Windows 8.1 Update Changes
A number of new interface changes were introduced in Windows 8.1 Update.
Below are some changes to Windows 8 that you might notice:
- Adds power and search buttons to the Start screen (on some devices)
- Booting directly to the Desktop is now the default setting on new installations on non-touch devices
- Windows Store apps can be pinned to the Desktop taskbar, just like traditional programs
- Taskbar is available anywhere the mouse is
- Title bar, including close and minimize buttons, are available on Windows Store apps
- Right-click menu is available for Windows Store apps pinned on the Start screen
- Windows Store app is pinned by default to the taskbar
- A “new apps installed” notice on the Start screen after installing new apps
Tip: If you’re considering uninstalling Windows 10, it’s not that hard to do.
In other words, a clean install of Windows 8 is the erase-whatever-is-there-and-install-a-new-copy-of-Windows-8 process and is usually the best method of installing or reinstalling Windows 8. I always suggest a clean install over upgrading, say from a previous version of Windows like Windows 7. Look through my Windows Installation FAQ if you’re having concerns about this.
The walkthrough that follows contains a total of 32 steps and will guide you through every detail of the Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 clean install process. The process is nearly identical for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 but I’ve called out the differences where appropriate.
The most important thing to consider before performing a clean install of Windows 8 is that every bit of information on the drive you’re going to install/reinstall Windows 8 on will be erased. This means that the entire operating system that’s on there now, whatever that may be, will be gone, as will all the programs you’ve installed, and yes, most importantly, all of your precious data you’ve saved to that drive.
Back Up Your Important Data
So the first thing to do, if you can, is to backup whatever data you’d like to keep like your saved documents, downloaded music and videos, etc. Backing up your actual programs isn’t usually possible, so locate all the installation media and downloaded installation files that you used to install the programs so they’re available to reinstall once the Windows 8 clean install is done.
Be sure also to backup any data files from your programs, assuming they have any, that might not be located with your other saved files.
Locate Your Product Key
Your next concern should your product key. This 25-digit alphanumeric code is required during the Windows 8 clean install process. If you’ve purchased Windows 8 yourself, the product key should be included with the DVD media you received or in the email confirmation you received when you purchased Windows 8 or 8.1 for download. If Windows 8 came preinstalled on your computer, look for a sticker with the product key somewhere on your desktop, laptop, or tablet device.
Note: If you can’t locate your Windows 8 product key but the following is true: a) Windows 8 is installed on the computer right now, b) it’s working, and c) it was notpreinstalled by your computer maker, then you do have the option of extracting the key from your current installation. See How To Find Your Windows 8 or 8.1 Product Key for help doing that.
Disconnect Unnecessary Hardware
Windows 8 should install fine with all of your hardware connected, internal and external, but if you run into trouble, or have had trouble installing Windows on this computer before, removing unnecessary internal components (if you have a desktop) and disconnecting USB and other external devices should help. Once the Windows 8 clean install is complete, you can connect those devices one at a time.
Start the Windows 8/8.1 Clean Install
Once you are absolutely positive that everything on the primary hard drive partition you’re about to install Windows 8 on, probably your C: drive, can be removed (e.g. you’ve backed everything up that you want to keep) then proceed on to the next step in this tutorial. Please remember that once you delete everything from this drive, which is done in a later step (I’ll let you know when), you won’t be able to get any of that data back.
Note: The procedure described, and screenshots shown, in these 32 steps refer specifically to Windows 8 Pro but are equally valid for the standard Windows 8 edition that’s also available, as well as both editions of Windows 8.1 as I mentioned earlier.
Important: If you want to clean install a version of Windows other than Windows 8, see instead my How Do I Perform a Clean Install of Windows? tutorial for specific instructions for your version of Windows.