Apps and Software Guide

First Looks: Windows 8 Preview

First Looks: Windows 8 Preview



Windows 8 Preview for All

Windows 8 Preview for All

At the BUILD conference that took place between September 13 to 16, Microsoft began by giving the world a most detailed look yet at their new operating system, Windows 8. Subsequently, Microsoft has made the preview software readily available on the Internet. This is in stark contrast to how the company handled the preview of Windows 7. Remember that when Microsoft showed Windows 7 to developers in October 2008, only these developers who attended the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) got access to the Windows 7 preview. The rest of us had to wait till 2009. Unsurprisingly, the preview leaked to online file-sharing sites within a few hours.

This time round, as long as you've the bandwidth, you could download and test-drive the Windows 8 Developer Preview (DP). On the Dev Center site, Microsoft has posted three versions, with sizes ranging from 2.8GB to 4.8GB. If you're a developer, you'd want to download the 4.8GB version. It's a 64-bit edition that includes developer tools such as the SDK for Metro-style apps and the developer previews of Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express and Expression Blend 5.

Our Test Rig

For us, we downloaded the 3.6GB ISO file for the 64-bit (x64) version of Windows 8 Developer Preview (DP). After a successful download, the image file was burnt onto a bootable installation DVD-R disc. After weighing our options, we decided to install it on a relatively new ASUS K43S-VX160V laptop which we had in our testing laboratory. The ASUS K43S came installed with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium and has a discrete GPU, the NVIDIA GT 520M. It also has 6GB of DDR3 memory. According to Microsoft, the preview requires a PC with a 1GHz (or faster) processor, 1GB (32-bit) or 2GB (64-bit) RAM, and 16GB (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit) of available hard disk space.

One of the reasons we decided to proceed with the installation process on this new machine was that we had on our hands the restore DVDs from the manufacturer, so if we were to run into any sticky situations, we can restore this laptop into its original state. For added measure, we used an archival software to back up the entire hard disk of the laptop.

With both backup options in place, we took one of the two options made available to early testers of Windows 8: the dual boot option. The other option was to do a clean install.

And So It Begins

The first step was to ascertain if we had sufficient hard disk space as the recommended allocated disk space for a clean installation of Windows 8 Developer Preview was 20GB. We fired up Windows Management Console and picked the logical drive which has the largest amount of free disk space.

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After clicking the "Shrink Volume..." menu item, the "Shrink" dialog box was loaded and we zoomed in on the field "Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB: ". To err on the safe side, we decided to allocate 50GB for the Windows 8 partition, more than double of the recommended disk space.

After the existing logical drive was shrunk, we right-clicked on the unallocated space and chose the "Format…" option. We typed a meaningful volume label (Windows 8) and left everything else to default values before we clicked the "OK" button.

After the unallocated space was formatted, we had a new logical partition on the laptop. The Windows 8 Developer Preview installation DVD was inserted into the optical drive and we rebooted the machine.