Download the Free Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Category: Windows-8

On February 29, Microsoft made the beta version of its forthcoming Windows 8 operating system software available to the public. You can download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for free and install it on a PC or tablet device. Here's what you need to know...

What is Windows 8 Consumer Preview?

The big news about Windows 8 is its touch interface, called Metro. To use Windows 8’s touchscreen interface, you’ll need a tablet or monitor that supports touch. Each app is displayed in its own colorful square tile. Swiping, pinching, flicking, and other gestures familiar to smartphone users navigate Windows 8 as well. There's also a much sharper focus on integrating with the web, social media, and the multimedia experience. See the Windows 8 Consumer Preview page for some screenshots, video and download links.

Want to download Windows 8 and try it out for free? Read on. To run the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, you'll need a PC or tablet that meets the following minimum specs: Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster; RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit); Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit); Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device or higher.
Free Windows 8 Download

If you don’t have a touch screen, don’t despair. The familiar Windows 7 user interface is available on Windows 8 in its own tile. From there, you can use a mouse and keyboard shortcuts to perform tasks that require precision and typing.

Windows 8 offers a new way to log in. The Lock screen that greets you upon bootup can be a picture of your choice. You log in by tracing invisible designs on the touch screen. For instance, you might touch the top of a mountain and trace a finger along a river’s course.

A Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live account) is required to take advantage of Windows 8’s online features. Foremost among them is the new Windows Store, where you can buy Metro apps. You can also sync settings, files, photos, and other data with all of your devices through a Microsoft account and the SkyDrive cloud storage service. Connecting your Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to your Microsoft account makes your friends status updates and other social data instantly available through Windows 8.

Will Windows 8 Be a Success?

I have to admit that I have my doubts about Windows 8. Almost everything about it is radically different from previous desktop versions. While the Metro touch-centric paradigm may be cooler than the "legacy" Windows experience, it’s going to be a huge shock for most users. Many businesses have just completed or are still working on upgrading to Windows 7; it will be years before they will want to go through another painful and expensive upgrade cycle, particularly with a radically steep learning curve.

None the less, Microsoft is betting heavily on Windows 8 to give the company a toehold in the emerging touch-centric mobile device market. With Apple's iPad dominating the space, Microsoft is making a bid to get back in the game. Whether Windows 8 revitalizes Microsoft’s market dominance or flops as badly as Vista did remains to be seen. We'll begin to find out this fall, when the final release of Windows 8 is due out.

Until then, you can download the free Windows 8 Consumer Preview, take it for a test drive, and decide if it's for you. Just be aware that this is still "beta" software, which means that it could contain bugs, might not be compatible with your hardware, or cause you other unanticipated problems. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview FAQ page puts is very bluntly: "Windows 8 Consumer Preview is stable and has been thoroughly tested, but it’s not the finished product. Your PC could crash and you could lose important files." You should also know that there are some important caveats about installing the Consumer Preview on an XP, Vista or Windows 7 system. You can do so, but you might not be able to keep all of your files, programs, and settings. See the FAQ for details.

A good idea is to create a new partition and do a fresh install of Windows 8 there in a dual boot configuration. Even better, install and run it in a virtual machine. See my article What is Virtualization? for some tips on how that works. The point is that you should not install Windows 8 Consumer Preview and use it on your primary computer, as your everyday operating system. Windows 8 Consumer Preview will expire on January 16th 2013, at which time you'll have to uninstall it or purchase a paid license of the final Windows 8 product.

What do you think of the new Windows 8 user interface, and will you be installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Download the Free Windows 8 Consumer Preview"

Posted by:

01 Mar 2012

I installed it on a secondary partition on my hard disk. It looks interesting, although it had some difficulty finding all of my media - i.e. it couldn't, even after I added the folders to the appropriate Libraries.

is there any way to uninstall it without formatting the disk?

Posted by:

Irwin Weisberg
01 Mar 2012

And not a clue as to what it will cost? That's Microsoft. They think everyone with a computer is as rich as they are. And the size? Nothing that big can be fast. Who will blow thousands to run a program that doesn't do anything their current one does? Who will junk their rigs so they can overspend on crap? It's obvious this is aimed at the smart phones and pads that already have an OS. This is too much that does too little too late. They are about to pay for their arrogance once again. Apple and Google must be dancing in the streets!

Posted by:

01 Mar 2012

Not for this old man. Sounds like a bad mouse trap.

Posted by:

Harold P. Morgan
01 Mar 2012

Very interesting info on Windows 8.
I've been eyeballing the ACER Iconia W500 tablet which currently comes with Windows 7. I'm waiting for Windows 8 to become available because I suspect ACER will start including it with their W500's at that time. Win 8's improved touch screen capabilities should make the ACER tablet even more impressive than it is now. Wouldn't you think so?

