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Thursday, 27 December 2012

2013 Bajaj Pulsar 350NS

After the grand success of Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS, now Bajaj Motors has officially confirmed of Bajaj Pulsar 350NS which will be launched in 2013. Rajiv Bajaj has not confirmed exact launching date, but yes wait is over. He made this announcement at the Pulsar 200NS’s launch event.
Bajaj Pulsar 350NS will be powered by 349CC liquid-cooled engine with triple spark technology. There is no official announcement of its technical specification. But it is expected to generate maximum power of around 40 bhp and maximum torque of around 35Nm. It expected mileage is around 50+ kmpl.
The price of 350NS is to be expected around Rs. 1.80 Lakh.
The New Bajaj Pulsar 350NS will be available in 3 different colour variation; Red, Black & Yellow.
Technical Specification:
  • Displacement: 349.5cc
  • Engine: Triple Spark, SOHC, 4-valve
  • Maximum Power: 40 Bhp (Expected)
  • Maximum Torque: 35 Nm (Expected)
  • Gears: 6 Speed
  • Cylinder Configuration: SOHC layout
  • Valve Per Cylinder: 4

Bajaj Auto unveiled the next generation Pulsar today. The company has only unveiled the 200cc version of the second generation Pulsar, with smaller variants set to come in the later half of th eyear. However this time, there will be an even higher capacity Pulsar. All those who have been waiting for an affordable 350cc bike have reason to rejoice in 2013 as Rajiv Bajaj, MD and CEO of Bajaj Auto has confirmed on the sidelines of the Pulsar 200 NS launch that a Pulsar 350 will arrive in 2013! This Pulsar 350 will have competition from the likes of twin-cylinder 250cc motorcycles, which are soon to be launched in India by Yamaha and Hyosung.
Earlier this month (last week to be precise), when the KTM Duke 200 was launched, the company had revealed its plans to launch a 350cc Duke next year. Now its no rocket science that the Pulsar 200 NS and the Duke 200 share alot of engine parts. Thus, we expect the Duke 350 to arrive before the Pulsar 350 in 2013. Bajaj will use its own technology on the lower half block of the KTM motor to differentiate the Duke and Pulsar. Expect a price below Rs. 1.75 lakhs, with the Pulsar 350 using a twin-cylinder motor, producing close to 33 BHP of power and 25 Nm of torque. The Pulsar 350 might spawn new variants of the Pulsar series, giving Bajaj Auto the gateway to become a bigger motorcycle manufacturer.

  • Bajaj Pulsar 350 General Features

  • Engine Displacement(cc)
    349.5 cc
  • Average
    35 kmpl
  • Starting Type
    Self Start
  • Wheel Type
    5 Spoke Alloy
  • Bajaj Pulsar 350 Standard Features

  • Maximum Power
    40 Bhp
  • Engine Type
    Triple Spark, SOHC, 4-valve

Overview of Bajaj Pulsar 350

Bajaj Pulsar 350 Designing

The first look at the first of Pulsars had shocked many. None of us expected the design that Bajaj had come up with in the first batch of Pulsar, the Pulsar 150. Aiming the performance segment, Pulsar 150 was loaded with what was then called “sporty” looks. And it were not just the looks that were winning hearts, the comfort factor that Pulsars came gifted with lured riders to it immediately. The stylish bikini or the wolf-eyed headlamps, increased wheelbase, shapely fuel tanks, split seats, clip on handlebars, all black body, altogether made a feast for eyes. The colors awe the on-lookers, people go on calling Pulsars with all different names like, Emperor, Road Smasher, Small Wonder. What more, this appearance came for pretty much affordable prices. Alloy wheels are a cherry on the cake.

Colors of Bajaj Pulsar 350 Engine & Performance

If it is a Pulsar, it has to be powerful. Oodles of it. The term “Pulsar” comes from the combination of “pulse” and “star,” which literally comes quite true when we think of performance given by Pulsar, pulsating and shooting star! Bajaj Pulsar 350s come with a technology that Bajaj takes pride in calling its own. The sophisticated technologies that Bajaj builts for its engines mark a new step. For example, there is DTS-i, which gives a complete combustion thus the maximum power without hampering the mileage output, thus increasing the mileage of the bike, also the emitted smoke is not as high polluting as it was earlier. Pulsar 135LS, Pulsar 150, 180, 200, 220, 220S, 200NS, all are DTS-i engines. There is this intelligent system, throttle responsive ignition control system, patented by Bajaj, which gives a bike a balance between torque and power. This yet again helps in improving fuel efficiency. Another Bajaj patented technology, ExhausTEC (TEC standing for Torque Expansion Chamber), helps in smart torque digits, also saves you from regular gear shifting since with ExhausTEC, the bikes easily carry on at higher gears and low speeds. The latest from Bajaj's stable, Pulsar 200 NS, comes with tri-spark technology.
Mileage for every variant differs as per other specs, but Bajaj  takes care to give the best of all to its Pulsar range of bikes. Pulsar 220 is supposed to give 38 kmpl while riding in city traffic, while giving 47 kmpl on a highway. A 200 NS would return you a mileage of 35-43 kmpl. Pulsar 150 can give you a mileage of 56.5 kmpl on the busy roads and 65 kmpl on highways. Thus, averaging around 55 kmpl. Overall, one confidently can once claim that Bajaj brings a satisfaction to its consumers as far as mileage is considered. Also can one rest assured on the acceleration and pickup front. Variants of 135 cc, 180 cc, 200 cc and 220 cc have much more powerful engines than others, resulting in better engine performance and acceleration.   Depending on engines, Bajaj Pulsar 350s offer pretty high acceleration too, like a 135 cc Pulsar would be flying  at a speed of 60 kmph in around 5.8 seconds maintaining a speed of 106.8 kmph; Pulsar 150 would take you to to 60 kmph in a mere 5.6 seconds, and would run highest at 11 kmph; Pulsar 180 cc would cross 60 kmph in 5.08 seconds and maintain its top speed at 115 kmph; Pulsar 220, DTS-i engined, is strong enough to carry you across at a speed of 60 kmph in a mere 3.7 seconds and the maximum speed being 118.7 kmph.

Bajaj Pulsar 350 Braking & Handling

Superb is one word to describe braking and handling in Bajaj Pulsar 350 bikes. Most of the Pulsars come with ventilated disc brakes at both the front and the rear, which comes as a great help during an emergency braking requirement. Bajaj Pulsar 350 bikes are the most loved because of the comfort and safety offered. The upgraded technologies that Bajaj comes up with for all the Pulsar bikes, thus providing the easiest and most comfortable handling, and a feel of relaxation when it comes to control over the bike. When a Pulsar is running on the rough Indian roads, the advanced suspension system helps, which simply reduces the jumps and minimizes jerks that would otherwise be felt on the lower arms, thus improving the handling and giving a better sense of control on any kind of road. Another safety feature are the large disc brakes, offered both at the front and rear. This feature of large disc brakes helps you stop your ride right when you need, sudden or well planned. Alloy wheel, pretty light in weight, makes the rider feel grounded with a measurement of 90/90 X 17 at the front and 100/90 X 17 at the rear end. Pretty out of the context under the head of braking and handling, I would like to mention the placing of switches. The placement of switches are such that the rider would not feel their eyes distracted from the road while accessing these switches.

