Windows 8 has been finalized and it is made available gradually through different channels. For those who are new to Windows 8 and would like a detailed step by step tutorial on how to install it on their computers and devices, we have created this guide. We will cover the following: how to burn your Windows 8 image to a disc or create a bootable USB drive, how to install Windows 8 and how to go through the initial configuration screens.
UPDATE: The article includes instructions relevant for the final version of Windows 8 (build 9200).
First, you need to download the final version from Microsoft or purchase it through one of the official channels available.
If you want to burn the .iso image on a disc, check our tutorial: The Complete Guide to Burning Disk Images (ISO & IMG) In Windows 7. Also, if you want to create a bootable memory stick with the Windows 8 setup on it, don't hesitate to read this tutorial: How to Make a Bootable USB Drive to Windows, Linux or MS DOS.
If you want to run Windows 8 in a virtual machine, the only free software with which you can use is VirtualBox. When starting the Create New Virtual Machine wizard, select Windows 8 as the operating system and Virtual Box will adjust its settings so that everything runs smoothly.
If you still have issues, check this guide on what settings must be turned on: You need to have hardware virtualization enabled if you want to run Windows 8 in Virtual Box.
In order to install Windows 8, you need to have a valid product key, appropriate for the specific version you are installing. You also need a Microsoft account. If you don't know much about it and how it helps you to have one, check this article: Simple Questions: What is a Windows Live ID or a Microsoft account?.
Useful Windows 8 Resources
We have tested Windows 8 since its initial test release and we have compiled quite a few interesting articles about it. Therefore, while you download and install Windows 8, don't hesitate to read some of the articles we recommend below. They will prove to be very useful.
- Windows 8 Analysis: Is the Start Screen an Improvement vs. the Start Menu?
- Browser Wars: Is Internet Explorer 10 a Relevant Browser?
- 12 Reasons why Windows Explorer in Windows 8 Rocks
- Windows 8 Analysis: Is the New Ribbon Interface More Efficient?
- Download the Desktop Shortcut to the Windows 8 Start Screen
- Download the Shortcut for the "Shut Down Windows" Menu
- Windows 8 Apps Don't Connect to Your Google/Gmail Account?
The Windows 8 Installation Procedure
First, you need to boot your computer using your Windows 8 installation disc. If you are using a virtual machine, boot from the .iso installation image.
Windows 8 takes a while to load the setup files, during which you will see mostly a black screen, similar to the one below.
Once the necessary files are copied, the setup starts by asking what language, time, currency and keyboard input settings you want to use. Make the selections you prefer and click Next.
Click the Install now button to start the installation.
You are asked to enter the product key required to activate your Windows 8 installation. Type the product key you purchased and click Next. If you have purchased a retail version of Windows 8, the product key will be found in the packaging of the installation discs. The same product key will be later on required to activate Windows 8, after the installation is done.
You are asked to read the license agreement. Check the "I accept the license terms" box and click Next.
You are asked to choose between making an upgrade or a custom installation. Choose "Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)".
Now you are asked to select where you want to install Windows 8. Select the partition you desire and click Next. If you are installing Windows 8 in a virtual machine, or on a new computer you need to first create the partition. Therefore click on Drive Options.
Then, create the partition using the New button.
Specify the size of the partition and click Apply.
NOTE: Windows 8 has approximately 10GB of space without any special extras installed. If you want to install other applications, you should make a larger partition for it. My recommendation is to go for a minimum of at least 20 - 25 GB.
You are asked to confirm if you are OK with Windows 8 creating an additional partition for its system files, that will be used for boot and recovery. Click OK.
Make sure the correct partition is selected and click Next.
NOTE: At this step you can also format the partition where Windows 8 is going to be installed, prior to pressing Next.
The installation finally starts. The setup will take a few minutes to copy all the required files and install the operating system.
Once the installation is done, the Windows 8 setup will automatically reboot your system. Then, you will see the progress of the preparations made for your first login. In order for this process to finish, you might need to go through another reboot, depending on your computer's hardware configuration.
Personalizing the Windows 8 Installation
After the reboots are done, Windows 8 will require some time to get things ready.
Then, you are asked to personalize your Windows 8 installation. Start by giving a name for your computer. If you type some "unauthorized" characters like $, %, &, you will be notified appropriately. Also, choose the background color you prefer. Once done, click Next.
If you are installing Windows 8 on a laptop or device with a wireless network card, you are asked to select the wireless network to connect to and type the appropriate password for connecting to it. On a computer or device connected via cable to the network, you won't go through this step.
Next, you need to choose if you want to use the Express settings Windows 8 comes bundled with, or you want to customize your installation. Let's get our hands dirty and see what happens if you click Customize.
First, you are asked if you want to turn on file sharing or not. Select the option you prefer.
Then, you are asked about the default behavior of Windows Update and that of security features like the SmartScren Filter. Change the things you are interested in and click Next.
Next, you are asked if you want to send different types of information to Microsoft. Set things according to your preference and click Next.
Then, you are asked about troubleshooting options and what you want to turn on. Also, you can set if apps can use your name and account picture and if they are allowed to access your location. Set things as you wish and click Next.
Finally, you get to the "Sign in to your PC" screen. To experience Windows 8 to its fullest, it is best to use your Microsoft account (also known as Windows Live ID) to sign in. Type your Microsoft account and click Next.
NOTE: If you would rather not sign in using a Microsoft account, click on "Sign in without a Microsoft account" link at the bottom of the window and follow the instructions shown by the setup wizard.
Then, you are asked to enter your Microsoft account password. Type it and click Next.
Then, you can provide an alternate e-mail and phone number to recover your account password, in case you forget it or it is changed by unwanted guests. Provide the requested details and click Next.
Windows 8 takes a while to prepare your computer and all the settings.
While the preparations are made, you are shown a brief tutorial about how to access the new charms bar - one of the most important changes in Windows 8. I recommend that you pay attention to the instructions being shown at this stage.
Once the tutorial ends, you are shown further information about the progress of the Windows 8 customisation via a few colored screens and messages.
Once everything is done, you are shown the Windows 8 Start screen.
If you press Win+D or click on the Desktop tile, you can view also the classic desktop.
Welcome to your first Windows 8 experience!
As you can see from this article, the Windows 8 installation starts in a very similar way to that of Windows 7. However, the closer you get to your first login, things change dramatically and the new user interface takes the stage. To learn more about Windows 8 don't hesitate to read the articles we published in our Windows 8 section.