Windows 8 Screen

Microsoft today unveiled the “release preview” version of Windows 8 which mostly indicates that the new Windows operating system is feature-complete. Windows 8 Release Preview is available as a free download and it is very likely that your existing system specs are good enough to run Windows 8.

The System Requirements for Windows 8

Any Windows machine equipped with 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of hard disk space and 1 GHz processor should be able to handle Windows 8. The minimum RAM requirements are 2 GB in case you would like to install the 64-bit version of Windows 8.

Should you download Windows 8 Setup or the ISO Image?

Update: Where can I Download Windows 8?

As you may have noticed on the Windows 8 download page, the installation of Windows 8 can be done in two ways.

  1. You can either take the easiest route and download the Windows 8 Setup program – that’s also the default option.
  2. Alternatively, you can download ISO Images of Windows 8.

If you are planning to install Windows 8 on your existing computer, either on a different partition (dual-boot) or just want to upgrade from an older version of Windows to Windows 8, the default Setup program is a good choice.

Please note that that your installed software programs will only be preserved if you are upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8. If your planning to install Windows 8 on top of Windows XP or Vista, only the files will be preserved but not the various software programs that you may have on the disk.

The Windows 8 ISO image may be more handy in other situations like:

  1. Your computer has an x64 processor but is currently running the 32-bit version of Windows. If you want to install the 64-bit version of Windows 8, download the 64-bit ISO.
  2. You want to install Windows 8 on your Mac (iMac or Macbook) using Boot Camp software.
  3. You want to install Windows 8 on multiple computers. In that case, you can download the ISO once, create a bootable DVD and boot the other systems using this newly created Windows 8 disk.
  4. You plan to run Windows 8 as a Virtual Machine inside your existing copy of Windows.
  5. You are running Windows XP.

The universal product key for Windows 8 is TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF.

Will my software programs run inside Windows 8?

Before grabbing the ISO image of Windows 8, quickly run this setup utility and it will show a list of all software programs and hardware drivers on your system that are compatible with Windows 8. Alternatively, you can visit this page to see a list of all known software and hardware devices that are found to be working with Windows 8.

How should I go about installing Windows 8?

You can have Windows 8 on your computer in three ways – you can install Windows 8 side-by-side (also known as dual-boot), as a virtual machine (so that it runs inside your existing Windows just like any other software) or you can have Windows 8 as your primary OS (there’s no going back from here).

If you just want to try out Windows 8   but without modifying any of your existing set-up, the safest bet is to use a Virtual Machine. If you have a vacant disk partition or don’t mind creating one (it’s easy), go for the dual-boot option. Else, if you have a spare computer, you can consider upgrading to Windows 8 overwriting the previous installation of Windows.

Also note that if you are upgrading from Windows 8 Consumer Preview to the new Windows 8 Release Preview, none of your installed programs, files and account settings will be preserved though everything would be moved to the windows.old folder.