Upgrading an impossibly old system to Windows 8

By Loyd Case, PC World |  Windows, windows 8

Windows 8 setup runs a compatibility checker the first time it's activated. The only incompatibility I encountered was the RAID array. I sighed, rebooted the system into the Intel RAID BIOS and deleted the RAID array. Then I had to repartition and reformat the pair of 250GB drives, and then run another image backup.

Once that prep work was done, I fired up the Windows 8 setup in earnest. Everything progressed as it should, until the first reboot. What appeared on the screen was a 0x0000005 error, followed by "Press CTRL-ALT-DEL to restart."

Of course, restarting did nothing but re-create the same error.

Diving into a Google search, I discovered that Windows 8 requires Data Execution Prevention (DEP), a feature of CPUs and motherboards that helps prevent malware or poorly designed applications from running program code out of parts of memory specifically allocated for data. The motherboard BIOS, in particular, must offer a DEP setting, which has to be enabled.

That's when I knew I was doomed.

The Abit IC7-G is a motherboard built by a defunct company, and it was already running the last available BIOS update. I verified the lack of a DEP setting. So it seemed as though this little project had come to a premature end.

Pillage your parts bin in a pinch

Then I remembered the image backup. All was not lost.

I decided to try to replicate the system as closely as possible, but with enough hardware updates to enable Windows 8 to run. I rummaged through my pile of parts and uncovered an Asus P5B Deluxe motherboard and an Intel Pentium D 965.

The Pentium D is built on an updated version of Intel's Netburst architecture, the same architecture used to create the original Pentium 4. Unlike the P4, however, the Pentium D is a dual-core CPUthough it's really two separate CPU cores combined in a single package. The Pentium D shipped in an LGA775 package, and these are still readily available.

The Asus motherboard is built on a P965 chipset. which is several generations newer than the 875P used in the Abit board. In practical terms, that meant the 320GB IDE boot drive used in my old P4 system wouldn't work. The optical drives needed the lone IDE connector on the P5B.

The two Western Digital 250GB drives were SATA, however, so I swapped in a 320GB Seagate SATA drive. The Seagate drive is faster than the original, but I knew it wouldn't have a major impact. In a similar vein, I used two 1GB DDR2 modules, since DDR1 wouldn't work with the P5B. My final equipment change involved the graphics card: I replaced the AGP 9800XT with a Radeon HD 6450, a very low-end card that required no power connection.

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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