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I am upgrading my win8 release preview to the full version, however this requires deleting the release preview and installing a new copy of win8. All of my files and programs I have installed on my external, would those programs still be functional after I reinstall win8? Or would it fail because of registry issues?

How do I make this transition smoothly?

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Should be obvious given the name, that any portable apps will be fine. As for "normal" apps that litter the system with files and registry entries, see the answer below. –  Karan Dec 26 '12 at 20:56
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Unlikely since the registry entries associated with those installs would be gone.

It is worth noting though, that when you reinstall your software, you can just point them at the same external device your installed them on, you may be able to resolve any continuity issues for the software being installed.

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"when you reinstall your software, you can just point them at the same external device your installed them on" - Although of course you'll need to re-configure, unless the apps offer a way to export and re-import all settings (or you can somehow figure out how to export what's relevant from the registry and/or any INI etc. files saved elsewhere in locations such as AppData or even VirtualStore). –  Karan Dec 26 '12 at 21:01
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