Using USB flash drives for installing operating systems is very popular these days, especially among the GNU/Linux fans. There are hundreds of different GNU/Linux distributions out there, most release a new version, once every six months, and major distributions (such as Ubuntu, Fedora etc) no longer release 700MB sized ISO disc images that fit into a standard optical disc either.
Windows operating systems such as Vista, 7 and 8 also can no longer fit into a CD as well. Now in GNU/Linux, we can use the command-line for creating a bootable USB flash drive using an ISO disc image, but Windows does not support that function.
Nevertheless, whatever the reasons are (whether you already use Windows 8 and just want to reinstall it or using an older version of Windows and need to perform a ‘fresh’ Windows 8 installation …), if you are looking for a way to create a bootable USB flash drive containing Windows 8, then that can be achieved pretty easily.
Though there are a lot of tools available and using a utility provided by Microsoft is also pretty popular, but I like to use a tool called ‘Universal USB Installer’ (‘UUI’). It runs on Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8, and is kind of an ‘all in one’ utility as it supports Windows disc images (Vista, 7 & 8) and a massive number of GNU/Linux distributions as well (it has its uses :D). So lets get started.
First download the software tool from this page.
Now attach your USB flash drive, before running ‘UUI’. Then open ‘UUI’ by simply double click on it (it does not require an installation). Then click on the ‘Yes’ button on the next message you get, and then accept its license agreement page to proceed to the next step.
Then from the next window you get, click on the dropdown menu under the option called ‘Step 1: Select a Linux distribution from the dropdown to put on your USB’, scroll-down and select ‘Windows 8 Installer’ (shown below).
Then click on the ‘Browse’ button below it, and locate the Windows 8 ISO disc image file. And then, carefully select your USB flash drive’s drive letter.
You can also click on the ‘Format’ option to format the drive (make sure you have chosen the correct drive letter). Please remember that, formatting will destroy all the data on that drive.
Once finished, simply click on the ‘Create’ button.
In this final step, ‘UUI’ will ask for your conformation. Have a look at the output of this conformation dialog-box and make sure you have selected the correct USB drive etc. Then to finally finish things up, click on the ‘Yes’ button.
The process will take a few minutes (depending on the speed of your USB drive). Though not always necessary, sometimes, you might have to temporarily disable the anti-virus program, otherwise ‘UUI’ might fail at the final stage (while writing the ‘MBR’ -- ‘Master Boot Record’ etc).
When all is done, you will be notified. Then you can use that USB flash drive to boot into Windows 8 installer. That’s it!.