Bajaj Pulsar 350 Pros

With the popularity of Bajaj Pulsar 350 bikes, there is huge list of pros that could be mentioned. However, we mention the selected few here:
1. First proper sports bike on Indian roads.
2. Pricing is conveniently affordable.
3. Bajaj Pulsar 350 brings all that a sports bike should have, looks, power, etc., other than price, which is comparatively low.
4. Acceleration, pick up, mileage at its best.
5. Latest technologies; for example, DTS-i, ExhausTEC, tri-spark, etc.
6. Smooth handling and braking.

Bajaj Pulsar 350 Cons

Though not many, but still, there are a few places where Bajaj Pulsar 350 can be improved. Below is a list of found cons:
1. Gear box is not as smooth as expected.
2. Chain set of the Pulsar bikes have always been a bit problematic.
3. Also noted is some kind of a vibration if gears are changed frequently.

Bajaj Pulsar 350 Updates

The last most happening thing seen from Bajaj was the launch of Pulsar 200 NS. The launch happened early this year, to be precise, 2nd June 2012. This one was a highly awaited bike among the bike enthusiasts … expected was a high price tag, a specification-loaded sports bike. Bajaj fell true to half the expectation. No, it was not the price tag expectation that Bajaj followed, instead it was the specification-loaded thing. The bike came with a bang, at surprisingly low prices! Expected price was somewhere around Rs. 1 lakh, also as the company had announced during the Auto Expo held in January 2012. However, when launched, it was brought to public at as low as Rs. 84,096 (an ex-showroom price).

  • Fuel Efficiency Bajaj Pulsar 350

  • Fuel Efficiency
    35 kmpl
  • Fuel Type
  • Safety

  • Suspension
    Front :- Telescopic Forks, Rear :-Nitrox Mono Shock Absorber
  • Drive Train

  • Gear Box
    6 Speed

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Windows 8 Store is broken: Here’s how to fix it

W8 - Broken
When Microsoft built Windows 8, it bet that it could create a Windows Store experience that would rival competitors like Apple and Google. The company was confident enough of its abilities in this sphere that it decided to lock Windows RT devices to purchases made within the Windows Store, and made WS-exclusive distribution a requirement for any Metro x86 products as well. We’ve been keeping an eye on the Windows Store since the OS launched — with the Christmas holidays upon us, and the two-month anniversary approaching, we’re circling back to investigate the status of the Store.
The blunt truth is that two months after launch, the Windows Store is still in rough shape. Some of this is due to a relatively small app selection, but that’s an inevitable problem for any company that launches a service like this. While it’s true that Microsoft can’t wave its hand and create apps from companies like Twitter and Facebook, there are steps the company could take to improve the Windows Store and help customers navigate the often-confusing application situation.

Better app curation

One of the real oddities of the Windows Store is how products for vastly different countries are slung together. I’m all for providing access to useful software across national boundaries, but this plays out very oddly given Microsoft’s minimal display options. Take a look at the Top free Government applications on November 19:
Government apps - November
And December 16:
Government applications - December
Of the 24 applications shown above, seven of them are Indian and five cover the UK, UAE, Malaysia, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. The “Mighty Presidents” app covers the leaders of just four countries (The US, Russia, France, and India), refers to Russia as the USSR, and is a word-for-word reprint of the Wikipedia entries for each president. The “TaxSoftware.com 2011″ app’s description is written in Engrish and contains a single review stating that it doesn’t work.
These sorts of oddities crop up in a number of categories. Sometimes user reviews and app ratings correspond with each other. Often, they don’t. Metro’s small text box display style turns each broad category into a hunt, and search results can’t be counted on to actually display what the user is looking for.

The search problem

One of the Windows Store’s greatest challenges is that it has to serve as the gateway for almost the entirety of the Windows RT experience. With so many apps to choose from, an effective search client is a must. Right now, it’s difficult to tell if the Windows Store is low on certain types of software, or doesn’t understand queries very well. Here’s the result of a search for “Dating.”
Dating screenshot
Here’s the results for “Personals”:
Personals search
There are other problems like this, again, in virtually every category. This is an area where the Store would seriously benefit from a little intelligent search engine integration. Microsoft can’t make other companies produce apps for their software, but the Windows Store could offer to search online with Bing or the default search engine. While this might seem to obviate the point of an app store, it’s a short-term solution that would reduce user confusion. Based on these results, I can’t tell if Windows Search simply doesn’t understand what I’m looking for, or if it there are no apps available. There’s an Adult Friend Finder app (I’m not recommending the service, but it exists) available via the Social category that doesn’t show up here, under either search term.
The reason I suggest a more curated search is that the average end user doesn’t much care about the ins and outs of tablet app strategy. If iPhone and Android devices have pertinent search results and Windows 8 doesn’t, that makes Windows 8 look bad.

Tighten brand restrictions

Some of the problems with the Windows Store are a matter of properly identifying software. Quick — which one of these apps is the official Facebook client?
Facebook applications
Answer: None of them. But that hasn’t stopped them from adopting the lower-case “f” or the exact shade of blue that the Facebook website actually uses. Microsoft appears to be paying a modicum of attention — on December 15, there was one “Facebook” app by Pearl Apps LLC, with the following description:
Facebook app description
Now, the same company is offering two apps — Facebook Lite (free) and Facebook Pro ($2.49). The app description has been changed to read that “This is an unofficial app, we are not affiliated with Facebook in any fashion.” Well and good, but the same company is offering Facebook Lite and Facebook Pro, with zero information on what sets the two apart or makes the latter worth paying for. I was going to log in and evaluate the FB Lite client, until I got to the following:
FB Login
I don’t live in a universe where this is ok. (I also don’t run Facebook apps).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I very much appreciate that The Social Network goes into so much detail about how, by agreeing to use their application, I’m handing them all the personal data they could want about my friends and family, including their work histories and religious/political views. I appreciate knowing that, because there’s no way I’m going to ever opt into using it.
Microsoft fought a war with advertisers over Do Not Track settings for IE10. If it wants its “Permissions” to mean anything at all within Windows, it needs to ensure that third-party data scrapers aren’t exploiting its application framework to suck down huge amounts of information from other services. The brand, logo, and vast data sharing are the sort of problems that could cause real headaches for Facebook, Twitter, or other services with a mix of official and unofficial applications.

