Is Your Software & Hardware Compatible With Windows 8.1?

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Windows 8.1 came with big promises: booting to desktop, the return of the Start button, and generally more user friendliness. Expectations were high as Microsoft made it sound as if they had listened to disappointed users of Windows 8.

What Windows 8.1 turned out to be was an upgrade riddled with serious issues for a great number of people. Worse, with no option to downgrade back to Windows 8, affected users are stuck with those issues or forced to re-install Windows 8. Before you step into the same trap, make sure your computer is compatible with Windows 8.1!

What Are The Issues Windows 8.1 Can Cause

Windows 8.1 Secure Boot

Microsoft decided to introduce new hardware requirements related to 64-bit chipsets. If your hardware does not support CompareExchange128, you’ll be stuck with Windows 8. If you do have a 64-bit CPU, search the model name in Microsoft’s Compatibility Center or check with the manufacturer whether it support CompareExchange128.

Many users report graphics-related issues. Some experience black screens, which occasionally can be fixed by updating the graphics driver. Others complain about fuzzy, blurry, or hard to read fonts in desktop applications. This is usually due to a harmless Display setting, which is supposed to make it easier to read what’s on your screen. Before you upgrade, find out whether your graphics card (and other hardware) is known to cause trouble via the Compatibility Center. Also check whether the manufacturer offers drivers specifically for Windows 8.1.

Finally, gamers are finding out the hard way that Steam doesn’t officially support Windows 8 and on top of that, many struggle with mouse-control issues. Generally, if you experience any hardware-related issues inside Windows 8.1, it is most likely due to incompatible drivers. Gamers should ensure their games will run on Windows 8.1. For example 200+ out of 500+ users report that Grand Theft Auto IV is not compatible with Windows 8.1.

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We have previously discussed several more Windows 8.1 issues and how to fix them.

See What Works By Searching The Compatibility Center

Before downloading and running a full scan, you can manually query the Compatibility Center to find out whether your devices, apps, or games are compatible with Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1 Compatibility Center

Some of the most searched products are listed on the front page. Once you searched for the first item and depending on how broad your search was, you will see a selection of categories, types, and brands in a menu on the left and a list of matching products with compatibility information on the right.

Windows 8.1 Compatibility Center Search Results

Each item has its own page that contains a full compatibility report. The page reveals that the overall verdict of whether or not an items is compatible is based on a community rating. Within the related community discussion, you might find issues or fixes not honored by the Compatibility Center’s overall community vote. If known, the page also contains direct links to hardware manufacturers or software developers.

Windows 8.1 Hardware Compatibility

Run TheWindows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant

For a full system analysis, use the Upgrade Assistant, a small utility that will scan your current hardware and software setup for compatibility with Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant

For me, the results loaded in my browser, although it looks as though they are supposed to load in the utility itself. You can save the log as HTML file or print it.

Windows 8.1 Compatibility Scan Results

My scan results didn’t hint to grave hardware incompatibilities. They only revelaed that I may need an app to play DVDs in Windows 8, that my PC is not compatible with Secure Boot, and that my laptop does not have a touchscreen.

Although these results are re-assuring, I’m generally disappointed with the Upgrade Assistant. While it is easier to use than its predecessor, the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, it also offers less details and it seemed buggy. That’s not a good omen for a massive operating system upgrade known to cause havoc on some machines.

Check Whether Hardware Manufacturers Offer Windows 8.1 Drivers

Even if the compatibility check specifically lists your hardware as compatible, check yourself! Especially those of you running a non-standard system, possibly a custom build with special hardware, look for specific Windows 8.1 drivers on manufacturers’ websites.

Is Your Computer Compatible?

If your overall verdict is that your computer should be compatible with Windows 8.1, be sure to thoroughly prepare for the upgrade. You should also download a legal Windows 8.1 ISO and install it that way to prevent upgrade errors. Remember, you cannot downgrade to Windows 8, unless you created a system image. If all else fails, re-install Windows 8 and restore the system image; if things go wrong that’s the only way you can return to your current installation.

Have you dared to upgrade to Windows 8 or 8.1, yet? What have been your experiences and what would you recommend other Windows users?

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Comments (15)
  • Kjartan

    I had some really weird problems when I tried upgrading from win8 to 8.1. Whenever I went to the store and clicked free update to win8.1 – the download and installation would start, but after getting almost all the way to the end, it just said:” Something went wrong, setting pc back to win8″ – and this happened every time.. I did some research and found out that maybe it was my ralink-something wi-fi card that was incompatible, so I disabled it. BUT – in metro/store windows just said I wasnt online – altho I WAS – via cable…. so I HAD to be on wi-fi to download stuff from store… SO what I did: I downloaded win8.1 from store again…. but as the pc rebooted itself after completing , I manually ripped ( i unfastened it first) OUT the wi-fi card,…. and win 8.1 finally installed properly ! Weird huh :-)
    Anyway – I also downloaded a win8.1 iso and put it on a mini hp laptop and it works MUCH better and faster than win7 starter did. I actually love win8.1 – especially that u can boot directly to desktop and dont have to dilly with the sickeningly metro-thing.

    • Tina S

      Wow, what a story! Way to go for figuring out a solution, even if it was kinda crude. And thank you for sharing it!

  • Bobby

    My brand new HP Pavilion computer with windows 8.1 is overriding all my hardware/software that I installed to it today. So, I deleted and re-installed each program and double checked all cable connections but Windows 8.1 would continue to say:
    * (of my HP Officejet 4500 Desktop printer/scanner), “scanner not found” (eventhough its printer is working today).
    * (of my Microsoft PictureIT 2001, when it is open and I chose to open a picture to it), “Microsoft PictureIT has an error and must shut down.”
    * (of my Epson scanner), “Unable to access scanner because it is not ready (which it was ready) or another application is using it. TWAIN error. The device encountered an internal error.”
    * I got a loan to buy this computer but because I was not warned by the seller that all my installations must be of 2014, or that 8.1 requires me to only purchase them from Windows store (that is in Win 8.1), I give up, Sigh…

  • Wade

    Meant to say, XP worked great, but not Vista.

  • Wade

    I am running an ASUS G73JH and most everything is compatible, but some things are not and that is annoying, here’s a few examples. Flash, this is the most annoying part. Windows said it comes pre installed, yet when going to watch say a video on YouTube it keeps telling me to install it, and that I don’t have it installed, I never did get it to work right.

    Problem two: Forget running TrueCrypt, it’s currently not compatible.

    Problem 3: GTAV won’t run either on my PC, I tried compatibility mode Vista and Win7, and it worked fine before on Windows 7.

    My computer is plenty powerful enough to run anything, but this Edition of Windows is just not finished. They say only buy every other addition of Window, I’m starting to see that is true. XP, 2000 sucked and worked great, Vista sucked, and win 7 worked great, now here we are 8.1 media center, not so good. Windows 7 was much better in my opinion. I don’t care for Metro Apps either. Some things are hard to do now that where easy before.

  • Dave.P.

    I installed windows 8.1 onto my old i5 computer, I did have blackout problems at first but finding the correct video driver in advance would have saved me hassles. 8.1 Is a remarkable upgrade to 8, It is sleek, fast, and even my old Canon scanner worked, it has a myriad of drivers, best I have encountered in any windows version to date. The reality is that windows have moved on, we have to as well, time to get with it.

    • Tina S

      Thanks Dave!

      This article obviously doesn’t attract many people like you. Great to hear from a different perspective.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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