Step-by-step guide to installing Windows 8 Release Preview

By Leeky · 19 replies
Jun 3, 2012
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  1. In this guide I will cover the installation of Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview 64-bit from a installation image. The installation of 32-bit and 64-bit are the same as this guide. I will try to explain certain options and provide helpful hints along the way, so rather than just following the guide, you can understand the reasoning behind the decisions.

    If there are any mistakes please draw my attention to them and I will correct as needed. I have tried to make this as simple as possible, whilst covering the vast majority of scenarios users will come across whilst installing this operating system.

    Step 1:
    The first thing you should do is head to and download the installation image for your chosen architecture. The image used in the creation of this guide is the 64-bit (x64) ISO.

    Step 2:
    Using your disc burning software, burn the .iso you downloaded to a DVD.

    Step 3:
    Before you go any further, ensure all important data is backed up in case of data loss on your drives. This guide assumes you have media backups of your hard drives and you are safe to proceed.

    Warning: Installing another operating system without first ensuring you have backups of your current files and operating system is a big risk. If you have no data to lose or you’ve backed up important data, you’re ready to proceed. YOU are responsible if you lose data.

    Disclaimer: It goes without saying, that neither me or TechSpot accept any liability or responsibility for any errors or damages made to your computer during, or after installing this operating system. It is up to the user to ensure proper backups are made of important documents and files.

    Step 4:
    Ensure you have a network cable connected, restart your computer, and boot from the DVD drive.

    Step 5:
    The DVD will begin to load up, and you'll be presented by the following screen as the installer starts.


    Step 6:
    Once loaded you will see the following screen.


    Select your location, keyboard and regional language settings as required and click "next" to continue and you'll see the following box:


    Click "Install now" to continue with the installation.

    Step 7:
    You'll then be asked to provide the product key to activate Windows.


    Enter the product key as written in the screenshot above. For the sake of clarity, the product key is TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF for both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

    Once you have entered the product key, click "next" to continue to the next step.

    Step 8:
    Before you can proceed with the setup any further you're required to accept Microsoft's license terms, as below.


    Read the terms, and once you're happy, tick the "I accept the license terms" box, and click "next" to continue to the next step.

    Step 9:
    You will be greeted with the following screen.


    For the purposes of this guide, we'll assume you are performing a fresh installation of Windows 8 Release Preview. Therefore, this tutorial covers the "Custom" option which will install a fresh copy of Windows 8 Release Preview onto a clean hard drive, without backing up and restoring any existing files or settings.

    The first option, "upgrade" will allow those running previous versions of Windows to upgrade to Windows 8 whilst keeping all files, settings and applications during the setup of the new operating system.

    Step 10:
    The setup will then continue and start the disk manager as below.


    Select the correct drive to use for the installation of Windows 8 Release Preview, and click "next" to continue. For those trying this in a Virtual Machine, 20-25GB of hard drive space is more than adequate.

    Note: This step is the last point in which you can abort the installation without permanent data loss to drives. Please ensure you have working backups before proceeding further.

    Step 11:
    Windows setup will then begin to install Windows 8 Release Preview to the hard drive, and will work through several stages as detailed below.


    The installer may restart during the installation stage as it configures the computer to run the new operating system.

    Step 12:
    Once complete, it will reboot again and setup the computers devices and finalize the installation, as below.


    Once this stage has finished, you will be greeted with the following screen.


    Select your preferred colour scheme for Metro, and then name your computer. The PC name is used to identify the computer on local networks and ideally should be named so that other users your network can identify who the computer belongs to. Then click "next" to proceed.

    Step 13:
    You will then be greeted with the following window.


    At this point you can specify the final settings required in the configuration of your new Windows installation. You can either choose "use express settings" or click "customize" to change the express settings.

    If you are unsure, it is best to choose the first option. The installer will then configure the final settings and move onto the next step.

    Step 14:
    The next step asks you if you wish to sign into your PC using a Windows Live account.


    Unlike previous versions of Windows, Microsoft's new operating system heavily integrates the Redmond-based firms Windows Live features, including messenger, contacts, calendar and mail.

    Signing in using your Windows Live account also offers Windows 8 users additional benefits like the ability to download additional apps from the Windows Store and automatic synchronization of all your Windows 8 computers so they look and feel the same regardless of which one you're using.

    Note: Your Windows Live ID also becomes your username for Windows 8 Release Preview, and uses your Windows Live ID password to log in.

    Enter your Windows Live ID, and click "next" to continue.


    You will then be asked for your password for your Windows Live account. Click "next" to continue.


    The final step of integrating your Windows Live account with your new installation of Windows 8 Release Preview requires you to provide additional verification information. For those that have previously set this up, the fields will be completed already. Verify they are correct, or add the required information and click "next" to continue.

