Windows 8 Release Preview hands-on

Microsoft has been promising a cheap-and-cheerful upgrade path to Windows 8 for those who buy new PCs. But what about that five-year-old PC in the basement? If the historically well-connected Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet is right, the upgrade path will go further back -- much further. Although upgraders will still want Windows 7 if they need to carry over absolutely everything, tipsters claim that settings can transfer from releases as old as Windows Vista SP1. Those with truly ancient PCs (we're looking at you, corporate customers) can even bring over personal files from an OS as dated as Windows XP SP3. Like we saw last time around, some of the 7-to-8 upgrade rules are a bit Byzantine -- 7 Professional users can't step down to the non-Pro Windows 8 release, for example, and it's equally verboten to change language editions or move from 32- to 64-bit code without a full-scale reinstallation. The extra-long olive branch will be slightly unusual for Microsoft if it's confirmed, but then the company is also trying to move along a user base that in some cases has clung to XP for more than a decade. Redmond is no doubt eager to get rid of our dependency issues.

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Microsoft reportedly plans Windows 8 upgrades all the way from XP, wants us to just let go of the past