The Windows 8 Release Preview Setup tool is, in theory at least, the simplest way to install and try out the latest version of Windows on your own PC.

You need to be very careful where you use the program. Although Microsoft haven't tagged the Release Preview as a beta, that's exactly what it is: an incomplete, unfinished operating system which will contain bugs, and can't be uninstalled. In a worst case situation, you could find yourself left with a PC which won't launch properly, forcing you to reinstall everything all over again. This isn't likely, but it's possible, so only use the Setup tool on "spare" systems or PCs which are fully backed up.

Still reading? The good is that such disasters are unlikely; the Release Preview is relatively stable, and ought to work on any hardware capable of running Windows 7. And the Setup tool makes this all very straightforward.

The program will first check your system for hardware and software issues which might complicate the installation, reporting on anything it finds.

After obtaining a product key it'll then download Windows 8 Release Preview. This may take a while - it's around 1.5GB of data - but you can pause and resume the download as many times as you need.

Once the Setup tool has the core downloads, it'll expand them into the Windows 8 Setup files, before offering you three options: Install (on the current partition), Install to a different partition, or Install later.

The first two will launch your setup program now. The third, we're less sure about; it simply closed the Setup Tool without further explanation, and when we relaunched the program it started from the beginning, with the initial compatibility scan. This may have been some issue local to our setup, but for now we'd avoid "Install later", if possible, and instead choose one of the other installation options to fire up the final Setup process.

From this point, fortunately, there should be no further issue. Microsoft have greatly improved Windows setup in recent years, and a few minutes spent following the installation wizard will be enough to prepare your own copy of the Windows 8 Release Preview.

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This official tool will run on your current system and determine whether it is suitable for a Windows 8 installation