Upgrade to Windows 8 for $15

If you happen to run any version of Microsoft Windows prior to Windows 8 (XP, Vista or Windows 7), 32-bit or 64-bit, even if it was pirated, Microsoft is offering an extremely cheap way to upgrade to a full, legal version of Windows 8 for $15. Technically, the upgrade cost is $40, but if you happened to purchase your PC between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013, then Microsoft will let you upgrade for just $15. Usually, an upgrade to a newer version of Microsoft OS costs between $50 to $150, while a full version can cost up to several hundred US dollars. With the introduction of Windows 8, Microsoft wants to move more people away from its outdated Windows XP and Vista operating systems and it wants to make the OS affordable to move up to for a limited amount of time.

Windows 8

If you own a photography business, I would encourage you to stay away from pirated software period – it could cost your business and potentially put you in jail. I have two PCs that I upgraded from Windows 7 Pro 64-bit to Windows 8 Pro 64-bit. One PC was an older machine, so I could only upgrade it with the $40 upgrade promotion. A newer PC that I bought this summer though already had Windows 7, so I was able to purchase Windows 8 Pro for just $15 for that one.

I am not here to advertise or promote Windows 8. I have been using Windows 7 for a while now and I cannot complain. After upgrading to Windows 8, I can say that it is different. At first, I hated the fact that Microsoft got rid of the Start menu. But after using it for a couple of weeks now, I got used to it and I actually like it. If you really love the classic start menu, you can always go back to it using such free utilities as Classic Shell. Personally, I welcome the new changes. While the new “Start” window seems to be applicable to tablet devices only, it actually works quite nicely once you use it a little bit.

All photography software that I have seems to work perfectly fine on Windows 8. Lightroom 4.3, Adobe Photoshop CS6 and third party plugins all work as expected. I did not even have to install any motherboard drivers – Windows 8 recognized everything, including my Wacom tablet (although I did install the proper drivers for it later on).

If you decide to upgrade to Windows 8, here is what you need to do:

Upgrade for $15 Offer

If you are interested in upgrading for $15, you have to first head over to the Upgrade Offer page. Fill out the form that looks like this:

Microsoft Upgrade Offer

Once you complete the form, wait for 5-10 minutes and you will get an email with a $25 Promo Code, which you will apply in the steps below.

Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant

The next step is to use the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, which can be downloaded from here. Do this on the PC that you want to upgrade. The upgrade assistant will run through some steps to determine what is compatible and what is not:

Upgrade Assistant Step 1

Next, choose if you want to keep any settings or do a clean install:

Upgrade Assistant Step 2

If you do not want to reinstall all programs and start over, then pick the first option. If you do not care about programs and only want to keep your personal files, then choose the second option. I chose “Nothing”, because I prefer to do a clean install – I start fresh that way and only install what I need. Plus, too much junk accumulated on my PC over the last couple of years, slowing my machine down and I did not want any of it. Either way, make sure to back up your machine fully before you start the full upgrade.

The next screen will summarize what you can upgrade to:

Upgrade Assistant Step 3

Click the “Order” button, which will present you with another screen that asks if you only want digital download, or if you want to order the DVD for $14.99. I did not bother with the DVD, because the upgrade assistant will download an ISO file that you can burn to a DVD. Click the Checkout button now.

Next, you will be prompted to put in your name, address, credit card information, etc. Fill out the form and you will be presented with the “Confirm Your Order” page. Within the page, you will see a field where you can put in the Promo Code. Check your email, by now, there should be an email from Microsoft with your Promo Code. Put the code and hit Apply. Now you can see that the total on the bottom went down to $14.99. Agree to the terms and click “Buy” and the next page will show your upgrade license key. Copy the license key and print it out – you will need it during the install. You should also receive an email with the license key.

