Windows 8 at UNC

About Windows 8

Windows 8 is the newest Operating System from Microsoft. It is compatible with all PCs that originally shipped with Windows 7. Previous upgrades of Windows didn’t present major changes to the User Interface. This version of Windows, however, is a drastic shift in strategy as Windows 8 is designed for Desktops, Notebooks, Tablets, and laptop/tablet hybrid devices.  Please review the information below to answer any questions you have about Windows 8 at UNC.


Windows 8 will be available to the campus community on Friday, October 26, 2012.  Students are covered by the Microsoft Campus Agreement and can have Windows 8 installed for free.  Faculty and staff members should speak to their departmental support staff before making any decisions about upgrading.

Should I upgrade?

There are many factors to consider when making the decision to upgrade.  Windows 8 provides some new functionality and improved performance but also has a significantly different user interface.  Anyone choosing to upgrade must be willing to learn a different way of navigating Windows. Some may occasionally be frustrated, as the way information and software are accessed has changed.  Additionally, Like with all new operating systems, official vendor support for software may be limited and compatible drivers for hardware may not be available.  Our testing has shown that most hardware and software that worked on Windows 7 will work at the Windows 8 launch and we expect support from vendors to continue to expand.

Information Technology Services will provide best-effort support for Windows 8 through normal channels such as the ITS Response Center, ResNET, and the Help Site.  For information about department-specific support, please contact your departmental IT support staff.

Get to Know Windows 8

Windows 8 Tutorials

Software Compatibility Chart

Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

ATTENTION: For Windows RT Users (Microsoft Surface, Samsung ATIV Tab, etc.), click here

Q: When is Windows 8 available?
A: Microsoft has stated that Windows 8 will be publicly available on Friday, October 26th.  Unless Microsoft changes this date, UNC Information Technology Services will make it available to you on that day.

Q: How do I get Windows 8?
A: Windows 8 is available free of charge to students, faculty, and staff at the University of North Carolina.  Visit the ITS Help Desk location in the Undergraduate Library or SASB South to have Windows 8 installed on your PC.  You can also ask your ResNET RCC about getting Windows 8 installed, if you live in a residence hall.

Q: Should I upgrade to Windows 8?
A: This is up to you.  There are benefits to Windows 8 such as faster boot times and the availability of a new Microsoft Store for Apps, but there is also a learning curve associated with the changes to how it works.

Q: Can I test it out or get tutorials?
A: At the UL and SASB ITS Help Desk locations, there are Windows 8 machines set up for you to test the new OS.  You can also inquire about sitting with someone on staff to answer questions about it or you can ask your ResNET RCC if you live in a residence hall.  There are also tutorial videos available from UNC on YouTube (see above).

Q: Can I install Windows 8 on my Mac?
A: Apple currently does not support Windows 8 for Bootcamp installations.  Parallels, a product that allows you to run Windows virtually “inside” of the Mac OS, however, does support preview editions of Windows 8, but there is no official word on support for the full release of Windows 8.  Visit their website at for more information.

Q: Do I have to buy a new computer or have a touchscreen?
A: Windows 8 is designed for a whole new class of PCs.  Manufacturers are rolling out various touchscreen devices to support Windows 8.  Keyboard layouts on new machines are also changing with the addition of shortcut keys to some of the more useful menus such as “Settings”.  While any computer made before Windows 8 doesn’t have these keyboard shortcuts and many of them don’t have touchscreens, this doesn’t stop you from using the new features of the operating system.

Q: If I get Windows 8 installed at the ITS Help Desk or by a ResNET RCC, what do I get?
A: Our Windows 8 images come with Microsoft Office, FireFox, CCI Printing and NAC.  If you wish to use any other software, you may install it yourself (see the compatibility chart above).

Q: If I have a CCI Computer that came with Adobe Photoshop and/or Premiere Elements.  Will this be reinstalled on Windows 8?
A: As of the posting of this article, no.  Lenovo CCI computers ship with this software, but it isn’t licensed by the University, so we can’t reinstall it on Windows 8 images.  You should have received an installation disc with your computer, though, and you should be able to reinstall it from that disc.  If you need access to this software and cannot find your disc, UNC offers Adobe Creative Suite which includes Photoshop and Premier through Virtual Lab, please click here for more information.

Q: How Can I connect to UNC-Secure?
A: Please visit our UNC-Secure Configuration for Windows document for more information.