Perhaps not surprisingly, Windows Setup hasn’t changed dramatically since the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. It’s still quite fast—I typically go from a first boot to a new desktop in less than 10 minutes—but the basic steps are almost identical to what we saw before.
With that in mind, here’s what has changed.
First, the “betta fish” boot logo is mostly gone, replaced by a plain “Windows” screen at boot time.
The Windows Setup application features a new icon, which is subtle during Setup but can be seen better later, after Setup completes.
The Install Now and Enter the product key to activate Windows screens are unchanged.
The license terms screen now includes “prerelease” language and no longer separates out the app previews.
The “Which type of installation do you want?” screen has received a makeover and drops the icons. But it provides exactly the same two options as before.
While the “Where do you want to install Windows” screen hasn’t changed, the Installing Windows screen has: Instead of “Expanding Windows files,” the second phase of this screen now reads, “Getting files ready for installation.” It’s the longest part of Setup, and once this is done, Setup flies through Installing features, Installing updates, and Finishing up (previously called “Almost done installing Windows”).
Once this portion of Setup is complete, the PC will reboot and install your device drivers.
After a second reboot, the Out of Box Experience, or OOBE, begins.
The same fleeting “Let’s go through a few basics” screen with Personalize, Wireless, Settings, and Sign in text appears, and then the Personalize screen loads. Here, you can see the 25 new Metro color combinations, each which consists of a paired accent and background color.
The Settings screen includes the two same choices—Express or custom—but some minor changed to the Express settings description.
Both choices as before. If you choose Custom, you will step through sharing and device connection, PC update and protection, and help Microsoft improve Windows screens, where the only appreciable change is that the options on that last screen are all off by default now. In the next Settings screen, Check online for solutions to problems, the Troubleshooting Packs option has been removed. And then you’re asked to sign-in. These screens, too, are largely identical.
Note: The following screens were removed from the shipping version of the Release Preview, but Microsoft tells me they're working on the best way to communicate new functionality to users. I'll write more about that soon, but in the meantime I thought you'd be interested in one approach the software giant is considering....
After the OOBE has ended, a new screen, Here’s how to get started, appears.
Here, Setup steps through a very short and very basic animation about how to trigger the Charms using the mouse. One imagines this animation will be expanded on a bit before the final version of Windows 8 is released.
Finally, the Windows desktop loads, as before.
But wait, there’s more!
Discover much, much more about the Windows 8 Release Preview in Windows 8 Release Preview: The Ultimate Delta Guide, a guide to all of the articles I’ve published about this milestone build of Microsoft’s next OS.