Install Windows 8 in a Virtual Machine

Windows 8, Microsoft’s upcoming, next generation operating system is as many people would describe, quite a bit different from Windows 7 or any other previous versions of Windows. First impressions of Windows 8 and the new Metro interface, which will be more tablet compatible, may remind some users of Windows Phone UI. In today’s post, we will review how you can install Windows 8 on PC the simple way.

Windows 8 Metro UI

Windows 8 is currently available for download as a Consumer Preview Beta. Thus, it’s very much an unrefined version of Windows that is mainly intended for development and testing. However, much as the name implies, it is also a software release by Microsoft intended for consumers to preview the features and new interface of the upcoming Windows software. It is pretty much a full version of Windows, but it is not one hundred percent bug free.

There are a few tutorials on the net that do a great job at helping people to install Windows 8 on PC. However, most of these tutorials involve having to partition your computer’s hard drive, resize and allocate disk space, etc…

Format Hard Drives

Instead of going through the work of splitting your hard drive and installing Windows 8 on a portion of the actual hard drive, or using a perfectly good USB drive to run Windows 8, you may want to consider a different approach.

Using virtual machines is a simple way to install Windows 8 the easy way because virtual machines are easier to manage, control and setup. They are also less time consuming to create and deploy, and by using a VM, you won’t have an unstable Beta operating system taking up a portion of your actual hard drive. Additionally, if you decide that you don’t like Windows 8 and don’t want it on your machine, you can simply right-click, select delete from the context menu, and Windows 8 is gone.

Virtual Machine Software

To get started, you will first want to download some software:

Upon downloading VirtualBox, proceed to install it onto your computer the same way you would install any other program.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview download is a 3.33GB ISO file,so it may take a few minutes to download.

With VirtualBox downloaded and installed onto your computer and Windows 8 Consumer Preview downloaded, you’re ready to start installing Windows 8.

Installing Windows 8 on VirtualBox

Startup VirtualBox by navigating the path Start > All Programs > Oracle VM VirtualBox > Oracle VM VirtualBox.

VirtualBox

From the VirtualBox start screen, click the New button to begin creating a new virtual machine.

New VM

On the following screen, simply click the Next button to proceed.

New VM Wizard

The Create New Virtual Machine screen can be used to initially name and setup your new VM. Enter a name for your Windows 8 Consumer Preview virtual machine. Under the OS Type section, select Operating System: Microsoft Windows and Version: Other Windows. Click the Next button to continue.

VM Setup

On the next screen, you can configure how much of your computer’s memory you would like to allocate to the VM. I would not recommend allocating over half of the memory to the VM. Click the Next button to continue.

VirtualBox Memory

The Virtual Hard Disk screen prompts you to setup a virtual hard drive for your Windows 8 machine. Thus, select the option Create new hard disk and click the Next button.

Virtual Hard Disk option

The next few screens will present you with some simple options for setting up your virtual HD. Set them to your specific preferences, and you should arrive at the following screen:

Hard Drive Setup VM

Set the hard drive size, or amount of GB to be allocated for Windows 8 Consumer Preview use. I would recommend not allocating a ton of space to Windows 8, unless you plan on doing a lot of testing and development or installing a bunch of applications. Of course, click the Next button to continue. Finally done with VM configuration, you should reach the Summary screen. Click the Create button to build your VM.

Create VM VirtualBox

Now, the new Windows 8 VM should be listed along the left side of the VirtualBox VM machines list. Click the Start button to initiate the virtual machine.

Windows 8 CP First Start

From here, the First Run Wizard will popup, which we can use to set the VM to boot the Windows 8 ISO file that we downloaded earlier. Click the Next button.

First Run Wizard

The next step is important. Under the Media Source option, click the Folder icon.

Select Install Media

This will launch Windows explorer. From here, navigate to the Windows 8 Consumer Preview ISO download, click once to select it, and click the Open button.

Select Win 8 CP

Click the Next button to proceed and click the Start button to begin installation.

Windows 8 Install Summary

From here, Windows 8 should begin installing!

Windows 8 VM

Windows 8 may take a while to install, as this is pretty much the same thing as completely installing Windows from scratch, but using a VM.

That’s all there is to it. Once Windows 8 finishes installing, you can check out Windows 8, the Metro interface, and some of the new, upcoming features for yourself.

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