    Step 15:
    Windows 8 Release Preview will then complete its final configuration.


    Once complete, it will then boot into Windows for the first time, as below.


    Installation is now complete, and you can enjoy your new OS and begin exploring its features.

    Feedback and comments are welcome. If you feel something is missing or you would like to see something in particular covered in future tutorials let us know in the comments section, or contact me directly.
    Siavash likes this.
  2. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 723   +51

    Great work as usual, pretty much covers everything except device configuration (which practically can't be covered) and a somewhat more prominent warning about damaging other OSes (particularly Linux) installed as a multi-boot while installing Win8. My gut-feel says the MS account is going to be annoying though.
    A quick question: Is the installation process longer or shorter than the Consumer Preview? Time-wise I mean. The CP installation (a kiss-of-death for my beloved Lucid) took around 45 minutes, from sliding in the disk to getting to the desktop.

    Anyhow, a nice and quick coverage. Very precise and to the point. :)
    Leeky likes this.
  3. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    It took me a while to install it on the VM as I was taking screenshots and writing notes at the same time. I did install it on the testing laptop this morning though (Dell Lattitude D630/2GB RAM/Intel Core2Duo Dual core @ 2.0GHz or thereabouts) and the installation process for a fresh installation took about 20-30 minutes. I didn't time it, but it seemed plenty fast enough really.

    How it compares to Consumer Preview I'm not entirely sure -- It's a while since I've run it, although I do have the images should a side by side comparison be necessary.

    I plan to follow this up with an introduction to Windows 8 explaining the new features, how to navigate the OS and walk through information for performing common tasks in a comparison with Windows 7. Though with OS Guides due for launch shortly, and a list as long as my arm of other tutorials needing work it might take a couple of weeks. The hope is the introduction will help prepare people for Windows 8's launch in a few months' time.

    RE: Warning regarding the damage to dual booting. Windows never plays nice with Linux, or any other OS for that matter when it comes to booting. I did consider including dual booting options, but it just increases the complexity of the information that needs to be read and its hard to factor in every conceivable scenario a user will encounter when dual-booting as the requirements will be different depending on the number of OSes being booted, and what they actually are.

    Therefore rather than completely sidetrack the tutorial I've made the conscious decision to keep it simple, and just assume Windows OSes will be used as the sole OS, or at least the primary OS -- especially since its considered easier to install Windows, then *nix OS' anyway.
  4. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 723   +51

    Excellent! That'll be all the more helpful.
    Yes, I was thinking along the same lines.
    Though somehow Win8 seems less tolerant towards GRUB and Lilo than Win7. IMHO just a line for (aspiring/learning) nerds to expect to loose their multi-boot would be fine. Most people don't dual boot unless they know what they are doing (and that means they are aware of the issues being observed with Win8), so including all possible scenarios may be unnecessary (not to mention practically not possible).
    For those mono-booting non-Windows OSes, modern Linux-based OSes don't seem at all difficult. I'm talking about Ubuntu of course. The installation seems faster, easier, and near effortless. Windows is getting closer to that though, if it allows filling in user details while the files are being copied. Of course, the biggest draw is the "Free" tag.
    So if possible, it may need a work-around for dual-booters, as long as it's legal to do so. A whole new "for geeks" section. It'll probably burden you with workload. Let's appreciate the simplicity for Windows-lovers. :D

    I'm meanwhile working on a Backbox Set-up guide. Call it a sleeker BackTrack. Let's see how it goes.
  5. Dawn1113

    Dawn1113 TS Booster Posts: 322   +65

    Thanks for this, Leeky. The steps in the guide make the process look so easy -- and is written in such a noob-friendly way -- I'm considering trying W8 Release Preview out on my laptop.

    I've never been one to move quickly on to new operating systems, but I'm thinking I might need to give this one a try. I'm sure they'll be installing W8 onto the PCs at work soon enough. It'd be a good idea to get the hang of it early on.

    Leeky likes this.
  6. Siavash

    Siavash TS Booster Posts: 65   +20

    Once again another great tutorial, thanks Leeky. Here is a few simple steps for people who want to restore and bring back their Linux to boot menu, which consists of :
    1. Boot Linux
    2. Chroot into installed Linux
    3. Reinstalling GRUB
    Warning :Long post, close current tab immediately if you need your eyes!
    Warning : I don't take any responsibility for damages done to your PC and data, so use it your own risk and follow steps carefully :D
    Warning : Linux commands are case sensitive, so check that your CapsLock is off before continuing and exactly type the given commands.

