Windows users have long had to deal with cumbersome upgrade and setup processes — if you even mention Windows Millennium Edition we're prone to relive some profound nightmares — but Microsoft is working hard on improving that experience with Windows 8. In a new blog post, the Windows engineering team details the streamlined setup in Windows 8: what took four wizards and up to 60 screens in a Windows 7 upgrade can now be accomplished in a consolidated experience that requires as few as eleven clicks, and users can now download the OS from the web during installation. Performance in upgrade speed has also been remarkably improved: Microsoft explains that a "super upgrade" with 1.44 million files and 120 apps took 513 minutes to complete in Windows 7, while the same upgrade only took 52 minutes in Windows 8.

To Microsoft's credit, the level of backwards-compatibility it's supported over the years is truly astounding: the team says that at a recent meeting, someone showed Windows 8 running a 16-bit version of Excel from 1990. Still, the company's going to have to make a meaningful effort to help users with what happens next once they determine something's not going to fit with the new version of Windows, and Microsoft says it's still relying on the makers of third-party products for support.

The improvements in speed alone are enough to warrant enthusiasm, and we'll certainly let you know how real-world setup performance stacks up when Windows 8 releases.