02 June 2013

Create a USB Bootable Installer Drive For Windows 8

The release date for Windows 8 was announced a few days ago, and it seems to be a promising new OS from what we've seen thus far. With the minimum system requirements being the same as for Windows 7, you can easily give it a try on your current laptop or netbook. However, since the latter does not come with an optical drive, here is a method to install the OS using a bootable USB flash drive instead. You will need at least a 4 GB stick and the Windows 8 ISO image.

Then follow the steps below:
Step I: Format The USB Drive
Insert the flash drive into a free USB port on the computer. Open the command prompt by running the command cmd. To do this, press <WINKEY> + <R>, then type cmd in the Run dialogue box that opens and press <ENTER>. In the console window that appears, type the following commands in this exact order:

list disk
select disk x
(here "x" is the number corresponding to the USB disk, which you need to replace with what is shown in your system)

create partition primary
format fs=fat32 quick

Step II: Mount The Windows 8 ISO Image Into A Virtual Drive
Burning the ISO image onto a blank DVD is not an option if you don't have an optical drive. You can instead mount the file as a virtual drive. Windows 8 comes with an inbuilt utility; all you need to do is to double-click on the image file and it will get mounted as a virtual drive. However, if you have an older version of Windows, you can use a freeware virtual drive application such as MagicDisc to mount the image.

Step III: Make The USB Drive Bootable
Assuming that F: is your virtual drive letter where the Windows 8 ISO image is inserted and G: is the location of your USB drive, open the command prompt as mentioned earlier and type the following commands:
cd boot
bootsect.exe /nt60 g:

Step IV: Copy The Installer Files
Don't close the command prompt yet. The USB drive has now been made bootable, but there's one more command you need to execute in order to transfer the Windows 8 installation from the virtual drive to the USB stick. In the same command prompt window, type the following command:

xcopy f:\*.* g: /e /f /h

You can alternatively copy all the files in the virtual drive to the USB drive by using Windows Explorer, but using XCOPY ensures that system and hidden files are also copied.


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