Edit: There is an updated version of this article available here that describes the installation of the final version (RTM) of Windows 8 using a USB drive
Having used my faithful Sony Vaio X Netbook for the last years while travelling and commuting, I sort of gotten used to the sluggish performance when having multiple applications open. With a 128GB SSD, in theory this should be a fast little netbook, but with Windows 7 Pro, it can’t really be used for day-to-day work. The reason I keep carrying it arround is it’s unsurpassed weight, features and size. It’s a fully functional laptop with the weight and size of an iPad. Great for on the road.
Since the Sony Vaio is a pretty standard netbook, the tutorial below is also applicable to install Windows 8 on a different brand like MSI, ASUS, Lenovo, Acer, Toshiba, Dell, HP and many more.
Installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview:
Since the netbook doesn’t have an optical drive, and I had some issues with external USB dvd-drives I decided to upgrade Windows 7 with the downloadable executable. This worked like a charm. After a few days however I decided to reinstall the netbook cleanly to truly have a fresh Windows 8 installation. I decided to go for the 32-bit version since it’s a bit lighter, probably has better driver support and to be honest, it’s been a while since i worked with a 32-bit Windows version, so why not?
So let’s have a look at what we need:
- USB Memory Stick of at least 4GB that can be formatted
- Windows 8 Consumer preview ISO
- Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool
USB Installation media preparation:
1. Install the Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool and start it.
2. Select the ISO file you’ve downloaded earlier.
4. Select the USB drive you want to use for this (double-check if you got the right one, this tool will erase it completely and put the windows installation files on it)
5. Even if you deleted all files on the drive it’s possible a message appears with ‘not enough free space’ Click ‘Erase USB Device’
6. Creating the USB Windows Installation media will be faster than burning a DVD, but it’ll still take a few minutes.
Preparing the netbook for installation
Before we can use the USB stick to install Windows, we need to let the netbook know it has to boot from an (USB) external drive.
- Make sure your netbook is completely shut down (not suspended)
- Press the power button to power up.
- immediately press the Del or F2 button a few times untill the BIOS menu appears, make sure you don’t press it too fast, but also not too slow, try to tap ‘Mary had a little lamb’ on the key(s). Please refer to your manual (or simply google it) what key you have to press for your specific type of netbook.
- In the BIOS, go to the boot settings and enable USB media boot/external media boot.
- Check and change the boot order so the USB media/external media is the first boot device.
- Save the settings and exit the BIOS
Start Windows 8 Consumer preview installation:
- Make sure the USB drive you created is connected to the Netbook
- Power up the netbook
- Your netbook will detect the USB drive and the Windows installer will start.
- Follow the steps in the installer and complete the installation.
First steps after the installation:
- Run Windows Update to make sure you have the latest patches and security updates.
- Optimize your system settings to increase performance of your netbook using this guide.
- Improve the battery life or your netbook with these steps.
- Enjoy Windows 8!
If you have any issues with installing Windows 8 Consumer preview on your netbook, don’t hesitate to reach out by commenting below.