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BryanC (RIP)

Installing Windows 8.1 Preview - 2: Downloading and Doing the Install

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Assuming you have backed up your data appropriately and set up a new disk partition (unless you plan on using the Windows Store version) you are now ready to download and install the 8.1 Preview!

Again, these comments assume you have previously installed and are running Windows 8. If you are running Windows 7 or an earlier version, you must use a separate partition and the OSI version of the install.

Using the Windows Store Version

If you are going to use this version there is no point in repeating the warnings that you have undoubtedly read (probably more than once).

The Windows 8.1 Preview doesn’t just appear in your Windows Store listings, you have to put it there! Doing so is pretty easy.

· Go to this page
· Click the Get the update button.
· Follow the instructions and restart your PC when requested.

Once the PC has been restarted the Windows 8.1 Preview “app” will appear in the Windows Store. Just install it as would any other app. No Product Key is required for this installation. Just make sure you have an hour or so available!

Using the OSI (disk image) Version

This is the recommended version for use by enterprise and volume license users. It is also ideal for those of us who choose to set up a dual-boot machine by installing it in a separate partition. After making sure you have a writeable DVD (a CD will not do) and have an empty partition of at least 20 GB in size, do the following:

· Go to this page (the download links are at the bottom of the page).
· Select the best download for your geographic location (and whether you want the 32 bit version or 64bit version) and click the download link.
· It is a large file; it will take some time to download.
· You will need the product key for this version. It is NTTX3-RV7VB-WQYYY-9Y92E It is specified on the above page just above the download links.
· Save this key or write it down! You will not be able to come back here (or go to any other page) once the installation starts!

A word about OSI files in case you are not familiar with them. OSI files are compressed disk image files. Sort of like regular Windows Zip files. As such they must be expanded before they can be used.

The easiest way is to simply double-click the file in File Explorer! Alternately you can right-click the file and select Mount. Either way the expanded files will be displayed. A double-click on setup.exe will start the install. One big problem! Using this approach will cause the install to use the current partition and overwrite your current OS. No partition choice is provided. Not what we want!
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To install the preview in a different partition you must burn the disk image onto a DVD. Insert your DVD, right-click the OSI file and select Burn disk image. This will expand the OSI file and create a bootable disk which will be used for the actual install.

Once you have your bootable DVD, just how do you boot from it? This is a very good question, especially if you have not booted from a DVD before (or even recently). There is no one set of instructions since things vary by manufacture and even by model!

However, the approach is always similar. When you first turn on the PC, the first screen you encounter is a manufacturer’s screen that indicates the very basic and necessary setup (BIOS) is proceeding Usually a couple of “F” keys are also specified on the screen.

My PC is a relatively new Dell and in the bottom right corner of this screen it indicates F2 Setup and F12 Boot Options (or something very close). Keep pressing the F12 key (or whatever key your screen says) until you see the Boot Options screen. The actual time during which the key press will be recognized is actually quite short so multiple presses help solve that problem.

I don’t know about your PC but the Boot Options screen on mine is not very clear at all! In fact I had to guess what the DVD option was! (The second guess worked, the first just resulted in a normal boot)!

Now just let it do its thing. It will take its time but eventually you will see the Windows 8.1 Preview fish! Yes, it seems that Microsoft has associated the Win 8.1 Preview with a stylized goldfish of multiple colors and shades! As you continue to work with 8.1 you will see this fish many times. Maybe you could give it a name?

The install is pretty straight forward and is typical of most Windows installs and you will be asked for the Product Key early on. It was provided a little earlier in the document but here it is again: It is NTTX3-RV7VB-T7X7F-WQYYY-9Y92F. Don’t lose it!

The most important option is for you to choose a Custom install and the choice is not that clear. However, there are only two options on the screen; Default is the top one and Custom is the second one. Should you inadvertently select Default you will do the install in the current primary partition (overwriting your current version of Windows); not what you want to do! Should this happen, just cancel the install as soon as possible and restart the whole process, booting from the DVD again!

Very soon after selecting Custom you will be asked to choose which partition you want to use for the install. Just select your new partition and things will really get underway! During the process you will be ask a number of questions and the machine will restart a few times. For me the whole process from boot to finish was about 50 minutes.

Finally, you will be presented with the Windows 8.1 Preview Lock Screen. Windows 8.1 Preview has now been installed and you are ready to start checking it out!

In the next entry we’ll discuss 8.1itself and how to customize it to your liking!
Disclaimer: All of the above is based on my experiences, what I have read and my personal opinions. As is always the case, YMMV. Further I can accept no responsibility for any malfunction of the links and methods I have provided. While they should work just fine, use them at your own risk.
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