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March 18, 2013
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade from Windows 7 on Mac OS X - Boot Camp
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade from Windows 7 on Mac OS X - Boot Camp

So a couple of months back for the first time in many years I actually felt that microsoft actually started to do a little innovation with the release of windows 8. Sure it looks like it's going to be another windows me / vista like disaster but at least they are daring to do something new. Honestly I don't know what the big deal with the win 8 hate is I actually am one of the few people that like the new windows 8 feel. Having said that I only use windows occasionally, mostly for testing software issues in our web applications and some casual gaming. In fact I think windows 8 feels so much like all the other windows that I will stick with Mac OS X or Linux as my systems of choice. Nevertheless I like do know whats going on in IT so windows 8 interested me and I do like that MS is trying something different.

No doubt inspired by the apple pricing model the redmond crew decided to also slap an unprecedented killer price on the upgrade package and for €29.99 for an upgrade I got weak and purchased an product key from the Microsoft online store.

At the time of purchase I was in the middle of a big overseas project so I had to put off upgrading my bootcamp installation until a couple of days ago; just as well as I found out that there was no driver support on my mac book pro boot camp until recently.

So a couple of day ago I had some quite time and decided to upgrade my windows 7 pro installation and of course I encountered some issues as per usual when installing a new flavour of windows for the first time.

What you need:
  • Fast external hard drive with enough storage for backing up both your windows and mac os partitions.
  • USB drive with at least 1GB of free space for copying bootcamp drivers.
  • DVD-R for burning the windows 8 installation media. Installing from a USB drive will fail due to a bug / hardware issue between the windows installer and bootcamp.
  • Time

BEFORE DOING ANYTHING BACKUP BOTH YOUR MAC AND BOOTCAMP PARTITIONS NOW!

The upgrade requires critical software updates, also the installers work on the hard drive partitions if anything goes wrong you could loose everything that is not backed up. Backup NOW! The best tools I have found for the job are: Superduper for backing up your mac partitions and winclone for backing up the bootcamp partition both these tools are worth buying / donating too.

Issues that needed resolving:
  • No driver support for windows 8 on a Mac Book Pro.
  • Not enough hard drive space for the installation. (20GB required)
  • No supported partition available for the installation.
  • Applying an windows 8 upgrade edition requires a previous windows install.

No driver support for windows 8 on a Mac Book Pro.

Windows 8 support was added to apple bootcamp with version 5 of the bootcamp software. This version of bootcamp ships with Mac OS X update 10.8.3 lucky for me apple released this version about an hour after I started trying to troubleshoot my upgrade failing with 10.8.2. yeah how often does that happen. :) Lucky day indeed.

To prepare you mac for the upgrade ensure that both your mac os x and windows partitions have the latest system software patches / updates applied.

  • On your mac run software update and apply all patches.
  • Run the bootcamp assistant on the mac. Do not uninstall the existing windows 7 partition as this is required for the upgrade. Do download and install the driver software to a USB stick.
  • Boot into your existing bootcamp windows 7 partition and run windows update and apply all the latest patches. Reboot windows at least once to ensure all patches have been applied.
  • Install the bootcamp drivers you downloaded from your USB drive.
  • Reboot for good measure.

The system is now prepared and ready for the upgrade.


Not enough hard drive space for the installation. (20GB required)

An upgrade of windows 8 requires at least 20GB of free space, unfortunately my bootcamp partition is only 40GB in size and most of that space was already taken by windows 7. Deleting this partition before the installation is not an option as the windows 8 updater requires an existing windows installation to approve the upgrade. I also did not want to sacrifice more space to windows.

THIS IS IMPORTANT:

I wanted to do a clean install of windows 8 anyways so I was fine with loosing all my data during the upgrade and was also fine with reinstalling my software from my backups. If this is not the case for you you need to repartition your harddrive.

The workaround for the missing space is to install windows from external media, during the installation process the installer gives the option to format the existing windows 7 installation when done during the installation process the upgrade will succeed.

Creating the external media is also done my running the windows 8 installer from your existing windows 7 installation. When asked choose DVD for the installation media.

No supported partition available for the installation.

My first attempt at installation from external media was from a USB drive. When ever the installer hit the "Choose a Partition for this installation" screen I got an error stating that no partitions drives were capable of supporting windows 8. After a bit of research it turns out that some conflict can occur in the way the installer detects drives when the installation is run from a USB stick. In my case this prevented my from installing windows 8 from a USB drive.

To successfully install the update I had to create a windows 8 installation DVD and unplug all USB devices and SD cards from my mac. Running the installer from the DVD allowed me to choose and reformat my existing windows 7 partition an enabled me to complete the installation.

More information can be found here:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5628