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I'm creating a backup image now in windows 8. But I downloaded the upgrade to win8 and don't have the physical media disc. Let's say that my SSD craps out on me and I need to re-install this backup image. Do I have to install windows 7, do the upgrade to 8, and then install the backup image? Or will the windows 7 install media be able to restore the windows 8 image?

Windows 8 will not create a repair disc, because it is missing some files.

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"But I downloaded the upgrade to win8 and don't have the physical media disc." - Why didn't you create one during the process using the Upgrade Assistant? – Karan Jan 6 '13 at 23:18

You can't use Win7 disk to do an restore. It always need the same version you want to restore. I#ve tried to use the Win8 DVD to restore a Win7 backup and this fails with the version incompatibility.

which files are missing when you create the recovery disk?

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