After this page, Windows 8 Pro will start to download. Once the download is complete, you will be given the option to install or save the ISO file. Save the ISO file, burn it to a DVD and you are ready to go. Make sure that a prior version of Windows is installed on your computer. Once again, the installer will not be checking your existing license key – you can upgrade from any prior version of Windows, as long as it is pre-installed on the PC. For those who want to start clean, just delete the partition during the upgrade process and create a new one. This will ensure that you are starting out clean. Do not format the drive or delete the partition before you start the upgrade process, or the license key will not work, telling you that it is only meant to be used as an upgrade.

By the way, I believe this Microsoft promotion will end at the end of January, 2013, so you have about a little over a month to take advantage of this offer.


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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Richard

    I know a few people who have bought new PCs with Windows 8. They cannot stand W8, and they’ve had these PCs for a month or two. They are computer literate. I don’t know the details, but perhaps that’s why MS is offering a $15 upgrade?

    I will think very strongly about whether or not I want W8 with my next PC some time next year.

    • Richard, after exploring Windows 8 for a couple of weeks, I can say that it is a pretty good operating system overall. It is fast, boots up really fast and has some great features. I did not even have to install any drivers – it found everything on my PC.

      As for me, I have been in IT all my life. The two really bad operating systems from Microsoft were Windows ME and Vista. Windows 7 and 8 are quite stable and work great.

      • 16
        ) Richard

        Thanks, Nasim.

        I know many updates for software simply take time to get used to, and there are good things as well as bad things.

        My main PC, on which I do most of my photo editing and organizing, does use Vista, and I actually am fairly happy with it, although it does have some flaky problems every now and then, as any operating system I have used. I’d like to upgrade it to W7 (for which I have a legal copy of it), but Western Digital/Memeo told me that my version of their backup software doesn’t work on W7….that’s why I haven’t upgraded, yet.

        My laptop used to have Vista, but I upgraded it to W7 a couple of years ago. Overall, W7 is fine. My very old PC, which I hardly use any more, still has XP on it, and, except for how slow it is, that one is ok as well.

        I haven’t looked into W8 much. I just don’t care for the interface, from what I’ve seen….looks like something you might see for a gradeschool kid! But both my Dad and my brother now have W8 on their new computers (as do 1 or 2 other friends), and my Dad and brother don’t care for it. I don’t think they’ve said that W8 is “bad,” but they just don’t like the interface. I think someone did tell me they liked it for the ability to use a USB flash memory device as RAM, but he didn’t like other things.

        So, as I get closer to getting a new PC, I’ll look more into W8. But from just what I’ve seen so far, I personally don’t think I’d like to upgrade any of my machines unless I see a major reason to do so. As long as LR is working with a 90,000 image catalogue on my Vista machine, I’m happy!

  2. 2
    ) Bill

    They should give it away, until they get all the bugs out of it.Worst version of Windows ever.

    • Bill, I disagree, I think Windows 8 is by far the best desktop OS from Microsoft.

      • 38
        ) Mikael

        I agree with Bill. While there are a lot of cool new and clean looking things about w8, it has bugs all overthe place, both during installation (intel wifi driver problem) and using windows update with failure that made my windows corrupted, now I can not open web pages without a crash

  3. many of us have been reluctant to upgrade as MS does a poor job educating power users or putting together a decent FAQ to help us. I remember when XP came out and none of the PCs in my office could access the servers until we discovered a work around hack. Vista got the same treatment, bad press, yet it worked out to be an excellent system if you knew what you were doing. Windows 7? Ditto! Bad press but is a great OS. I was avoiding Windows 8 due to the constant moaning going n…maybe us Windows users love to complain, but this write up is very timely for me to re-look at it as I viewed the link below only yesterday. Seems like Windows 8 IS a great OS and certainly a very fast booter, and well worth looking at.

    http://lifehacker.com/5955229/why-does-everyone-hate-windows-8-should-i-upgrade

    BTW I also use Macs and Apple is slowly but surely screwing its users around. If only Lightroom ran on Ubuntu!

