Home > Sample chapters > Windows

How to Install and Upgrade Windows 8

Objective 1.2: Install Windows 8

Installing Windows 8 isn’t a simple matter of running Setup.exe from a DVD or USB flash drive and entering a product key. Objective 1.1 detailed some of the obstacles facing users who are migrating to Windows 8—for example, moving from a 32-bit version of Windows XP to the 64-bit version of Windows 8 on the same hardware.

What are the installation methods?

So how should you install Windows 8, and what media can you use to do so? How can you migrate user files and software on the computers in such a way to provide as seamless and trouble-free an experience for users as possible?

First, look at the different ways you can move computers to Windows 8:

  • Clean Installation. is how many IT professionals recommend migrating from one operating system to another. A clean install completely wipes away any traces of the old operating system, and with that wipes away any problems that could be brought into the new installation. Performing a clean installation has definite advantages, one being that since Windows Vista, the operating system has created a 100 MB System Reserved partition at the beginning of drive 0 in the computer that contains startup and rescue files. With Windows 8, the size of this partition has grown to 350 MB, so an upgrade might not bring all the startup benefits Windows 8 offers because it won’t change the size of this partition. You can perform a clean installation from a DVD, a USB flash drive, and a network share.

  • In-Place Upgrade. is an excellent solution, especially if you need to keep user files, settings, and programs. Although all versions of the operating system from Windows XP onward support upgrading, not all files, settings, and software can be migrated. You can run an in-place upgrade from a DVD, a USB flash drive, or a download.

  • Automated Installation. is the method of choice in enterprise environments, using tools such as the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and Windows Deployment Services. You can create answer files that will lead the Windows 8 installer to configure the operating system as you require.

  • Migration. is the process of moving files, settings, and software from an older computer running Windows 7 to a new machine running Windows 8, known as a side-by-side migration, or where you perform a clean installation of Windows 8 on a Windows 7 computer but put back all user files, settings, and programs as they were previously, a process known as a wipe-and-load migration.

Following a pre-installation checklist

Before you upgrade to or clean install a copy of Windows 8, ensure that all the items on this list have been completed:

  • All user files and settings have been backed up.

  • You are installing the correct edition of Windows 8 for the features that will be required in the business.

  • You have compatible hardware drivers for the edition of Windows 8 you are going to install.

  • You have versions of your software that are Windows 8 compatible (as much as possible, anyway).

  • You have Windows 8 compatible plug-ins required for software, such as Microsoft Office, additions.

These are all important, because they will help ensure that the installation will go smoothly and that you will have access to the assets you need.

Choosing between an upgrade or a clean installation

It can be argued that it’s always a good idea to perform a clean installation of any operating system. The primary reason is that you won’t carry over any problems with the existing operating system, software, or drivers to the new operating system. You can also be much more certain that any hardware drivers you install in the new operating system are the correct ones.

In the past, a clean install typically resulted in a faster operating system than an upgrade did. However, this does not apply. With Windows 8, things aren’t quite that simple because the upgrade process for this operating system is very different. Table 1-4 shows the differences between the last few Windows versions with respect to what can be migrated from an existing Windows installation to Windows 8.

TABLE 1-4 Migration differences

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Windows 7

Windows 8

Windows 98, Windows Me

Files, Settings, Software

None

None

None

Windows XP

None

None

Files

Windows Vista

Files, Settings, Software

Files, Settings

Windows 7

Files, Settings, Software

By looking at Table 1-4, you might think that people have preferred a clean installation in recent years because upgrade paths have been blocked. For example, in no way could you upgrade Windows XP to either Windows Vista or Windows 7.

For Windows 8, the only full upgrade path available is from Windows 7. If you are upgrading from Windows Vista, you can migrate only your files and settings; if you are upgrading from Windows XP, you can migrate only your files.

What is the difference, then, between an upgrade from Windows XP or Windows Vista and a clean install? If Windows 8 is wiping the earlier operating system and hardware drivers, it’s still a clean installation, right? You have two considerations here: Carry forward any problems with the partition formatting or use the System Reserved partition.

The System Reserved partition

The System Reserved partition was first introduced with Windows Vista as a 100 MB hidden drive but is now expanded to 350 MB in Windows 8. It contains the boot files for the operating system and the system re-imaging and rescue tools. The installer places this small partition just ahead of your Windows installation on drive 0 (zero).

