If you have been following all the good press around Windows 8 and are waiting to try it on your own computer, here’s the good news. The consumer preview version of Windows 8 (just a fancy name for beta software) is now available for download and it is very likely that your existing system specs are good enough to run Windows 8.
The System Requirements for Windows 8
According to the Windows 8 FAQ, any 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?
As you may have noticed on the Windows 8 download page, the installation of Windows 8 can be done in two ways.
- You can either take the easiest route and download the Windows 8 Setup program – that’s also the default option.
- 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 an older version of Windows to Windows 8, the default Setup program is a good choice.
Please note that that your installed software program 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 ISO image may be more handy in other situations like:
- Your computer has an x64 processor but is running the 32-bit version of Windows. If you want to install the 64-bit version of Windows 8, download the 64-bit ISO.
- You have an iMac or MacBook and want to install Windows 8 on the Mac using Boot Camp software.
- You want to install Windows 8 on multiple computers. Download the ISO, create abootable DVD and boot the other system using this Windows 8 disk.
- You want to run Windows 8 as a Virtual Machine inside your existing copy of Windows.
- You are running Windows XP.
The universal product key for Windows 8 is NF32V-Q9P3W-7DR7Y-JGWRW-JFCK8.
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. Else you can visit this page to see a list of all known software that are found to be working with Windows 7.
What route should you take?
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 Windows 8 can be your main OS (there’s no going back then).
If you just want to try out Windows 8 but without disturbing any of your existing set-up, the safest bet is to use a Virtual Machine. If you have a vacant 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. Good luck!