Windows 8: upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit system - gHacks Tech News

Windows 8: upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit system

You need to be very careful when you want to upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows 8. Microsoft, for whatever reason, decided to make things complicated. If you run the Upgrade Advisor to buy a copy of Windows 8 online, you will always get the version of Windows 8 that is corresponding to the currently installed version of the operating system. So, if you are running the Upgrade Assistant on a 32-bit version you will end up with a 32-bit Windows 8 version, while running it on a 64-bit version of Windows will result in a 64-bit version of Windows 8.

That's not a problem if you do not want to switch from 32-bit to 64-bit during the upgrade, but if you do, you will notice that you can't do that at all. If you are unlucky, you will notice once the system is up and running after the installation.

Can I upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows 8?

Yes, but you can't do this using Upgrade Assistant. If your PC has a 64-bit capable processor (CPU) but is currently running a 32-bit version of Windows, you can install a 64-bit version of Windows 8, but you'll need to buy Windows 8 as a DVD.

In short: you can't use the Upgrade Assistant to upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows 8.

It won't work if you run the installation directly using the Upgrade Assistant, and it won't work if you select to burn the operating system to DVD or copy it on an USB Flash Drive instead.

windows 8 upgrade assistant

If you have the option, you can run the Upgrade Assistant on a 64-bit version of Windows and burn the contents to DVD or copy it on a flash drive. If you do not have the option available to you, you need to buy a 64-bit retail upgrade copy of Windows 8 instead or select the backup media add-on option during the purchase which also includes two discs. The retail copy includes two discs, one for 32-bit and one for 64-bit.

I'm not sure why Microsoft is making it that difficult for customers who try to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit during the upgrade. It certainly would not be a problem for the company to add an advanced configuration to the Upgrade Assistant that can be used to pick the version of Windows you want to upgrade to.

Microsoft notes that you can't keep any files, settings or software programs when you upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit.


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  1. Paul B. said on October 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    One thing worth noting is that not all older programs will make the transition to x64. My machine has an older version of Adobe CS suite, and that was the reason I stuck with 32bit when I upgraded from Vista to Win7.

  2. Tim said on October 27, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    The Consumer Preview offered two versions to download which had separate ISO’s for 32-bit and 64-bit.

    So, if the 64-bit Consumer Preview is still available, it would be possible to download the 64-bit version, install it, then when you run the Upgrade Assistant, your current version of Windows will be 64-bit.

    1. JohnMWhite said on October 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Officially at least, you can’t upgrade from a preview version of Windows 8. You’re supposed to be running a licensed copy of XP, Vista or 7. This is annoying because I have a license for Vista x86 on a machine that I’d like to upgrade to 8 x64. I don’t know why Microsoft insists on making things difficult all the time.

    2. Motan said on November 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Upgrade is not possible from any preview version of Win 8. You can upgrade only through your currently os.

      1. Tom said on November 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm

        That is not true. You absolutely can upgrade from the consumer preview version of Windows 8

  3. Daniel Kipp said on October 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm
  4. Alex Edwards said on October 28, 2012 at 2:45 am


    Good article, thanks. I’ve got bitten by this. However, I notice that you can order the “backup media” after the online order, by clicking on a link in the receipt email.

    One reason I upgraded to Windows 8 was to try 64-bit good or bad.



    1. Erik said on December 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      same here, i only bought win8 to have a 64bit OS, to my surprise that wasn’t an option during the download buy. so basicly i bought something i don’t realy need…

  5. yclee said on October 28, 2012 at 4:32 am

    why is this a surprise?

    u can’t run 64 bit exe under 32 bit os… so, basically to do that u have to do a new install… ie launch 64bit installer…

    also soon, the official iso for win8 pro 32 bit and 64 bit will be available on digitaldriver… it’s already available on msdn and technet. Then, u don’t have to bother with the upgrade advisor and do a clean install from usb keys.

    does ubuntu allow u to upgrade from 32bit to 64bit?

    also time and time again, upgrade is not the best way to go about it. if you search around, u can see ppl complaining about pc being too slow to be useful after the upgrade and that they have to do a refresh from within win8 (at least the option is there now… basically keep settings but reinstall apps all over again.)

    officially, u can upgrade from win8 preview. it wasn’t allow initially but ms came out and said u could and u r entitled to the discount benefit of upgrade just as xp, vista, and win7. however, it will only allow u the option to keep your settings. (basically, might as well just do clean install.)

    u can’t upgrade the RTM 3months version to retail. however, ppl supposely have ways around it. Not sure if the workaround were confirmed or not.