W8 - Broken

Price parity, performance tweaks, product checks

Different app pricing between platforms isn’t new, but the gap between W8 and other devices is particularly acute.
It’s true that in some cases, the games in question have been tweaked for Windows 8. Most haven’t been. Worse, some games that run well on x86 devices stagger on Surface. The reviews for Violet Shooter, for example, point to an abysmal Surface experience. Jetpack Joyride — easily one of the best launch titles available for the platform — is a great game on my iPhone 4S or on the Samsung Ativ. On Surface, it stutters.
Game pricing
The most obvious answer is that Tegra 3′s GPU simply has a bit more trouble pushing high frame rates at the 1366×768 resolution Surface uses. Still, this isn’t a fundamental roadblock. Android and iOS games often offer simple graphics options, even if the breakdown is between “Nice” and “Fast.” There’s no reason Microsoft couldn’t perform the same sort of optimization, or request that its developers do the same.
Violet Storm
Issues like this really shouldn’t be happening. Tegra 3 may not be the most powerful GPU for tablets, but it’s more than capable of pushing acceptable frame rates with a bit of help. Maybe the problem here is drivers; maybe it’s that the app simply needs a bit of hand-tuning — but if Microsoft wants to push the idea that Windows Store devices can deliver equivalent experiences, it needs to take steps to ensure that’s actually happening (or only present a subset of appropriate software for relevant devices).
Then there’s applications like Pin Steam:
Pin Steam
This app is available for sale on Windows RT. It’s exactly the sort of product that confuses the difference between Windows RT and Windows 8 in ways Microsoft really doesn’t need. Apps that hook to applications that can’t run under Windows RT will only confuse customers about what their platform choices actually are. The fact that someone is charging for it adds insult to injury. Yes, it takes a bit more work to ferret out scenarios like this, but just because an app will run on either x86 or RT doesn’t mean that the software that application depends on will run.

More apps aren’t the solution

None of these problems will be solved by additional applications and some of them could become far worse. What’s needed here is a better way of handling the apps that already exist and directing people to applications/websites they’d find useful. Right now, the Windows Store is rather frustrating, not just because of limited content, but because finding what you’re looking for is rather difficult. Right now, the only way to search the Windows Store is via Google.
Microsoft’s past antitrust issues may have made it wary of integrating with Bing, but a lack of web search from a company that owns a search engine is downright odd.
I like Surface’s design. I like it a lot. As far as tablet form factors are concerned, it’s my hands down favorite. But for now, x86 compatibility isn’t just a check box: It’s a doorway back to a land of sanity. Microsoft can fix this, but the improvements need to start rolling sooner, rather than later.

Windows RT explained: Microsoft finally gets tablet computing right

Samsung ATIV Tab tablet running WIndows RT

Windows RT is a version of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system that has been tailored specifically for tablets and notebooks powered by ARM processors. The new OS represents a massive shift for the Redmond-based company, as it is both the first version to support ARM SoCs and the first iteration to enable interaction on a tablet as enjoyable as a mouse and keyboard are on the desktop version of the OS.
Until recently, Microsoft has seen tablets as a niche hardware, and has focused most of its development efforts on running Windows on traditional desktop and laptop computers. Tablets are no longer solely used in vertical markets and by graphic designers, however. Thanks to relatively low-priced ARM hardware running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system, tablets are used by millions of consumers as a secondary media consumption device — or in some cases in place of a traditional computer all together.
Thankfully, Microsoft has recognized the importance of supporting the growing tablet market and has put together a purpose-built OS that not only blows away Microsoft’s previous tablet “support” strategy of bolting on touchscreen and digitizer support to the traditional Windows desktop UI, but rivals the user interfaces of iOS and Android.
While the familiar Windows desktop is still present, it is merely one of many applications available on a brand new operating system featuring a touch-friendly user interface. The Modern UI (formerly Metro) Start screen is essentially the new desktop of Windows RT, and it has drawn inspiration from Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile OS to bring live tiles, gestures, multitouch, cloud syncing, and an app store to Windows users.
Asus Vivo Tab

The software

Windows has traditionally been a versatile operating system that is extremely customizable, but one trait that makes tablets like the iPad and Nexus 7 attractive devices is an intuitive interface that makes the computer easier to use. Surely, that is not of much concern to power users (who are likely the majority of the ET audience), but for most people it is of supreme importance.
Windows RT goes against Windows tradition by limiting customization to smaller aesthetic tweaks (think customized lock screen photo, Start screen background), and presents a screen of live tiles much like Windows Phone. From there, you can launch, switch, and close applications with touch gestures. You can re-size the live tiles and reorder them, but that is the extent of customization allowed on what is essentially the new Windows RT desktop.
Microsoft has further embraced multitouch and gestures to navigate around the operating system. Swipe gestures in particular are used throughout the OS, and if you have used a smartphone or tablet before, after a couple of minutes playing around with Windows RT you will be right at home.
App switching in Windows 8
Easily switch apps by swiping in from the left of the screen.
The user interface of Windows RT is designed to work well on high-pixel-density displays. The full-screen nature of the Start Screen and all of the applications also ensures that precious screen real estate on mobile devices is not wasted by taskbars, window borders, file menus, and other features of previous Windows versions. Instead Microsoft has tucked away menus behind an overlay that can be brought up by swiping up from the bottom of the touchscreen.
While it will vary from tablet to tablet, Windows RT feels surprisingly snappy, despite the wimpy ARM SoC powering it, and the interface in general is really quite joyous to use. Buttons are larger, and there are extremely few areas in the Metro UI where you run the risk of your finger(s) not being accurate enough to select the thing you want. The Office 2013 applications running on the desktop will have a touch mode where the buttons will be spread further apart to make it easier to select items in the ribbon as well.
Users can run up to two applications at a time side-by-side, but for the most part Windows RT encourages you to focus on one app at a time. Applications in the background are put to sleep to conserve battery life. The limited multitasking is also well-suited to ARM hardware where you do not have the same level of computing power and memory as an x86 desktop or laptop.

Samsung ATIV Tab tablet running WIndows RT


Applications are the other pillar of a good tablet operating system. Finding and installing applications is one area where Windows has traditionally been complicated for end users. With Windows RT, Microsoft has decided to provide an application store as the sole source for third party applications. Finding and installing applications is as simple as clicking on the Windows Store, selecting the app, and hitting the install button. No guided installation windows, no UAC prompts, no nonsense.
Granted, the presence of the app store comes with the concession that Windows RT is more locked down that any previous version of Windows. It is no more egregious than the way Apple or Google do things, however. A curated experience is not necessarily a bad thing, and the simplicity factor will make apps more accessible to non power users. (Remember, there is always Windows 8 if you want the full freedom to install anything you want — Windows RT is specifically targeting the tablet market that wants an app device like the iPad).
Modern UI Mail App running on WIndows 8
Bundled software has also been beefed up compared to past versions of Windows, and Microsoft provides the staples out of the box including applications for mail, maps, contacts, calendar, weather, news, and web browsing. There is also SkyDrive integration to sync your photos, videos, music, and documents across devices. Photos, music, and games are also provided for with bundled applications. Additionally, Microsoft is providing a free version of Office 2013 with Windows RT that will provide you with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint running on the desktop app. The Office applications will work just like the Windows 8 versions, with the exception that advanced features like Excel macros are not supported. As far as productivity applications on a tablet go, Office 2013 appears to handily best the offerings on iOS and Android.
And, of course, the Windows Store will grant you access to applications that (generally) can also run on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. By pooling the devices together (thanks to the WinRT, or Windows Runtime, APIs), Microsoft is hoping to encourage developers to take up Windows 8 app development by putting out apps that will run on your home machine, work computer, tablet, and smartphone.


