, dentaku wrote

After posting this I went and read this article which shows going a fresh install.
http://pcsupport.about.com/od/windows-8/ss/windows-8-clean-install-part-1.htm

Considering it's just $70 for Win8 Pro I'd rather just buy the box so I can easily do a fresh install like this (I'm assuming the $70 retail box from Staples is not also an upgrade DVD).

Tough luck. It is the upgrade DVD (and the upgrade key). Notice all the "upgrading" on the homepage.

, dentaku wrote

I don't want to install an older OS an a blank drive just so I can then wipe it out by doing a custom install and install Win8. That sounds rather clumsy.

But exactly the way it needs to be done. In the NT5 days you only needed to provide the CD of the previous version at installation - but the upgrading has been re-imagined since then.