These days Windows installation is much quicker than it was back in the Windows 98 era.
This is in part due to improvements in hard drive read times and even the speed of your DVD drive; nonetheless it still can take about forty minutes or more.
Does this have to be the case? For those of us that have moved forward and now use flash technology for all our OS installation needs no, it can actually take as little as about 15-25 minutes to fresh install an entire operating system.
This is actually accomplished fairly easily using a free tool from Microsoft, the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool.
Despite the name, this tool works with a few different versions of Windows, including the Windows 8 Developer Preview, which is free for anybody to check out.
So what’s involved in getting this tool to work? It’s actually a very basic process requiring a flash drive with at least 8GB of storage. Keep in mind that the tool will erase everything on the flash drive so make sure you have any important files transferred elsewhere.
The next thing you will need is the Developer Preview ISO file, and for most users that means getting the x64 version without developer tools (unless you have an older or limited PC then you should choose x86 instead).
Running the utility is as a simple as following a few directions that will wipe the drive and put the ISO onto USB making it a boot device. Despite the fact that it’s simple, it might take about 15 minutes or more to complete this process.
When you are done with the process you now have a working Windows Installation Flash drive. Once you are ready you can pop this guy into any PC you want to test Windows 8.
From there you simply restart and choose a bios option that will allow USB boot devices, follow the Windows 8 installation instruction and there you go, you now have the Developer Preview!
Unfortunately, this is only installing with USB. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually RUN Windows 8 from a flash drive? The truth is that you certainly can using Windows To Go.
It basically works a lot like LiveCDs for Unix-based Operating Systems (like Linux), though it is much more configurable and flexible. Windows to Go is a new feature to Windows 8.
You might be thinking, “I didn’t see or hear about this in the Developer Preview”, that’s because it’s still unreleased, and likely will only be released for Windows 8 Server.
Don’t let this get you down though; if you really want to run Windows 8 on flash it is still possible with a little work. Despite being aimed at enterprise users, Born city has step-by-step instructions that will guide you through the process of creating a “Windows to Go” setup that will use your Windows 8 Developer Preview image.
Right now it’s unclear if this method will work or even be included in the release versions of Winodws 8. For now though it’s still a cool way to play around with Windows 8 while learning a new tech skill.
Also keep in mind that for those who just have 4 or 8GB flash drives, you are out of luck. Due to the size of Windows 8 you will need at the very least a 16GB flash drive or SSD, the Developer Preview ISO, and Windows Automated Installation Kit to get Windows to go working.
USB is a constantly evolving technology and is clearly making our lives easier. Installing and running off of flash is at this point is merely a neat novelty but someday it could likely be the de facto way that these kinds of tasks get done.