You can download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (read: public beta) right now, and while we're afraid you won't be able to install it on your ARM tablet, just about any x86 desktop, laptop, or slate in recent memory should be able to run the new OS. All you need is a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM (or 2GB for 64-bit), 16GB of storage (or 20GB for 64-bit), and a DirectX 9 graphics card with WDDM 1.0 support. That said, you won't be able to take advantage of all the new features of Windows 8 without a few more specs, and the official Building Windows 8 blog just published a post detailing the rest of the guidelines there:

  • "One new element to Windows 8 is the requirement that Metro style applications have a minimum of 1024x768 screen resolution, and 1366x768 for the snap feature. If you attempt to launch a Metro style app with less than this resolution (e.g. 800x600, 1024x600) you will receive an error message."
  • "With the Consumer Preview, if you want to support touch, you will need a screen that supports multi-touch."
  • "Secured Boot requires a new UEFI BIOS, which is not available broadly on PCs yet, but is starting to be made available. If your machine does have UEFI, you can enable it via BIOS settings."
  • "BitLocker does not require but performs more seamlessly if your PC has a Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Machines that have this sometimes require it to be enabled via BIOS settings. BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive that meets performance criteria evaluated at installation time."
  • "Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities and an additional 2 GB of RAM. You can also enable SLAT via a BIOS setting."
  • "Some games and other software require graphics capabilities compatible with DirectX 10 or higher (including some games available in the Consumer Preview and in the Windows Store. We will continue to improve the verification of your system prior to downloading or running software with these requirements). Some games and programs might require a graphics card for optimal performance."
  • "If you clean install instead of upgrade (see below), you should check your PC manufacturer's website to make sure you install any specific drivers that they provide there. Many laptops will get better battery life with a power-optimized driver that is specific for that PC (often known as ACPI, Power, or Chipset driver)."

Those notes aside, even last year's netbooks should be able to handle the build: Microsoft says it successfully and substantially tested the OS on the likes of the Dell Inspiron Duo. Installing a copy right now? Check out Microsoft's FAQ right here or at our source link below.