Print 31 comment(s) - last by Iaiken.. on Nov 25 at 1:16 PM

You'll now only need the central installer to migrate files and utilities, plus its faster to boot

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) next generation operating system, Windows 8 has some big shoes to fill, as the successor to the fastest-selling operating system in Microsoft's history.  It is currently in Developer Preview (publicly available) and is set to launch late next year.

Microsoft has already showed off improved features, like a less painful Windows Update process, faster bootsdecreased OS resource consumption, and improved file transfers.   Its latest demo showcases how it hopes to streamline the setup/upgrade process in Windows 8.

In Windows 8, Microsoft has folded Windows Upgrade Advisor and Easy Transfer into the central installer.  The finished installer spits out a neat compatibility report as the first step in an upgrade process.  The report tells you which apps and devices will work with Windows 8 -- and which ones won't.

Windows 8
Windows 8 takes Windows 7's installation utilities and merges them into a single streamlined multifunctional installer. [Image Source: Microsoft]

Assuming the user okays the upgrade, the installation process then begins.  Much like Apple, Inc. (AAPL), Microsoft has moved its distribution primarily online.  While it will still offer boxed DVDs, for Windows 8 is primarily pushing a downloadable purchase.  That download has your product key already activated, so it's all set to install without interruption.  The download arrives via a robust built-in download manager.  The download manager automatically detects the upgrader's language and the applicable upgrade version (32-bit or 64-bit).  

The download has also been chopped down.  A Windows 7 x86 ISO takes up 2.32 GB of space.  By removing redundant files and folders, Windows 8 chops this down greatly.  For example, for the x86 installer it is now reduced to 2.10 GB.  Using specialized compression it then further crunches this down -- in the x86 case to 1.51 GB.  The result is a smaller file that downloads quicker and takes up less hard drive space.

Once downloaded, you now have the chance to install on a secondary partition, with the Setup program helping burn an ISO or make a bootable Flash copy of the Windows installer to carry out the rest of the process.  Regardless of your choice, you get to choose what kinds of files you carry over from your previous version of Windows.  

Microsoft writes that the types of files that can be transfered over vary based on your OS version:

You can transfer these…   When upgrading from…  
  Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP
Applications x    
Windows settings x x  
User accounts and files x x x

The last step is for Setup to take your choice and finish the installation.  In the case of error, e.g. lack of free hard drive space, Microsoft gives you the ability to go off and fix the issue and then return to the Setup.

The installation itself is faster, particularly for systems with lots of files and applications.  Microsoft has optimized its installation process by using hard links, rather than physical file moves and a single folder for transfering your applications and files.  Whole folders can now be moved, further speeding up the process.  The result is a virtual flat line of install time versus the amount "stuff" on your machine:

Windows 8 install times

Microsoft claims you will be able to install Windows 8 in as little as 11 clicks, an 82 percent reduction from Windows 7.  

But Microsoft has also beefed up the array of options for IT professionals and power users.  Most notably, it now offers the ability to create an unattend installation file that contains key injection and your answers for the setup process (including multi-boot partition installation, etc.).  This is somewhat akin to the Linux "kickstart" file.

Windows 8 looks like it finally has progressed to a more logical setup -- a single multi-purpose utility, compressed downloads, unattended install options, hard linking old files and folders, and more.

If you want to try out Windows 8 Developer Preview, we suggest using multi-boot as performance is pretty sluggish in most virtual machines (not to mention it isn't compatible with others, like Microsoft's own Virtual PC).  A good guide is posted here on Lifehack.

Source: Microsoft

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Not gonna do it!
By Malhavoc on 11/23/2011 1:42:06 AM , Rating: -1
Screw Microsoft, they aren't getting my money for this one!

Seriously though Windows 7 hasn't run its course and I'm happy with it.. I remember when they at least waited a few years before announcing their cash grabs.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By Digimonkey on 11/23/2011 8:38:13 AM , Rating: 3
It's not like you have to, Windows 7 will be supported until at least 2015. What you basically said is damn Microsoft offering consumer choices.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By nafhan on 11/23/2011 8:54:27 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, and unless you're running something with a touchscreen, there's really not much of a reason to upgrade an existing computer from Win7 to Win8, anyway.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By B3an on 11/23/2011 10:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah exactly... Theres only:

Better security,
Better performance (the early dev preview runs as good as XP on my 8 year old laptop),
Less RAM usage,
Faster boot times,
Hyper V virtualization,
Better software compatibility than any other Windows version,
Xbox Live,
Better file management menu's,
Improved boot process with a real graphical UI,
Longer battery life / lower power usage,
Way easier installation,
ARM CPU support,
Improved multi monitor support,
And my favourite... the best Task Manager ever.
Not to mention all the new software and other unannounced features.

It's only the biggest update to Windows in forever. No reason to upgrade at all right.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By Dr of crap on 11/23/11, Rating: 0
RE: Not gonna do it!
By Iaiken on 11/23/2011 9:58:26 AM , Rating: 3
Good for you!

Some of us build our own systems so we re-use the same copy of the OS over and over for each new box. My XP installer graced six PCs in sequence and my Windows 7 will soon be on it's second. This also let me skip Vista.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By bah12 on 11/23/2011 1:38:15 PM , Rating: 1
Good for you!

Some of us actually respect a companies licencing policies, and don't bend the law to fit our style. Now if you have a full retail copy of Win7, then my apologies. If however you are like most DIY guys you probably have an OEM disk which is not legally OK for you to use on your own PC, let alone the next 6.

