Are you strongly considering installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview on your primary PC, but are uncertain if it’s a good idea? First off, you aren’t alone.

Since I work from home, my laptop is my office and therefore a very important business tool. At the same time, I publish articles for Windows 8 Update and so having a strong feel of what Metro and what the new OS has to offer is important.

I could run the OS on a secondary machine, sure, but than I really wouldn’t get a true feel for the OS at its core. By using it like I use Windows 7, on a daily basis, I really learn the ins and out of the operating system.

The best part? It is actually very easy to install and at least so far I haven’t ran into any slow downs or crashes. So, relax, if you follow a few simple steps, you can install Windows 8 as your primary OS and yet still rest assured you’ll be able to do everything you did in Windows 7 and not have to worry about data loss.

First thing is first. Figure out a list of your essential applications, things you can’t absolutely do without. Once you’ve figured that out, head on over to Microsoft’s Windows 8 Compatibility Center.

This is a great tool with multiple different categories, including games, music players, enterprise software, and more. If you find one of your most essential programs doesn’t work you will know that Windows 8 Consumer Preview isn’t for you.

Likely by the time the final version does arrive, a fix should exist for these crucial programs you can’t live with out.

More than likely you’ll find that Windows 8 Consumer Preview has an impressive level of compatibility. Nothing I used had any issues whatsoever, and that includes some games. Of course if you could run into a problem if you have very obscure specialty software.

Assuming you made it through the Compatibility Check okay, now it is important to back up your prized data. How you do this is really up to you. I own a 1TB external drive that I use to perform weekly back-ups of my data.

I really recommend having some kind of backup solution in place, I know what it is like to lose everything and have to install from scratch. For many users, the internal Windows Backup program should be good enough, or sometimes your external HDDs come with their own programs for this, as well.

Okay, so if everything seems compatible and you have a full backup in place, now is the time to get installing. Obviously it starts by downloading Windows 8 Consumer Preview. This next step is pretty important though. Personally, I recommend choosing the “install into another partition” option, even if you really are just going to install on the existing one.

Why? I went with the install on existing option initially and after waiting for Windows 8 to install, Windows 8 Consumer Preview booted up with a major installation error and had to revert everything back to Windows 7.

Luckily, the rollback system for installations works quite well.

I gave it another go by putting Windows 8 Consumer Preview onto a flash drive (you’ll need at least a 4GB one). Just restart your PC, boot from the flash, and follow the prompts. This should work well and you can still keep all existing data. Windows 7 will just migrate into Windows.old.

If you wish to try it the orher way, go ahead. It is very possible you won’t run into the same problem I did. Even if you do run into the issue, Windows 8’s installation system will roll you back to Windows 7 and you can try again.

Good luck installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I hope you have as much fun with it as I am. For those that already have it up and running, did you run in to any initial installation problems like I did?

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