The benefit to having this partition is that the Windows system rescue tools can operate from startup without requiring a Windows installation DVD or restore drive. If this partition is missing or too small, you could experience one or more of the following scenarios:

  • Windows Startup Repair won’t run from the hard disk.

  • Windows System Image Backup won’t function.

These are important considerations because any PC that malfunctions can commonly be fixed simply and automatically using Windows Startup Repair, and also because you might require the Windows 8 in-built System Imaging Tool to create backup copies of your installations.

When to perform a clean install

You will always want to perform a clean installation of Windows 8 under certain circumstances:

  • The computer currently has no operating system.

  • You are migrating a user from one computer to a different computer.

  • The existing operating system is Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 98, or earlier.

  • The computer is currently running a non-Windows operating system.

Methods for performing a clean installation

You can perform a clean installation of Windows 8 in three ways:

  • By running Setup.exe from an installation DVD or USB flash drive

  • By running Setup.exe from a network share

  • By installing using an image

First look at creating an installable DVD or USB flash drive, because these are very common. Installable USB flash drives will likely be a tool you will want to create.

To create an installation DVD or USB flash drive, you need a copy of the correct Windows 8 ISO disc image file. You might have downloaded this as part of your volume licensing program or through a program such as Software Assurance. In both Windows 7 and Windows 8, you can easily burn a disc image of this file to a blank DVD, because you need just to double-click the file to open the Disc Image Burner tool.

To create a bootable USB flash drive (you need a drive of 4 GB or more in size), you need to download the Microsoft Windows USB/DVD download tool. By using this tool, you can select the ISO file and USB flash drive to use, and the tool then creates the media for you. You can also use this tool in Windows XP and Windows Vista to create a bootable installation DVD of Windows 8.

To install Windows 8 from a network share, how you begin the installation will vary depending on whether you already have an operating system installed on the destination computer. You can, for example, create a Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) drive and start the computer from that, or you can use a network Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE) boot.

Creating a custom Windows 8 installation

You will often find that you want to create a custom Windows 8 installation to include specific hard drivers, software, or updates. You might want something as simple as the company desktop wallpaper on all machines by default. The following steps show how to create a custom install image of Windows 8.

Step 1: Create a Windows PE drive

To start the Windows installer from a network share, you can create Windows PE bootable media, but you will also need the following:

  • A technician computer on which to install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK). Having the 32-bit Windows version running on the technician computer is best because you can use that version to create media that supports both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the operating system.

  • A reference computer that represents a typical computer in the organization. This computer shouldn’t require any special hardware drivers, but it must have at least one free USB port.

  • A test computer on which you can make sure everything works afterward.

  • A Windows 8 installation DVD and valid product key.

  • An empty USB Flash drive with at least 4 GB of free space, if you want to run Windows PE from a USB flash drive.

  • An external storage device with at least 8 GB of free space. This can be a network location that you create using the net use e: \\server\share command.

When you have these items available, as well as the Windows ADK, you can begin the process of creating your Windows PE bootable media. Follow these steps:

  1. On the technician computer, run the Deployment and Imaging Tools environment as an administrator.

  2. At the command prompt, type copype amd64 C:\winpe_amd64 (you can also use copype amd64 C:\winpe_x86 to create a 32-bit Windows PE disc only). You don’t need to create the destination folder in advance.

  3. Mount the Windows PE base-image file by typing dism /mount-image /imagefile:c:\winpe_amd64\media\sources\boot.wim /index:1 /mountdir:C:\winpe_amd64\mount. This command unpacks its contents to a folder so that you can make changes, such as adding boot-specific drivers.

  4. Add required drivers by typing the command dism /image:C:\winpe_amd64\mount /Add-Driver /Driver:C:\Drivers\network.inf.

  5. Add any required packages to the base image file, such as service packs, by using the /Add-Package command in this format:

    Dism /Image:C:\winpe_amd64\mount /Add-Package /PackagePath:”C:\Program Files
    (x86)\Windows Kits\8.0\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Preinstallation
    Environment\amd64\WinPE_OCs\WinPE-WinReCfg.cab”

    Also use the following, because when you add a package, you must also add its corresponding language packs:

    Dism /Image:C:\winpe_amd64\mount /Add-Package /PackagePath:”C:\Program Files
    (x86)\Windows Kits\8.0\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Preinstallation
    Environment\amd64\WinPE_OCs\en-us\WinPE-WinReCfg_en-us.cab”
  6. Commit your changes and unmount the image by typing Dism /unmount-image /mountdir:C:\winpe_amd64\mount /commit.

