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Take Windows 8 for a test drive

The 90-day "Windows 8 evaluation for developers" test version of the new OS is available for download now. But read the fine print, and don't expect tech support.

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Can't wait to give Windows 8 a test drive? Well, you can take a 90-day trial version for a spin.

The "Windows 8 evaluation for developers" is available via the Microsoft Developer Network Evaluation Center (at the link above), and the company says it's "intended for developers building Windows 8 apps and IT professionals interested in trying Windows 8 Enterprise on behalf of their organization."

The company doesn't provide any technical support for this trial version. Below, you'll find more details from the MSDN post (and you can read CNET Reviews' take on the OS here).

Things to know before you start

  • --The evaluation edition will expire and cannot be upgraded.
  • --To upgrade, the evaluation must be uninstalled and a non-evaluation version of Windows must be re-installed from your original installation media.
  • --Consider running the evaluation edition in a virtual environment or installing on a separate hard drive or partition. The will allow you to upgrade your original Windows installation to Windows 8.
  • --During registration (required) you must login with a Microsoft account and provide your name, e-mail address and country.
  • --You are required to activate the product online within 10 days after installing.
  • --Once the evaluation is installed, you cannot upgrade. To revert to a previous version of Windows, you must do a clean install from your original installation media.
  • Activation and usage guidelines

    • --Back up your files and settings before installing this evaluation and again prior to the 90-day expiration.
    • --Upon installation, you will have 10 days to activate this evaluation online. Windows will prompt you to activate. A product key is not required for this software.
    • --You must complete activation before August 15, 2013, to use this evaluation.
    • --Once you activate, you have up to 90 days to use the software. You can track the amount of time you have left by referring to the "watermark" in the lower right corner of the Windows desktop.
    • --If you fail to activate this evaluation within the 10-day grace period, or if your evaluation period expires, the desktop background will turn black, you will see a persistent desktop notification indicating that the system is not genuine, and the PC will shut down every hour losing unsaved work.
    • --Following the evaluation period, you will need to replace the operating system on your test computer and reinstall all your programs and data. It is not possible to upgrade the evaluation to a licensed working version of Windows 8. A clean installation is required.