Microsoft is promising that the process of upgrading PCs to Windows 8 will be more streamlined and will require a fraction of the time to install than earlier releases of the PC operating system.
Microsoft also plans to offer Windows 8 as an online purchase and download, according to a company blog – a change from the vendor's previous practice of selling Windows mostly in boxed DVDs.
"For Windows 8, our goal was to continue to improve reliability while also improving the installation experience and raw performance. Not only did we want it to be rock solid, but also faster and easier to use," wrote Christa St. Pierre, a member of the Windows 8 setup and deployment team, in the Building Windows 8 blog.
Microsoft has not disclosed a target date for delivering Windows 8, but it's generally expected to be released sometime in 2012. In September Microsoft offered a developer preview version of the operating system at its Microsoft Build conference.
Through customer surveys Microsoft has "received notable feedback that upgrading the PC was perceived as difficult," St. Pierre wrote in the blog. That held back some customers from upgrading to Windows 7 even though their PCs were capable of running the software.
There are 450 million PCs worldwide currently running Windows 7 – not to mention others running Windows XP and Vista – that can be upgraded to Windows 8 once it's available. So Microsoft is determined to make that process as easy as possible.
"With Windows 8 setup we have greatly improved both speed and ease of use, while still retaining all of the advanced setup functionality that many customers will demand," St. Pierre wrote. "We have integrated what was once many separate steps for people to perform when preparing and starting their setup into a streamlined user experience, with a fast and reliable setup engine under the hood."
Microsoft also has tried to accommodate the needs of two distinct types of users, according to St. Pierre's blog: People who want an easy way to upgrade to the new release with an absolute bare minimum of hassle; and people who want to do a clean install and want more control of setup options, disk layout, and partition configuration.
NEXT: Comparing Windows 7 and 8 Installation Times