    1. Boot Linux
    First you need to get a Linux LiveCD for yourself such as Ubuntu LiveCD (recommended), Gentoo LiveDVD or Minimal Install CD, ArchLinux Core Image or Net Install Image and burn it on a CD or if you are out of blank CDs you can also use a USB memory stick to boot from.

    2. Chroot into installed Linux
    a. (Ubuntu LiveCD users only) Open a terminal
    b. (Ubuntu LiveCD users only) Type the following command into terminal and press Enter to gain root access :
    sudo su
    c. (Optional) If you always forget your partitions setup like me, use following command to get a list of current partitions :
    fdisk -l
    Yes, that's a 'L' like Lamborghini in lower case don't confuse it with 'I' in upper case :)
    d. Now we are going to mount required partitions, assuming your existing partitions setup looks like this (mine actually) :
    /dev/sda1    Windows boot partition (C:\)
    /dev/sda2    Windows logical partition (D:\)
    /dev/sda3    Windows logical partition (E:\)
    /dev/sda4    Windows logical partition (F:\)
    /dev/sda8    /boot
    /dev/sda9    swap
    /dev/sda10  /
    /dev/sda11  /home
    Note : You need to perform required changes to following steps depending on your partitions setup.
    we need to mount boot (/boot) and root (/) partitions to continue with following commands :
    mount /dev/sda8 /mnt
    mount /dev/sda10 /mnt
    mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev
    mount --bind /proc /mnt/proc
    e. Now it's time to chroot into existing Linux on your hard drive :
    chroot /mnt

    3. Reinstalling GRUB
    a. (Ubuntu based Linux users) This step applies to Ubuntu based distros (like Linux Mint) which they use new GRUB2 for boot loader. Install the GRUB(2) with following command :
    grub-install --recheck /dev/sda
    a. (Legacy GRUB users) This step applies to other Linux distros which they still use old GRUB for stability/compatibility reasons (like ArchLinux , Gentoo Linux and ...). First we need to fire up GRUB :
    Next we are going to tell GRUB where is our boot partition and to install itself :
    root (hd0,7)
    setup (hd0)
    I know what you are thinking about, that 7 should be 8, but that's how old GRUB works. You need to enter boot partition number - 1 there. In our case boot partition resides in /dev/sda8 so we should enter 8-1=7 there.
    b. Exit GRUB with following command :
    c. Exit chroot environment with following command :
    d. Now reboot with following command :
    e. (Ubuntu based Linux users) This step applies to Ubuntu based distros (like Linux Mint) which they use new GRUB2 for boot loader. Open a terminal and type following command to detect Windows installation and enter your root password when asked :
    sudo update-grub
    e. (Legacy GRUB users) This step applies to other Linux distros which they still use old GRUB for stability/compatibility reasons (like ArchLinux , Gentoo Linux and ...). GRUB configuration file resides in /boot/grub/menu.lst for ArchLinux and /boot/grub/grub.conf for Gentoo Linux if I remember correctly and similar locations for other distros. Open it with your favorite text editor (like vim and nano) with following command :
    sudo nano /boot/grub/menu.lst
    then add these to end of the file to make your Windows installation visible in boot menu :
    # (1) Windows
    title Windows 8 Release Preview
    rootnoverify (hd0,0)
    chainloader +1
    The second 0 stand for 1-1=0 where Windows partition (C:\) resides which is /dev/sda1 in our case.
    f. Press Ctrl+X to save the changes and Y when asked for confirmation.
    g. (Optional) Reboot with following command if you like to enter and play around with new installed Windows which should be available in boot menu alongside Linux :
    sudo reboot

    Bonus Material :
    1. About partition namings (/dev/sdxy)
    • sd stands for SATA hard drives and it could be hd instead for old IDE hard drives
    • x is a for boxes with only one hard drive it would be b, c, d, ... for multiple hard drives
    • y is a number which points to existing partitions on hard drive and starts from 1
    2. What's wrong with old GRUB (in steps 3.a and 3.e)
    • Old GRUB always uses hd regardless of hard drive type (IDE/SATA)
    • 0 in hd0 stands for index of hard drive in numbers - 1 (remember a, b, c, d, ... explained in previous section)
    References :
    Restore GRUB2 after installing Windows
    Restore GRUB (ArchLinux)
    GRUB - ArchWiki
    Leeky likes this.
  7. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Thanks Siavash, and Dawn for the positive comments.

    Thank you also for the addition of your post Siavash, it will no doubt prove handy for those trying W8 and losing the existing bootloader for Linux.
  8. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 723   +51

    Haha, if only it had arrived before I wiped my HDD. :oops:
  9. Siavash

    Siavash TS Booster Posts: 65   +20

    You are welcome, it was my pleasure.

    Sorry about that, may be this comes handy next time installing Windows 8 Final version ;)
  10. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 723   +51

    Thanks, but nah, I don't think I'll be going back to Windows anytime soon.
  11. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    First, a big THUMBS UP to Leeky for another great step-by-step Guide!! (y) :)

    Also a question for those who aren't installing Windows 8 Release preview in a VM.. I thought this question belongs in its own thread but it's related so thought I'd also post a link and ask here. Anyone have any info?
    What happens when going from Win8 Release Preview to Win8 Final Release?
    Leeky likes this.
  12. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Again, great guide Leeky :)

    I just installed 64-bit Windows 8 Release Preview onto my XP/Windows 7 dual boot desktop. I now have a triple boot XP/Window 7/Windows 8 machine! The installation went without a hitch. A few things to note for this case:
    1. I first created a third primary partition on the hard disk, formatted it NTFS and labeled it "Windows 8" (I used EaseUS Partition Manager which is also free and easy to use)
    2. I then followed the Guide, downloaded the ISO and booted from DVD. I did a "Custom Install". In Step 10, I chose the "Windows 8" partition I just created
    3. When Win 8 installation completed, the machine rebooted. I was a little worried at first because on reboot the machine skipped the usual black and white text-mode boot choice screen and, instead, went directly into the Windows 8 startup screen. However, all was good. When Windows 8 started it presented the multi-boot options
    • Earlier Version of Windows
    • Windows 8
    • Windows 7
    The first choice was XP (renamed). I selected it and rebooted. It booted into XP.
    I then used EasyBCD to easily rename the first choice back to Windows XP and re-order the choices as I wanted.

    It's now time to start playing with Windows 8 and delete the partition when all done! :)

    /* EDIT */
    On second thought, now that I've learned how it installs in a multi-boot with other Windows OS, think I'll just delete the partition and reinstall it in a VM! :p
    Leeky likes this.
  13. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Thanks for the feedback LookinAround, and for the praise, which is always greatly received as these guides do take some work to write.

    Windows 8 appears to be friendlier than previous editions when it comes to multi-booting. The OS runs flawlessly on my testing laptop, but it really didn't turn out a very good experience when I ran it on the main PC. Obviously its still in testing and shouldn't be used on crucially important scenarios, but I remain disappointed with how it handles (and corrupts) my RAID. Its an issue I had with Consumer Preview, and its an issue I continued to experience with Release Preview.

    That alone is putting me off Windows 8, as my RAID is obviously very important. I also continued to experience problems with shutting down in the new release as well. Maybe it's just my hardware configurations age, I dunno, but it runs much better on the laptop than it does my PC.
  14. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 723   +51

    That's probably due to the default hibernation, I guess. You have any theory?
  15. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Aye, it's about time Apple updated the Mac Pro line so I can order myself a new one. LOL.

    Jokes (well sort of) aside, I'd imagine that is the problem, if it is trying to hibernate and not shut down completely. My existing PC has never liked hibernate, or even sleeping. Never been bothered though as its either on, or its off. Never understood the reason why I'd want to be able to put a desktop in standby personally. If its not being used I just power it down.

    Though to be fair, its on from 7am ish in the morning through to about midnight seven days a week anyway. lol.
  16. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 723   +51

    Haha, mine is usually off anyway.
    What I was saying is...are you aware of how Asrock's Instant Boot works? It uses hibernation mode to decrease startup times. MS claims a fast boot time, right? Maybe it's that? It maybe using that method, causing it to take more time to write the state to disk during shutdown.
    What say?
  17. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Nah, I don't think its just a case of taking longer to shutdown than normal. On three separate occasions it was still saying shutting down for over 20 minutes, using an SSD as its primary disk. It works pretty well on the laptop, but there is clearly something about my hardware that Windows 8 continues to dislike.
  18. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 723   +51

    Hmm...maybe it just hates you for being a Linux fan. :p
    SNGX had a similar experience. I guess only guys at MS can give us an honest answer. Maybe a bug? Are there other occasions of it shutting down fast? Because for it was always shutting down slow, the first time over an hour. I know my PC is rather down-market, but not so crappy!
  19. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    It never shut down correctly. And every time I forced it to shutdown by pressing the power button it would then take forever to start, and then to login, and I'd find my RAID was corrupted somehow, or everything had been re-arranged on the desktop.

    The two could be related to be fair. I'm no longer running a RAID as I suspect the controller on my ageing motherboard is playing up, but the disks are fine. It's weird really, but since I need the computer to work properly I didn't really spend a whole lot of time investigating the issues.
  20. RensvanDriel

    RensvanDriel TS Rookie

    Thanks, for the GREAT guide !

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