Microsoft ditching 'upgrade' versions of Windows starting with 8.1

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Not the actual Windows 8.1 box

A few weeks ago I bought a couple of new desktop computers in order to bring our 'home office' up to snuff. And yeah, because I wasn't getting quite the framerate out of Final Fantasy XIV I was hoping for!

It turns out I picked a real lemon of a system (an Asus G10AC-US002S; I strongly suggest you stay far away from this model PC). Both systems have had stability issues since day 1, in spite of my upgrading the bios, video card drivers, audio drivers, Intel chipset drivers and every other driver I can think of, and in the case of one of the machines, replacing the power supply with something that has a bit more juice (thus voiding the warranty).

Since both machines have the same issues (and according to some comments on my Amazon review, at least two other people are having these issues as well) I'm assuming the problems stem from bad drivers and/or some of the Asus bloatware/utilities that come pre-installed on the machine (rather than being due to faulty hardware). Plus WhoCrashed keeps telling me it's most likely a driver issue.

The advice I keep getting is "re-install Windows from scratch" and that's exactly what I'd like to do. The problem is that Asus doesn't ship Windows media with their machines (to be fair almost no one does these days) and if I create a restore disk, it will (I assume) just re-install the same problems I'm having now. Heck these machines don't even have a Windows sticker on the outside containing my Windows serial number. I had to go find an app that searches through the registry and retrieves my serial number.

So my main problem is where to get a 'clean' version of Windows 8 that I can use to do a fresh install (and I'd like to re-partition the disks while I'm at it.) I could spend $119 to buy a Window 8 Upgrade from Microsoft, but I'm not doing an upgrade. I'm not sure if the Upgrade would accept the OEM serial number that I had to dig out of the registry. Now I know there are ways around this limitation; ways to trick a Windows upgrade disk into acting like a full version of Windows, but I shouldn't have to do that.

The bottom line is, this shouldn't be so hard!

And I'm doing all this whining as a run-up to letting you know it won't be so hard once Windows 8.1 comes out on October 18th. In a blog post yesterday Microsoft shared the news that when you purchase Windows 8.1 for $119.99 (for the standard version, $199.99 for the Windows 8.1 Pro) you won't get an "Upgrade" version of the OS; you'll get a full version. That means you can install it clean without worry about scrounging around for an old serial number or hacking registry entries to bluff your way past the upgrade gates.

If you're already running Windows 8, the Windows 8.1 upgrade is free. It's not yet clear what format that will take, but I assume that will be a true upgrade that you have to install on top of Windows 8.

As much as I hate having to pay another $120 to get Windows 8.1, I think it'll be worth it in the long run to have a full, bloatware-free version of my machine's operating system on-hand for when things go awry.

If I wasn't a gamer, I'd switch to Linux. Valve needs to get busy on that Steam Box!

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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