    • Grant, I agree – Windows 8 is well worth looking at. It is fast and it has been very stable. I recently built a new PC with Core i7, 32GB of RAM and SSD drives. I bought Windows 8 Pro OEM. My motherboard has neat features like Intel Rapid Start and I am really enjoying all this new technology. The OS boots in no time, it is quite impressive.

  4. 4
    ) Chad

    I have Windows 8 Pro and I love it! People who think that it is not good have not fully explored it in my opinion!

    • Chad, fully agreed!

    • 30
      ) Gary

      To each … his/her own :)

  5. 5
    ) Robert

    Ordered a new Sony VAIO laptop, specifically for photo editing while traveling, from B&H a few days prior to W8 release. When it arrived, sure enough, it was loaded with W8 Pro 64 bit.

    While it’s not bad – though clearly designed around touch screen users – and it takes some getting used to, I’m ready to reformat and reinstall Win7 Pro 64bit. Too many times I find myself, because of a simple touchpad movement, bringing up the “start” screen or the “charm” menu, etc., and I’m tired of having to click and drag screens to close a window (granted, not in all cases). Several times, because of touchpad swipes, the keyboard/touchpad have been rendered non responsive and I’ve been forced to shut down/restart (granted, the touchpad on this machine leaves a lot to be desired itself).
    Yes, I’ve gotten past the novelty of the start screen (though I would love to be able to boot right into the desktop) and do understand my way around it. And, exactly as Nasim notes, LR4, CS6 and every major program err….app…I’ve installed runs fine.

    My opinion…if your good with Win 7, stay with it. After my experience the last 6 weeks, I’ve no intention of doing anything to the 4 other machines running Win 7 in my house.

    • Robert, if you do not like the new Start screen, you can easily go back to the previous one via Classic Shell (free). I don’t have a touchpad, but my hardware is running very happily on Windows 8 :)

      • 11
        ) Robert

        Thanks for the tip, Nasim, I’ll look into that.
        Agreed, hardware wise I’ve no issues though with the hardware mine came with I was expecting performance whether it be Win7 or 8:)

  6. Thanks Nasim. One problem I have is that I have seen that certain Photo software program’s will not be supported on Windows 8. This effects me as one of those is Nikon Capture NX. I have NX2 as an upgrade to NX and therefore I will have to either purchase a brand new copy of Capture NX2, or do without it. That leaves me with the fact that my Nik color filters will be lost as I have the NX2 plug in version. I use Nikon Capture NX2 in collaboration with Lightroom4 and Photoshop CS5 as I really find the U point control very powerful.

    What’s your view on this please.

    Richard

  7. Here are my major issues with Windows 8.

    First, it does not handle multiple displays as well as Windows 7. The new start menu takes over your primary display and blanks out the other screens, it does not flow across to the other screens which would make looking for programs a lot easier. It was only designed with one screen in mine, preferably a tablet with a touch screen.

    Two, there is no easy way to sort or categorize your start menu into a hierarchy for easier browsing. All groups are always always expanded (and only show up on one screen), so it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack for a program. Yes, you can type the program you want to open to search for it quickly, but if it’s one of those programs you only use once a month and can’t remember the name, or you just installed it and are unsure how many icons it created or what the names are, it’s a pathetic waste of time compared to Windows 7. Maybe some of the start menu hacks out there fix this, but a good operating system should not need a potentially unstable hack to get it right.

    Third, almost all programs need to be right clicked on and run as administrator to have enough rights to do anything. This affects IT personnel more than photographers obviously, I happen to be both.

