How to Install Windows 8

With the release of Windows 8 almost upon us, Microsoft has been generous enough to offer PC users a free previews so that we can get a look at what to expect when the final version arrives in October 2012.

Windows 8 will run on any PC that is running, or is capable of running Windows 7, so if your computer meets the system requirements, you can give it a go.

System requirements

Windows 8 is available to download from the Microsoft Windows website in two versions: 64-bit (64x) and 32-bit (32x). Each version has slightly different requirements, these are as follows:

64-bit –

· 1GHz Processor

· 1GB RAM

· 16GB storage space

· DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

32-bit –

· 1GHz Processor

· 2GB RAM

· 20GB storage space

· DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

It is important that you select the correct version of the OS for your computer.

Installing

When it comes to the installation, you will generally have two options: installing directly on to your PC by using the upgrade installer, or creating a USB or disk installer with the Windows OS installer ISO image.

You must remember that this version of Windows 8 is not the completed version and you don’t want to be using it as your main computer operating system. With all of the hardware combinations available on the OS, installing this early version of Windows 8 as your main OS will leave your computer open to crashing.

It is possible to install Windows 8 without compromising your current OS. This can be done by installing it in a separate partition, or a virtual machine. Windows 8 installer will come with a multi-boot setup, creating a separate partition for you and saving you the hassle of doing so; this will be ideal if you are not an advanced Windows user. What a separate partition installation will do is give you the option of choosing which OS you want the computer to run on start up.

When you are ready to install you will need to head on over to the Microsoft website and click on one of the links to download. Once downloaded, Windows 8 will guide you through the process. First of all it will run the Upgrade Assistant, this will work through your system and create a report of what hardware works and what doesn’t. The Upgrade Assistant will then show the product key which is needed later in the process – you will need to make a note of this.

You will be able to choose one of two installation options: Upgrade, or Custom Install; you should choose the latter if you are looking to create a separate partition and multi-boot set up. Windows 8 will then install itself in your chosen location and give some pre-first run set up personalisation options, such as colour combinations and PC name. You will then need to sign-in to, or create a Windows Live account to access the Windows Store and SkyDrive.

Once this is complete, you will be ready to sample the delights of Windows 8 at your leisure, and there is enough available to keep you satisfied until the finished article is made available in October (2012).

Windows 8: What You Need to Know

Following on from the success of Windows 7 was always going to be a big task for Microsoft; thankfully, if the previews of Windows 8 are anything to go by, the world’s biggest operating system provider has risen to the challenge.

Window 8 is nothing really like the operating systems we have to come know from Windows over the past 25 years and is being hailed as the future of computing – an OS centred on touch screens.

Touch-based interface

The departure from the original Microsoft style of operating system to a new touch-based interface has been done to allow Windows 8 to work as smoothly on tablets as it does on PCs. But you shouldn’t worry about having to throw away your desktop or laptop for investment in a touch screen PC; Windows 8 will work just as well with the traditional mouse and keyboard. Microsoft has designed their new OS to suit a persons need at the specific moment in time, allowing users to switch between new Metro face and the classic Windows desktop as you require. This can be done on any device. The touch interface works brilliantly and users are able to customise their home screen with a range of colourful tiles. From the start menu, users are able to swipe upwards to reveal the tiles. Anyone that has used Windows Phone 7 will be very familiar with this concept and will be used to seeing the information tiles such as the time/date and the weather. Many tiles contain information, such as the email tile telling you how many unread messages you have, and the calendar displaying your upcoming events. The whole thing makes you feel at one with your computer.

Features

Windows 8 is pretty feature-heavy but does not shun traditional programs such as Office and Photoshop, which will still work in a traditional way but can be operated alongside new apps on the OS. Some of the notable features of Windows 8 include:

· New lock screen – Nothing really unexpected here, but a beautiful customisable picture and a handful of useful widgets make the lock screen spectacular. After swiping the lock screen, you are take advantage of the new “picture password” feature; using invisible gestures on a picture to get into Windows

· Windows Store – The app store looks very similar to the home screen with tile-based categories and lets you browse through, and download apps, both touchscreen and traditional. Many of the apps are free too!

· Cloud storage – Windows 8 embraces the new cloud computing era by letting you use your Microsoft account to sync all of your data. Photos, address book, SkyDrive data, and even files from third party apps can be synced to the cloud and accessed on any Windows 8 device.

· Task manager – Microsoft has finally decided to redesign the task manager in Windows 8, and it looks great. There are basic and advanced manger options for users to get their teeth into.

· Refresh your PC – This cool feature lets you carry out a clean install at the touch of a button. You can also set refresh points to refresh your computer back to how it was at a specific time.

With its release due imminently, Windows 8 looks sure to keep Microsoft at the top of the OS market for a few years to come.

Windows 7 System Requirements

Windows 7 has been widely regarded as the best operating system that Microsoft has ever produced, improving on the popular Windows XP and learning from the mistakes made in Windows Vista. As with any new operating system rollout, there are minimum system requirements required for a computer to be able to run Windows 7 successfully. These requirements will be important, especially if you are considering an upgrade from Windows XP which requires considerably less in the way of specs to run.

If you are currently running XP, your computer may not have the specs needed to run Windows 7 and you may need to system requirements to upgrade your PC accordingly before installing the new software. So what are these requirements?

