Install Windows 8 from a USB Drive

A short while back, Microsoft released Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which features more than 100,000 changes. Go ahead and grab the download link and product key, if you haven’t already. Windows 8 is available as a simple installer, as well as an ISO image. The installer is simpler to use, and it automatically downloads the right version for your system. However, it also requires constant high speed internet connectivity on the system on which you wish to deploy Windows 8. If you want to use the ISO image, but don’t want to go through the hassle of burning it to a DVD, here’s a quick guide for installing Windows 8 from USB media. You will require an USB device with at least 4 GB free space and NTFS file system. Formatting it before proceeding with the creation of a bootable device is recommended, but is generally not necessary.

  • Mount the image using a freeware like SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive or extract it using WinRAR (or other similar software).
  • Open Command Prompt as Administrator. You can do this by typing cmd in the Run dialogue box (Win+R) and pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter.
  • Type the following commands:
     
    diskpart
    list volume
  • From the list that is displayed, note the volume assigned to your usb device, and select it as shown in the screenshot.
     
    select volume 5
  • Next, we need to mark it as the active volume.
     
    active

Windows-8-Diskpart

  • Now the disk is ready, and we can proceed with the creation of the boot sector. Exit diskpart.
     
    exit
  • Browse to the location where you extracted/mounted the ISO, and open the boot directory, as shown in the screenshot below.

Windows-8-USB-Bootable

  • Execute the following command. In my example, D: is the drive letter of my USB device. Replace it with the appropriate value.
  •  
    bootsect /nt60 d:

    Windows-8-USB-Bootable

Finally, the USB device is ready to be used as a bootable media. All that remains to be done is to copy the contents of the Windows 8 setup directory into your usb device. Once this is completed, reboot the system and enter the BIOS. Change the boot priority to assign highest priority to Removable Device/USB Device. Save changes and restart again to proceed with Windows 8 installation. Don’t forget to reset boot priority settings after Windows 8 installation is completed.

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