Getting Windows 8

This page is to help those users of GameMaker:Studio that are interested in the Windows 8 target platforms (Windows 8 (JS) and Windows Phone), but that have not yet upgraded to this OS. Microsoft make upgrading very easy, and here we will go over the basic steps that you need to follow to keep the whole process as simple and painless as possible.

Minimum Specifications

The first thing to do before updating your OS is make sure that your PC or laptop is capable of running it. The complete list of the minimum specifications that you need can be found here but it's important to note that  to access the Windows Store and to download and run apps, you need an active Internet connection and a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768.

Obviously if you wish to develop games for the Windows Store this is an essential requirement, and although your copy of Windows 8 may run on a PC with a smaller monitor, you won't be able to test anything you create with GameMaker:Studio

Microsoft account required for some features

If you do not yet have a Microsoft Account then it is strongly suggested that you create one (here), and you may wish to go ahead and create your Developers Accounts as you will need them to submit games to the Windows Stores. You can get a Windows Phone Dev account here and for a Windows 8 Dev account, here and you should note that they are not inter-changeable and so to develop on both platforms, you will need both accounts.

Support for PAE, NX, and SSE2

On most machines made in the last few years, the above specification should be no problem to meet, but on older machines these things may not be enabled. For more information please see here.

Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities and an additional 2 GB of RAM (Windows 8 Pro only)

If you plan to develop for Windows Phone, you may need to ensure that your equipment is SLATS enabled. This is because hardware virtualization is taken care of by the Hyper-V server-based virtual machine, as this is what will be used to emulate the different Windows Phone standards. However this technology means that you need to have a machine capable of running it! What this translates into is that you need a multi-core, 64 bit processor and that your system BIOS must have second level address translation (SLAT). A great handy small 3rd party utility to detect if you have the necessary SLAT support is located here: http://slatstatuscheck.codeplex.com/

To make things simpler still, Microsoft have created an Upgrade Assistant which will check your equipment and tell you of any possible problems or incompatibilities, so it is highly recommended that you take a moment to get this small app and check, even if you are sure that your PC meets the minimum requirements.

Getting Windows 8

Before actually buying yourself a copy of Windows 8, you can download a special Evaluation Version to run on your machine and so get a feel for this OS. If you have never used Windows 8, or are not sure whether you want to develop for the platform, it is recommended that you test the product first. You can get your evaluation version from the MSDN Evaluation Center, but note that as this is a version for evaluation only, you should install it on a separate partition of your PC and dual boot, or run it from a separate Virtual Machine as it will expire after 90 days and cannot be upgraded to a full version.

Once you have decided to upgrade to Windows 8, you should then choose a version to buy and install. If you only plan on creating games for the Windows 8 (JS) target platform, you can use the normal version of Windows 8, but should you wish to develop for Windows Phone, then you will need to get the Pro version from the Microsoft Store.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a student (or a teacher) then you may be eligible for a Student Discount. You can get further information here.

Installing

The actual install path that you choose will depend on the current OS of your PC or laptop, as well as on whether you wish to "clean install" (over-write everything and start afresh) or do a "system upgrade", with Windows 8 attempting to maintain the current folder and app structure of your current OS. These options are outlined below:

Clean Install

To do a clean install of Windows 8, you should burn your downloaded copy of the OS to a disc or copy it onto an external flashdrive (unless you have a hard-copy DVD for th OS, in which case you should use that). For a clean install you must have had a previous version of Windows installed on the hard-drive' and the Windows 8 Setup Program will then format your hard-drive and install.

This formatting will wipe your hard-drive but even if you have decided to make a fresh start and do a clean installation there will doubtless still be some files that you want to retain from your previous system set up. Fortunately, there are tools for earlier versions of Windows that can help you with this process.

On Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP(SP3) you can use Windows Easy Transferto copy your data to an external drive or network location (note that this program is supplied as part of the Windows 7 OS), and once you've saved the data you want to keep, you can go ahead and install Windows 8.

When the installation is complete, you should then open the Search charm and type "transfer" to find Windows Easy Transfer on the Windows 8 system. Once that's done you can then connect to the drive (or network) where you saved the data and import it to the new system.

NOTE: The disadvantage of Easy Transfer is that it only handles files, so be sure you have copies of any software you need to reinstall after the upgrade; in particular you'll need the installers for any programs you've bought as downloads.

For more information on doing a clean install, please see How To Perform A Clean Installation Of Windows 8.

Upgrade

The upgrade option is used by Windows 8 to try and keep all your files and apps available and functioning after you have installed Windows 8. However, the success of this process will depend largely on what operating system you are upgrading from, as shown below:

Windows 7

Apps, Windows settings, and personal files will all be maintained - On Windows 7 systems everything should be transferred intact so that you end up with a system that's ready to go as soon as the upgrade is complete, however be aware that this is not foolproof and you may need to re-install some programs after this has finished, especially if you are using a drive other than the one that your Windows 8 OS is installed on to store them.

Windows Vista

Only Windows settings and personal files will be maintained - Your personal files and the base Windows settings will be copied over but you will need to reinstall all of your applications after the upgrade is complete, so make sure you have the necessary installation media and licence keys before you start.

Windows XP(SP3)

Personal files only are kept - Your personal files will be kept, but nothing else. As with a Vista upgrade, you will need to reinstall all of your applications after the upgrade is complete, so make sure you have the necessary installation media and licence keys before you start, and you will have to set up Windows 8 manually, as none of the XP settings will be maintained.

Older Systems

On pre-SP3 XP or older systems, you can still install Windows 8 – if the hardware is up to it – in which case your documents, photos, etc, are saved to a Windows.old folder and you can retrieve them from there once the upgrade is complete.

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