  7. To copy your Windows PE image to a USB flash drive, type MakeWinPEMedia /UFD C:\winpe_amd64 F:, where F represents the drive letter of the destination USB flash drive. You can also use the command MakeWinPEMedia /ISO C:\winpe_amd64 c:\winpe_amd64\winpe.iso to create a Windows PE DVD.

Step 2: Create an unattended answer file

You can optionally create an unattended answer file for your Windows 8 installation. This can include information such as a product key and configuration information for software and/or Windows 8 system components. Follow these steps:

  1. On the technician computer, copy the file \Sources\Install.wim to the desktop.

  2. Start the Windows System Image Manager from the Windows ADK.

  3. From the File menu, click Select Windows Image.

  4. Select the correct Install.wim file.

  5. From the File menu, click Open Answer File, and then select a sample file from the folder C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.0\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\Samples\Unattend on the technician computer. Notice in Figure 1-2 that different files are available depending on the computer’s BIOS and processor type.

    FIGURE 1-2

    FIGURE 1-2 The different default unattend.txt files available in the Windows ADK

    The different components of the Answer File now appear in the Answer File pane and can be easily modified (see Figure 1-3).

    FIGURE 1-3

    FIGURE 1-3 Modifying an unattended installation file

  6. When you have finished making changes to your answer file, choose Save Answer File As from the File menu and save the file as CopyProfileunattend.xml on the USB flash drive.

Step 3: Install Windows 8

You now need to install Windows 8 so that you can perform tests and check that the installation file you have created works as required. Follow these steps:

  1. Start the reference computer from the Windows 8 installation DVD (the simplest option) or from your newly created Windows PE drive, as follows:

    1. If you are installing from a Windows 8 installation DVD, follow the installation instructions as they are presented.

    2. If you are installing from a Windows PE drive, after the computer is started, type the command F:\WindowsSetup\setup /unattend:F:\autounattend.xml, where F is the location of the USB flash drive.

  2. Enter audit mode by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F3 when the installation is complete.

You can now change certain aspects of the default user profile, such as the desktop wallpaper and specific environment variables. You can also install additional software, but keep in mind that if you want to run the installation image from a DVD, the final image must not be too large to fit on the disc.

At this point, it’s worth discussing the SysPrep command-line options. The main format of the command is

sysprep.exe [/oobe | /audit] [/generalize] [/reboot | /shutdown | /quit] [/quiet] [/
unattend:answerfile]

The more common command-line switches for the SysPrep tool are as follows:

  • /audit restarts the computer in audit mode, which is a special mode that allows you to make changes to the default user account and to the operating system, such as installing software, before locking down the image.

  • /generalize prepares the installation for locking down and use by a user.

  • /oobe restarts the computer in welcome mode, the first startup mode for a new user of the computer.

  • /reboot restarts the computer.

  • /shutdown shuts down the computer.

  • /quiet runs the SysPrep tool while hiding messages.

  • /quit closes the SysPrep tool after running specified commands.

  • /unattend:answerfile uses the specified unattended answer file with SysPrep.

Step 4: Capture the image

In the final phase of the image-creation process, you need to capture the modified Windows installation. Follow these steps:

  1. Boot the reference computer from the Windows PE drive.

  2. At the Windows PE command prompt, type diskpart.

  3. Type list volume and write down the drive letters and names that are reported.

  4. Type exit to leave Diskpart.

  5. To capture the Windows partition as an image, type the dism /Capture-Image /CaptureDir:D:\ /ImageFile: E:\ThinImage.wim /Name:”Contoso” command, where D is the drive letter for the Windows drive and E is the drive letter your external hard disk will use later, usually the first unused drive letter after C that is available.

  6. Connect your external USB hard disk to the computer and create an Images folder by typing the command md E:\Images.

  7. Type copy D:\ThinImage.wim E:\Images\ to copy the newly created image to the drive.

  8. Turn off the reference computer.

You can also use the command-line tool ImageX to capture a Windows image. It is used in the following format:

ImageX [/flags “EditionID”] [{/dir | /info | /capture | /apply |
/append | /delete | /export | /mount | /mountrw | /unmount | /split} [Parameters]

The switches you can use with the ImageX command are as follows:

  • /flags “EditionID” specifies the Windows version you want to capture. This switch is required (including the quotation marks) if you want to deploy a custom image.

