How to download and install the Microsoft Windows 8 Final Release preview

The latest fine-tuned beta version of Window 8 is now available for your testing pleasure. It's free.

Get ready, beta testers. Microsoft Thursday debuted Windows 8 Release Preview, which is one of the last steps before a final release of Windows 8 this fall. Versions of the operating system are available for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

Here's what Microsoft says is new or enhanced over previous beta releases:

  • New Bing-powered apps, including ones for travel, news, and sports
  • Improvements to Mail, Photos, and People apps
  • Increased Start personalization
  • Better multi-monitor support
  • Better Windows Store navigation
  • New family safety and security functionality
  • Enhanced touch support for Internet Explorer 10

[Read: PCWorld's Impressions of Windows 8 Final Release Preview]

Warnings

As with past betas of Windows 8, Microsoft advises users to not install the operating system on a computer used for day-to-day work. There's also no going back without wiping your hard drive.

You can't downgrade from Windows 8 since it cannot access the recovery partition of your hard drive. If you need to downgrade, ensure you have recovery disks readily available.

If you are already running Windows 8 Consumer Preview or Developer Preview, Microsoft says you can upgrade to Release Preview. There's a downside to upgrading, though: you cannot keep any of your files.

To run Windows 8 Release Preview, your test computer will need a processor with a clock speed of 1GHz or greater, 1GB (32-bit version), or 2GB (64-bit version) of RAM, at least 16GB (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit) of available hard drive space, and a graphics card that supports DirectX 9 with a WDDM driver.

For select features, you will also need multitouch support, Internet access, and a screen resolution of at least 1024 pixels by 768 pixels.

Where to Download Windows 8 Release Preview

If you meet these requirements, head over to the download page on Microsoft's site and enter your e-mail and country. Since the free Release Preview is available in 14 languages, chances are you'll find a version of the software available for your region.

Clicking "Download" will start the download of the "Windows 8 Release Preview Setup." Running this application automates most of the set-up process, and selects the appropriate version of the preview for your machine. If you're a bit more daring and technologically savvy, Microsoft has provided direct links to ISO files.

These must be turned into installation media that are burned to a DVD drive or copied to a USB flash drive in order to complete the install. That's the installation process in a nutshell, but again--be wary. This is preview software, so keep mission critical work off your test PC.

Have you installed Windows 8 Release Preview? Did you previously install the Consumer Preview? Let us know your thoughts on this latest release and anything you notice that needs a little work.

For more tech news and commentary, follow Ed on Twitter at @edoswald, on Facebook, or on Google+.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ed Oswald

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?