In this article I will outline my experiences with an in-place upgrade of my corporate Windows 7 x64 Ultimate machine to that of Windows 8 Release Preview (RP). Granted this is a release preview and not the RTM (Release to Manufacturing), but most of the underlying bits should remain the same in the end in a few months. I have a large range of software installed on this test machine, which should be useful for compatibility testing. I've included a compatibility chart to organize my findings. In addition, this setup is a multi-monitor setup of 4 screens over the two video cards to make things more interesting. This is a work in progress, as I will likely update this article over time.
Computer: Dell Precision T3500
CPU: Xeon W3520 2.66GHz
Hard Drive: 750GB Hitachi 32MB Cache hds721075DLE630 Sata II 7200 RPM 3.5" Internal
Video Card #1: ATI 5770 1GB
Video Card #2: ATI FirePro V3750 FireGL
Existing OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Before beginning the grand adventure I wanted to document some things and get a baseline before the upgrade. I'll include the stats of Windows 8 in this same section for comparison. I wouldn't hold much weight on the differences between these tests. I think in my initial test of Windows 7 via Passmark, the disk benchmark became messed up, hence the reason why in the Windows 8 comparison test, the overall rating looks a bit higher. All in all both benchmarks are about the same. Of course I'm using software that wasn't specifically designed for Windows 8 in this case, though under the hood it should still largely be Windows 7 under the hood and test out the same.
Benchmarks for Windows 7
Benchmarks for Windows 8
Getting ahead of ourselves lets compare the boot times of Windows 7 vs Windows 8 (after the setup completed and all was done).
Boot Times: Windows 7 vs Windows 8
54 seconds: To get the login prompt from the end of the Bios sequence
8 min 2 seconds: To fully load all apps and be ready to use
1 min 54 seconds: To get to the login prompt
4 min 8 seconds: To fully load all apps and be ready to use
Start Menu - Windows 7
To see what would happen with existing start menu I took some screenshots of my configurations under Windows 7:
Next we get to "Choose what to keep." For this install it would be an in-place upgrade so I chose "Keep Windows settings, personal files, and apps". The other options are "Keep personal files only" where it just saves your important files alone and blows away everything else, or "Nothing" where it destroys everything via a clean install. Keep in mind that it is usually better to go clean, but this article is discussing upgrades, which many will still do.
After this, setup cranked away and showed 100% at about 53 minutes, though I wasn't able to get to the Start Screen till around 2 hours once setup fully completed. This is still significantly faster than the upgrade going from Vista to Windows 7.
As you can see below, the Start Screen did not contain my customized Windows 7 groups and seems to be missing a ton of shortcuts. This is a bit disheartening due to the shear number of shortcuts I had in the original Start Menu. To go back through and add them will be painful. Also, after entering my domain credentials, it went straight to the desktop the first time. After rebooting it did Windows Updates then when I logged in it went straight to the Start Screen as expected.
If we right click on the blank space of the Start Screen we get the option to click "All Apps". Once you do this, many of the missing shortcuts appear. In fact, the custom Start Menu folders I created under Windows 7 now appear in the Apps view. You can't default to this "Apps" view however. If you click on anything other than the shortcut, it will flip back to the regular view. It also seems to contain many shortcuts that weren't found in the original Windows 7 Start Menu. You can right click each shortcut that was missing from the main view and have those icons added to the standard view.
One of the first things you will notice when you go to the desktop mode is that the taskbar spans all of your screens (if you have more than one). And that all of your shortcuts that were pinned to the taskbar still remain on the main screen, after the upgrade. If you had a multiple level taskbar on your main screen under Windows 7, it stays the same height on the main screen for Windows 8. Its the other screens that end up with a single level taskbar.
Windows 7 taskbar:
The spanned Taskbar:
Issues and Observations
Now we get to all the fun stuff after installing. After the in-place upgrade several things were not working correctly. In this section I'll outline those issues as well as other observations. Below is a chart that outlines my findings. Specific application notes are after the chart.
* indicates that it didn't initially work, but after applying a fix it did.