    1. Tom said on November 2, 2012 at 3:29 am

      Where is this official ISO on technet? I only see windows 8 preview

  6. war59312 said on October 28, 2012 at 1:33 am

    “Microsoft notes that you can’t keep any files, settings or software programs when you upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit.”

    Then what is the point in “upgrading”. It’s basically a new install, so why not just do just that, a new install.

  7. John R said on October 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

    I’ve upgraded my 32 bit version of Vista to 32bit version of Windows 8, from the DVD. The pack includes two DVDs – 32 bit and 64 bit versions.

    Can I now convert the 32bit Windows 8 to a 64bit Windows 8?


  8. Amol said on October 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I have already purchased windows 8 & installed it using windows Upgrade assistant….

    Now I got 32 bit bit windows 8 Pro….

    I have already opted for the add on back media during the purchase…

    Will I get now 2 disc ( 32 bit & 64 bit)… so tht I can reinstall 64 bit

  9. Amol Pednekar said on October 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve upgraded my 32 bit version of Vista to 32bit version of Windows 8, from the DVD. The pack includes two DVDs – 32 bit and 64 bit versions.

    Can I now convert the 32bit Windows 8 to a 64bit Windows 8?

  10. Tom said on November 2, 2012 at 3:21 am

    I have access to a 64 bit machine and tried to download the windows 8 setup file, however I don’t see any single ISO file or otherwise that I can copy to a dvd or usb drive to make an installation disc. Does anyone know where the operating system install files are downloaded to with this upgrade assistant? Microsoft has completely butchered this and if you can finally find their customer support link on their website the staff is completely useless to help.

    1. Oleh Vasylyev said on November 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Upgrade Assistant/Windows8-setup.exe provides options to Install by creating media/usb after downloading. This option will create ISO image. For example I did clean install of windows 8 using this image.

      1. Tom said on November 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm

        It won’t provide the option to create media if you are using Windows XP, you only get the option to install now or install later, however I was able to solve this. Answers posted in MS answer forum.

  11. Andre said on November 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    even if you download the iso and burn?

  12. larry said on November 16, 2012 at 7:36 am

    After a bit of playing around here’s what I found.
    A) You can make the purchase from a 32 bit machine-no problem. You get a link emailed to you for doing the download. The upgrade assistant doesn’t make the 32/64 bit decision.
    B) Downloading and creating an ISO DVD while on a 64 bit OS is how you get 64 bits which I did by installing Windows 8 Pre Release(you can find it for free on the web). I did this on a second hard drive.
    C) The ISO installs the 64 bit version ok on a 64 bit OS such as pre-release
    D) The ISO fails installing it on a system running a 32 bit OS
    E) Not tried yet-ISO install on a clean drive

  13. Martin said on November 22, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I managed to upgrade from windows XP 32-bit to windows 8 64-bit.

    Not sure this will work for everyone but here’s how I got it to work.

    I upgraded from windows XP 32-bit to windows 8 32-bit.
    Then I downloaded the windows 8 64-bit realease cadidate ISO and burned it to a DVD.
    Booted the computer from the DVD and started a clean install.
    When asked for the key I entered the key from the 32-bit upgrade and it worked like a charm.

    Happy owner of a new clean install of windows 8 64-bit. :)

    1. benny said on December 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

      hi martin,
      is the release candidate iso same as the final release?

      I also have the same problem, that is, upgraded from an xp 32-bit and got win 8 32-bit; but I want to upgrade it to 64-bit.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 1, 2012 at 11:35 am

        You mean the RTM release? Yes it is.