Specs needed

Windows originally released a Beta version of Windows 7 back in 2008, and the final version of the OS changed very little in terms of what system requirements are needed. The minimum requirements are:

· 1 GHz processor (32- or 64-bit)

· 1 GB of RAM (32-bit); 2 GB of RAM (64-bit)

· 16 GB of available disk space (32-bit); 20 GB of available disk space (64-bit)

· DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

You should bear in mind that these are the minimum requirements and if you are planning on running the x64 build, you are likely to need much more than the minimum, especially in terms of RAM where 4GB will be better suited, and 2GB at least will probably be required.

Anyone making the jump from XP will require 2GB RAM and probably 15GB of available disk space in addition to the 16GB that is already required. Upgrading from Vista should not prove a problem and considering Windows 7 is three years newer, and performs a whole lot better than Vista; the system requirements are fairly modest. Here are the Windows Vista requirements to compare:

· 1 GHz processor (32- or 64-bit)

· 512 MB of RAM (for Home Basic); 1 GB of RAM for all other versions

· 15 GB of available disk space

· Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory (for Home Basic); 128 MB of graphics memory plus WDDM support for all other versions

If your computer meets the requirements needed, an upgrade to Windows 7 is recommended, and it is easily to install.

Installing Windows 7

The best way to install Windows 7 is to carry out a clean install, this is not hard to do, and all that is really required is to insert the DVD into your DVD-ROM drive. Before you do this though, you should make sure to download all of the necessary drivers and save them on CD-R, or USB drive.

Windows will guide you through the installation step-by-step, and once you have accepted the licence agreement you will be given two options: Upgrade or Custom (Advanced). A clean install will require the custom option and you will be asked where you would like to install Windows 7 (on your hard-drive is the answer). From here Windows will install itself on your computer and will reboot your system a few times. Once complete, you will need to set up a computer name and password, set the time and date, and select the computers location. From here Windows 7 will finalise the details and you are ready to go.

System Restore in Windows 7

When using your Windows 7 PC your experience for the most part will be an enjoyable one; however, there are occasions when something can go wrong, maybe with an app, a driver, or registry problem affecting your computer. Any such problem can make your computer unstable and stop it from functioning as you are used to. In these circumstances you may need to call upon the System Restore tool to save the day.

What is System Restore?

Most of the serious problems in Windows are caused by issues with the Windows Registry, DLL files and device drivers. System Restore is a tool that helps you restore your computers system files to a pre-determined earlier point in time.

System Restore will use what is known as “System Protection” to create and save regular restore points on your computer. These points will include key information about registry settings and other Windows systems. Using the System Restore tool will help you to take your computer back to another day when everything worked correctly and lets you undo any changes to your system without affecting any of your personal files, such as documents, emails, photos, and music.

Using System Restore

System Restore has been an integral feature of every Windows operating system and in Windows 7, using the tool has been made easier than ever. The System Restore method is a simple process and can be carried out by even beginner users of Windows 7 by following these simple steps:

1) Click Start and type system restore into the search box. From there, select the System Restore option from the list of answers; this will open the System Restore menu.

2) The System Restore wizard will provide you with a recommended restore point. It is always wise to choose this option; however, you may wish to click on “Choose a different restore point” which will provide you with a list of dates to choose from.

3) Once you have selected a restore point, Windows will give a notice telling you that a system restore cannot be stopped once started. Click on “Yes” if you wish to proceed. Windows will then start the restore and will reboot your computer once complete.

4) Your computer will be restored to the selected point in time and should be in full working order.

The benefits of System Restore are often overlooked and this tool is essential for maintaining the health of your computer. If something bad happens to your PC, you can almost always rely on System Restore to bail you out.

Windows 7 Media Center

Media Centre PCs are increasing in popularity with many people now hooking up computers to HD televisions, or watching, recording and pausing live TV right from their laptops. While there is a host of free media centres around that can be downloaded for free, few are able to match the popularity of Windows Media Center, mostly because of the fact that it is bundled with many new computers, and also because of the Windows name. With the release of Windows 7 Media Center, Microsoft promised something better than ever before, and they duly delivered.

New features

When designing the new Media Center for Windows 7, Microsoft listened to its users and added a host of new features suggested by fans. One outstanding feature is the ability to watch more than ever before. The new Media Center supports more global TV tuners and standards that it ever has done in the past, with digital and HD included. A range of popular audio and video formats have also been included, such as:

· 3GP

· AAC

· AVCHD

· MPEG-4

· WMV

· WMA

Also supported are AVI, Xvid, MOV, and DivX files.

Speed has also been improved. Previous Media Center releases were regarded as being sluggish when it came to navigating your way through massive music libraries and browsing through TV listings. Microsoft has introduced a new Turbo Scroll feature that is designed to speed everything up, giving users a more slick and smooth experience.

Slide shows are excellent for displaying photos in a unique way and showing them at parties and family reunions. Windows Media Center lets you make stunning photo slide shows set to your favourite music which you can also use as a screen saver.

A new HomeGroup feature has also been included, letting you enjoy recorded TV shows, videos and music, even when they have not been stored. The feature makes all media available to every Windows 7 PC in the household.

Compatibility

Windows Media Center has been made for use on all versions of Windows 7, these are: Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise.

Setting up

The set-up of Windows Media Center has also been made straight-forward, providing you with Express and Custom set-up options. If you are looking to get started with your entertainment hub quickly, the express option is the best; however, if you are looking to personalise your experience, Custom is the preferred option.

If you are looking to make the most of your computer, Windows 7 Media Center is the way forward.