade to Win8.1Pro to save myself from the aggravation of Win10. My wife’s machine, which I built in 2013, has had absolutely no issues from day 1 with 8.1 Pro. What are the steps I must take to make this transformation? I am depending on your expertise to guide me, please help.

    Viewing 3 reply threads
    • #2252507

      I have helped several users with similar tasks.

      Two of them were with Win7 here and here.

      There were two for Win8.1
      One of them is here. The other was more recently here.

      Although these may not be exactly where you are going, the methodology is the same.
      Install the OS offline.
      Get the settings right.
      Go online and use Windows Update to first install the old patches through Dec 2017.
      Then install the updates beginning Jan 2018 onward in steps where MS made corrections for problems.
      You will need to make system images (backups) at critical points along the way.

      If you have questions or need help, come back here and ask.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2252511

      one important thing to consider when upgrading from Win7 Pro to Win8.1 Pro – the upgrade is NOT free

      a valid 8.1 pro key is required for full activation – the product key for Win7 Pro is for Win7 Pro only and is not valid for Win8.x Pro (but may be used to activate Win10 Pro)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2252526

        Thank you for the quick response. The price is ok. I am expecting to purchase the necessary dvd to upgrade. Picking the exact OS type I need is where is depend on the experts, such as you, to guide me so I don’t lose my 700 MB of current data.

        • #2252528

          There is no upgrade from Win7 to Win8.1, it will have to be a clean install.

          The very first thing you should do is make a full disk image of the Win7 and a separate back up your data from the Win7 installation. There are several free backup software (Macrium Reflect, EaseUS Todo, Aomei Backupper for example) if you don’t have one you are currently using. The target media for the backups should be a USB external HDD.
          You should also have at hand the installation media for the programs you will need to reinstall.

          Use Speccy or Belarc Advisor to list your hardware. You will also need to locate the drivers for your hardware, since the Win7 drivers may not be compatible with Win8.1.

          • #2252530

            Also locate and save any product keys for software you may have bought/installed…

            Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

          • #2252531

            Aaaaaarrrgggghhhhh!!! No upgrade!!! These are surly trying times. I have purchased a duplicate to my hdd…a WD 1 TB new hdd. I thought it would be safer to make a bit-by-bit copy of the original hdd. I will to the best of my ability follow the advice of you more knowledgeable people. I truly appreciate your effort on my behalf.

          • #2252535

            I remember being told that it used to be possible to… upgrade to 8.0 and then from that to 8.1.

            But that’s a lot more work and not at all guaranteed to work, recommend doing a fresh install instead. Besides, didn’t we have even a case of Windows 10 feature updates losing user data?

            And even if the operating system upgrade doesn’t lose data, there’s a chance of applications not being completely compatible, therefore a chance that data (especially settings / preferences / configuration data) might not be readable without doing a rollback to the previous version…

            Also recommend that you predownload updates before installing 8.1, because getting automated updates on unpatched 8.1 nowadays seems to be unreliable. I use wsusoffline for this, myself. ( https://wsusoffline.net/ )

            I thought it would be safer to make a bit-by-bit copy of the original hdd.

            Reinserting the original HDD with the original working setup on it is my favorite way of doing a rollback anyway. A bitwise copy done to a less worn drive is just not quite the same thing even if it’d be technically more “optimal”.

            But, please do a second backup of at least important data anyway. There’s always at least a very small risk that a connector breaks or a part gets accidentally dropped or something.

            • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by mn--.
    • #2252578

      I’d buy an SSD to go with W8.1. That will breathe new life into your computing.

      cheers, Paul

    • #2252688

      Have you tried doing an upgrade install from 7 to 8.1? It may let you do it.

      Here’s what I suggest you do:

      1. Most important step: Do a complete backup of your current hard drive; power down; remove the current drive, and install a new drive; do a restore to a new drive; reboot the computer. Now use the computer, to make sure all is well. If so, you can proceed to step 2.

