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There are quite a few methods by which Windows 8 can be installed. A user can install Windows 8 using a bootable USB drive, a DVD ROM drive or even copied installation files on the hard disk. I tried to find any guide about installing Windows 8 over the network but unfortunately couldn’t find any easy step by step tutorial. So I’ve decided to write it myself as I feel easy.

First of all, we will need to understand a few concepts. There should be a computer on which Windows 8 source files should be located. These setup files will be used by the client computer. The computer which will initiate the installation is called the server computer. And the computer on which Windows 8 will be installed is called the client computer.

The server computer needs to be running a TFTP server and a DHCP server. The server can be any machine including Windows and Linux. The client computer should have PXE Boot enabled network card. In other words, the network card installed in the client computer should support network boot option.

Let’s go through the installation and configuration steps one by one.

  1. First of all, we will need to have the TFTP server and the DHCP server up and running on the server. For this, we will be using Tftpd32.
  2. Download Tftpd32. You can download either the 32-bit version or 64-bit version according to the server computer architecture.
    Tftpd32
  3. Click on the Settings button. Make sure TFTP Server and DHCP Server options are enabled.
    Tftpd32 global options
  4. On the DHCP tab, fill in the values for running the DHCP server. Make sure that no other DHCP server is running on the network. Otherwise both the DHCP servers will conflict with each other. You can also use the already existing DHCP server for this purpose of Windows 8 network installation.
    Tftpd32 DHCP settings
  5. On the main window, change the Current Directory path to the folder in which Windows 8 setup files are located.
  6. Now share the folder in which Windows 8 setup files are located. At least one user should be able to read the network folder to be able to run the setup remotely.
  7. This is end of the configuration of the server. Now you should turn on the client computer. Make sure that it is connected to the network.
  8. When the computer is turn on, it should ask you about network boot option. You should accept it and start network boot. Usually pressing F12 during startup initiates the network boot option.
  9. If the network boot is successful, the computer will start with a command prompt.
  10. On the command prompt, issue the following command:
    net use x: 192.168.1.2Windows8SetupFolder

    In this command, we are creating a new drive called x: and it is mapped to the network folder. 192.168.1.2Windows8SetupFolder is the path of the network folder which we shared in step 6.
  11. It will ask for the username and password. This is the user credentials for the user on server machine.
    Enter the user name for '192.168.1.2': 192.168.1.2usman
    Enter the password for 192.169.1.2: technizenet
    The command completed successfully.
  12. Now go to the x: drive and run the Windows 8 setup file:
    c:x:
    x:setup.exe

This will initiate the network boot of Windows 8. Normally, Windows installation over the network takes more time than installing through a DVD or a USB drive. But you can start Windows 8 installation over the network on multiple computers simultaneously.

Although this can method can be used to install any version of Windows including Windows 7 and Windows XP, I have only half-tested it on Windows 8 on my network.

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