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Downloading Windows 8, or buying a box, should be the same product. The difference is having it physically in your hand.

I know it's dearer, but the boxed version of Windows 8 Pro... is it a better buy than the downloaded version? If so, please explain or is it simply a case of having it your hand?

In this excerpt from Answercast #69, I look at downloading Windows 8 as compared to buying the boxed version.

Boxed or downloaded Windows 8?

To answer it simply, "It's simply a case of having it in your hand."

The two products should be identical. My recommendation (expectation) would be as long as you immediately back up the product that you download and save it somewhere safe, so that you effectively have a physical copy of it - downloading should be just fine.

It's my expectation that downloading it is exactly the same product as one that you would get in the box. The difference simply being that you're getting a pre-burned CD or DVD that includes the operating system and a pretty box to put it in.

Downloading Windows 8 is fine

If you don't need either of those things, then the download version should be just fine.

It's cheaper because they don't have to make a box for it.

It's not viable for everyone. It's fairly large so it's going to take a bit of time to download. Not everybody has an internet connection for which downloading a couple of gigabytes is even viable.

So, those are the reasons that those two products exist that way. But ultimately, they should be the same product. If you download the digital version (and this is true for any product that you download, that you purchase and download), you should always save what it is you download - before you use it to install.

Save a copy of it somewhere, burn it to a CD, burn it to a DVD, back it up, do whatever - so that if you should ever need to install it again, you'll have it without needing to re-download it - if indeed you're even allowed.

Article C6023 - November 12, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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4 Comments
James Gambino
November 13, 2012 6:07 AM

Leo, Unfortunately Windows 8 upgrade Assistant is not allowing anybody to save the ISO file. What they are doing is actually an IN-PLACE upgrade for $40. If you want the ISO file, then they are charging you an additional $15 so that you can download the file. I feel that this is a crime, and cannot believe that we have come to this point where Microsoft is trying to shove a one-time Install of Windows 8 down your throat and erasing your existing Operating System. I have heard from Microsoft Employees that you are not allowed to run the new Windows 8 alongside your Windows 7 Installation after performing this in-place upgrade. Well - I have decided to download the ISO and make my own virtual machine, it actually wasn't even hard to find an active KMS server to activate it either. Sorry, Microsoft I was going to pay for the Upgrade, but by charging extra for the ISO, you lost another customer/.

Mark J
November 13, 2012 12:36 PM

@James
I didn't have that experience. I was able to download both the 32 and 64 bit iso versions, and was able to create a bootable Win 8 installation USB, all for the same $40. I believe the extra $15 is for the boxed version (a physical DVD).

Ken B
November 14, 2012 9:40 AM

It used to be that boxed versions came with a printed manual. Nowadays, the boxed version is likely to be a CD/DVD, a small "getting started" pamphlet, and air, I agree that the download version is probably ust as good as the boxed version. Plus, you get it "now", rather than waiting for it to be shipped, which is a big plus at times.

Note that there are some companies that include a download version along with the boxed version, so that you can get it "now", eliminating that advantage. In such cases, I will usually buy the boxed version (if it's not much more -- some actually come at the same price), just because it "feels better" to have a "real" disk in my collection.

Naeem
November 18, 2012 8:27 AM

Any one has any idea from where I can buy complete Windows 8 , not an upgrade version , or if there is any way to use the upgrade version for bare metal installation?

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