Microsoft promised a revolutionary way to interact with your computer with Windows 8; and on October 26th, the company’s latest operating system definitely made good on that promise.

Superficially, the OS could be (mistakenly) regarded as any other, only with touchscreen functions. Windows 8, though, is much more than that. Users are given a freer and more robust interface to control their computers. Quick cloud service integration, on-the-fly sync features, and a healthy rate of updates make your PC more expansive and alive than ever and the considerable speed boost and security improvements don’t hurt either.

However, the most significant characteristic of the OS is one that isn’t even tangible, but is noteworthy nonetheless: Windows 8 is a bold move by Microsoft to venture into the future of personal computers. With more and more gadgets and technologies allowing users to carry their computer and Internet integration with them outside the home, it only makes sense that computer operating systems have to follow suit; and this is where Windows 8 makes its mark.

The Changeover

That said, making good on a promise and being wholeheartedly accepted are two different things.

It’s expected that people will adapt rather slowly to revolutionary things, precisely because it’s only human nature to be wary of the unfamiliar. And just how wary are people to embrace Windows 8? Only 4 million copies of the new OS have been sold at last count, which is way below the initial expected sales projection; that’s how wary.

Convincing the cautious about the merits and potentials of Microsoft’s product can only go so far. However, there are those who may have a mind to see what’s on the other side, but just don’t know how.

With that in mind, here is a 101 on how to do just that.

Pick a Flavor

The first thing to know is that Windows 8 comes in three distinct variations: Pro, Basic, and Windows RT.

RT is Windows 8 defanged, being constructed solely for ARM-based gadgets. For those not in the know, ARM CPUs are processors used in devices like tablets and smartphones; essentially gadgets that sacrifice a bit of functionality to accommodate maximum portability. This means that Windows RT is somewhat underpowered compared to its brothers; as it should be.

Windows 8 Basic and Pro are where things get interesting. Both include everything that one expects from a full-functioning touch-hybrid OS, including touch functions (of course) and the ability to carry both traditional and touch-centric apps.

Pro goes one step further by offering BitLocker drive encryption, remote desktop hosting, Hyper-V hardware virtualization, and other such features. Simply stated, it has additional security and business-oriented perks, which could be useful for budding and established enterprises, but which may be overkill for the casual consumer.

Specs Watch

Reportedly, RT will only be available as a pre-installed mobile OS, which is how these things go. Windows 8 Basic and Pro, though, are installable programs, meaning you need to know whether your PC has the capability to install them.

Minimum system requirements are as follows:

  • 1 GHz CPU with PAE, NX, and SSE2 support
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) / 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB disk space (32-bit) / 20 GB disk space (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9-capable GPU with WDDM driver

If you’re a bit lost on what these specs mean, don’t worry too much. As long as your PC has been running Windows 7 comfortably, it should do just fine with Windows 8.

The Installation

Now we come to the main focus of this article: How to actually get Windows 8 to run on your PC.

Program installations come in two ways: Using physical media, or via an online-assisted upgrade. It used to be that people were more familiar with disc installations, but with the advances made in online connectivity (along with the removal of optical drives from most current laptops), online installations are slowly becoming more commonplace. It’s definitely what Microsoft is touting as the preferable method, so let’s go with that.

Here are the steps to start:

1. Before anything else, make sure that you’ve backed up all your important files.

2. Go to Windows’s website and navigate your way to the Windows 8 upgrade page (or, you know, just type “upgrade to Windows 8” on Google).

3. Download the Upgrade Assistant app. This is the actual app that moves the installation process along, after scanning your PC’s compatibility and giving the go-ahead.

4. You will then be asked what you want to keep.

a.If you’re coming from Windows 7, you have the option of retaining all your previous settings, programs, and files.

b.If you have Vista (with Service Pack 1 and above) installed, you are only allowed to keep settings and files (programs present compatibility issues).

c.Finally, if your computer is running on XP (with Service Pack 3), just your files can be saved.

5. Upgrade Assistant will then recommend which version of Win 8 fits your PC. It’ll say “Pro” if your PC has the chops, but you could still go with Basic (which is what I recommend).

6.After you choose your OS flavor, the app will then prompt you to pay for the product. Fill out your billing info and preferred method of payment.

7.When the payment is done, you will be given your product’s license key. Make sure to write this key down, even if a copy will be sent to your email; it’s that important.

8.Click on Next, and the installation proper will begin. Once that is done, all that’s left is for you to revel in your Win 8 experience!

It goes without saying that an installation using a physical disc is far easier (albeit a bit more expensive). All you need to do is insert the disc into your computer, run the user-friendly installation process, and that’s it!

The First Step Makes All the Difference

Making the switch to the unfamiliar isn’t the easiest thing in the world; but the difficulty is alleviated if you know what to do, and most importantly, if you really want to do it. Windows 8 is a brave foray on Microsoft’s part, and it would do you well to get a taste of what the future brings.