Posted by:

01 Mar 2012

I tried it after making a system image and installing Win 8 by itself. It crapped out trying to keep system files. Didn't take too much time to figure it out and try different things. Could not get email to work and after installing my extensive music collection I tried to listen to some and while trying to scroll through albums it slowed down so bad It would take forever! Don't like nothing messing with my music so reinstalled Win 7. It looks like Metro is just cobbled onto Win 7 so doesn't look like the upgrade will be worth the trouble.

Posted by:

01 Mar 2012

I installed win8 64bit in a dual boot situation with vista sp2 32bit. works fine, although without a touch screen you really can't use it the way it is intended. IE 10 is very quick! so far all my hardware works fine letting windows install all software, including Magicjack!

I think ultimately MS will need to have different install options for those of us with a PC and NO touch screen.

My understanding to uninstall win8 with a dual boot setup, is to boot into your primary system, and go to computer and format the win8 partition, then get to msconfig and delete the win8 in the boot tab, and make sure your primary OS is the default.

Posted by:

01 Mar 2012

I just upgraded to Windows 7 from XP last year.
I did not see a strong improvement over XP and had to get rid of numerous beloved software and hardware that was still working perfectly. Upgrading was an expensive endeavor.
So, I think I will wait till Windows 12 comes around before going through that again.

Posted by:

Elise Cleeves
01 Mar 2012

Congratulations Bob; you are the first person I know of, except me, of course, who uses the word forthcoming instead of the non-word upcoming. How can we educate the world that there is no such word as 'upcoming' and please stop using it. I go crazy everytime I see it in print!!! I know that makes me seem crazy too......

Posted by:

Byron Miller
02 Mar 2012

I will not be installing their unfinished Windows 8 and risk crashing my computer or getting bugs on my system. Microsoft is notorious for releasing programs and OS onto the market with known bugs and problems. Why would anyone trust installing an unfinished OS from MS with already know bugs in it. I predict that eventually most businesses and consumer will switch to a Linux OS or similar system when it is perfected to be more user friendly and easier to understand by the general public. It is a stable OS and very seldom crashes as MS Windows does. MS should learn a lesson from the Linux OS. Test thoroughly before selling the OS and get the bugs out and stop changing the damn system every two or three years. It is expensive to purchase new equipment and reprogram everything. Not to mention that older files and programs won't work on the new Windows OS. Then MS also discontinues support for their older OS so it forces companies and consumers to purchase newer systems. Should be a wake up call for MS. People are getting fed up with the never-ending changes that are expensive to keep up with. If one has a system that serves the intended purpose, what is the point of spending money for a new system? MS is holding the companies and the public hostage.

Posted by:

02 Mar 2012

I'm still on XP and likely won't change till I buy a new computer. But since neither the wife nor I can figure out any way we'd use tablets or smartphones, I can't figure out anything (based on reports so far) that Windows 8 can do that Windows 7 would not do better.

Maybe Microsoft should run the two editions in parallel for a while, just in case, and see what happens. And even revive XP for netbooks!

Posted by:

02 Mar 2012

XP is the ONLY way to go. The rest is rubbish.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2012

not impress with window 8– one it not build for a normal PC- it build for a touch
screen and i do not think people are going to run out and get a touch
screen just because MS made it for a touch screen- what i can see it a
other example of MS out of touch with people– window 8 not going to fly
-a other failed window like vista and ME — just how many people right now
have touch screen- not many- and i think it not going to change any time soon
and using a mouse on window 8 is a nightmare– plus no start button– no
window 8 for me that for sure i hate it—can not find install program—where the
music player- how do you install game and software– hard—it a
nightmare—glee MS what where you thinking-some us have real productivity requirements on laptops and desktops–using real keyboards and mice. Touchy-feely interfaces, designed for tablets aren’t going to get the job done.

Posted by:

07 Mar 2012

Hi Bob,

Downloaded the ISO of the Win8 Consumer Preview but for some reason it won't install as a virtual machine in VirtualBox. The Developer Preview had the same problem.

I suspect they have included code to prevent sandboxing. :o(


Posted by:

09 Mar 2012

Windows 7 = Crap.

Windows 8 = Crap+1.

Posted by:

gary gross
09 May 2012

Always independent. Always on point. Always trustworthy and easy to follow. thank you Bob, for weeding our tech gardens! gary gross

Posted by:

30 Sep 2012

If upcoming gets yout goat, how about ongoing ? Whatever happened to 'continuing ?

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