Installing Windows 8 from an USB stick is about as easy and convenient as it gets. Here's how to set it up.
Burning optical discs and lugging them around to install operating systems or applications was painful with CDs and that was long before anyone ever heard of a DVD. There have been ways to boot USB drives to Linux and install Windows for years and for a while now Microsoft has offered their own tool, the tragically named Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. If your PC can boot to USB sticks, most newer systems can, there's not a lot of reasons to still have to mess with optical discs these days.
To make a bootable USB stick that you can install Windows 8 with, you'll need a Windows 8 ISO image and the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. ISO files of Windows 8 can be ripped from the installation DVD. Sometimes ISOs can be downloaded from Microsoft. At the time of this post the Windows 8 Release Preview is available for download (check out the link below). The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool can be download from the Microsoft Store or directly from the link below. Once you have a Windows 8 ISO, download, install, and run the USB download tool.
Step 1: Point the USB download tool to the Windows 8 ISO file.
Step 2: Select USB.
Step 3: Select the USB drive you wish to make into a Windows 8 install drive. Make sure the USB drive is big enough to hold the Windows 8 ISO (which is greater than 3 GB) plus a little for the boot files. The USB download tool erases everything on the USB drive. Make sure there is no data on the drive that you might need in the future.
Step 4: Making the bootable drive
The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool is simple to use but it's an extremely powerful tool. Having a USB stick in your pocket or bag that you can install Windows from in a pinch, is invaluable and much better than toting around DVDs. Now all Microsoft has to do is change the silly name.
Links: Microsoftstore.com, Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool