Recently Microsoft published online a Developer Preview edition from Windows 8 http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516. On this site you can download 64-bit and 32-bit installation media ISO files as well as 64-bit edition with developer tools. All versions are for x86 processors only – there is still no build for ARM processors I am aware of, that is why my current review is concentrating on desktop related scenarios only.
In this part the installation routine will be presented.
The 64-bit ISO image is 3,6GB large and includes the slightly bigger install.wim (3,2GB) and boot.wim (206MB) files in a Windows 7-similar folder structure: nothing spectacular so far. The installation routines support both boot media and a setup.exe file which when executed from Windows 7 edition will present the following window.
The next step is checking the compatibility, which is the same as for Windows Vista and Windows 7:
1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Taking advantage of touch input requires a screen that supports multi-touch
To run Metro style Apps, you need a screen resolution of 1024 X 768 or greater
Keep in mind that installing over the setup.exe keeps account settings and files from XP and additional settings from Vista and 7.
Once again – you are installing a preview here so don’t do it on a productive computer! The recap window does not warn you about that.
Now let’s follow the steps on a clean install from a boot medium. For this purpose I used a Server 2008 R2 SP1 edition Hyper-V role, but it goes without saying that the same steps a relevant on a bare metal. There were slight deviations from the system requirements, assigning only 512MB RAM as dynamic memory and creating manually a 127GB dynamic virtual disk.
The VM booted and the installation steps were reflecting the Windows 7 steps.
After accepting the EUA the installation can either automatically partition your hard drive or you use the advanced options as showed in the screen below – here the installer automatically creates a 350MB system-reserved partition; under Windows 7 it was only 100MB
As already mentioned the installation routine wasn’t drastically changed by the MS developers so we skip some steps here to show the final configuration. Here you can choose between express and customized settings.
In the customized section you can set up different security and update policies. Note the new green layout resembling Phone 7 design along with the virtual switches qualifying for touch-screen devices.
On the next screen Microsoft is propagating once again his Windows Store – AppStore pendant – and trying to keep the race with iOS and Android in sending sensitive location data to Microsoft services. At least you have a choice of privacy here. Similarly the next screen (not shown here) includes options for the Windows location platform and Apps personalized content based on name and account picture – one can follow the social networking trend.
After the usual user account was created, the installation procedure takes a while to finish. After that you will be presented with the allegedly omnipresent tiles design.
The whole process takes about 15 minutes from mounted ISO file and almost twice the time from DVD media. During this time Microsoft succeeds in pumping up the system disk with almost 9GB files, this being the size of the dynamic VHD file, i.e. not counting the hard links under WinSxS, etc. For comparison a Windows 7 Professional edition is claiming about 3,5GB hard disk space on a vanilla installation.
Summing up, the manual setup should not provide additional burden for the systems administrator, merely the extensive final settings could make you sweat when creating an OOBE answer file or similar.
In the following parts we will discuss in details some of the new features and technologies, Windows 8 is bringing on board.