Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 Upgrade Woes


windows-8-logoYou’re probably aware by now of the numerous complaints over Microsoft’s decision to make the upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 available exclusively via the store and not provide a Windows 8.1 ISO. It was not only a very strange decision but also a particularly ordinary one. Well, I am here to let you know this may well only be the beginning of Windows 8 to 8.1 upgrade woes. What follows is my own personal experience with this process.

Problems with dual boot Windows 7/Windows 8.1

windows 7- windows 8 dual bootFirstly I must point out that I run a dual boot system involving Windows 7 and Windows 8 installed on separate internal drives. So, many of these issues are related to that particular configuration and will not apply to a single operating system upgrade. The process itself went smoothly enough after following the common advice to first install all updates and disable anti-virus. But then, when I first logged on to my brand new Windows 8.1, I was informed that the product key was already being used on another (different) machine and I’d need to purchase a new one, what the… This is the original Windows 8 machine and how could I have activated another copy on a different machine using the identical product key – improbable if not impossible! Following the ensuing prompts led me to a Microsoft support rep who quickly and efficiently activated Windows 8.1 for me… no quibbling, zero discussion, no problem.

Once again I a happy camper. Satisfied, I now reboot into Windows 7 only to find an operating system gone mad. Windows 7 is now no longer activated and also thinks it’s in Safe Mode when it’s clearly in normal mode. Consequently, I am unable to enter my genuine product key to re-activate. Also, after every reboot, chkdsk starts running automatically in a seemingly endless loop. Try as I might, I cannot rectify this whole mess so end up back talking to a Microsoft support rep, this time at a higher level. He is very understanding and obliging, which leads me to believe this isn’t the first time he’s needed to deal with similar issues. He attempts to effect a repair installation utilizing a Windows 7 ISO I have saved on the hard drive. Long story short, I ended up not being able to boot to either operating system… nothing, nada. The Microsoft rep is very apologetic but I assure him everything will be okay because I have a plan B, a last resort… I have up-to-date full system images on hand for both operating systems. I am no ordinary fool. 🙂

Chkdsk still running after every reboot – turn off Fast Startup

chkdskSo, I restore the saved images to their respective drives and all is well again in Jim’s computerland. Some time later I am working in Windows 8.1 and reboot into Windows 7 and chkdsk starts running all by itself again, what the… I let it finish and this time it runs only once and then boots into Windows 7. So, I open a command prompt with admin privileges and use the fsutil command to check and see if the drive is set as dirty or not – fsutil dirty query C: – this informs me that C is NOT dirty. Further checking both internal drives with diagnostic software tells me there is absolutely nothing amiss with either drive. I check all the usual suspects, autocheck registry entry, etc. All good, I’m stumped.

Then, following a Skype conversation with our fearless leader, I look this problem up on the net only to discover it is a common issue with Windows 8 in a dual boot scenario. The consensus is that it is being caused by the “Fast Startup” feature in Windows 8 and switching that off will fix it:

  • Navigate to Control Panel>Power Options and click the Choose what the power buttons do option on the left side
  • Now click on the Change settings that are currently unavailable link at the top of the window and disable the option to Turn on fast startup
  • Click the Save changes button and close out

turn off fast startup

Unfortunately, although many users have said this worked for them in Windows 8, it did not work for me with Windows 8.1. So, for the time being anyway, it looks like I am stuck with it. I might add that chkdsk only runs automatically when booting from Windows 8.1 to Windows 7, everything is fine when booting from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1, or from Windows 7 to Windows 7.


The end… [I hope]

About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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