I was having trouble getting PD 4.0 Home Edition to install on Win 8.1: the installer would crash. It doesn't want to install from the CD no matter what I tried. If you have PD installed on a windows 7 or XP machine, clone the PD folder in program files(x86)/Adobe/ to the windows 8 machine in the same location. Copy the contents of the installation CD to a flash drive.
On the flash drive, locate in (preferred language folder) setup.exe and set compatibility to 'Windows XP service pack 3' and 'run as administrator', then double click that file to install. Before rebooting go back into your installation folder in Program Files(x86) and change compatibility of PD4.exe to: 'Windows XP SP3', check both 'disable display scaling' and 'run as administrator'. I don't experience the explorer hang issue - it starts/runs just fine with a minor cosmetic UI issues here and there.
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I have since discovered this does not work on both of my Win 8.1 computers. The first try that worked is an older Windows 8.1 installation 'OEM'. It does not work on my newer computer (less than 6 mos old), Windows 8.1 installation via 'Retail disc'. I suspect the installer has a dependency (such as a specific.net package) that was once part of the standard windows install. On the older computer it's likely some other program has already fetched/installed the dependencies needed by PHE.
Visual Basic Rule Of 72 Program Ma. The newer computer has much less software installed on it to date.