Microsoft has further beefed up security by reducing attack vectors related to memory leaks, hardened the kernel, and locked down certain APIs to Microsoft-only applications. Further, Windows Defender is included out of the box, and it has grown to include anti-virus protection capabilities based on Microsoft Security Essentials. Application updates are managed by the Windows Store, and the control panel has been simplified to make managing your tablet as easy as possible. And in the unlikely event something should go wrong, Microsoft has included a Refresh tool that can restore your tablet to a pristine state.

Samsung ATIV Tab tablet running WIndows RT

The Windows 8 vs. Windows RT confusion

Compared to past tablet hardware support, Windows RT is leaps and bounds ahead of previous versions of Windows as far as interacting with your PC using your hands or a digitizer thanks to the touch-first UI. It is a welcome upgrade, but the new operating system is not without its own growing pains and quirks.
Windows RT is being marketed along with Windows 8 devices, but despite the obvious visual similarities the underlying software is quite different  Mainly, while both versions have the Metro Start screen with Windows Store apps and the traditional Windows Desktop, Windows RT is extremely limited in what you can do with the Desktop. You will not be able to install third-party Desktop applications, for instance. Windows RT will have access to Explorer, Office 2013 (Word, PowerPoint, Excel), Notepad, Calculator, and Paint (among a few other traditional Windows programs) but beyond that the Desktop is merely there to hold shortcuts to Office.
The rather barren Windows RT desktop

This is likely to cause some confusion with consumers as they see Windows RT and Windows 8 computers side-by-side in the store, choose the cheaper RT models, and then are miffed at why they cannot install third-party Desktop applications (beyond the obvious ARM vs. x86 issue, MS has locked down the Desktop to not allow any third-party app installs whatsoever). This is more of a marketing issue than an OS issue, but any backlash is likely to be placed on Windows RT itself nonetheless.
In line with the above, Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, and Windows 8 will be able to tap into the same Windows Store app marketplace (for the most part), but it is tiny compared to the number of apps available on iOS and Android. In many respects, consumer tablets are app machines, so Microsoft will really have to push forward and encourage developers to support them if they want Windows RT to succeed.

The hardware

As the launch date of Windows 8 approaches, several device OEMs have shown off their Windows RT tablet offerings. The general consensus on form factor is a tablet with dockable keyboard. The keyboard docks that have been announced generally feature a full physical keyboard, trackpad, additional battery, and extra ports. PC vendors seem to prefer this Asus Transformer-like computer design, and there has yet to be any announcement on a more traditional laptop form factor running Windows RT.
Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11 Running Windows RT
So far, Asus, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, NEC, and Microsoft have announced Windows RT tablets. For around $600, you will get a 11-inch Tegra 3 tablet, with keyboard dock, up to 64GB of solid state storage, 2GB of low voltage DDR3, and a multitouch display with resolution of at least 1366×768 (coincidentally, that’s the minimum required to do side-by-side Metro apps). All the announced tablets stick to that formula, and generally do not stray. The Lenovo sticks out a bit in that the keyboard is not removable and the display actually rotates around to lay against the bottom of the keyboard to become a tablet. Otherwise, they are dockable tablets with similar hardware and price points.
Samsung ATIV Tab tablet running WIndows RT

Does Windows RT stand a chance?

In many respects, it is a similar situation for Windows RT hardware as it is for Windows Phone 7 and 8 smartphones, where Microsoft outlines specifications that OEMs tend to follow as closely as possible. While these baseline requirements have resulted in launch devices that are rather similar, it does ensure a certain level of UI responsiveness and performance, which will be important if Microsoft is to successfully woo users of competing platforms. This is something Windows Phone does well (using hardware efficiently), and it will be interesting to see if Windows RT can continue that trend.
Similarly to Windows Phone, Microsoft came in late to the party and its moves thus far have been more reactionary than revolutionary. It currently faces stiff competition from Apple’s iPad, Google’s army of Android tablets and Chromebooks, and the customized Android-powered e-book readers from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. That is quite the uphill battle, but Microsoft does have the allure of one-platform-to-rule-them-all, with integration with the Xbox in the living room, the smartphone in your pocket, and the desktop and laptop computers you use everyday. Windows RT fills in the final gap in Microsoft’s ecosystem that is growing tablet market.

How to reinstall Windows 8 without losing your files and programs

Refresh your PC to a clean and speedy state with recimg

With Windows 8, Microsoft has taken the need for improved backup and restore functionality to heart. A new utility aptly named “Refresh” is included with the upcoming operating system that is set to make those annual Aliens-style “nuke it from orbit”  re-installations of Windows and applications as easy as possible.
Out of the box, Refresh will allow you to easily reset the operating system to its original state without deleting your Metro applications, personal files, user accounts, or the settings configured during initial setup. Also saved are network connections, BitLocker (and BitLocker To Go) encryption settings, and drive letter assignments. On the other hand, desktop applications will be removed, and firewall settings, file type associations, and display settings will be reset to defaults. According to Microsoft’s Building Windows 8 blog, the refresh function does not keep the above mentioned data by default because it is the software most likely to cause performance or stability issues.
At a basic level, Refresh is a differential image backup that keeps track of the data added to a base Windows installation. When run, the tool acts as an overhauled System Restore by re-installing Windows and then restoring the backed up data automatically to bring your PC back to its “default” state.

How to save your desktop applications with Recimg

Refresh can be further tweaked with a command line tool called Recimg. Using this utility, it is possible to create your own baseline image that Refresh will use to restore your computer.
This would allow you to install Windows, run through the initial setup, create user accounts, install all of your favorite applications (both desktop and Modern/Metro), and configure/personalize the OS. Once you have your computer set up the way you like it, you can create a custom image that will preserve this state should you need to restore the PC. This functionality has been possible with third party tools for some time, but it is now built into Windows — and is much faster than doing a restoration of a full disk image using Acronis (or the like). The downside is that you need a Windows install in place before you can restore your image, so it becomes less handy if your hard drive dies and you need to restore to a new drive. You would need to install windows and then allow Refresh to re-install Windows plus your saved changes. Because of this, the Refresh image should not replace your normal backup strategy.
Despite the limitations of the differential backup –including incompatibilities with some desktop apps (an issue Microsoft is working on addressing) — using Windows 8’s Refresh will have you up and running again in less than half an hour. Further, while it does involve using the command line to set it up, it only takes a few simple mouse clicks around the GUI to actually perform a restore, making it a boon for family tech support.