  • /dir displays a list of files and folders inside the image.

  • /info displays information about the .wim image file, including its size and image index number.

  • /capture captures a volume image from a drive into a new .wim file. This includes all subfolders and files.

  • /apply applies a volume image to a specified drive. All hard disk partitions must be created before starting this process, and then you can run this option from Windows PE.

  • /append adds a volume image to an existing .wim file.

  • /delete removes a specified volume from a .wim file.

  • /export exports the contents of a .wim file to another .wim file.

  • /mount mounts a .wim file.

  • /mountrw mounts a .wim file with read/write permission.

  • /unmount unmounts a .wim file.

  • /split breaks large .wim files into smaller, multiple files.

Step 5: Deploy the image to the test computer

You still have some steps to go through to complete your installation image:

  1. Start your technician computer and attach your USB hard disk to it.

  2. Create an E:\CreatePartitions.txt file in Notepad, where E is the location of the USB hard disk.

    1. For Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) computers, create a script based on the following, which creates five partitions: Windows RE Tools, System, Windows, Microsoft Reserved (MSR), and Recovery Image.

      rem These commands are used with DiskPart to
      rem erase the drive and create five partitions
      rem for a UEFI/GPT-based computer.
      rem Adjust the partition sizes to fill the drive as necessary.
      select disk 0
      clean
      convert gpt
      rem === 1. Windows RE tools partition ===========
      create partition primary size=300
      format quick fs=ntfs label=”Windows RE tools”
      set id=”de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac”
      assign letter=”T”
      rem === 2. System partition =====================
      create partition efi size=100
      format quick fs=fat32 label=”System”
      assign letter=”S”
      rem === 3. Microsoft Reserved (MSR) partition ===
      create partition msr size=128
      rem === 4. Windows partition ====================
      rem ==    a. Create Windows partition ===========
      create partition primary
      rem ==    b. Create space for recovery image ====
      shrink minimum=15000
      rem ==    c. Prepare the Windows partition ======
      format quick fs=ntfs label=”Windows”
      assign letter=”W”
      rem === 5. Recovery image partition =============
      create partition primary
      format quick fs=ntfs label=”Recovery image”
      gpt attributes=0x8000000000000001
      assign letter=”R”
    1. For older BIOS computers that don’t run the UEFI system, create a script that creates three partitions: System, Windows, and Recovery Image.

      rem These commands are used with DiskPart to
      rem erase the drive and create three partitions
      rem for a BIOS/MBR-based computer.
      rem Adjust the partition sizes to fill the drive as necessary.
      select disk 0
      clean
      rem === 1. System partition =====================
      create partition primary size=350
      format quick fs=ntfs label=”System”
      assign letter=”S”
      active
      rem === 2. Windows partition ====================
      rem ==    a. Create Windows partition ===========
      create partition primary
      rem ==    b. Create space for recovery image ====
      shrink minimum=15000
      rem ==    c. Prepare the Windows partition ======
      format quick fs=ntfs label=”Windows”
      assign letter=”W”
      rem === 3. Recovery image partition =============
      create partition primary
      format quick fs=ntfs label=”Recovery”
      assign letter=”R”
      attributes volume set nodefaultdriveletter
      exit
  3. Create a deployment script called E:\ApplyImage.bat. This script creates the partitions, applies the Windows 8 image, copies the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) tools, along with the System Partition, and then configures the partitions.

    1. For UEFI computers, use this script as your baseline:

      rem These commands use the specified Windows image file
      rem to deploy Windows, system, and recovery tools
      rem to a UEFI-based computer.
      rem Usage: ApplyImage WimFileName
      rem Example: ApplyImage E:\Images\ThinImage.wim
      rem === Apply the image to the Windows partition ========
      dism /Apply-Image /ImageFile:%1 /Index:1 /ApplyDir:W:rem === Copy tools to the Windows RE Tools partition ====
      md T:\Recovery\WindowsRE
      copy W:\windows\system32\recovery\winre.wim T:\Recovery\WindowsRE\winre.wim
      rem === Copy boot files to the System partition =========
      W:\Windows\System32\bcdboot W:\Windows /s S:
      rem === Set the location of the WinRE tools =============
      W:\Windows\System32\reagentc /setreimage /path T:\Recovery\WindowsRE /target
      W:\Windows
      rem === Create the recovery image =======================
      Mkdir R:\RecoveryImage
      Copy %1 R:\RecoveryImage
      W:\Windows\System32\reagentc /setosimage /path T:\RecoveryImage /target W:\Windows /index 1
    2. For BIOS computers, use this script as your baseline:

      rem These commands use the specified Windows image file
      rem to deploy Windows, system, and recovery tools
      rem to a BIOS-based computer.
      rem Usage: ApplyImage WimFileName
      rem Example: ApplyImage E:\Images\ThinImage.wim
      rem === Apply the image to the Windows partition ====================
      dism /Apply-Image /ImageFile:%1 /Index:1 /ApplyDir:W:rem === Copy the Windows RE Tools to the system partition ====================
      md S:\Recovery\WindowsRE
      copy W:\windows\system32\recovery\winre.wim S:\Recovery\WindowsRE\winre.wim
      rem === Copy boot files from the Windows partition to the System partition ===
      W:\Windows\System32\bcdboot W:\Windows /s S:
      rem === In the System partition, set the location of the Windows RE tools =========
      W:\Windows\System32\reagentc /setreimage /path S:\Recovery\WindowsRE /target
      W:\Windows
      rem === Create the recovery image ===========================
      Mkdir R:\RecoveryImage
      copy %1 R:\RecoveryImage
      W:\Windows\System32\reagentc /setosimage /path R:\RecoveryImage /target W:\Windows /index 1
  4. Boot the Test Computer into Windows PE from your USB flash drive.

  5. At the command line, type diskpart /s E:\CreatePartitions.txt.

  6. To verify that the script worked successfully, type diskpart.

  7. At the Diskpart prompt, type list volume. This displays the list of partitions that have been created by Windows PE, such as E for External USB Hard Disk, F for USB Flash Drive, R for Recovery Image, S for System, T for Windows RE Tools, and W for Windows.

  8. Type exit to return to the command prompt.

  9. To test your deployment script, type E:\ApplyImage E:\Images\ThinImage.wim, where E is the drive letter for your USB hard disk.

  10. After the image is applied, restart the computer. You should have a working Windows 8 installation.

Installing Windows 8 into a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD)

Quite possibly one of the most useful features that’s ever been built into Windows from the perspective of an IT support and deployment professional is the ability to boot natively into a VHD. Although this might on the face of things sound like a rather odd idea, let’s look at some scenarios to see what this actually means and just how useful this actually is in practice.

On a typical computer where you boot from a VHD you will have a standard installation of Windows 8, installed onto the hard disk in the usual way (and presumably backed up as an image as well) and then you will have a separate VHD file, which does not need to be on its own partition and can reside on the C: drive with Windows 8.

When you boot your computer from a VHD you’d never know that you’re not using an operating system that’s installed on the hard disk in the usual way. You still have full access to the computer’s hardware resources and everything seems normal, except crucially that you’re isolated from the main installation of Windows 8 on the hard drive that now can’t be interfered with. Additionally you can use 64-bit editions of Windows 8 with this feature, there is no limitation to 32-bit only.

This is useful in many ways. If you run an internet café, library, or training provider for example the VHD is very simple to restore as and when it is needed. All that is required is that you boot into the standard copy of Windows 8 and copy your master VHD (because you obviously made a copy of it!) back, overwriting the current VHD.

In business the applications for booting from a VHD are even more useful because it means you can very quickly and simply repurpose any computer, laptop, or tablet. Let’s say, for example, that you have different Windows 8 installations for management, accounts, sales, design, administration, and development departments, each containing different software packages and settings, and privileges unique to the role for which they will be used.

In this scenario you might need to repurpose a laptop from the accounts department for the sales team, because one on-the-go laptop has failed and needs replacing. In the usual scenario you’d re-image the entire computer, but this would wipe out the full installation on the machine.

With a VHD you simply boot into that installation and either copy an already configured and purposed VHD over to the computer or, rename a couple files if you already have multiple VHDs on the computer just in case.

So let’s look at how you can install Windows 8 into a VHD.

  1. Boot your computer from your Windows 8 installation media. Note that you cannot install to a VHD from Within an already running copy of Windows 8.

  2. Select your installation language.

  3. At the install screen, press Shift+F10 to open the DOS command window.

  4. Type diskpart and press Enter.

Using an Existing VHD

  1. Type select vdisk file=C:\path1\path2\disk.vhd, substituting the drive letter, path, and file name of the VHD you wish to use.