Sorry to be so snarky, but to be 100% legally compliant usually costs more than buying the machine from an boutique OEM. The retail cost of Windows is almost always enough to cover the cost of a boutique build.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By Iaiken on 11/25/2011 1:16:55 PM , Rating: 2
Now if you have a full retail copy of Win7, then my apologies.

I do... Apology accepted Captain Needa.

The premium on two boutique PCs will almost always cost you more than you will save by building your own and re-using. Simply unlicense the old machine online before installing it on and licensing the new one.

It's not rocket science...

RE: Not gonna do it!
By jRaskell on 11/23/2011 10:40:20 AM , Rating: 2
Is the upgrade worth the purchase cost? Not for me.

Just because something isn't worth the cost for you doesn't mean it isn't worth the cost for others.

And as Iaiken said, not everyone purchases pre-built systems. In fact, I've NEVER purchased a pre-built system, and never will.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By Dr of crap on 11/23/2011 12:44:58 PM , Rating: 2
And your point is?

Do you upgrade your OS when you build a new PC?
And why? Does the current OS not do what you want it to?

I'm saying what are the benefits. I am using XP and have no issues, and will most likely be using XP for the next few years. What is the benefit to UPGRADING to Win 7 or Win 8? I can still surf the net, email, watch DVDs and listen to music on XP. That's all I need for it to do. And Yes I do have IE8.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By cjohnson2136 on 11/23/2011 1:42:38 PM , Rating: 1
That's you. I use Visual Studio 2010 so I can't use XP. Not everyone has the option to just simply use XP.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By Dr of crap on 11/23/2011 3:32:57 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying you have to use XP.
I asking for what reason do you upgrade your OS?

If for example I have a PC.
It's 8 years old and it runs fine and does whatever I ask of it.
WHY would I go buy a new version of Windows?

When the PC craps out or I think it's time to buy a new PC it might have a different OS or maybe the same, that would not be my reason to buy a PC. It's just another way for Microsoft to make more money by those that think they NEED to upgrade to the latest OS.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By B3an on 11/23/2011 10:43:11 PM , Rating: 2
If for example I have a PC. It's 8 years old and it runs fine and does whatever I ask of it. WHY would I go buy a new version of Windows?

Because it's infinitely more secure? That alone should be enough. For instance, XP compared to Win 7 for security is a joke let alone Win 8.
Win 8 will also use less power which means longer batter life. Even just basic things are much improved like connecting to a wifi network - MUCH easier. Or opening up software by being able to pin software or even web pages to the task menu now. Then you have support for new hardware and a OS that actually makes use of things like SSD speed and supports TRIM.

I upgrade because pretty much the WHOLE experience is improved and it makes my life easier.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By MrBlastman on 11/23/2011 12:39:26 PM , Rating: 2
I've been building my own PC since 1990. The current iteration I use is basically the same PC evolved over the last 15 years. Yeah, 15 years, I said it. Okay, it doesn't have any of the same hardware in it from 15 years ago but... I've constantly ported/transferred/rotated hard drives over the years so for all intents and purposes, it is the same thing just upgraded a little bit at a time (including the case).

Oh, and I've never upgraded an OS on it... ever. I have my drives on a 6 year rotation schedule. When one gets six years old, I rotate it out with a newer/bigger one. Usually when I do this it is close to or around the time of upgrading the motherboard--and at that time I do a fresh install of whatever OS I want and then port over registry keys/users etc. keeping all the data the same. Having to reinstall stuff is bogus and you can avoid it if you know the right things to do.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By TakinYourPoints on 11/24/2011 6:13:36 AM , Rating: 2
Depends on the upgrade. Upgrading from XP to Vista (after driver/OS issues shook out) was completely worth it, ditto the move to Windows 7. XP was a complete disaster from a security and usability standpoint. The incentive to upgrade from Win7 is questionable given that the OS is as good as it is, but I can be persuaded if the core improvements are there (improved search, streamlined submenus, etc etc).

Either way I get copies from my friend at MS via employee discount, I haven't paid anything close to retail/OEM for a copy since XP. It's more a time issue with the install, so yeah, we'll see.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By Lerianis on 11/25/2011 2:56:13 AM , Rating: 2
Believe me, IT'S WORTH IT! At idle, they have gotten the memory usage from 30% on my 4GB system down to 19%.

Add into this the almost instant on of most applications on the Dev. Preview, and Microsoft (if they don't screw things up by changing a lot of stuff) has a winner on their hands.

RE: Not gonna do it!
By jRaskell on 11/23/2011 10:34:39 AM , Rating: 1
I remember when they at least waited a few years before announcing their cash grabs.

That is a curious statement.
Win 7 was released in 2009.
Win 8 is slated for release next year.
2012 - 2009 = 3 years.
So... what's your definition of a few years?

RE: Not gonna do it!
By Lerianis on 11/25/2011 2:50:10 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, 3 years is a few years. Secondly, this is NOT a cash grab in the slightest. Windows 8 brings so many improvements and other things to the OS, that it is a whole new operating system.

Really, what's wrong with spending $100 dollars every 3 years on a new OS? Nothing, in my opinion.

Heck, if you don't want to pay, you can always 're-arm' numerous times, getting up to a year free, then wipe your hard drive and install fresh while saving your critical files on a external drive, and getting another year free.

What is with the HATE against Microsoft putting out a new OS every 3 years? I just don't understand it taking the above into account.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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