Creating your custom baseline image

After installing your favorite applications and getting the operating system set up the way you like it, you need to create a new image that will become the new baseline for Windows 8’s Refresh tool. Unfortunately, there is no GUI method to do this out of the box (there are third party Metro apps that can do it, however). Open a new Administrator command prompt by searching for “cmd” on the Start screen, right clicking the command prompt icon, and choose “Run as administrator.”
Command Prompt icon on Windows 8 Start Screen
Now you will need to run a simple command to create the new image. Type the following command — recimg /createimage E:\BACKUPS\ — and hit the Enter key.
The location “E:\BACKUPS\” in the above example command can be replaced with any directory of your choice. You can choose a directory on any connected drive and the Recimg utility will create the folder(s) for you as needed.
recimg recovery image creation in Windows 8
After hitting Enter, the Recimg utility will write a new image file, and then register the new file with the Refresh program so that it will use the custom image rather than the Microsoft-provided default when run. Depending on the amount of data the tool will need to write for the differential backup, it could take a while to complete. Once finished, Recimg will display an operation successful message. As of the RTM release, the tool states the following when an image is successfully created: Recovery image creation and registration completed successfully.
If you browse to the directory you used in the above command, you will find a new file named “CustomRefresh.wim.” The exact size will vary, but you can expect it to be at least several gigabytes in size. While Windows’ built-in zip/archive manager cannot open the “.wim” image file, 7-zip is able to open the archive (it cannot add items to it, however). Currently, the image file contains the following folders and files:
  • Documents and Settings
  • MSOCache
  • Program Files
  • Program Files (x86)
  • ProgramData
  • Users
  • Windows
  • bootmgr (file)
  • BootNXT (file)
  • hiberfil.sys
  • InstallRPLog.txt
  • pagefile.sys
  • swapfile.sys
The inclusion of hiberfil, pagefile, and swapfile “.sys” files is curious, however it is otherwise a straightforward backup.
CustomRefresh(dot)wim file open in explorer and 7zip
The CustomRefresh.wim file created with recimg utility shown in Explorer and open in 7-zip (inset)
That is all there is to the recovery-image creation process. It may be a good idea to include that CustomRefresh.wim file into your overall backup strategy. Should the original file be lost or damaged, you can place the backup in the same location and have it work. To verify, you can open a new command prompt window with administrative privileges and userecimg /showcurrent to display the currently configured image directory. To change this, you can use recimg /setcurrent E:\BACKUP\ to register the new location of the CustomRefresh.wim file.
The restoration process is done using the new Refresh tool located in the “PC Settings” Metro application, or the Windows 8 recovery environment (if the PC is unable to boot into Windows properly). Either way, it is a straightforward process that can be completed without the use of the command line. Continue reading for details on the Refresh recovery and restoration process — and the current caveats.

Windows 8 to include built-in Reset, Refresh, and hard drive imaging

Windows 8 Reset

Rejoice, all ye faithful! Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, will provide push-button Reset and Refresh in Windows 8. Reset will restore a Windows 8 PC to its stock, fresh-from-the-factory state; Refresh will reinstall Windows 8, but keep your documents and installed Metro apps in tact.
That’s right: When your aged mother phones up to complain about her slow, broken, and malware-infested computer, instead of schlepping over there with a Windows install disk, you can just tell her to click “Refresh.” Refreshing keeps network settings, BitLocker settings, drive letter assignments, and personalizations (lock screen image, desktop wallpaper, etc.) Only Metro apps are preserved, however; Desktop apps, due to their third-party installers and other caveats are not easy to save — plus, due to the restrictive permissions placed on Metro apps, it’s probably a Desktop app that is causing a computer to misbehave in the first place. File associations, Windows Firewall settings, and Display settings are not preserved during a Refresh.
Reset is obviously very useful if you want to sell an old computer — or if you just want to perform the standard Six Month Windows Dekluge. Both Reset and Reffresh are surprisingly quick, too: Reset takes six minutes, and Refresh takes eight minutes (compared to a baseline of 25 minutes using a system image backup tool). When Resetting, you have the option of performing a “thorough” wipe of your documents and settings, which takes a little longer to perform — 24 minutes, according to Microsoft (in reality it will take longer) — but it will prevent the next owner of your computer from discovering the details of your sordid affairs. These very quick speeds are achieved by using the same data migration tech as the Windows 8 upgrade engine, incidentally. Reset and Refresh can be performed either from inside Windows (pictured above), or at boot using the new Windows Recovery Environment (below).
Windows 8 Refresh (from Recovery Environment)
In true Microsoft, One OS To Rule Them All style, though, the Redmondites have also added a hard disk imaging/ghosting tool to Windows 8, ala Norton Ghost or Acronis True image. By using a tool called recimg.exe, you can define what image will be used by Refresh. In other words, you can install all of your normal Desktop apps and games — Photoshop, Steam, and so on — configure all of your tweaks and personalizations, run recimg.exe… and then when you Refresh, your computer will be cleaned up and also ready to go immediately. Neat.
At this juncture we have to point out that both Reset and Refresh are very tablety features, though given Windows’ innate malware magnetism, the same features will be very welcome on the desktop as well. Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 all support a Reset function — and through iCloud, Google’s cloud services, and Windows Live, resetting a phone is almost painless. Windows 8, if it wants to succeed on tablets, must have the same functionality as iOS and Android and then some.

Improving the setup experience by Windows 8

Installing Windows is a complex operation that provides an incredibly unique capability—the ability to run a new version of Windows on a vast array of hardware configurations and combinations that were designed with no knowledge of a future Windows, even a version with substantial re-architecture of the Kernel. While most people do not experience the full code path of setup/upgrade (because they buy new PCs and choose to get a new version of Windows that way), even orchestrating the new PC “out of box experience” (OOBE) is a complex technical challenge. Our aim in improving setup is to reduce the time from start to finish so that customers can get to Windows and use the full power of Windows to further customize and ultimately enjoy their new Windows experience. This post was written by Christa St. Pierre on our Setup and Deployment team.
(Note, we’re taking a break for the US Holiday)
Setup is something that gets a lot of attention from us in any Windows release. It needs to just work reliably across a huge number of variations of hardware and software. This is true whether you are upgrading your own laptop, or you’re an IT pro who is migrating 10,000 desktops in an enterprise using broad deployment tools. For Windows 7 our main focus was on improving successful install rates, and we did a lot of work to improve reliability and deal with many tough (but relatively rare) cases that had caused problems in setting up earlier versions of Windows. This work gave Windows 7 a more reliable setup experience than in any previous Windows release, as measured by lab testing, customer support incidents, and setup telemetry.
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.

