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Windows 8 in Parallels Desktop

Yesterday I upgraded my old Vista virtual machine to Windows 8. It was inexpensive, painless and surprisingly quick.

A few days ago Parallels sent out a frantic email. Critical and Urgent Windows 8 Service Advisory, the headline shouted. It went on to warn that "Upgrading now may damage your virtual machine, causing you to lose all your data, files and Windows applications."

Oh, well, that doesn't sound so awful.. I raised my eyebrows, but I wasn't upset. Microsoft has said that they'll hold that $39.99 "upgrade from anything" price until at least January and I'm not anxiously holding my breath. I don't really care about Windows 8. I have XP and Vista in Parallels virtual machines and I'd like to upgrade the Vista just to keep current, but I don't NEED Windows 8.

Well, that's not true: I'll need it to be able to help customers who will start using it soon enough. My need is very minor though: I won't be helping them with Win 8 per se; it will be because they happen to be using Win 8 and are having a problem with something else like a Unix/Linux machine or a mail server or a network.. I don't need to know very much about Windows 8.

Still, when I found my self with ninety minutes of free time on Saturday afternoon, I idly browsed over to the Parallels forums just to see how they were progressing with whatever awful glitch had plagued those VM upgrades. Surprise, surprise: they had ferreted out the problem, produced a Parallels upgrade and if I would download and install that first, I'd be safe to buy Windows 8 from Microsoft and upgrade whatever I wanted to.

I hesitated. We had dinner guests who would be arriving somewhat soon. I shouldn't start something like this. I vacillated and then thought, well, heck, I can always just suspend the virtual machine and come back to it later. So why not? I fired up the Vista instance and browsed on over to Microsoft to buy the upgrade.

A bit ugly, but easy and quick

This is very, very simple. You download a "Windows 8 Upgrade assistant" and run that. It checks out your machine (and, I assume, the legality of your license) and then tells you what stuff you have that won't work after you upgrade and asks you whether you want to keep the stuff you can keep or just wipe it all out and start fresh.

Once you make that choice, it asks for money and I was pleased to see that they offered PayPal as a payment option. With my $39.99 transferred to their not as greedy as they used to be hands, the upgrade began. It very quickly downloaded the files it needed and started churning away.

Windows 8 begins to install

I knew from my reading that this would not proceed entirely without interaction from me. Although it would do almost everything needed without my advice, I would at some point have to answer some questions to choose a color scheme and decide if I wanted to use my old Vista user account or create a new account for Windows 8.

I expected that would not be anything I'd be doing until the next day, at best. Heck, this is a virtual machine doing a complete operating system transplant. There was no way this would be done before I'd be eating dinner.

To my amazement, the first reboot showed up very quickly.

The first reboot of the Win 8 installation

I cynically chuckled to myself, thinking that this was just the beginning of long waits while thousands of files would be extracted and or downloaded to complete the process. No sense in me hanging around, right? I switched away to check email and tidy up some other things. With plenty of time still available before dinner, I checked back just to see how badly it would be struggling.

Amazingly, it was almost done!

Win 8 moving my settings

I did have to answer those very few questions, but long before I needed to be done, I had this on my screen:

Win 8 ready to use

Color me astonished. I actually still had plenty of time to shut down the machine, give it a bit more video memory, boot it up again, find Control Panel and adjust my screen resolution!

People are not going to like this

Joe and Mary Average are going to hate Eight. Various pundits have told you why; you don't need to read all that again here. It's all true: Joe and Mary will be confused, frustrated and probably angry.

One quote from an article I just read this morning: (Webpronews, Windows 8: Is It Worth The Upgrade?)

So, it all comes down to one question - should you upgrade to Windows 8? At the moment, it's not really worth it.

Heck, if I needed Win 8 for my daily work, I might feel like that. Windows 8 hides stuff and that has to be among the dumbest things Microsoft has ever done. Do they really want long time customers baffled as to how to accomplish tasks they've been doing for years?

Oh, well. Nobody ever said Microsoft was smart. Well, yeah, people have said that, but they were wrong and Windows Eight proves that beyond any doubt.

Still: it's an easy and very quick upgrade, it doesn't cost much, it's easier on your hardware than Windows 7 and if you are committed to Windows, you WILL figure out its tricks and traps soon enough and you'll be happy again.

Not as happy as you would be with a Mac, of course, but that's your mistake.

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