Can I Upgrade to Windows 8?

The minimum system requirements to run Windows 8

Microsoft stopped mainstream support of Windows 8.1 on January 9, 2018, and will end extended support on January 10, 2023. Windows 10 is Microsoft's newest operating system, but this article remains for archival purposes.

Upgrading to Windows 8 should be a smooth transition most of the time. However, if you have an old computer, use the information below to be sure if an upgrade to Windows 8 is practical given your hardware situation.

See our article on how to upgrade to Windows 10 if you'd rather do that.

Windows 8 tablet
pix1861 / Pixabay

Windows 8 Minimum System Requirements

These are the minimum system requirements, for Windows 8, according to Microsoft:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

Below are some additional requirements that are needed in order for Windows 8 to run certain features, like touch. Some of these reminders are obvious but it's still necessary to point them out.

  • A tablet or monitor that supports multitouch.
  • Windows Store apps require a screen resolution of at least 1024x768, and to snap apps you'll need a 1366x768 screen resolution.
    • However, if you have an unusual screen resolution like the netbooks default 1024x600, use this registry hack to adjust the resolution so you can run Windows 8 (or just get a higher-res display).
  • Internet access is required to download new features and update security-related information from Windows Update.
  • Some games/applications only run at full capacity if used with graphics cards with DirectX 10 or higher.
  • DVD playing software is not included by default in Windows 8, so you have to download your own program either from the Windows Store or through a third-party website.
  • For Windows 8.1 Pro users, BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive.
  • A TV tuner is needed to record live TV in Windows Media Player.

Before you upgrade to Windows 8, you should definitely make sure your laptop or desktop PC meets the minimum requirements, and that your devices and favorite programs are compatible with the new operating system. 

Thankfully, you don't need the latest hardware to upgrade and enjoy all the improvements offered by Windows 8.

If your computer runs Windows 7, Windows 8 should work just as well (if not better) on that same hardware. Microsoft ensures Windows 8 is backward-compatible with Windows 7. Even older Windows laptops and PCs should be fine; we installed Windows 8 on a five-year-old laptop and it's running better than ever before.

As for device and app compatibility, most, if not all, programs and devices that work with Windows 7 should work with Windows 8. That is, the full Windows 8 operating system, not Windows RT. 

If there's a particular program you depend on, you might be able to make it work with Windows 8 using the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter.

How to Find Your Computer's Specs

To see the hardware specifications for your computer, you could either run a system information tool that gathers all that information for you (most of them are really easy to use) or you could use Windows itself.

To find your system's specs in Windows, go to the Start menu and then All Programs (or Programs) > Accessories > System Tools > System Information, or just right-click on My Computer in the Start menu and select Properties.