A big challenge

Although millions of people choose to upgrade their existing PCs, most people choose to get a new version of Windows preinstalled on a new PC. In the past that often had to do with increasing system requirements in new Windows releases, and the need to purchase new PCs with more power to run the new version. With Windows 7 however, we made a commitment to work on many more existing PCs by keeping system requirements low and maintaining compatibility. We’ve continued that commitment with Windows 8, so many of you with existing PCs can simply upgrade. Looking just at Windows 7 customers, there are currently more than 450 million PCs that will be able to run Windows 8, but we expect that many systems running Windows Vista and even Windows XP will also be eligible.
Support for these PCs running different Windows versions is a big challenge in terms of testing all possible upgrade paths, languages, service packs, architectures, and editions. When you think about it, it is a rather remarkable achievement that hardware designed for one OS can be supported on an OS that did not exist when the hardware was created, especially considering that connecting hardware to software is a fundamental role played by the OS.
There are always complexities involving hardware support. Sometimes PCs are equipped with peripherals that require updated drivers for Windows 8, and in other cases, for any number of reasons, a PC maker decides that a particular model or configuration is not supported on a new version of Windows. There are also complexities in getting software to work seamlessly upon upgrade, particularly utilities that hook into the lowest levels of Windows such as anti-virus, disk format and defrag, or virtualization. While we have a massive test and ecosystem effort, ultimately the final say on support on a new version of Windows for a PC, peripheral, or software package is determined by the maker of that product. Our commitment to keeping things running and bringing forward software is industry leading and continues with Windows 8. At one recent team meeting, a member of our team showed Windows 8 running Excel version 3.0, which is the 16-bit version of Excel from 1990!

Perceived as “difficult”

During planning for Windows 8, we wanted to hear from customers who chose not to upgrade to Windows 7 even though their PCs would run it. In 2010 we commissioned a study of how people make PC purchase decisions, and talked to customers in three global markets to find out more. While the list of reasons as to why a customer chose not to upgrade varied by market, we have received notable feedback that upgrading the PC was perceived as difficult. So even though many customers wanted to upgrade, the current setup experience might be something that just wasn’t easy enough to make them feel confident in doing so.

Different customer needs

Hearing that some customers think it is too difficult really highlights the fact that we have many different customer needs we need to fulfill with setup. Most customers who buy a Windows upgrade from a retailer just want it to be fast and easy, but a few also want to be able to do some more complex things, such as setting up in a multi-boot configuration. And of course, we also have the IT Pro customers, who need to take full control over configurations, install from network as well as media, and add customizations to the setup image. The advanced user’s needs are a lot like those of the IT Pro, both because they require more fine-tuned control and because it’s hard for us to predict exactly which controls they may want to manipulate. For this reason, we have not created a “super advanced setup” mode, but we encourage people who want to create unattended setup configurations for home or work to use our standalone deployment tools. In Windows 7, we provided a Windows Automated Installation Kit, and in Windows 8 we have enhanced that with additional tools in the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit, which is available for download to MSDN subscribers.
For this post, I’ll talk mostly about the interactive GUI setup experiences, since that’s where we have the most changes. We sought to maintain very high backwards compatibility with existing unattended installation configurations that IT Pros or advanced users have spent time on for Windows 7, so you can expect those to work consistently for Windows 8 as well, without having to start over. So rest assured that your custom deployments continue to be fully supported as before.

Streamlining the end-to-end experience

Leaving aside automated installations and just looking at the typical GUI scenarios, we still wanted to serve two distinct customer groups in the setup user experience:
  • People who want an easy way to upgrade to the new release with an absolute bare minimum of hassle
  • People who want to do a clean install, and want more control of setup options, disk layout, and partition configuration
The way we approached these needs was based on the realization that the first group typically runs setup in the UI of their current Windows OS (i.e. they launch it like an app), while the second group typically runs setup from boot media. So, rather than trying to rationalize two fairly different experiences and customer requirements, we chose to maintain two setup user experiences: a streamlined setup that you reach by running an .exe from the DVD or via web delivery, and an advanced setup that runs when you boot off of a DVD or USB key. The streamlined setup is a new experience, optimized for ease-of-use, upgrades, and web delivery via download. Advanced setup is the home of all things familiar to the advanced user, including full support for unattended installation, partition selection, and formatting. Under the covers they share all of the same setup engine components. So both experiences benefitted from our ability to focus on a common codebase for performance and reliability enhancements.

Shifting towards web delivery methods

Before going into the detail on the user experience changes, there’s one big change that is important to call out. In the past, if you wanted to buy an upgrade for Windows, it involved purchasing a boxed product from a retail outlet, taking it home, (sometimes being infuriated while trying to open the box,) and inserting a DVD. However, buying boxed software is quickly becoming the exception rather than the rule, with more and more software being purchased online as broadband penetration increases and large-size media downloads become more common. While we will continue to offer boxed DVDs, we are also making it easier than ever to purchase and install online. This includes starting the setup experience online as well, and having one continuous integrated experience from beginning to end. There is also one big advantage that is a favorite of mine. With our web setup experience, we actually “pre-key” the setup image that is downloaded to a unique user, which means that you don’t have to type in the 25-digit product key when you install!

