Improved Windows 8 setup experience gets detailed

When we first had a look at early leaked screenshots of the Windows 8 install process in the former half of this year, we could see the early stages of Microsoft's work at streamlining the install process and making it more pleasant for disc-based installs of Windows. Indeed, Microsoft is seeking to improve the install experience for consumer enthusiasts and IT professionals alike, as explained in today's update on Building Windows 8.

Part of the side effects of lowering system requirements across successive versions of an operating system is reducing the necessity for consumers to expect hardware and software upgrades to be in tandem. Microsoft expects that a near majority of Windows machines that are at least capable of running Windows Vista, and maybe Windows XP to an extent, are eligible for an upgrade to Windows 8. That could be 450 million eligible machines, right off the bat at Windows 8's launch!

To convince customers to upgrade, the process should be not as painful as throwing away old machines and buying one at the shop (complete with bloatware, sticker hell, and McAfee trials). Microsoft made great strides from moving to the disk image-based installs of Windows Vista instead of decompressing CAB files as was the case for older Windows versions. Setup times can be as little as 15 minutes, from inserting the disk to seeing the Windows desktop.

With that, the new Windows 8 setup is broken down into two distinct experiences: a streamlined setup that runs within Windows by invoking AutoPlay, and the advanced boot-time method from a USB key or disc.

The streamlined setup, as previously mentioned, can be started from the Web - a smart move in this age of digital distribution. The interactive upgrade experience should be simpler than Windows 7, which as Microsoft explains, could have this many upgrade screens during the process:

With Windows 8, the number of screens is cut down:

 

Part of the changes made include moving entire folders instead of individual files, and utilizing hard links instead of transporting files between different locations on the hard drive during the upgrade process.

With these optimizations, the install process scales very well, especially in comparison to Windows 7 where the setup time is dependent on the state of the system:

A walkthrough video of the install process is available below:

Image Credit: Building Windows 8

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft announces two individual challenges for Imagine Cup 2012

Next Story

Facebook testing Messenger and Ticker client for Windows

19 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Nice improvement. I'm glad to see this. It looks like a lot is being redone in Windows 8. It's definitely going to be a sizable release.

The new Windows: Installs in minutes but takes hours to bring fully up to date.
Windows 2000/XP: Slipstreamed copy installs in about an hour and no hours spent installing millions of updates because you can slipstream all updates and service packs ONCE and never do it again.

Are they running the installer from a dvd or from the hard disk? When I used BCD's bios extender and booted to an extracted Windows 7 iso on a separate partition, Windows 7 did a fresh install in twenty-two minutes. I can only imagine how Windows 8 would do.

I just use Macrium Reflect - I did a clean install ran all the service packs, installed my drivers and used Reflect to make an image of the hard drive. Now when I need a clean install, it takes me less than 10 minutes to have it all back to a fresh install.

I always do a clean install.
And i was very impressed with how fast Windows 7 installs. It doesnt ask for anything in between.
And the WHOLE setup on my PC finish in under 30minutes.. then i had to setup the auto update settings and enter key to activate.. and do some other small things like disable UAC and stuff..
and i had my Win7 install all setup in under 50minutes. And i installed in on a Friends PC and it was the same.

Obviously. If you install from a disk without SP1 it will take alot longer to actually download all the updates that came out and those require many restarts. But windows itself takes little time.

Glad they're looking at the setup time too. Windows 7 did take a while to install; lots of restarts were involved, but I was happy with it when it was all done!

Enron said,
Glad they're looking at the setup time too. Windows 7 did take a while to install; lots of restarts were involved, but I was happy with it when it was all done!

Lot of restarts with Windows 7? Are you talking about applying the updates, or the base OS install. The base install should have 2 reboots +1 for initial device driver installs once it goes online.

thenetavenger said,

Lot of restarts with Windows 7? Are you talking about applying the updates, or the base OS install. The base install should have 2 reboots +1 for initial device driver installs once it goes online.

Come to think of it, I was doing it under Boot Camp on a Mac so that probably had something to do with it.

"How to make it work"
We need more buttons like these. Instead of useless generalized solutions to confounding error messages.

Even my Windows 7 install with updates and restoring files never took 513 minutes... Seriously Microsoft? Making up false figures?

TechDudeGeorge said,
Even my Windows 7 install with updates and restoring files never took 513 minutes... Seriously Microsoft? Making up false figures?

No, from the previous upgrade from Windows Vista was like this. 1.44 million files and 120 programs? Yes, it can take that long. Things are obviously different. This isn't Windows 7 and a few updates being installed, we're talking about the actual upgrade process from one operating to another.

TechDudeGeorge said,
Even my Windows 7 install with updates and restoring files never took 513 minutes... Seriously Microsoft? Making up false figures?

do a search, some people had setup run for 12hrs or more during the upgrade it did happen when the RTM build came out

TechDudeGeorge said,
Even my Windows 7 install with updates and restoring files never took 513 minutes... Seriously Microsoft? Making up false figures?

They aren't false figures. They're just unrealistic. I mean who would have 1.44 million files on their computers? But in the end there is no reason to believe that such a configuration might not exist.

wolftail said,

They aren't false figures. They're just unrealistic. I mean who would have 1.44 million files on their computers? But in the end there is no reason to believe that such a configuration might not exist.

I have 1.5 million documents alone on this laptop, all indexed.

However, the install time seems exaggerated unless they are taking extreme cases where a lot of things need to be reorganized, and I am going to guess it is also including the initial indexing and volume optimizations that occur in the background on Windows 7 after the install. So in theory, the indexing and such does take this long on Windows 7, which is why we recommend letting all 'tests' be performed the day following the install, as it gives all the core services the time to optimize and index the system.

Vista delayed the optimization processes, which was a bad idea, as it took 4 or 5 reboots before the optimizations kicked in, and many times users never would do the 4 or 5 reboots for a few weeks, running unoptimized, and doing tests and performance checking on the unoptimized system.

Anthonyd said,
513mins, come on... it's almost 10h long.

some people saw upgrade times that lone in the RTM version of win7, it was a huge ordeal when it came out

Anthonyd said,
513mins, come on... it's almost 10h long.

Well I do remember when I made my last upgrade from Windows 7 7053 to 7100... Took around 7 hours to complete. And I had my hard drive not close to the 50%

dtboos said,
Wow. That install time for win 8 is impressive.

That was, in fact, part of the results garnered via the InstallFair program. The installer itself isn't new, either - it's a variant of the C2R installer in use by some SKUs of Office 2010 today.

What made the InstallFair installer all the more impressive is the explicit support for types of installs normally blocked for the Developer Preview (such as upgrade installs), and the distinct lack of breakage, compared to typical upgrade installs even today (I had all of ONE application break during the InstallFair - far fewer than a typical upgrade install). Then there is the fact that the install is much quicker than a typical upgrade install (which I certainly did NOT expect). As much hate there may be for the Metro/Immersive UI, the rest of Windows 8 (both Client and Server) is a major game-changer.