XP to Windows 8 – when it goes wrong:-(

As the upgrade to Win 8 went as smooth as chocolate on my Dell D620, I thought I would do the same procedure on my Dell Optiplex 755. This didn’t go as smoothly and I had to do a lot of Googling and trawling the Dell forums to find a solution, see below for the story but here’s a quick answer that might help.

Unfortunately, it seems that the 755 has a bug in the BIOS and this causes the installation to fail, I won’t go into it but it involves the NX setting in the BIOS. The work round is to run the Upgrade assistant on a Win7 box and follow through until you get the option to save the install files to DVD or (USB) Flash drive. (Note you don’t get this option with XP because XP doesn’t natively support CD/DVD burning!!!)

Select the Flash drive option (you need a 4GB min Flash drive) and it will copy the set-up files and make the flash drive bootable. This also has the added benefit of having the install files on the flash drive so you don’t need to download again if it all goes wrong!

When you now run the set-up.exe from the flash drive, the “NX” bit is avoided and the update completes.

The story!

Used the upgrade assistant it went all the way through to the point of wanting a restart then I got I pop up advising it had failed. Couldn’t find any logs to indicate why it failed and tried it again and again it went all the way though before advising it had failed. Had a trawl on the Dell forums and found some suggestions about the C drive might have some errors. So I ran a full check disk (chkdsl /f) and it repaired about 380 inconsistencies. Decided to run defrag as a good measure and tried the installer again but this time it wouldn’t start and gave an error about corruption. I tried the upgrade assistant and only had the choice to purchase a licence so I decided to contact Microsoft to see if I could download the update files again that I had downloaded using update assistant and she offered to connect remotely to see if she could help. Well she tried for 2 hours and after running “coreinfo” from SysInternals, she decided that I needed to enable NX in the bios. Looking at the BIOS, I could see that it was already correctly set (enabled). So now she decided to send me the link to download a Windows8-Setup.exe  file (that’s what I asked for at the start). It was only about 5MB and I asked if was the ISO to use on a bootable CD or USB stick and she said it was but when trying to run it, I got a message saying that the platform wasn’t supported. I had to go out (for a scream) and decided to leave it until I got back. (I found out later that if you log in to your Microsoft account, it gives the option to download the set-up.exe again)
I googled for NX problems and found that other people were having issues trying to install Win8 on Dell products and it turned out that there is a bug in the BIOS for the 755 (at least) and the best way was to burn the setup files to a bootable flash drive or DVD as this avoided the NX check.
Had another look at the process for doing the update and noticed that when upgrading a Win7 box, you got the option to install the setup files to a flash drive or CD! So, I ran the Windows8-Setup.exe on a Win7 box, I was a bit nervous because I didn’t want to upgrade the Win7 box but decided to let it run and got to the bit giving the choice of burning to CD and chose the flash drive option (need 4GB min). This warned that all files would be deleted from the flash drive. It then created a bootable flash drive and tidied up deleting temp files from the C drive.
So I now made sure that the 755 could boot from USB by checking the BIOS settings and then rebooted with the USB Stick inserted and after a while I got the Win8 logo and could see that it was trying to do something. I then had to put in the product key and answer some other setup options. Now I got to the screen giving the choice of Upgrade or install new (can’t remember the wording) so I chose “upgrade” – and was then asked to remove the USB stick, boot normally and then run the setup file again. It ran through to completion and failed to install again, grrr, spit.

Not to be beaten, I put the USB stick back in, restarted and ran the set-up again, this time I selected the “Install from new” option and it completed successfully: Wahey!!

I now have Win 8 on the 755. Despite the aggro, I think it was worth the effort. I could have just stuck Ubuntu on the box but as much as I like Ubuntu and other Linux distros, like SUSE, CENTOS etc, I still feel at home with Windows but still prefer XP 🙂

Have fun



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