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Windows 10 In-Place Upgrade from Windows 8.1

A step-by-step post on how my Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 8.1 worked (its easy!) and a couple of post migration observations worth noting.


We could not wait to get our hands on the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview build (version 9926) following the recent press conference.  Luckily Microsoft decided to release it much earlier than the two weeks they promised so I ran an in-place upgrade on my Windows 8.1 laptop.

My objective was to test the migration process and to experience the latest version of the operating system.  Microsoft state the preview is intended for PC “experts” only and warn potential users they may experience many updates and system restarts and that the user interrface may change over time.  The bottom line is that the Windows 10 Technical preview should not be installed on main or production computers.

Microsoft have provided a lot of useful information that is worth reading before migration:

The Windows 10 In-Place Upgrade

Microsoft have worked hard to make the upgrade process seamless for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users to ensure that your applications and settings are transferred to your new system.  The analogy of buying a new car has been used in this situation – you park you car one evening, return to it in the morning and it has been upgraded (Porsche anyone?) but all your preferences remain the same – the radio station presets are still there, the seats and mirrors are in the right place etc.

The key thing with the in-place upgrade is that you are not wiping your machine and rebuilding it and then adding the applications one-by-one.  And it has been stated that the upgrade will leave a small amount of unnecessary files but these will just take some disk space and will not impact performance in any way.  On a single machine not having to re-install applications saves a lot of time and effort.  But when you multiply that to hundreds or thousands of PCs that’s a huge saving for business.

In my case I have Visual Studio Premium installed (thank you to the person who noticed an issue with the version I had orignally recorded here)  and that alone on this particular machine takes a couple of hours to re-install.

Overall aside for a couple of niggles it was a positive experience.  I am writing this blog post on my “shiny new” Windows 10 macine and all my applications are working fine.  The settings have transferred and drivers working.

Step 1: Windows 10 Preparation

My machine is a Samsung 900X3B Ultrabook with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD Disk running Windows 8.1  Possibly not a normal test machine but it is three years old.  I use the machine for .NET development and customer presentations. 

  • Firstly I would suggest some housekeeping. It is not necessary but I knew I had a lot of disk space to save by uninstalling SQL Server on my Laptop.  One thing I noticed is the system requirements suggested 16GB of free disk space – I only had 10GB and it worked fine.
  • secondly I would reboot your machine to ensure there are no “pending” / outstanding actions on your computer.
  • Thirdly….make sure you have a backup!  I use both OneDrive and Dropbox to protect data which you may use as well but remember the software that is installed on your machine and whether you need the media.  From this experience a backup was not required but it really is essential just in case.
  • Lastly ensure if you are upgrading a mobile device ensure it is plugged-in to a power source.

An optional step, and more of an experiment for us, I checked the machine using our own product Lens (migration tooling) to see how many apps were on my machine and whether the spec was appropriate for a Windows 10 upgrade:


Lens confirmed that I had a lot of applications, although I didn’t realise there were 365 of them(!).  It also confirmed that I needed to do an in-place upgrade, otherwise I would have spent days or possibly weeks re-installing the applications that had accumulated over the years.  Lastly it provides some information on the spec of the machine, user profiles that have been used and usage information of programs actually used (rather than just installed).  Now I had a full view of what was to be upgraded, and what may need checking post migration I was ready to upgrade the laptop to Windows 10.

Step 2: Become a Windows Insider

The upgrade is very easy to kick-off and you do not have to download files or save them to USB /DVDs (unless you want to.  Instead you can join Windows Insider where the website will recognise that you are running Win 8.1 and invite you to begin the upgrade:


Step 3: Download and run the upgrade program

You will be prompted to download a small program that will manage the installation.  Simply select Run.


This will run a small program to instruct your computer to utiltise Windows Updates to manage the upgrade.  The program runs very quickly but note that I had to run this twice as I had to reboot my machine.  Not a big problem but it can be avoided:


Step 4: Kick-off the upgrade

And voila!  Windows Upgrade is now handling your in-place upgrade to Windows 10:


Once you press install Windows Update will run the upgrade and provides a status update:


It is worth noting that the download is nearly 3GB which is perfectly fine for a single machine on a modern home broadband connection but it did make me think of some customers we have recently been working with outside the UK who operate on links on less than 1MB.  Therefore the size of the internet link and the number of PCs being upgraded may need considering when upgrading more than one machine.

Step 5: Confirm upgrade 

The screens are very clear with very obvious calls to actions, making decision making simple throughout the upgrade process.
Once the download has completed you have an option to continue or to back out:

As you can probably see this so far this is a very straighforward process.  It made me wonder how the same process could be used easily during the period whilst Windows 10 is a free upgrade from windows 7 and Windows 8.1 but what would happen after the first year when the upgrade will no longer be free?  I assume when the time comes the option will no longer be available in Windows Upgrade and some software would be available to allow you to sign in, add you credit card details and buy Windows 10.  

Therefore it is fair to conclude not only is the free license offer good for Win7/8 users the actual upgrade process is easier too.


Once you have accepted the legal terms (once again highlighting this is pre-release software) the upgrade process checks your PC in-depth to identify any issues that may occur.  


The software did not find any issues or concerns so it proceeded to present the following screen which is really your last chance to back-out. There might be another screen that is presented if the Windows 10 upgrade process finds any issues.


As you may notice the upgrade screen provides you a choice to either upgrade immediately or schedule the upgrade for another time when you are not using the computer.  In my case I selected “Start upgrade now” and seeing it was the weekend went out for the day.


When I returned to the machine it was ready waiting for me to login.  I found the Windows 10 upgrade process via Windows Update to be very simple indeed, just a few clicks of the mouse and the 3GB download.  This was a great upgrade experience for my single laptop machine and all my settings and applications were preserved as advertised.  For post upgrade I made some obervations which were mostly about performance after the first login.  If you have upgraded it would be interesting to learn about your experience.  

And as ever if you want to dicuss Windows 10 please don’t hesitate to contact us!



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Hutton Henry
Hutton Henry
I'm a creative business owner, who has interests in technology, screenwriting and what makes people tick. Somehow these disciplines converge to provide a unique perspective on Post-Merger Integration ("PMI"). In my opinion, PMI (and most transformative change) works best when you consider the people aspect first.

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