    Fourth, if you work for a company that has a domain, and you need to take your laptop to another company that has a domain and authenticate on it to copy files to another server or workstation, it will not work properly. Microsoft has severely broken this, WAY worse than Vista. XP and Windows 7 would ask you for credentials, you type them in and away you go browsing the network. Not so in crippled Windows 8. You must map a network drive and choose to use different credentials. And you must map a new drive letter for every share you want to access on that same computer. What is this Microsoft? The days of DOS?! Worse, it will only work for somewhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours and then none of the mapped drive letters will work until you reboot the laptop and try again (rebooting the server or client computer you are mapped to will cause this same dropout). I’ve had this happen on eight laptops across four companies I work for, leading me to recommend Windows 8 as completely unfit for corporations and solely for home users only.

    There are some nice things I like about Windows 8 of course. It is incredibly fast. Running it off a USB thumbdrive on any hardware is incredible for a diagnostic and troubleshooting tool (available in Enterprise version). Driver support is phenomenal. USB 3.0 support is native and very fast / stable. The new dialog box for copying files, overwriting files, etc. with a graph for transfer speed is incredibly geeky and useful. The updated task manager is really good for finding that out of control app hogging all your resources. I really wish I could get around it’s shortcomings, but the issues with the network stack and cross domain authentication was the last nail in it’s coffin for me. Hopefully a future service pack fixes that bug and I can find 3rd party hacks for the GUI shortcomings. Most home users or photographers without a server or domain controller will not have all of these issues, but they may have a few.

    My friend Geoff at Digital Tigers who designed my triple monitor setup on my workstation had this to share about Windows 8 on his corporate blog: http://www.digitaltigers.com/windows-8-faq.asp

    • Sorry for some of the typos… I did this on my cell phone and it doesn’t appear I can correct them now. :-)

    • Aaron, it is strange that you are having issues with multiple displays. I know you are running a complex setup there, but for my dual screen setup, Windows 8 works perfectly fine. In fact, I like the implementation of dual monitor support on Windows 8 better than on Win 7. The toolbar can be enabled or disabled, different backgrounds can be applied, windows that are just open can be displayed on the taskbar for each monitor – pretty neat stuff! As for the start window, I customized it so that only my most frequently accessed programs are shown. If I need to see other programs, I can right click and access “All Apps” (funny how Microsoft changed programs to Apps). Privilege-wise, Windows 7 also had extra layer of protection and Windows 8 is even tighter, which is good for security. For programs that I need to run as Admin all the time, I right click them, go to properties and set them to “Run as Administrator”. That way, every time the program needs elevated privileges, I do not have to click anything, just let it run. Lastly, I have not tested Windows 8 in AD environment, so I am not sure how different it would be in terms of AD security. I am sure there are workarounds to everything though (as usual). Not trying to defend Windows 8, but I think if you explore it a little more, you can get most of the stuff working… So far so good for me!

      • Yes, I forgot to mention that showing the taskbar on all displays, and especially the open apps on each specific display they are on is a nice feature. Another nice feature is showing my panorama photos across all displays as one image. However, I already had both of these features under Windows 7 with cheap apps like UltraMon. :-) I’ve used it so long that I forgot that Windows 7 didn’t have it natively, and it is a great addition to 8.

        I’ve beta tested Windows 8 for years now, and the final build is better in many regards. At least you can get to the control popup window from the lower right corner on any display now, when it previously was only on the primary display. Even then, with multiple monitors, it is hard to hit that pixel unless you go all the way to your right display (5760 pixels and five feet away from the start “button” on the lower left of the left display–that’s a LOT of mouse traveling). The same is true in reverse if you try to open the start menu from a middle or right display. If you are patient enough, you can hit that pixel and open it from whatever display you are on. Here’s a huge bug though: whatever screen you last opened the start menu on it will default to when you hit the Microsoft button on your keyboard in the future. It won’t default to your primary display, or even better the display where your mouse or active application is. I reported this to Microsoft many times and they never bothered to fix it. These are serious design flaws and make Windows 8 impractical from a creative professional’s point of view. A good GUI should flow with my thoughts and ideas, not get in the way of them and make me jump through hoops to accomplish anything. Now I clutter my desktop with icons because that’s easier than using the jarring start menu, when I prefer a completely clean desktop. Windows 7 accomplished all this just fine. I’ll try your recommended classic shell program and see if it helps fix some of this. I’ve left Windows 8 on my laptop for over a year because I don’t use it as often as my primary workstation, and I do appreciate how fast it boots on the road and how good the power management is with it. By the way, for those that do love to clutter their desktop with icons and cover up a beautiful background photo, check out Fences. It’s a pretty cheap program and will help a lot with organizing your icons and cluttered life (and my sanity when I have to fix your broken machine, LOL!).