|Application||Working?||Fix? / Notes|
|ATI Catalyst Software||No*||Yes, download the Release Preview driver|
|Adobe CS6 and CS5||No*||LoadLibrary failed with error 126: The specified Module could not be found. Possibly ATI graphic driver related. Solution is to update the display adapter driver in device manager manually to one that isn't an "Engineering Sample"|
|Acronis Backup and Recovery v11||No||No|
|Samsung ML-1740||No*||Yes, download the Universal Driver|
|Logmein Hamachi VPN||No*||Yes, uninstall then reinstall|
|Vmware Workstation v8||No*||Yes, Just uninstall then re-install (WARNING, do not install the Windows 8 Hyper-V role, or you won't be able to launch Vmware VM's)|
|Active Directory Snap-in Tools||No*||Yes, Download the new RSAT tools for Windows 8|
|Camtasia 7.1||No*||Yes, just click continue.|
|Hammer 3D Level Editor v4.x||Yes||NA|
|Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Control Panel||Yes||NA|
|Exchange 2010 Management Console||No||Not supported as of yet. Even after .NET compatibility pack installed.|
|Dymo Label v8||Yes||NA|
|Configuration Manager Console v4.00||Yes||NA|
|iTunes v10.x x64||Yes||NA|
|Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010||Yes||NA|
|Microsoft Visual SourceSafe||Yes||NA|
|Adobe Acrobat X Pro||Yes||No|
|Xplorer2 v2.x||Yes||Had to re-apply the serial number after the upgrade|
|Print Management Snap-in||Yes||NA|
|Eset Nod32 Antivirus v4||Yes||NA|
|Adobe Robohelp 9||Yes||NA|
|Nero Burning Rom v126.96.36.199||Yes||NA|
|TotalMedia Theatre 5||Yes||NA|
|Sony Vegas Pro x64 v11 build 511||Yes||NA|
|Visual Intercept Manager||Yes||NA|
|Winrar 4.00 x64||Yes||NA|
|Passmark Performance Test 6.1||Yes||NA|
|Microsoft Visual Studio 2010||Yes||NA|
|Panorama Maker Pro v4||Yes||NA|
|Microsoft Expression v4||Yes||NA|
|TFS Administration Tool||Yes||NA|
|VLC Media Player v1.1.11||Yes||NA|
|Great Plains Dynamics v11.00.1752||Yes||NA|
|3D-FTP v8 build 3||Yes||NA|
|Pivot Stick Figure Animator v2.2.6||Yes||NA|
|Microsoft Lync 2010||Yes||NA|
|Google Desktop 5.9.0908.26273||Yes||NA|
|Windows Live Messenger||Yes||NA|
|Reaper v 4.02 x64||Yes||NA|
|Monoprice 10x6 Tablet||No*||Initially the Lync option for drawing was missing and tablet functioned. Just reinstall the driver and close and reopen Lync to get the drawing button back|
Internet Explorer Metro
Upon upgrading there does not seem to be a Metro version of IE installed. It's only the desktop version.
This is the way Internet Explorer Metro is designed to behave by default. Since I had already installed Chrome (or any other browser) as the default, Windows 8 will not show the Metro Tile for IE 10. To get that back you have to set IE 10 as the default browser. A pretty ridiculous feature if you ask me.
- Get to the Windows Desktop by pressing the Windows Key or the Desktop tile if on the Start Screen.
- Use Windows Key + R to bring up the Run Command
- Type Control and hit enter
- Go to Default Programs, Set program Access and computer defaults.
- Set IE as the default browser and the tile will return.
The above doesn't really do the complete fix, it seems that the following is needed:
- Open the desktop version of IE and go to Tools, Internet Options, Programs tab then click "Set Associations"
- Enable all options and apply the changes
Ati (AMD) Catalyst Software
The ATI software needed an updated version to work correctly. A dialogue box on Program Compatibility came up as the software loaded on a reboot.
**Also, see below in the Adobe CS5/CS6 section for updating your display adapter in device manager for compatibility issues with other apps, after you install the updated ATI software.
Monoprice 10" Drawing Tablet
The tablet itself still works, but the draw icon in Microsoft Lync is now missing. It is my guess that I may need to reinstall Lync to regain that functionality.
UPDATE: I reinstalled the Monoprice driver software. It said to reboot. I didn't reboot. I then file exit from Lync and reopened Lync. The drawing option was back.
Mass Storage Device
I had a mass storage device go missing after the upgrade.
It was for vendor id: PCI\VEN_105A&DEV_3D17&SUBSYS_3D17105A&REV_02
Turns out this was a Promise SATA300 Tx4 IDE controller card in the machine.
I downloaded this driver and pointed the missing device in device manager to that driver after extraction and everything was detected and installed correctly.
Printers: Samsung ML-1740 was missing its driver which was previously working. I had to go to the Samsung website and install the universal printer driver located here. After running the exe I then went into device manager and updated the driver via the automatic update option and then the printer was ok. However, it shows up as "Universal Printer Driver" in the picklist for printing. Note, that if you try to use the ML-1740 Win7 GDI driver it will not work. Device manager will throw a hash tag/corruption error.
Hamachi: After the upgrade hamachi was still there, but attempting to power it on resulted in the software thinking it was a fresh install. Also, the Hamachi Network Interface had a yellow exclamation mark next to it in device manager. To get around this issue of Hamachi not working, I searched for it under Apps on the Start Screen. Then I clicked Uninstall which took me to the standard Control Panel interface and uninstalled. After that was done I just reinstalled version 188.8.131.52 and it was ok. I didn't try to figure out why it was missing my settings from before. I suspect this is related to the fact that the upgrade renamed the old c:\windows c:\windows.old Apparently the config folder that resides inside of the System32 one didn't get ported during the upgrade.
