How-to: Install Windows 8 Preview

Windows 8 Installer country and language selectionIf you get past the practical issues of what hardware you’re going to run it on – real or virtual – then stepping through the Windows 8 Developer Preview installer is actually a painless, even pleasant experience.

It is essentially the same installer you’ll see in Windows 7, with a Windows 8 colour scheme and minor tweaks to some steps. It is the usual guided process; idiot-proof if you accept all the default values. You are on your own if you go off-piste and start messing with disk partitions and other settings.

The plain, blue opening screen is reassuringly familiar – set your location and language options, press the big button and go.

Windows 8 Installer install nowThere is a repair your computer option for recovery and re-installation should you need it. Haven’t tried it, can’t answer for its’ effectiveness.

What’s Blue, Black and Green?
Stand-up comics among you make up your own punchlines. The rest of us are looking at a block-colour background which cycles through those colours during the installation.

Windows 8 Installer Partitioning toolThe Installer offers a standard (Windows 7) disk partitioning screen, with the opportunity to define a custom partitioning scheme for those who know what they’re doing. You can also install drivers to attach other media on which to install. Useful. Sys-Admins are installing to bootable VHD virtual hard drives and USB sticks among other media.

Windows 8 Installer Progress screenSkipping on a step, you’ll see a progress screen whilst the installer gets on with the task. This is about fifteen to thirty minutes depending on your hardware.

You now get treated to the standard black screen which can disconcertingly appear with or without changing messages, with or without the animated progress indicator. Watch your hard drive activity light; there’s a lot going on behind the blackness. Yes there is a registry and there is a device manager.

Windows 8 Installer updating registry settingsWindows 8 Installer readying devices

The change to green says that Windows 8 is installed and moving along. I hope you like this green, because there’s a lot of it, including on the Metro interface – and you can’t yet change it! The green phase means you’re into a running instance of Windows 8 and it begins with personalisation settings. Name your Windows 8 instance and you’re onto configuration for Windows Update and feedback options to send data back to Microsoft, spread over three or four scrolling screens.
Windows 8 Installer  Personalise computer nameWindows 8 Installer Express or Customised settings
Windows 8 Installer protect and updateWindows 8 Installer Online settings
I chose to disable all the send location info to Microsoft; not because I’m paranoid about Microsoft product marketing or data security, but because the voices in my head told me so.

Windows 8 Installer Personalise networkingThere’s actually not a lot to concern you at this stage. It all depends how helpful you think your data will be to Redmond. Update, troubleshooting guides, device drivers and compatibility lists are all sensible options to help you, the user. The more location based apps you use, the more benefits you may get in future from helping out with your data now, in terms of more usable stable apps.

Windows 8 Installer Preparing your PCAll questions answered, Windows 8 will finish set-up and drop you into the default lock screen, which you drag or swipe, smart-phone-style to get to a login prompt. Interestingly in this release you can chose to use your Windows Live ID as your Windows 8 user login. This promises much in future of Cloud-based roaming profiles. We wait to see if Microsoft can implement it securely.

Windows 8 Installer My Lock screenNext instalment of Windows 8 Preview, I’ll run through the Metro UI and standard desktop; the good, the bad and the confusingly half-finished. AJS

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