Upgrade a Macbook with Boot Camp from Windows 7 to Windows 8 Pro

I have a mid-2011 Macbook Air running both OSX Lion and Windows 7 using Boot Camp.

Over the weekend I upgraded it to Windows 8 by doing the download only installation. The process was quite simple and it worked fine. Here’s the steps:

  1. Boot into Windows 7
  2. Go to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows/download-shop and click “Buy Windows 8”. Download the installer and start it up.
  3. Pay! The installer will ask for you billing details, credit card / debit card / Paypal details etc. At £25 I thought it was a cheap enough upgrade, especially since I would be going from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 8 Pro which means I’d get Remote Desktop etc.
  4. Wait half an hour while the installer downloads the OS.
  5. Once the install starts, it will ask you if you want to
    1. Keep all your programs and your personal info and settings
    2. Keep your personal settings only
    3. Keep nothing. I went for this option as I always like to start fresh.
  6. Now I had a few problems. The install demanded that I have 20Gb free on my C: and I only had about 5 Gb free. I had to stop the installation to free up some disk space. I did this by:
    1. Running Disk Cleanup
    2. Disabled Virtual memory, which shrunk the pagefile.sys from 4Gb to 0Gb.
    3. Disabled hibernate, which removed the 4Gb hiberfile.sys
    4. Deleted c:\Windows\TrustedInstaller folder – but that was a mistake, because then I couldn’t uninstall any programs to free up the necessary space!
    5. Since I was choosing to keep nothing on C: anyway I deleted folders willy-nilly from C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files (x86)
  7. After that I was able to continue the installation which took another 20 mins or so. It rebooted 3 or 4 times, during which  I had to hold down the Mac’s option key at boot and choose the Windows partition.
  8. All done! Windows 8 works fine.

Once it was installed I did a couple of clean-up tasks.

  1. My C: was almost full again, because the install had backed up everything in the C:\Windows.old folder. So I ran Disk Cleanup again and clicked the “Clean up system files” button to remove those.
  2. I no longer had Apple’s Boot Camp drivers installed in Windows, so I had boot into OSX, start the Boot Camp helper and copied the Boot Camp drivers to a USB memory stick. Then rebooted into Windows and installed those drivers. Worth doing so that the Mac’s hotkeys (volume up/down, screen brightness etc) would work.

9 thoughts on “Upgrade a Macbook with Boot Camp from Windows 7 to Windows 8 Pro

  1. Hi, may i know if you are able to perform windows 8 update when you boot into the windows partition on your mac? I am planning to get a Macbook Air for my work…. I am now using a Sony Vaio computer…

  2. Hello (I’m a student from Taiwan)
    The windows 8 “upgrade” has three choice::

    1.Keep all your programs and your personal info and settings
    2.Keep your personal settings only
    3.Keep nothing

    If I chose the third option, will the “Mountain Lion OS” portion be crashed?

  3. Hello,I read your ariticle but I have some questions:

    The windows 8 has three option for “upgrade”

    1.Keep all your programs and your personal info and settings
    2.Keep your personal settings only
    3.Keep nothing

    If I choose the third option,will the “Mountain Lion OS” be crashed?

  4. Also of note when upgrading Win7 to Win8 on MacBook Air: even with a clean partition & install of Win7, upgrading using a Win8 update DVD *in an Apple USB SuperDrive* failed 3 times in final stages. Perhaps the required Boot Camp drivers were absent when booting into Win8 for the first time?
    The solution: make an .iso image of the Win8 update DVD, then use Boot Camp Assistant to copy it with Boot Camp drivers onto a thumb drive. That worked for me, where the actual Win8 DVD in SuperDrive failed.
    Possibly just installing from the Win8 update DVD would work: it rejected my Win8 key as only valid for upgrades, not for clean installs, but I suspect that the laborious phone-activation procedure within “Activate Windows” would have worked. Phone activation *seems* meant to prevent large-scale key duplication, while allowing single-use key activation for those left with no option but to plod through the procedure.

  5. When I am trying to upgrade from windows 7 to 8 I have this problem that when I need to start to pick a color and then a name my mouse and keyboard doesn’t work. I tried to use an external mouse and it still didn’t work. What to do?!

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