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(Pocket-lint) - After a lengthy wait, the time has finally come for the world to get its hands on Windows 8. Not everyone is going to be installing it clean on a brand new PC, though. A lot of people will be looking to upgrade. So how do you upgrade to Windows 8?

For some it is going to cost, others might be able to dodge part of Microsoft’s fee. There are even a few who simply won’t be able to run Windows 8. Read on to find out which one applies to you.

How much is a Windows 8 upgrade?

For a Windows 7 user, the upgrade path is straightforward. First you need to go to Microsoft’s website and put in an order for the Windows 8 Pro upgrade pack. This can be downloaded straight from Microsoft and should cost £24.99.

There is also the option to go for a Windows 8 upgrade disc, should you want a hard copy instead. That’s going to cost £49.98 and can be picked up from Amazon and other places here.

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If you recently bought a Windows 7 PC and don’t want to stump up the fee for the upgrade, Microsoft offers a discount. Any Windows 7 computer bought between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013 can be upgraded to Windows 8 for just £14.99. Worth remembering.

Upgrading to Win 8 from Win 7, XP and Vista

Microsoft has managed to make a very straightforward upgrade process for nearly all Windows users. Whether or not you go for the download or the disc option, the installation of Windows 8 is going to be almost the same.

It is worth noting that the downloadable version of Windows 8 will allow you to burn a DVD or create a bootable backup USB at no extra charge. So we say the downloadable version is the best route if you can go for it.

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The experience you get after you upgrade is going to vary depending on which version of Windows you were using originally. Microsoft says those using Windows 7 will bring everything along to Windows 8, including settings, files and applications.

For Windows Vista, you’re still going to get your settings and files. Finally, for those upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows XP, it is going to be files only that get taken along into your new Windows 8 experience.

Anyone still working from a Microsoft OS that pre-dates Windows XP is out of luck on the upgrade front. You’ll have to buy the full version of Windows 8. 

What happens to my applications?

Windows 7 and Windows 8 share a lot of similarities. That doesn’t mean, however, that every application you have will run smoothly on the new operating system right from the get-go.

To combat this, Microsoft has created the compatibility centre website, which lists most major applications and shows what has been certified to run on the new operating system. Upon upgrading, you should also get a compatibility report that lists exactly what software you have installed on your computer that will run on Windows 8, and what won’t.

Don’t forget, though, that Microsoft says software won’t be transferred across to Windows 8 from XP or Vista. You will need to reinstall them on the new operating system. Make sure you have all your CD keys and relevant documentation so you can install things straight away.

Some software also has a habit of needing to be deactivated before you reinstall on a new operating system, so make sure to check.

Can my computer run Windows 8?

This really is just a case of checking your system against Microsoft’s list of requirements. If you click on My Computer, then you should be able to get hold of some basic system specifics. If however you want to be absolutely sure, right click and go to system properties, this will show you everything you need to know about your computer.

So what do you need to run Windows 8? Here is the specs list: A processor that is either 32-bit or 64-bit, a minimum of 1GHz of processor power, 1GB of RAM or 2GB for the 64-bit version, a DirectX 9 capable graphics card and 20GB of hard drive space.

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If all that technical jargon confuses you, a better way to look at it is this: if you are running Windows 7, chances are your computer will run Windows 8.

If you are using an older computer and don’t understand how to check if it is compatible, the set-up itself will scan your PC to make sure it will run. The only problem here is that you will have already downloaded and paid for the upgrade. We suggest perhaps taking a printout of your computer specs with you to a computer shop and asking them.

Writing by Hunter Skipworth.