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Upgrade to Windows 8 Using a DVD or Flash Drive

Sold on a DVD, the Windows 8 Upgrade can be installed only on a computer that currently runs Windows. For that reason, it’s usually easier to simply upgrade online, downloading Windows 8 and letting it install itself over your existing Windows version.

But if you’ve bought Windows 8 on a DVD, follow these steps to install Windows 8 onto a computer currently running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP:

  1. Insert the Windows 8 DVD into your PC and, if needed, double-click its Setup file to start the installation process.

    If the Windows 8 installation program doesn’t jump onto the screen automatically, click the Start button, choose Computer (or My Computer), and double-click the drive containing your Windows 8 DVD or flash drive.

    The Windows 8 installation program rises to the screen, displaying its minimalist opening screen.

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    If you’re feeling altruistic, leave the check mark in the check box labeled I Want to Help Make the Installation of Windows Better. That lets Microsoft collect information about the installation process on your particular computer. Hopefully, Microsoft uses that information to improve their product.

    If you feel Microsoft spies on you, which is summed up in the company’s cheery 8,000-word Privacy Statement, click to remove the check mark.

  2. Select the Go Online to Install Updates Now (Recommended) option and then click Next.

    This step tells Windows 8 to visit Microsoft’s website and download the latest updates for your particular computer — drivers, patches, and assorted fixes — to help make your installation run as smoothly as possible.

    The program also checks to see whether your computer and its current Windows version meet the upgrade requirements.

  3. Enter your product key and click Next.

    The product key usually lives on a little sticker affixed to the disc’s packaging. You may have already received one from Microsoft through its website or an e-mail. Click in the Product Key box and type in the entire product key. You can type lowercase letters, and you needn’t bother typing those dashes, because Windows enters them for you.

    If the Next button remains grayed out, then Windows hasn’t accepted your product key. Type it in again, checking carefully. If you still have trouble, call the phone number given to you onscreen.

  4. Read the 12,000-word License Terms, select the I Accept the License Terms check box, and click the Accept button.

    At this point, you’ve read nearly 20,000 words of Microsoft legalese.

  5. Select the information you want to keep from your old Windows version.

    Depending on your particular Windows version, you see several options describing what information Windows 8 will keep from your old computer:

    • Settings: Slightly misleading, this only preserves some settings: your desktop background, Internet favorites, and browsing history. It also saves changes you’ve made through the Control Panel’s Ease of Access area, designed for people with physical challenges.

    • Personal Files: This saves anything on your desktop, as well as files in your documents, pictures, music, and videos libraries and folders.

    • Apps: Oddly enough, Windows 8 now uses the term app to describe Start screen apps and desktop programs people have used for decades. When upgrading from Windows 7, Windows 8 lets you save your programs, er, apps. This option won’t appear when you upgrade from older Windows versions.

    • Nothing: Meant for people who’ve backed up their computers, this saves nothing. As a safety net, it drops your old files into a desktop folder named “windows.old.” (Your technical-minded friends will know how to retrieve information stored in there.)

    No matter which Windows version you own, choosing the first listed option always preserves as much information as possible from your old computer.

  6. Click Next.

    When you click Next, the program checks to see whether you need to perform any additional tasks, perhaps restarting your PC, before moving to the next step.

  7. Click the Install button.

    Windows 8 lists your choices made in the previous step. (Click the Change Selection link to revisit those choices if you want to do some double-checking.)

    When you click Install, Windows 8 begins installing itself, restarting your PC several times during the process.

    As your computer restarts, you may see a message onscreen saying, Press any key to boot from CD or DVD. Don’t press any key. Instead, just let Windows 8 run unattended.

  8. Click the preferred background color for your Start screen and then click the Next button.

    On the Background Color bar, click the color you want for the background of your Start screen. (You can always change this later from the Start screen’s PC Settings screen.)

  9. Click the Use Express Settings button.

    Clicking Express Settings tells Windows 8 to turn on its security options, automatically installs drivers for newly plugged-in gadgets, lets your home or office computers share files, lets apps know your name and account photo, and lets Windows know your location, helpful when accessing maps and other location-aware apps.

    Or, if you prefer to approve these choices one-by-one, click Customize instead.

  10. Enter your current password, if asked, and click the Next button.

    Required when upgrading from password-protected accounts, this lets Windows know that you’re not trying to break in.

  11. Sign in with a Microsoft account, if desired, or click Skip to use your existing account as a local account on Windows 8.

    To create a Microsoft account now, click Next. To stick with your current account — which you can convert to a Microsoft account later, if you want — click Skip.

    Windows finalizes your settings and then leaves you at the Start screen.

For more information about Windows 8, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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