Streamlining - Reducing repetition and integrating experiences

More than 20 million customers downloaded and ran the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor during the first six months of availability. Many customers also ran Windows Easy Transfer during this same time period. A reasonable (and often recommended) installation experience for Windows 7 followed a flow like this:
  1. Download and install Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
  2. Run Windows Upgrade Advisor
  3. Run Windows Easy Transfer to save files and settings
  4. Run Windows 7 setup and clean install
  5. Run Windows Easy Transfer to restore files and settings
This end-to-end experience included 4 different web and client experiences and required the average customer to walk through 60screens to complete. The primary reason for the high screen count was the repetition of information. We can visualize it something like this:
 Image shows 5 stacked sets of screens, with a total of 60 screens all together
A common Windows 7 installation experience: Upgrade Advisor, Windows Easy Transfer, and Setup
In Windows 8, rather than having Upgrade Advisor, Setup, and Windows Easy Transfer as separate apps or features, we’ve folded them together into one fast and fluid experience in which we first determine if your PC, apps, and devices will work in the new OS, note which things you want to keep (apps, files and/or settings), and then install the new OS.
We’ve also added the capability for setup to resume automatically after certain actions (such as resolving a blocking compatibility problem), which in the past would have required restarting setup again from the beginning.
Here’s what to expect when you launch the new setup experience from the web :
Determining compatibility The first thing we do is scan the PC to determine compatibility, resulting in a summary report such as this one:
Here's what we found - You can get more info about each app and device in the compatibility report. 19 of your programs and devices will work. 4 items need your attention. See the compatibility report. Button: Next
Windows 8 setup compatibility summary
It provides information on the apps and devices that will work in Windows 8, those that won’t work, and any other system information that is useful to know when determining whether or not to purchase and install Windows 8. A detailed compatibility report is also available if you want to print or save the information, or desire more detail about what to expect once you get to Windows 8, including which apps or devices will require updates.
The compatibility data behind the report covers hundreds of thousands of applications and devices, including retail software, OEM preinstalled software, and peripherals. If an application or device ran on Windows 7, our goals is that it should run on Windows 8 too, but in some cases it may require an update or other support from the OEM or vendor. Some applications also have custom installation logic – installing certain components or settings depending on the OS you’re upgrading from (this is particularly true of system utilities and software that is tightly connected to hardware and peripherals). You may need to uninstall and reinstall these types of apps. (This is also a reason to be careful of 3rd party “app mover” applications, which claim to move apps from one OS to another, as the end result can be unpredictable or broken.) As a reminder, the best drivers for any system are the ones available directly from the PC manufacturer for embedded hardware and from the device manufacturer for peripherals.
These need your attention / VirtualCloneDrive / Link: How to make it work. /  These will work automatically: Adobe Reader, Microsoft Lync, + 4 more programs in a scrollable list.  Buttons: Print / Save / Close
Detailed compatibility report
Downloading Windows 8 Next, an integrated download manager provides time estimates, data validation, the ability to pause, resume, and re-download only parts of the file if something goes wrong. Additionally, because we have already scanned the PC to determine compatibility we know which version of Windows 8 to download – eliminating the need to ask questions such as which language or OS architecture to choose.
Downloading Windows Developer Preview / Feel free to use your PC while we're doing this. ... 75% complete... / Estimated time: 00:37 / Buttons: Back / Pause
Downloading the Windows image from the web
Continuing with installation or creating bootable media Once the download is complete, you are presented a choice to continue the installation, or install on another partition. The latter option takes you to advanced setup, and allows you to save an ISO or create a bootable USB drive before completing other advanced setup options. (This is the option you’ll need to choose if you want to dual boot, for example.)
What media do you want to use? If you want to install Windows Developer Preview on another partition, you need to create and then run the media to install it. Radio buttons: USB flash drive. It needs to be at least 3 GB. / ISO file to burn a DVD. You'll need to burn the ISO file to a DVD later. / Buttons: Back / Next
Creating bootable media from web-based setup
Choosing what to keep Next is the upgrade choice. You can choose to keep all, some, or none of your personal data depending on the OS you’re upgrading from, and your personal preferences.
What would you like to keep? Help make sure that the things you want to keep are moved to Windows Developer Preview. Radio buttons: Windows settings, personal files, and apps. / Just personal files. / Nothing. Buttons: Back / Next
Windows 8 setup options for upgrade and migration
The “Windows settings, personal files, and apps” option is akin to the existing “upgrade” option in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, where an in-place upgrade is performed over the current OS, retaining the apps that were previously installed as well as settings and user files on disk.
The “Just personal files” option is a new functionality, which allows you to get a clean install, but still keep your data without a separate tool such as Windows Easy Transfer.
The upgrade options that you might see in the screen above depend on which version of Windows you are upgrading from. Here’s the list of what you can migrate based on your currently installed version of Windows:
You can transfer these…When upgrading from… 
 Windows 7Windows VistaWindows XP
Windows settingsxx 
User accounts and filesxxx
Clean install is supported across all versions.
Resolving blocking issues
Often you may need to make changes to your PC before you can continue with the installation. Common requirements include things like uninstalling an application, freeing up disk space, or suspending BitLocker. When encountering this scenario in Windows 7 setup, you would simply see a warning message and then you’d have to exit, take care of the clean-up that was listed, and resume setup again from the beginning. In Windows 8, most items listed in the actionable compatibility report (shown below) include a button to help you directly resolve the blocking issue. For example, if an app needs to be uninstalled, clicking a button in this report automatically launches the uninstaller for that particular app. Once the app is uninstalled the report automatically refreshes, and setup continues without having to start again.
What you need to do / Windows can't be installed on an encrypted drive. Please suspend BitLocker to continue...  /Buttons: Suspend BitLocker / Restart PC / Back / Refresh list
Resolving blocking issues directly from the setup experience
This also works in the case where a reboot is needed. For example, if the blocking app requires a reboot after it is uninstalled, setup will resume from where it left off before the reboot.

The result

The scenario we presented at the beginning that included four different wizards and up to 60 screens in a Windows 7 upgrade can now be accomplished in one end-to-end experience and as few as 11 clicks, an improvement of 82% fewer clicks in Windows 8. The exact number of steps you need to take to complete the installation varies based on your existing OS, migration choices, install method, and number of blocking issues you need to resolve to get the PC ready for installation, but the experience is greatly simplified for everyone. We accomplished all of this with no loss of functionality or customization—we simply streamlined the existing experience.
 Picture of 11 screens in a stack. Top screen reads "Here's what we found..." with "Next" button.
The typical Windows 8 installation experience, with integrated advisor, migration, and setup

Improving upgrade performance

If you had a large number of files on your system, you may have seen that installation times in Windows 7 didn’t scale very well. In fact, as you can see in the diagram below, the more user files there are on a PC being upgraded (regardless of the size of the files) the longer the upgrade takes to complete.
 Graph shows Total elapsed tim (mins) on Y axis, with different upgrades on X axis: Clean install: 32 mins; Medium upgrade (213k files, 77 apps): 131 mins; Heavy upgrade (430k files, 90 apps): 188 mins; Super upgrade (1.44 million files, 120 apps): 513 mins.
Windows 7 time to upgrade in relation to the number of files on a PC
Note: Time in this graph represents time to complete the upgrade once the installation is
initiated, and does not include time to download or read files from media.
The reason for this is that in Windows 7, the upgrade process preserved the customer’s applications in the Program Files folder and their files in the Users folder by moving each file to a transport location (so that the original folders can be deleted to make way for the newer installation), and then moving them back again to complete the installation. With music and photo collections, it’s not unusual to have hundreds of thousands of files, so even relatively fast move operations can really add up.
To address this in Windows 8, we have made several modifications to the upgrade engine to reduce the impact on upgrade times.
Moving whole folders In the past, each file that was preserved across upgrade was moved individually. In Windows 8, instead of moving things file-by-file, we move entire folders, drastically reducing the number of file operations required. This goes a long way towards shrinking the variation in upgrade times due to the amount of data the customer has on the machine.
At a high level, the logic for whether or not we need to move a given folder is:
  • Every file in the folder (and its sub folders) is preserved (there are no exclude rules removing some of the files, for example).
  • The entire folder is placed on the target OS unchanged.
  • The target destination doesn’t already exist (i.e. we don’t have to merge an existing folder on the destination OS with one from the source OS). There are a few exceptions to this rule however – for example, every folder has a desktop.ini file, but we have logic that allows the source folder to overwrite this file, as in many cases the file is only a cache and can be regenerated.
Simplifying the transport In Windows 7 the transport (this is the place where we store the files and settings being preserved between the old and new operating systems) was comprised of two folders: “Windows.~q” and “Windows.~tr”. In Windows 8 we have simplified this to just one folder. We have repurposed the “Windows.old” naming convention for consistency with clean install (which creates a “Windows.old” folder containing the previous OS in order to be able to roll back should the installation fail). Merging the transport folders into the single Windows.old folder speeds up the upgrade process, as it removes the need to move files between the ~tr and ~q folders.
Switching to hard links In upgrades to Windows 7, files were moved between the old OS, the transport, and Windows 7 by using file move operations. In upgrades to Windows 8, we use hard link operations instead. This means we can link to the actual data on disk in the transport location without having to physically move the file, which has a significant performance gain. And if something goes wrong with setup and we have to roll back, we just need to delete the hard links, and the files are completely unaffected on disk.
Removing the down-level gather phase In Windows 7, the files and settings to be preserved across the upgrade were calculated while the previous OS was still running. The registry values and data collected by our upgrade logic were also gathered while running on the old OS. The content of the files was then gathered offline during the Windows Pre-Installation Environment (Windows PE) phase in order to avoid file-in-use issues.
Most of this work has been removed in Windows 8. The gather rules no longer run during upgrade; instead, we just move the following folders into Windows.old when the PC is offline:
  • Windows
  • Program files
  • Program files (x86)
  • Users
  • Program data
This means that during the “apply” phase of upgrade (once we are running in Windows 8), everything we need to preserve can be extracted from the Windows.old folder (as we touch no other folders during the upgrade), eliminating the need for a gather phase. Speaking of the Windows.old folder, we have also added a new feature that automatically deletes that folder 4 weeks after a successful install, so you don’t have to worry about removing it. Of course, you can still use the Disk Cleanup tool to remove it immediately if you prefer.