Remote Desktop in the Desktop Experience mode is very buggy, often crashing. At one point it crashed and left the system unstable for about 5 minutes. Moving the cursor across the screens would be extremely lagged and unresponsive and you couldn't try to manually bring up task manager to kill the task. After some time it finally let me hit cancel or ok on the error dialog. This behavior didn't change even after installing Remote Desktop from the Windows Store.
Update: I found that remote desktop in the desktop mode was only really failing for one of my connections. I tweaked some of the settings and it seemed to crash less often, though still not perfect. In that test case it was connecting to a Windows 7 x64 Ultimate remote machine.
Update 6/13/12: This problem continues and not just on the one remote desktop connection. Still trying to find a solution to this. The "clean" virtual image I have doesn't experience this issue so far.
**UPDATE 8/15/12: The problem with remote desktop was related to a domain policy of pushing printer connections. In particular the Dell 5110CN PCL driver (version 1.0.19) was the root cause. If you either disable the push of that particular printer or turn off printer sharing in the remote desktop session, then the issue goes away. Ill be looking for a newer driver to see if it fixes the issue.
Adobe CS5 and CS6 Master Collection Various Apps **Updated 6/21/2012**
On launching it throws the error: LoadLibrary failed with error 126: The specified Module could not be found. Possibly ATI graphic driver related.
I don't recall seeing this initially but as of today this error is occurring which is possibly related to the ATI driver.
Go to device manager, Display Adapter. You will see your display adapter is listed as "Engineering Sample" which is the reason why Adobe CS5 and CS6 generates this error.
Right click the adapter, choose Update Driver Software, Browse my computer for driver software, Let me pick from a list:
Choose the driver that is closest to the current date, in my case it was:
ATI Radeon 5700 8.972.4.0 [5/31/2012] and click Next.
After it updates try launching the offending CS5 or CS6 app and it should now work.
Vmware popped up with a Program Compatibility dialogue saying I had to reinstall it to continue.
Vmware with Hyper-V Windows 8 Role installed
If you decide to install the Hyper-V role under Programs and Features, it will break Vmware version 8.x resulting in the error that "VMware Workstation and Hyper-V are not compatible":
Remove the Hyper-V role from Windows 8
(Adding the Hyper-V role to Windows 8 doesn't allow management of 2008 and 2008 R2 Hyper-V hosts. Microsoft has deliberately designed the newer Hyper Visor manager in this way for now at least)
Acronis Backup and Recovery v11.17318
Upon trying to launch Acronis I was greeted with a Program Compatibility Assistant dialogue:
Clicking Get Help Online ultimately just took you to the http://www.acronis.com/support/ area with no real resolution.
If you try to run the program anyway, this will result in an error "Cannot connect to 'localhost'" with Code: 11,468,819(0xAF0013).
I then tried running version 11.17438 to see if this would fix the issue, but the setup resulted in another compatibility issue. Obviously over time there should be an update or a new version of Acronis to resolve this issue.
Program Compatibility dialogue appears when you try to run the Studio, though if you do a test recording it appears to work fine.
Active Directory Users and Computers and DFS Management Tool
Clicking on this part of the MMC tree shows "MMC could not create the snap-in".
In order to use these tools you need to download the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 from here.
.NET Framework 3.5 and below - Compatibility Feature Installation
Some apps will pop up and tell you that you need to install .NET Framework 3.5, which includes 2.0 and 3.0 as below. Doing so allows the application to function.
You can also enable .NET framework manually in Control Panel. Go to Programs and Features, Turn Windows features on or off and select the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5.1 check box (it will require an internet connection).
The path to the user based Start Menu and all of its original contents can be found in Windows Explorer at: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs (the same is a true for a clean install).
In fact, the "all users" Start Menu path is still there as well at C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu Along with the custom made folders.
The upgrade was relatively quick compared to past experiences. Sure there are a few applications that are currently not compatible but that will change in short time. Given the large number of applications I have installed on this machine (not all of them listed here, just the main ones) only having a few that had issues wasn't the end of the world.
As far as actual use is concerned, overall the experience has indeed been snappy and smooth. I will say that hitting those hot corners on a multi-screen layout can a learning curve at first. But at this point I find my self moving around in Windows 8 quite easily.
Being able to use the Windows Key on the keyboard to get to the Start Screen is a plus, though rare, mainly due to the lack of Metro applications for business and in general. It is also very convenient having the taskbar span all the monitors so that as things pop up you can get to them quickly or switch between tasks quicker.
It would be nice to be able to have the Start Screen visible at all times on one screen. Perhaps we will see a hack that allows this down the road.
Now we just await the RTM and GA (General Availability) release of Windows 8, which according to various sources should be around early August and October respectively.
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