      Note: This would be the time to install an SSD, if you are thinking about doing so. Also, put your current drive into the static bag that came with your new drive, and store the current drive. If necessary, you can always reinstall it into the computer to be back in business. Also, it has all of your files on it – it is a full backup of your Windows 7 install.

      2. Once you are in Windows, insert the Windows 8.1 install disk, and run the SETUP.EXE file that is on it. Tell it you want to upgrade to Windows 8.1, but you don’t want to delete anything – you want to keep your files and programs. If it lets you do that, you will be upgraded to Windows 8.1, and all of your stuff will be installed and ready to go.

      3. Once the upgrade has finished, you will at some point be asked to activate Windows. Put in your Windows 8.1 activation code on that screen.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #2252695

        There is no upgrade from Win7 to Win8.1

        • #2254029

          According to this thread on the Microsoft Answers forum, you can do an upgrade install (i.e. preserve your settings, programs, and data) from Windows 7 to Windows 8; but your Windows 7 activation key won’t work for Windows 8; you will need to put in your Windows 8 activation key near the beginning of the process.


          My reading of the post is that the poster has actually done this procedure. I’ve never done an upgrade install from 7 to 8; but I have done an upgrade install from one version of Windows 10 to another. (I know that going from 7 to 8 isn’t the same as going from 10 to 10.)

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
          • #2254072

            OP said Win8.1 – there is no upgrade from Win7 to Win8.1.
            He may not have a copy of Win8, and that would be two upgrades he’d have to do if he did.
            He would be much better off, if he has a Win8.1 key, to do a clean install. Many of the Win7 drivers didn’t work on Win8/8.1. Reinstalling programs is a pain, but better a fresh install there also.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2254383

              Thank you, PKCano, for your input. I am at a point that what first appeared a simple task has become a bad dream. I have one more thought, as much as I do not want Win10, I will give a consideration to this scenario: I purchase a desktop machine with Win10Pro and use PCmoverPro to get my data on that machine. I used PCmover when converting from XP to 7…no issues at all to this day. What are the thoughts from the gurus in this forum?

            • #2254392

              You need a backup of your data anyway.
              Copy your data to a USB external HDD – you don’t need any special software to do that. That will be your backup.
              Copy your data from the external HDD to the new computer, again no special software needed.
              Save the HDD from the old computer in a safe place as a second backup and in case you missed something.

            • #2254429

              If he gets a good backup first, I suggest he try a direct upgrade from 7 to 8.1. If it doesn’t work, nothing is lost, because he has a good backup. On the other hand, if it works, he’s done, and he won’t have to reinstall anything except perhaps a few drivers.

              I know that most geeks prefer doing a clean install; but over the years I have come to the opinion that in certain situations, an upgrade install (where things are preserved into the new OS) is preferable. It is certainly easier than a clean install.

              Group "L" (Linux Mint)
              with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
            • #2254444

              Microsoft does not offer an upgrade from Win7 directly to Win8.1. There is an upgrade from Win7 to Win8. Then another upgrade/update from Win8 to Win8.1.
              What don’t you understand.


            • #2254775

              Then it will be a two-step upgrade, rather than a one-step upgrade:

              1. 7 to 8
              2. 8 to 8.1

              I don’t mean to keep harping on this, but if he has a lot of software installed in 7 that for whatever reason he is unable to reinstall into 8.1; or if he simply doesn’t want to go through all of the work involved in doing a clean install of 8.1 then a reinstall of all his software; I personally believe it is worth a try, as long as he has a good backup of his Windows 7 install.

              Group "L" (Linux Mint)
              with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
            • #2255101

              With respect to Jim’s suggestion about installing W8 on top of W7, then W8.1 on top of W8, a few years ago in order to install W8.1 on top of W8 it was necessary to bring W8 fully up to date with all its monthly updates before it would allow the W8.1 installation to occur.

              I don’t know if this is still the case, but if it is, then it would effectively be a 3 stage exercise: 1) W7 to W8, 2) fully update W8, 3) W8 to W8.1.