  14. Ouser32 said on December 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    There is another way, without requiring to buy any thing additional other that original Windows 8 license as somebody has explained here:

  15. Thierry Langlois said on December 25, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Hi, There my Problem:
    I received a Windows 8 Professional (Upgrade) Dvd format with a 32 and a 64 disk
    I upgraded my pc from Windows Xp 32 bit to Windows 8 32 bit.
    But now i want to install the 64 bit Version, my processor is x64 and i want to have all 8 of my Gb of Ram Usable.
    When i insert the Windows 8 Upgrade(64 ) i got a error message that say the my system is currently 32 bit and that i can’t use that install dvd to insert the other one.

    Is There a way to upgrade from Windows 8 32 bits to 64?

  16. GT Kulkarni` said on December 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I have purchased Windows 8 Pro along with backup DVDs. Can I upgrade 32 bit version of Windows 8 Release Preview running on my computer using this 64 bit version from the DVD?

  17. Krish said on December 28, 2012 at 11:03 am

    My personnel laptop is using 64 bit windows 7 which I wanted to upgrade to 64 bit Windows 8.

    since my home Internet is slow, I have used my office computer (running 32 bit windows 7) internet to run the upgrade assitant to download the iso. But I didn;t find any platform choice and I ruined my system with 32 bit windows 8.

  18. ouser32 said on December 29, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Check this article and read it carefully and download 64 bit version this time

  19. Roger That said on December 31, 2012 at 4:44 am

    I had Vista 32 bit and bought & downloaded Win 8 which went to 32-bit.

    I also bought the Discs ~(32 & 64)

    BUT when i tired to install the 64 bit while in win 8 32-bit, the disc gave me the middle finger. It refuses to do anything and gives no options or advice.

    I do have an x64 capable Toshiba DX10 laptop.

    Would I have to format and start yet again?

    I doubt I have to buy another key or something?

    Do Microsoft actually speak to ordinary humans when developing? (don’t answer that).

  20. Dave said on February 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm
  21. Stephen Price said on February 26, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    I recently purchased a new HP laptop with Windows 8 64 bit . As I have installed a couple 32 bit softwares on the machine, windows has repeatedly warned me of “incompatibility” of each software with Windows 8 . At first I thought maybe it was a 32 bit vs. 64 bit issue, but these softwares seem to work in a conventional window – just not as a full-screen app . Now I’m thinking it’s more about the app-driven smart device environment of the start screen space .

    Here are my questions:
    1 – Is there any reason 32-bit software can’t be used in Windows 8 64-bit ?
    2 – Is the incompatibility just that the older software was written to work like a smart phone app ?
    3 – Is Windows 8 worth having or is Windows 7 just as useful if one doesn’t care for the whiz-bang start screen ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 27, 2013 at 2:32 am

      Stephen, to answer your questions:

      1. Most 32-bit software should run just fine on 64-bit versions of Windows without any quirks or issues. Really old software may be problematic though. Post the programs that behave erratically and we may be able to find out more about the issue at hand.

      2. No that is not it. It is just that older software may have incompatibilities when run on 64-bit versions of Windows. I experienced that as well, but usually the software refused to start outright.

      3. There is nothing wrong with Windows 8 or Windows 7. I run both systems on two different PCs and like them both. Yes, I had to install a couple of apps to make Windows 8 workable (start menu, boot to desktop to name two).

  22. Stephen Price said on February 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Sorry . Question 2 should be:
    2 – Is the incompatibility just that the older software wasn’t written to work like a smart phone app ?

    Thanks for any help & insight !

  23. David Carnell said on January 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I have windows 8 32-bit on my laptop that has a 64-bit processor, I have the Windows 8 dual disk set the 32 and 64-bit set. The installation disk put 32-bit on my machine since the old version was 32-bit but i want 64-bit. when I put the 64-bit disk in the player it says that it is incompatible and the upgrade advisor says that 8 is already installed (but that is 32-bit). How do I get the 64-bit on my Machine ?

  24. violet Hardman said on March 9, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Want this programs please

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