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Windows 8: What you need to get started

What the Consumer Preview requires, where to get it, how to install it

By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
March 01, 2012 07:15 AM ET

Page 2 of 2

That 25-character key is: NF32V-Q9P3W-7DR7Y-JGWRW-JFCK8.

An alternative key that Microsoft's published elsewhere is: DNJXJ-7XBW8-2378T-X22TX-BKG7J

What languages does the Consumer Preview support? Microsoft has limited the preview to English, Chinese, French, German and Japanese.

Warning: Microsoft said that if you install the preview in a language different from the one currently on the PC, the upgrade won't migrate applications or retain user settings.

I tried the preview, but don't like it ... can I uninstall it and get back my PC? Nope.

To return the PC to its pre-Windows 8 state, you must reinstall the older operating system, and restore applications and data from a backup.

Hint: Back up the PC before trying out Windows 8.

When does the Consumer Preview expire? January 15, 2013.

On that date, users will face some serious music.

The Windows 8 end-user license agreement (EULA) puts it bluntly: "You have no right to use the software after the expiration date. Starting from the expiration date, you may not be able to access any unsaved data used with the software. Any applications you receive through the Windows Store will also cease to be available to you in future versions, unless they are made available for re-download and you re-acquire them. You may not receive any other notice."

Last year's Developer Preview was originally set to expire March 11. 2102, but two weeks ago Microsoft issued an update via Windows Update that extends that rougher-edged build until the same Jan. 15, 2013, date.

Where do I get help and support? Steer for the Consumer Preview's support forum on the Microsoft Answers website, which offers user-to-user support, with the occasional Microsoft support representative chiming in.

Can I file a bug report? No.

Microsoft is calling this the "Consumer Preview," not "Beta" for a reason: Unlike previous versions of Windows, it's not taking formal bug reports.

Instead, Microsoft encouraged users to report problems on the support forum, titling the message with "Bug Report."

"We're monitoring the Windows 8 Consumer Preview forum and might ask you to post additional information to help us improve the experience," Microsoft said.

Are there any issues with Consumer Preview? You mean, besides trying to figure out how to navigate the Start screen?

Yes, there is one that Microsoft called out yesterday: The company said it had released several updated display drivers that "may resolve a variety of known graphics issues."

You'll need to run Windows Update to grab the new drivers; Microsoft describes how here .

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

Read more about operating systems in Computerworld's Operating Systems Topic Center.

Originally published on www.computerworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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