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People frustrated by the upgrade and setup process in prior versions of Windows may find a more user-friendly experience in Windows 8.

Ensuring that Windows installs properly across a variety of hardware and software configurations is always a challenge. And for Windows 7, Microsoft tried to improve the reliability of the setup process.

Now it’s taking that process a few steps further for the next version of Windows, as described in the latest edition of the Building Windows 8 blog by Christa St. Pierre from Microsoft’s Setup and Deployment team.

Striving to streamline the experience, St. Pierre explained that “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.”

As such, Microsoft created the Windows 8 setup process with two types of users in mind: 1) People who want to easily upgrade without any hassle; and 2) People who want to run a clean install and tap into advanced options to control their disk and partition settings.

One of the first enhancements can be found in the delivery of Windows 8.

Beyond offering the new OS on a standard boxed DVD, Microsoft will also make it available to customers via the Web. Users can download and even install the product directly online from start to finish. The Web setup process also integrates the product key, sparing people from having to manually enter it. Users who want more control over the installation can also run an advanced setup from a DVD or USB key.

Further, Microsoft has combined several tools in one to simplify the Windows 8 upgrade. In the past, the company has offered the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to tell users which applications were compatible with the new OS, and Windows Easy Transfer to save and restore key files and settings. Now instead of being separate processes, both are fully integrated into the Windows 8 setup.

So a user who upgrades to Windows 8 will encounter one single end-to-end process and as few as 11 clicks, compared with the four different products and up to 60 screens required to jump to Windows 7.

Windows 8 users should also see the entire upgrade fly by faster. For Windows 7, each needed file and document would be moved one by one and then moved back once the installation was done. But for Windows 8, entire folders will be moved instead, thereby speeding up the process. Other tweaks also promise a quicker upgrade experience.

Finally, advanced users and IT professionals alike will be able to choose from a range of options to give them full control over their upgrades and migrations.

“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 explained. “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.”

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