The result

In our labs we compared Windows 7 upgrade times to upgrading to a recent Windows 8 build, and found that the variation in upgrade times based on number of files has been virtually eliminated, as shown in the diagram below.
 Graph shows total elapsed time (mins) on Y axis, various upgrades on x axis, with a line for upgrade to Windows 7, and a line for Windows 8. Clean install Windows 8: 21 mins; Windows 7: 32 mins; Medium upgrade to Windows 8 (213k files, 77 apps): 42 mins; Windows 7: 131 mins; Heavy upgrade to Windows 8 (430k files, 90 apps): 46 mins; Windows 7: 188 mins; Super upgrade to Windows 8 (1.44 million files, 120 apps): 52 mins; to Windows 7: 513 mins.
Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 time to upgrade Note: Time in this graph represents time to complete the upgrade once the installation is initiated
and does not include time to download or read files from media.

Additional optimizations for web delivery

As I mentioned above, Windows 8 setup has been designed for online delivery, in addition to the local delivery from a DVD or USB drive. While downloading Windows has been possible in the past, it was primarily a physical media experience made available for download. In Windows 7 upgrades, for example, two copies were created of the download content on the customer’s drive—the compressed download and the extracted contents—requiring ~5 GB. This could be very problematic on space-constrained systems. Additionally, both the compressed and extracted download contents remained on disk, even after a successful installation.
For Windows 8, in addition to the setup experience improvements for web delivery, we also optimized other aspects. Our goal was to minimize the time it takes for the download to complete, verify the integrity of the bits that are downloaded, minimize disk space requirements, and ensure a resilient download experience for the customer. The two main areas of improvement for Windows 8 are constructing optimized download packages, and making sure that downloading is flexible and resilient.
Constructing optimized download packages The Windows 7 media layout for x86 consists of 874 files and 200 folders, with a number of redundant files both in the media and compressed within install.wim and boot.wim. To efficiently store and transfer the contents of installation media, we typically use ISO files. For example, an ISO created from the x86 client media is 2.32GB. In order to optimize for download in Windows 8, we take the required subset of files for the specific version of Windows being downloaded. After eliminating duplicates and compressing resources, the single-file size is 2.10GB (as compared to 2.32GB), a savings of 9.5%. After this optimized package is created we compress it using an improved compression algorithm specifically for Windows 8 setup, which provides an additional 28% savings. In this example (using the Windows 7 x86 ISO) the size of the download would be reduced from 2.32GB to 1.51GB.
Downloading is flexible and resilient The download manager included in Windows 8 setup downloads the optimized package containing the new OS and reconstructs the layout required to run through the install process, without leaving duplicate files on the system. The download manager leverages the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) as the default transport protocol to transfer files from the Internet to the local machine and provides the ability to pause, resume, and restart. It verifies the bits that are downloaded in 10MB increments. If verification fails for a particular increment, the download manager has the ability to re-request only that specific block of data without having to restart the entire download.

The result

In Windows 8, customers do not have to install a separate download manager, mount the ISO to begin the installation, check the hash of the file for verification post-download, manually clean up unneeded files, or restart a download from the beginning should connectivity be interrupted. Setup takes care of all of these steps automatically, providing a fast, resilient, and easy setup experience. And again, this is true whether you just want to run a quick upgrade on an existing installation, or to create boot media for an advanced setup experience – either with GUI or unattended.

Advanced setup for IT Pros

I said at the beginning that this post wouldn’t go into a lot of detail about our automated installation using the Assessment and Deployment Kit (formerly the WAIK) but I know that many readers of this blog may be interested in learning more about it. So, here are a couple of handy configurations that will make it easy for you to customize a bootable USB drive (that you can create as part of our download experience) and automate your installation. For full details about all of the configurations that are possible, check out theWindows 8 ADK (for MSDN subscribers only). If you aren’t an MSDN subscriber check out the Best Practices for Authoring Answer Filesarticle on TechNet. These best practices still apply for Windows 8 and all of the tools and documents referenced in the article are available in the Windows 7 WAIK or the Windows 8 ADK.
Here’s a video demonstrating an advanced setup from a USB flash drive. Note that this experience is not yet available in the Developer Preview build, but will be there in the final release.

Download this video to view it in your favorite media player: 
High quality MP4 | Lower quality MP4

Key injection

You may have noticed in the screenshots and video above that none show the familiar “type your product key” experience. In the web setup scenario you won’t see those screens because of key injection from the server, but if you boot from media and choose to do an advanced setup, you’ll have to type it in. With “unattend” settings though, you can do your own key injection, so that you can skip this step. This is handy if you’re reinstalling after changing some system components or replacing a drive.
The specific setting that you will need to configure to do this is the ProductKey setting.
Here’s a sample:

Automating install

You can also automate other parts of the experience so that you don’t have to manually click through the screens. Here are a couple of other settings that are useful when automating your install:
You can choose the UI language used for Windows:
There are additional settings for every UI choice, so you can script it to the point that the install is essentially hands-off from start to finish.

Dual boot configuration

Unattend is also useful when you want to automatically configure the system for booting multiple operating systems. You could do this all manually in the Advanced Setup GUI and BCD configuration, but why do that when you can script it? The unattend framework is very flexible and you can instruct Setup to format, create, or modify partitions on the PC’s disk(s).
Using the DiskID setting you can create and modify partitions. You can then specify the PartitionID setting to install to a specific partition—one that is different from an existing OS partition.
Here’s a sample to install to a specific partition:
            <Path> Z:\sources\install.wim </Path>

Where to save your unattend answer file

Once you have your answer file configured to your liking you can copy it to the root of your USB media. (Remember, if you use setup from the web, you can still create a bootable USB drive or save to an ISO.) You can also include the file at the root of the DVD media where you burned the ISO, if you chose that route instead. Even cooler, the unattend file doesn’t even have to be on the installation media. In fact you can place the unattend file at the root of a USB flash drive, plug in the flash drive before starting setup, and setup will automatically find it and use it.

An improved setup experience

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. 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. Customers who choose to install Windows from an online source will have a greatly improved experience over what we’ve delivered in the past, with smaller and faster downloads, as well as increased resiliency and control. We hope that you will find these improvements to be a great way to start your experience using Windows 8.  
__-------by  H@R!