Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Acer Iconia W500... and its still better than when it had Windows 7

So our department a while ago was asked about getting some iPads..DUN! DUN! DAHHH
yep its all fun and games till we asked for an actual real word use for them that a laptop couldn't do. I don't have problem with the iPad as a device per-say but don't really see very many valid business uses for them ontop of the fact that they are a down right pain in the ass to manage both Policy wise and User wise. Yeh don't try and pretend like its easy.... its still easier to manage full fledged computers so don't even bother arguing fanbois.

Anyway off topic a little, we ended up buying a whole raft of different computers to let them choose from, including the Acer Iconia Tab W501, which was running Windows 7. Honestly? it was horrible. The touch was horrbile, it was unbelievably slow and just a pain to use so when the Windows 8 Dev Preview we jumped on board and installed it on the Iconia straight away.


It was pretty funny the fact that a Dev Preview ie pre-beta Windows 8 OS was nicer on the touch interface than the Windows 7 machine, but who are we to argue. The other big plus was the much faster boot times. Windows 7 took roughly 5 minutes to boot on the Iconia, including logins. The Win 8 Preview took under a minute from startup to login. All in all we where very impressed.
The Consumer Preview has now come out for Windows 8 now and is even nicer to use on the Icionia than the Dev Preview. Its clear that Microsoft has put alot of work into startup times and the touch interface is really very nice.

It was no mean feat to install the Windows 8 on the Iconia either. What would seem like a simple task was actually a bit of a pain in the umm hmm finger?

So we start with downloading.

If you already have the Dev Preview installed you can go here and download the Windows 8 Consumer Executable file which you simply run on the Dev Preview and Viola! you have now upgraded to the Consumer Edition of Windows 8. Ignore everything below this :P

A Clean install is a little more fun. First you want to download the Windows 8 Consumer ISO file here and extract the iso into a folder once it has finished downloading. If you are doing this for the Acer Iconia, x64 runs well on it.

The Serial Key you will need for the install is DNJXJ-7XBW8-2378T-X22TX-BKG7J

Next we need to make a bootable thumbdrive since out Iconia doesn't have DVD-ROM. The Thumb drive needs to be a minimum of 4GB.
We will need to download the Windows AIK(Automated Installation Kit) from here
and install it onto the computer.
Use the following commands to format a USB and make it bootable to install Windows 8 from.
All commands are without quotes
- Plug the thumb drive in. Make sure there is nothing on it you want to keep because we are going to need to format it.
- Start the Deployment Tools Command Prompt which is installed with the AIK
- "diskpart"
- "list disk"
This will display a list of disks which are currently connected to your computer, including your thumb drive. Look at the sizes listed to determine which of the drive numbers is the thumb drive
In this list we can see that the thumb drive I am using is a 16GB(listed as 14GB) Disk number 2

In the following examples I will be using "Disk 2". you will need to substitute the relevant disk number in-place of Disk 2

- "sel disk 2"
This will format and delete all the contents on the thumbdrive, there is no turning back if you have anything on it you want to keep after this command
- "clean"

- "create part primary"
- "format fs=ntfs quick label=BOOT"
- "active"
After this a new Thumb Drive should popup on the computer, in my case drive letter "L:"

In the following examples I will be using Drive Letter "L:". You will need to substitute the relevant letter for your computer.

- "exit"

- "cd amd64" or "cd x86" based off whether you are using the x64 installer or x86 installer
- "bootsect /nt60 L:"

The thumb drive should now be bootable and ready to copy the extracted Windows files from the ISO onto the thumb drive. That's not ISO onto the thumb drive.... Extract the ISO and copy all the contents onto the thumb drive. It should look something like this once is all copied to the thumb drive.

Don't forget to remove the thumb drive safely from the computer. Since the thumb drive is now using an NTFS partition we can't have any more of that RIP THAT PUPPY OUT SHEEL BE RIGHT!! because it will break it the partition and make it unbootable.

Turn the Iconia off and if you have a Dock, take it off the dock and plug in a USB Keyboard and Thumb Drive. Funny stuff they make a dock that doesn't work properly in the BIOS :) Hold the Windows button on the Iconia and Turn it on while pressing the F2 key. If your like me you will need another person to help you with this.
Change the USB drive to be first boot, save the BIOS and reboot.
Here is a link to the Acer Iconia Tab W500 Manual if you want more detailed instructions on getting into the BIOS
*EDIT* I have also had a problem recently with booting off the thumb drive again after Win 8 was installed when I stumbled upon this post
which fixed the problem for me
I tip my hat to you
Also Drivers are now available at Acer for Win 8

You will now be able to run the Windows 8 Consumer Preview from the Thumb Drive. Happy installing!

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