Slideshow: Install Windows 8 Enterprise for a free evaluation

You download either the 32-bit or the 64-bit version

This slideshow is also available as a post in the Windows and Office Blog.

Recently, Microsoft made a free 90-day evaluation copy of the final version of Windows 8 Enterprise available for download. While the MSDN Evaluation Center page lists the Windows 8 Enterprise evaluation as being for developers building Windows 8 apps and IT professionals interested in trying Windows 8 Enterprise on behalf of their organization, anyone can download it. In this post, I'll show you how to download and install the free 90-day evaluation copy of the final version of Windows 8 Enterprise.

First things first

Before I show you how to download and install the evaluation copy, you need to understand a few things about the terms of the evaluation. To begin with, in order to download the evaluation, you must have a Microsoft account, such as a Hotmail or Windows Live account, which you will use to register your copy. While the evaluation does not require a product key, once you install it, you must activate it within 10 days. (The download page erroneously states that you must complete activation before August 15, 2013, in order to use the evaluation. You can ignore that statement.)

After the 90 days are up, the evaluation will no longer be genuine, which means that the desktop background will turn black and the PC will automatically shut down every hour without allowing you to save any work in progress. In other words, it will be rendered useless. Furthermore, there is no way to upgrade from the evaluation to a real Windows 8 version. Your only option is to trash the installation.

One more thing that you should be aware of is that Microsoft doesn't provide any technical support for the evaluation version.

Downloading the evaluation

Downloading the evaluation is easy but very time consuming. To get started, head on over to the MSDN Evaluation Center's Download Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation page and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you will see two download buttons: One for the 32-bit version and one for the 64-bit version. For my example, I selected the 64-bit version.

Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.