        Changing permissions to run as administrator still does not work for some apps. You have to open an elevated command prompt and then start the .exe or install the .msi from there to access things like mapped drive letters (Norton Ghost is a perfect example of this–in fact Ghost is so bad that you also have to map the drive letters from the same command prompt, it will not see the drive letters if done from Windows Explorer). Most photographers won’t be running the types of system utilities that IT professionals run though, so they probably won’t see the issues I’ve had there. Maybe all this sandboxing will result in a more stable system over the long term, only time will tell. We’ll see when the script kiddies living in their mommy’s basements start exploiting it. :-P

  8. I recently upgraded and it is actually smooth and runs good and faster, i made a video of my install and put it up here if anyone wants to watch it http://internet.cytalk.com/2012/10/the-windows-8-tutorial-is-a-joke/
    $15 is quite cheap i believe though so i think it is worth it. You just may want to check that your software is compatable

  9. 17
    ) Sanjay

    Hello Nasim,

    Thank you for the info. Appreciate!

    Will i be able to run cs6, imagenomic software smoothly on windows 8?

    Hope there are no compatibility issues.

    Thanks

    Sanjay

  10. 19
    ) Richard

    With regards to Nikon Software, this is an interesting link that discusses which software is to be compatible with Windows 8. http://www.photographyblog.com/news/nikon_issues_windows_8_compatibility_announcement/

    Richard

  11. 20
    ) Raph

    The huge mystery for me is why Microsoft decided that we didn’t require a start menu !
    Apart from that I like Windows 8, it IS fast and pleasant to use and perfectly practical despite the absence of the start menu.
    I installed it in an Active Directory environment without any problems. To ensure a smooth trail for users I installed free software called SkipMetroSuite which skips straight to a normal desktop where I setup a bunch of shortcuts. Funnily enough the absence of the menu might be quite useful in the environment – stops users making risky choices.
    All that remains now is to work out how to completely disable the Start screen (Metro screen)….

  12. 21
    ) Brian

    Takes some getting used to. But the metro interface is really needing some work. A bit too intrusive when toggled.

  13. 22
    ) Ertan

    Continue with the excellent Win7…

  14. 23
    ) Gary

    Nasim,
    Based on my personal experience I would not accept Windows 8 if it was FREE!
    I had a new computer custom built a couple of weeks ago with Windows 8. After a week of hassling with devices and software that were not compatible I gave up! I’m sure there are probably “work arounds” for some of the incompatibility issues but I really don’t like the Windows 8 format. I found that with Windows 8 there was a lot of back and forth required which slowed down my workflow.
    As a result, I had Windows 8 Pro removed from my computer and Windows 7 Pro installed! Now everything is great with my new computer! I have used Windows since 1993 and Windows 7 is still my favorite version.
    Regards,
    Gary

    • 25
      ) Sanjay

      Hello Gary,

      Can you please confirm what all softwares are not compatible with windows 8. As i am buying a new laptop which is coming with windows 8. My only concern is that whether it will be compatible with CS6 photoshop and Imagenomic softwares llike noiseware n portraiture.