  2. Type attach vdisk.

Creating a new VHD

  1. Type create vdisk file=C:\path1\path2\disk.vhd maximum=40000 type=fixed and press Enter, substituting the drive letter, path, and file name of the VHD you wish to create and changing the VHD size (20480, for example, would create a drive 20GB in size) and swapping fixed for expandable if you want a dynamically expanding disk size.

  2. Type select vdisk file=C:\path1\path2\disk.vhd to select the disk you have just created and press Enter.

  3. Type attach vdisk and press Enter.

  4. Type exit and press Enter.

  5. Type exit again and press Enter.

  6. Click Install and then select Custom: Install Windows 8 Only (Advanced).

  7. Click the VHD you have created and select Drive Options (Advanced).

  8. Create a new partition inside the VHD using all the space available.

  9. Format this new drive.

  10. Ensure that the VHD drive is highlighted as the drive on which you wish to install Windows 8 and click Next to begin the installation.

  11. Windows 8 will now install the OS and automatically configure the boot loader; however, you will now have two copies of Windows 8 in that boot loader, both of which will be called “Windows 8.” Thus you might want to edit the boot menu and change the name of one of these to something else. To do this follow these instructions after Windows 8 starts.

  12. Open the Win+X menu and run Command Prompt (Admin).

  13. Type bcdedit /v and press Enter.

  14. Locate the VHD copy of Windows in the list of operating systems that appears and copy its GUID code. This is a long string of numbers and letters that appears as its identifier parameter.

  15. Type bcdedit /set {GUID} description “OS Name” and press Enter, substituting GUID for the string you copied in step 3 and with the name you wish for the VHD to have (see Figure 1-4).

    FIGURE 1-4

    FIGURE 1-4 A command prompt window showing the GUIDs for several Windows installations

  16. Optionally you might want to set your VHD to boot by default when the computer starts. You can do this with the command bcdedit /default {GUID}.

Deploying via Windows To Go

You might want to give some users a Windows To Go USB flash drive that they can use to run an Windows 8 Enterprise edition installation on computers when they are away from the office. You can create this flash drive complete with a user’s profile, software, and even files intact. The Windows To Go USB flash drive is usable on any computer that can boot from USB.

Keep in mind some considerations for Windows To Go:

  • Windows To Go drives can be created only from Windows 8 Enterprise edition.

  • Hibernate and sleep are disabled by default.

  • Windows To Go blocks access to the local drives on the host computer to help maintain the security of that computer.

  • If you use BitLocker to encrypt a Windows To Go drive, you will need a password to unlock the drive, because USB flash drives don’t have TPM chips as of this writing.

  • The Windows RE isn’t available, so if the Windows To Go drive becomes corrupt, it will be need to be re-created.

  • You need a compatible USB flash drive with a 32 GB capacity or larger. Note, however, that not all flash drives are compatible. In Figure 1-5, notice the 64 GB USB3 flash drive that won’t run Windows To Go.

    FIGURE 1-5

    FIGURE 1-5 Compatibility issues with some USB flash drives

When you use Windows To Go on a computer for the first time, it will detect and install the hardware drivers for that computer. As a result, the first run can take some time to start up, although it will be much faster for subsequent uses on that same computer. You should make users aware of this first-time delay if they plan to use the drive on many different computers.

Understanding common Windows 8 installation errors

So far, the methods for installing Windows 8 detailed in this chapter assume that nothing will go wrong during the installation. However, you sometimes might encounter a problem, such as the following:

  • Not being able to read from the installation DVD doesn’t necessarily mean that it is faulty. Try reading the disc on another computer to see whether you need to use a lens cleaner on the optical drive. Alternatively, you can try cleaning the disc itself with a small amount of glass cleaner and a soft cloth.

  • On some older computers, the BIOS firmware might need updating. You might find, for example, that the firmware won’t allow you to boot the computer from a USB device.

  • When starting from a USB device, you might find at computer startup that you need to press the key that displays the boot options menu. If your computer doesn’t boot from a USB drive, you can select a one-time boot option here.

  • If hardware isn’t properly installed, you can have trouble installing drivers. Some hardware, such as RAID cards, requires a driver to be loaded at startup. You need to make sure such drivers are included in your Windows 8 image.

  • If you’re upgrading older computers, you might find that their hardware doesn’t meet the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 8. Performing a hardware audit of your computers is a good idea before rolling out any new operating system.

  • Any error messages that you see during the process can be checked at the Microsoft knowledge base online at http://support.microsoft.com. Carefully write down, in full, any error messages that you receive.

If you need to troubleshoot a problem, first determine what it is that might have changed. Problems are commonly caused by recent changes to software, drivers, or updates. You might find that reversing any recent changes might rectify the problem.

Activating Windows 8

You can use the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT), included within the Windows 8 WDK, to manage the activation of a group of computers in an enterprise environment based on their Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), workgroup names, IP addresses, or computer names.

Each computer requires only a single activation connection with Microsoft, after which no further connection to Microsoft is made. This system uses a product key that is permitted to activate a certain number of computers.

In larger enterprise environments, activation can be managed by the Key Management Services (KMS) without connecting to Microsoft at all. To use this, you need a KMS server within the enterprise that manages your licensing. You can then activate the Windows installation from the command line by typing cscript C:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ipk <KmsKey>.

However, computers activated through a KMS server must reactivate via that server once every 180 days. This consideration must be made if remote work is required, where the computer can be mobile or out of touch with the server for long periods of time.

To check the activation status of a Windows 8 client at any time, use the System item in Control Panel or type the slmgr.vbs -dli command. If a copy of Windows 8 isn’t activated, an activation option will also appear in PC Settings.

Upgrading to Windows 8

If you now use Windows Vista or Windows 7 and are moving to Windows 8, an in-place upgrade of the operating system might be a good option. You can perform an in-place upgrade from the Windows 8 installation media. If you are upgrading from Windows 7, you can keep all your settings, accounts, and files. If you are upgrading from Windows Vista, you can keep your user account and settings, but you will have to reinstall your software.

You can still use an answer file to automate an upgrade, although the overall interaction required from the user is minimal.

You will find that some software will need to be removed (such as your anti-virus software, if you want to use the in-built anti-virus protection of Windows 8 or a server-based solution such as InTune). Other software might need updating, and hardware drivers might also need updating.

The final consideration is that if you are upgrading to the Standard edition of Windows 8, rather than Windows 8 Pro, you can’t upgrade from the Professional or Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

If you want to upgrade from Windows XP, the computer’s user accounts and files will be retained but all the computer’s settings and installed software will need to be redone.

Objective summary

  • You can perform a clean installation of Windows 8, upgrade an existing installation, or migrate user data to a new Windows 8 computer.

  • Only an upgrade from Windows 7 will permit migration of installed desktop software.

  • You can create a custom or automated Windows 8 installation by downloading and installing the Windows 8 Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) onto a technician computer.

  • You can create an unattended answer file to automate much of the Windows 8 installation process.

  • You can use SysPrep, the System Preparation tool, to customize a Windows 8 default installation before an installation image is captured.

  • You can use Windows To Go to provide users with mobile, USB-based Windows 8 installations.

  • The Windows 8 ADK includes tools to aid the automation of Windows 8 product activation.

Objective review

Answer the following questions to test your knowledge of the information in this objective. You can find the answers to these questions and explanations of why each answer choice is correct or incorrect in the “Answers” section at the end of this chapter.

  1. You need to upgrade a few computers in an office running Windows 7 and a few slightly older Windows XP computers to Windows 8. What is the best method to deploying the new operating system?

    1. Performing clean installations

    2. Upgrading each machine in place

    3. Upgrading the Windows 7 computers and performing a clean installation on the Windows XP computers

    4. Migrating user data on each machine to a new computer

  2. You need to install both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8. Which sections of the Deployment and Imaging Tools do you need?

    1. Just the x86 tools

    2. The x86 tools and the x64 tools

    3. The x86 tools and the amd64 tools

    4. Just the amd64 tools

  3. You are using the SysPrep command to configure a custom installation before you capture the image and need to restart the computer after installing an update before you can continue configuring it. Which SysPrep command-line switch do you use?

    1. /audit

    2. /restart

    3. /generalize

    4. /oobe

  4. Which command-line tool can you use to capture a custom Windows 8 image?

    1. Dism /capture

    2. SysPrep /capture

    3. ImageX /capture

    4. DiskPart /capture

  5. Which method can you use to check the activation status of any computer?

    1. Type slmgr.vbs -dli at the command prompt.

    2. Type vlmgr.vbs /license at the command prompt.

    3. Open the System panel from the Control panel and type vlmgr.vbs /license at a command prompt.

    4. Open the System panel from the Control Panel and type slmgr.vbs -dli at a command prompt.