Introduction: Upgrading and Using Windows 8!

Windows 8 is Microsoft's newest operating system.  In this Instructable, you will learn how to properly install Windows 8 from an older Windows version, configure the system's settings, install applications (using Ninite), and use the new features of Windows 8.

Step 1: What You Need:

-Copy of Windows 8
-Windows 8 Product Key
-Flash Drive or External Hard Drive for backup
-A few hours of your free time
-A computer with windows that you want to upgrade

First, you need a copy of Windows 8.  Windows 8 can be purchased as an upgrade to an old Windows version, or it can be purchased as a stand-alone product.  It is available online and at many technology retailers, with discounts available for students and other qualified individuals.  For this Instructable we will be upgrading an old version.
Windows 8 can come on an installation disc , a bootable USB device, or a bootable DVD.  For this Instructable we will be using the installation disc.

Most Windows installation discs come with a unique product key, but you can also purchase Windows 8 and its product key separately.  Make sure you have a unique product key to install Windows 8, without the key you will only have access to a trial version of the software.

You will also need a device or service to back up files.  Flash drives are commonly used for small amounts of important data, while large external hard drives are commonly used for backing up the data of you entire computer.  Online services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Sky Drive can also be used in place of a physical drive to move data to an external server.

Next, this installation will not happen instantaneously.  You should have time to backup all of the important information described above, in addition to anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to install (you don't have to stand in front of your computer to do this though, just make sure your cat doesn't turn it off), plus some extra time to learn how Windows 8 works and to install important applications.

You also need a computer to install Windows 8 on.

Step 2: Preparing Your Computer:

First, turn your computer on normally.

After you computer boots into its older Windows operating system, back up your data on the external devices or services that you planned to use in step 1.

Lastly, grab a book, because you can't watch Game of Thrones online while Windows is installing.  Again, you don't have to watch the installation process, but make sure your computer doesn't turn off half way through.

Step 3: Walk-through the Installation Wizard

Now that you are ready to install, put in the installation disc.

If the installation wizard does not pop up automatically, click on the disc drive on "My Computer" and run the installation program.

The wizard will then ask you if you would like to install updates to Windows 8 during the installation.  Updates require internet access and will take longer to install, but it will guarantee that your computer is up to date.  Updates can also be installed after Windows 8 is installed, so this is personal preference.

Next, you will be prompted to enter your product key that you purchased with the installation disc.

After this, you will choose which files you would like to move from your old Windows version to Windows 8.
This is also preference.  If you choose to keep your files, and installation fails, remember that you still have those files backed up from earlier in this Instructable.

Confirm that you are ready to proceed with the installation. THIS CAN NOT BE UNDONE.

Step 4: Perform Installation

The installation will then preform automatically.  Your computer may restart several times during the process, but you do not have to do anything until your computer prompts you to, which we will cover in the next step.

You can expect the installation to take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, or longer, depending on your computer.

Towards the end of the installation there will be a visual tutorial on how to use some of the new features of Windows 8. We will explain that later in this instructable.

Step 5: Configure Windows Settings

From here, you can change the color scheme and the name of your PC of Windows 8.  These and other personalization settings can be changed again after the installation.

Next, you can customize additional settings such as whether or not to automatically install updates, and to check online for solutions to problems.  These settings can be changed after installation as well.  We recommend using Windows 8's express settings.

Finally, choose a user name, a password, and a password hint.

After this, your Windows 8 PC will be ready to use.

Step 6: Windows 8 Tricks: Using the Corners and Charms Bar.

Windows 8 comes with several neat tricks and features that aren't present in Windows 7. If you move your finger (on a touchscreen) or your mouse to either the top right or bottom right corner will open up the Charm Bar.  Move the mouse towards the icons to choose between them. Your choies are:

Search. Search allows you to search for files, applications, and even settings on your computer. It can also be reached by typing with the start menu open.

Share. Share allows you to share the content you are viewing in relevant ways. For example, if you are viewing pictures, the share option will allow you to email them to a friend, or upload them to a photo sharing service.

Settings. Settings will allow you to access settings of your computer as well as turn your computer off. 

Devices. Devices will allow you to see what devices are currently connected to your computer. 

If you move the mouse to the top left or bottom left corner and then move towards the center, it will show a list of all of your open apps. This will allow you to switch easily back and forth between different full screen windows 8 apps, or to switch between those full screen apps and traditional Windows applications.

Step 7: Understanding the Windows 8 Start Menu

The traditional start menu is gone, but in its place is a more powerful and interactive version.

By default, the leftmost section contains a list of commonly used live tiles for windows 8 apps, including the traditional "desktop" app. It also shows "live tiles" for pictures, news, and weather, giving you a snapshot of information without having to launch the app. Launching the app will take you to a full screen version of the app, though they can later be resized to fit in a side dock, allowing two apps to be run at the same time. 

To the right of these (not shown here) would be a list of traditional Windows apps. These will run within the traditional desktop that most Windows users are accustomed to. Similar applications are grouped together, such as Adobe CS Suite products (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.). 

Note the columns in the image below. The columns can be rearranged and reordered to match your desire.

Begin typing in this screen to find apps, files, or settings quickly.

In a later step we will show you how to find and install a number of useful traditional applications, but Windows 8 has an integrated store from which you can download a number of free and paid Windows 8 apps.

Step 8: Updating Windows

At this point, if you didn't choose the Update option in step 3, you can update Windows 8 from the settings app on the charm bar.  You can also change your personalization, user, privacy, and many other PC settings from this menu. 

Look through all the categories to double check that all of your settings are set exactly how you want them.

Step 9: Installing Important Applications

Next, you will want to run programs on your PC, so now is the time to download and/or install those programs.  You can install all of the programs you want individually, but we recommend using Ninite to download and install popular Windows programs for you.  Ninite is a free software service that makes an installation package of the most popular and useful applications for Windows.  In just a few simple clicks, you can download web browsers, messaging software, media tools, text editors, and other useful tools.

Instructions for Ninite:

-Go to
-Choose which applications to install on your PC
-Download the installer that will be made from your choices
-Follow the instructions to download and install all of the individual applications with one click, quickly and easily.

Some of the popular applications Ninite offers (you can also download these from their main websites):

-Google Chrome: Web browser
-Firefox: Web browser

-Skype: Video messaging service
-Google Talk: Google's instant messaging client
-Yahoo!: Yahoo's instant messaging client

-iTunes: Music manager
-Hulu: Internet TV app
-VLC: Video player
-Audacity: Audio editor
-Spotify: Online Music Service

-Java: Used for online applications

-Picasa: Google's Photo Manager
-GIMP: Image editor

-Microsoft Office: Office suite (TRIAL VERSION)
-OpenOffice: Free Office Suite
-LibreOffice: Free Office Suite
-Adobe PDF Reader

-Microsoft Essentials: Free Antivirus
-Avast: Free Antivirus
-Avira: Free Antivirus
-AVG: Free Antivirus

-Dropbox: Online backup drive
-Google Drive: Online backup drive
-SkyDrive: Microsoft's online backup drive

-Steam: App store for games

-Classic Start: START MENU for Windows 8

and many other applications!

Step 10: Conclusion

Now that you know how to navigate Windows 8 and you have some useful applications, it is time to try them out and see what you can do with your upgraded computer.  Open up the start menu and start exploring the possibilities!  Most applications will have tutorials for basic features when you start them up, and almost all of them have help available online.  Also check out the built in Windows 8 applications themselves.

Windows 8 is a powerful tool that is at your disposal.  Enjoy your new operating system!