              Stage 2) fully updating W8 is likely to take the longest given the nature of the windows update mechanism.

              HTH. Garbo.

              PS. I write from experience having a W8 licence. In the early months/years of W8.1 I could not use the W8 key with a W8.1 installation disk but had to install and fully update W8 (from memory a very time consuming exercise) before installing W8.1. Fortunately, more recently Microsoft have allowed a W8 key to be used for W8.1 installation which saves time, but following Jim’s suggestion would it be necessary to fully update W8 before installing W8.1 on top of it? I don’t know, but if time is the issue this is worth considering.


            • #2255254

              I believe that most regular folks (i.e. non-geeks) would prefer simply to upgrade what they have to a newer version of Windows rather than do a clean Windows install; whereas most geeks would prefer to do a clean Windows install.

              The three step method you indicated above adds a bit of time and effort to the process; unfortunately, it likely also has a serious issue. If Windows 8.0 updates are like Windows 7 updates, then the update process will get stuck at some point, and Windows simply will not install the updates. There is a “geek” hack that must be done in order to allow the updates to proceed all the way to completion when you do a clean install of Windows 7.

              Here’s what I would do if I wanted to do an upgrade install from 7 to 8.1:

              1. Get a good backup, then restore it to a new drive. Remove all drives except for the new one. Your old drive is now safely out of the computer, so you can experiment all you want without any problem.

              2. Try to upgrade directly from 7 to 8.1. If that didn’t work, then I would try to upgrade from 7 to 8, then from 8 to 8.1. I wouldn’t do any updates during the entire upgrade process – I would specifically tell Windows not to check for updates during the upgrade process – doing so slows the upgrade process down; I would simply do the upgrades from one Windows version to another.

              3. If I successfully upgraded from 7 to 8.1, I would then check for and install all “important” updates.

              If the process failed at any point, I would then have the option of doing a clean install of Windows 8.1.

              Group "L" (Linux Mint)
              with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
            • #2255423

              Garbo continues from #2255101 above …

              By chance I already have W7 Pro 64 bit on a spare disk drive (after a previous experiment) and both W8 and W8.1 Pro 64 bit installation DVDs (from previous installations), so being curious I tried out several sequences.

              Note 1: I was not prepared to mess up my current W8.1 activation on this PC, so I was only prepared to try things offline. If anything I did needed online access to Microsoft servers to continue, I was not prepared to risk it!

              Note 2: I still had “GWX Control Panel” running in Monitor Mode in this W7 partition, so uninstalled it before trying W8.1 or W8 upgrade, just in case there is common upgrade functionality between W8.1/W8 and W10 which might have messed up the upgrade.

              1. I started up W7, put the W8.1 installation disk in and ran “setup.exe”. It told me that it could not decide if my PC could support W8.1 (it can – it is running W8.1 now as I type this), so I assume that it needed online access to check a database.
              2. I restarted the PC with the W8.1 disk in place to start the PC from the W8.1 installation disk. I entered the W8.1 key and was presented with the screen offerring upgrade preserving programs and data, or clean installation. I chose upgrade and it told me to restart the PC in the existing Windows and upgrade from there i.e. to repeat the 1. sequence above.
              3. I started up W7, put the older, late 2012 W8 installation disk in and ran “setup.exe”. It told me that it could not decide if my PC (a 2012-ish Dell Optiplex 790 of the same era as the installation disk) could support W8. This was a repeat of 1. above.
              4. I restarted the PC with the W8 disk in place to start the PC from the W8 installation disk. I entered the W8.1 key and it told me that it could not verify the key and would not continue. I guess that W8.1 keys do not work with the W8 installation disk or it needed online access to continue (which I was not prepared to allow)!

              I don’t know if these sequences would go the same way on other PCs, but it does indicate I was correct in doing a clean W8.1 installion from scratch on my PC.

              HTH. Garbo.


              1 user thanked author for this post.
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    Reply To: Upgrade 7 Pro to 8.1 Pro

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