Time: Give yourself 15 – 20 minutes depending on the location of the files, experience with systems, etc. It may take longer if you need to download the files via a slower Internet connection.
What you will need: Windows 8 iso (image file), a working Windows computer with an Internet connection to download the USB creation tool, administrator rights, and a 4GB USB drive.
Windows 8 offers a lot of fun and exciting things that make us want to explore such as better support for USB, Hyper-V (yes… included in Windows 8 Pro and not just the Server anymore), and the newly revised Task Manager. However, to get there you either need to run a virtual machine or load a physical computer up with Windows 8 so you may explore.
I work at a college, and thus we have something called the Microsoft DreamSpark that gives our student access to most of Microsoft’s products prior to releasing it to the actual public. The problem is when you download the file(s) from Microsoft they are normally in an ISO image format. The ISO image is an archival file also known as a disk image of an optical disk.
While you can always create a DVD out of the iso disc to get your Windows 8 installation working, a better option is to create a bootable USB disk using the ISO as it’s faster, more stable than a disc that can scratch easily and easier to travel with.
Creating a USB bootable Windows 8 installation is what we are going to focus on in this blog through the following steps:
Step 1: Obtain a “Plain Jane” 4GB or bigger USB drive with no fancy security stuff or applications that allow you to run programs on them.
Note: that U3 and IronKey’s are not “Plane Jane” in my book… they contain security partitions that take up the first partition of the drive and don’t work good for creating bootable USB disks from. “Plane Jane” therefore means that there is nothing on the drive and it can be formatted to one partition.
Tip: Some people actually recommended an 8GB drive, but the expanded installation DVD only takes up 3.47GB for the Windows 8 Professional x64 version (this file is larger than the 32 bit version). Anything more than an 4GB drive is a waste, unless you plan on storing more files there.
Step 2: Download the iso file for Windows 8 Professional. Students may do this by obtaining a Microsoft Dreamspark account and downloading it from there.
If you’re not a student you may have to download the Windows 8 Release Preview ISO images here: http://windows.microsoft.com/is-IS/windows-8/iso
I’m going to use the 64bit version in my example, but you may use the 32bit version – note the difference is mainly if your physical process will support the product or not.
Step 3: Download the “Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool” from the Microsoft Store here: http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/html/pbPage.Help_Win7_usbdvd_dwnTool
Step 4: Insert your USB key into your computer. I put this here for people like myself that get overly geeked and forget to do the “no brainer” thing and plug in the drive. So don’t feel bad, I do silly things like this all the time.
Step 5: Run the “Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool”. Ya, it works with 8… that’s strategic planning for ya!
Note: If you haven’t done so yet, you’ll be prompted to do an install of the tool prior to anything else. The installation step is pretty simple.
Step 6: After you launch the tool, you may be prompted by the User Account Control to run it (depending if you have this enabled or not). From here you will need to select the iso file you’ve downloaded, do that and click “Next”:
Step 7: Select the “USB device” option:
Step 8: Very Important: Select the proper USB device you want to install the Windows 8 on then click “Begin copying”. Note: Selecting the wrong USB device and clicking “Erase USB Device” in the next step may cause you to lose data:
Step 9: If you’re like me, and had something on the drive already… then you will be prompted to “Erase USB Device”, this will erase the USB device. Again, please note you want to ensure you don’t need what is on the drive before you continue. Think before you click (verify you don’t need the data – like I did prior to writing this), and select “Erase USB Device” when you are ready to continue.
Select “Yes” to continue, only after you are sure you don’t need the data on the drive:
You should now see the “Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool” doing its job. Note this part of the process will take some time as it is formatting your drive, and putting the files needed for the installation on it (it took me just under 10 minutes):
Step 10: Close out your “Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool” window by clicking on the “x” in the upper right hand corner of the window:
Congratulations, you did it! Now you can use the USB drive to install Windows 8 on your computer.
Note: You may have to go into your Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) or Basic Input Output System (BIOS) on your computer to change the boot order of the device to allow you to boot to it from your newly created USB drive.