Installing or Upgrading Windows 8 : Preparing Your System: A Checklist - Installing Windows 8

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Installing Windows 8

The installation process for Windows 8 is probably the easiest—and, certainly, the least interactive—Windows install to date. Upgrading takes just a few mouse clicks, and even a clean install is a simple affair, although it does come with some welcome tools for managing partitions.

After the Setup program boots from the install media, it copies a file named boot.wim (located in the \sources subfolder on the Windows 8 install media) into RAM. This file is a scaled-down OS called the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) that boots after a few seconds, so the rest of the install takes place in GUI mode. Windows PE begins by displaying the Windows Setup dialog box shown in Figure 1, which acts as kind of a Welcome screen for Windows PE.


Figure 1. This dialog box is the first stop in the Windows 8 installation process, which uses a GUI for all user interaction.

Click Next, and then click Install Now to get the install underway. At this point, you are running in the Windows PE OS. The next major screen asks for your Windows 8 product key; then the installer displays the license agreement and asks whether you accept its terms. The install program next asks you what type of installation you want to perform. You have two choices, as shown in Figure 2:

Upgrade—Click this choice to upgrade Windows 8 over your existing operating system. Note, however, that this option does not preserve data such as your user accounts and Windows settings. If you want to preserve your data, you must run the upgrade from within your current Windows installation. See the next section for more details.

Custom—Click this choice to install a clean version of Windows 8. This is the install that we cover in this section.


Figure 2. You can install Windows 8 either as an upgrade or as a clean (or custom) version.


When Windows PE is running, you can display the command line at any time by pressing Shift+F10.

If you choose the Custom option, you come to the most interesting part of the setup process. The installer begins by showing you a list of your system’s available partitions, and you click the one on which you want to install Windows 8. The real install fun begins if you click the Drive Options (Advanced) link, which appears for only unformatted partitions. It displays a few extra commands, as you can see in Figure 3


Figure 3. The installer gives you a number of options for manipulating the partition on which you want to install Windows 8.

Depending on the partition, one or more of the following commands become available:

Delete—Click this command to delete the selected partition.

Format—Click this command to format the selected partition. Note that the installer formats the partition using NTFS.

New—Click this command to create a new partition out of the selected unallocated disk space. This displays a spin box that you can use to set the partition size. Click Apply to create the new partition.

Extend—Click this command to increase the size of the selected partition by extended it into adjoining unallocated disk space.

Load Driver—Click this command to load a third-party device driver for the selected partition. Note that Windows 8 can install the drivers from a CD, DVD, or USB Flash drive.

Clicking Next ends the interactive portion of the installation. From here on, the installer handles everything from copying files to rebooting the machine without prompting you.

When the installation is complete, the Set Up Windows dialog box appears and you’re taken through a few dialog boxes to configure Windows 8. Configuration chores include the following:

• Typing a computer name and selecting a Start screen background (see Figure 4)


Figure 4. Part of the Windows 8 configuration process includes typing a name for your computer and choosing a Start screen background.

• Deciding whether you want to use express settings (to set up Windows 8 with a default configuration) or customize the install yourself (we recommend the customization path)

• Deciding whether you want to turn on network sharing

• Selecting options for Windows Update and Windows SmartScreen (Windows 8’s anti-phishing tool)

• Selecting the type of information you want to send to Microsoft

• Deciding whether you want to check online for solutions to problems and choosing the information you want to share with your apps

• Deciding whether you want to sign in to your PC using a Microsoft account or a local user account (we recommend a Microsoft account to get the most out of Windows 8)

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