      Thank you

      Sanjay

      • 31
        ) Gary

        Sanjay,
        Compatibility was hit and miss in my experience. My Canon printer loaded okay … but my Epson printer would not with Windows 8 … a driver issue. When I was setting up my external HD for back up I found that the Ghost software would not load with Windows 8. I contacted Symantec and they confirmed the current version of Ghost 15 will work with Windows 8. I don’t know about Photoshop because I got rid of Windows 8 before I loaded it on the new computer.
        Gary

        • 33
          ) Gary

          Whoops! That should read Norton Ghost “will NOT work” with Windows 8. ;)

        • 34
          ) Sanjay

          Thank you for your reply Gary. Appreciate! Hopefully, will buy a laptop with windows 7 or will try windows 8 and if any problem arise will downgrade to Windows 7.

          Thanks!

  15. 26
    ) J. Austin

    No thanks. Windows 8 is a mess, not to mention ugly and hard to use. Rank it up there with Windows Me and Windows Bob as complete Microsoft failures.

    • 36
      ) James

      Care to explain what exactly? Have you actually gave it a proper try? Have you actually learned to use it the proper way so you can adjust your workflow to it? I highly doubt it, but curious why you consider it a failure while many others who actually use it properly consider it the best OS yet.

  16. 27
    ) Patrick Sullivan

    My chief complaint is that programs that can launch from metro UI will convert you straight over to the desktop interface. I don’t like the cross-pollination since when I close said app, it doesn’t throw me back into the metro UI.

    That is a minor complain though, I can easily hit the windows key and get back into metro UI if I want too. I think that people have problems because they don’t actually know how to use Win 8. Who cares if you don’t have a start button when you have universal search? The taskbar is on the left side of the screen, big deal.

    Win 7 was/is a great OS, Win 8 is better.

  17. 28
    ) Art

    Thanks for the information on the Windows 8 upgrade offer of $15. I had just bought a laptop and was able to get the discount. I really wanted to try out windows 8 but did not want to lose Windows 7 until I felt comfortable with Windows 8.
    So I purchased and downloaded the update and used the option to install from media, I then selected create an .iso file, then I selected “open DVD burner” and created a install disk for windows 8. I then made and formatted a 100GB partition using the disk management tool in windows 7. I inserted the install disc in the drive and restarted the computer. I let the computer boot from the install disc and following the install instructions installed Windows 8 on my newly created partition. Now on boot up the computer allows me to select which operating system I want to run. If I do not like Windows 8 I can just uninstall it at a later date and all I am out is 15 dollars. So if you want to try out Windows 8 without losing Windows 7 create a dual boot system. If you have never done this before be careful when creating and removing partitions, you could make your machine into a zero boot system if you do something wrong. Remember measure twice cut once.
    As for Windows 8 so far……. I am still confused……time to research.

    Regards
    Art

    • 29
      ) Art

      Sorry forgot to mention that the web has lots of sites that give step by step instructions on how to do dual boot. Just “Google” “dual boot windows 8 with (your operating system)” and it should give you lots of options.

      Regards
      Art

  18. 32
    ) Jay

    I’m one of those that have pirated Windows 7 software (shhhh don’t tell anyone). I bought the desktop hand built for gaming from a student. So I do want to legit my software. Without a licensed Windows 7, how do I get the upgrade price and successfully install?

  19. 35
    ) James

    Thanks for the tip, Nasim!

    For all those people who are concerned by the negative feedback, don’t listen to them. It’s people that are lazy or barely tried it. Windows 8 brings a new modern OS with a SLIGHT change in workflow. With patience and actually learning to adjust it to your own standards, you’ll realize Window 8 is the best OS to date . I also switched my iPhone to a Lumia 920 (Windows Phone 8) and absolutely love how they work together and how personal the phone is. :)

    • 37
      ) Gary

      James,
      “Don’t listen to them” … they are “lazy”?! Wow … what an arrogant and condescending remark! I’m really glad that you like Windows 8 however I don’t! And no … I’m not lazy … and yes I tried it.
      Gary

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