Run Windows 8 commitment-free in a virtual machine

By on March 1, 2012, 12:22 AM

With the launch of Windows 8's Consumer Preview, you're probably itching to spend some quality time with Microsoft's latest operating system. Although you may have already downloaded the ISO, we bet some of you haven't decided how you're going to install it.

Considering you've just met, we assume most of you aren't ready to clear a dresser drawer for Windows 8. Dual booting is popular, but in our experience, rebooting into a separate environment is more trouble than it's worth when you're just trying to sample beta (err, "preview") software. The same could be said for using the OS on a secondary PC near your primary rig.

Fortunately, running Windows 8 in a virtual machine solves all that: it won't remove your current OS, you can access it anytime you want without rebooting and it doesn't require any extra hardware. What's more, the test OS can be deleted in only a few mouse clicks.

Read the complete article.




User Comments: 54

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Guest said:

I tried this in VMWare player and got the error:

"Windows cannot read the <Product Key> setting from the unattend answer file."

You can get it running in VMWare Player too. I had an issue with installing it because I gave it the install iso during the setup. If you do this, it tries to do an automatic install which fails. Instead, click the option "I'll install the operating system later", go through the rest of the setup, and before you boot, open up the settings for the VM and click on CD/DVD, and locate the ISO image file for Windows 8 there. Doing this means you won't get the automatic installation of Windows 8, so the installation won't fail.

Reference: [link]

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Awesome. Thanks for sharing guest.

Guest said:

Running it via VMware Fusion 4 on my MacBook Pro. Windows 8 is looking very ambitious, and that's a good thing.

Guest said:

Virtual machine is slow, sometimes not giving you the full features, but running it on a hard drive can wipe the existing install. Instead do this:

* unplug your current drive and plug in a secondary drive only (prevents Windows installer from writing over to your existing install)

* Install pre-release version of Windows

* Shutdown, plug hard drives 1 and 2 in.

* Use the key on your keyboard (f12, esc, etc) to use the bios boot menu not a software OS boot menu. Hard drives are completely separate and you have the best mix of running a full install without the slowness of a VM.

However VM does always seem pretty easy depending if you don't like taking things apart.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm planning to install Windows 8 in VirtualBox. Didn't read this guide because I've used VirtualBox enough, but it's nice that you provide it.

I wonder what effect running in a VM has on performance, though. Also VirtualBox isn't known for the most robust Direct3D support.

Guest said:

No thanks.

I Bought Windows 7 and I'm not going to buy a minor upgrade with various insidious features built into it.

Moving to Linux after Win7.

Guest said:

Thank you for the steps, but unfortunately, i am receiving an error which says,

Windows Recovery Environment

Your PC need to be repaired

error: 0x0000260

Any sugessions??? i am getting this error 5-10 seconds after i start the VDI

Stupido Stupido said:

On Hexus there is a guide how to run it from a USB stick I'm planning to try it on my laptop like that: there I have USB3 stick; I already tried linux like that and I like the approach...

Now I need to figure out how can I make that USB acting as HDD... (I know I can install it in USB but that option messes the bootloader, and I don't like that...) If anyone can help/share some know-how, will be very much appreciated

andy06shake said:

The only thing i want to know about Windows 8 is will it be 100% backwards com compatible at least to XP and have they pilfered my start button?

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

How the hell do you get the start menu back!

Guest said:

As a fyi, I had the developer preview installed just fine but for some odd reason I had to decrease the memory down to 1 gig for it to install the consumer preview in VirtualBox 4.1.8. After install I bumped the memory back up to 2048 and its running fine.

Cowboy Bradley said:

Hey I downloaded the 64bit version and installed it in VirtualBox, but every time it boots VB gives me a notice window that says "This machine is operating in 24bit mode when it should be in 32. Please enter the guest OS and change the display settings to 32bit" ..except there's obviously no way to do that. I tried Indexing Win 8 like I do with win 7 to get the 64bit aero functioinality, but to no avail. Anyone have any suggestions??

Guest said:

Guy's THIS Is why I keep spare hard drives around for my laptop and desktop system's, so I can experiment with new software without endangering my main computer.

Guest said:

Works fine on VMWare ESX 5. Just create a default system as Windows 7 64bit, mount the Windows 8 ISO from the datastore and wallah. You can even enable all the 3D 'effects'. Only disadvantage is that you don't get sound since VMWare still haven't routed that through VSphere/Workstation apps. Everything works tho; apps, tiles etc. Minutes of fun for the whole family.

Guest said:

What settings need to be entered into networking for Windows 8 to share the network connection of the Windows 7 host machine?

Using Virutual box

Widows 8 32bit

My workstation is windows 7 professional

Joined to a domain

The host box has a private IP of 10.x.x.x

I've tried various combinations but so far nothing connects

RH00D RH00D said:

Guest said:

What settings need to be entered into networking for Windows 8 to share the network connection of the Windows 7 host machine?

Using Virutual box

Widows 8 32bit

My workstation is windows 7 professional

Joined to a domain

The host box has a private IP of 10.x.x.x

I've tried various combinations but so far nothing connects

In the VirtualBox main window, go into the settings of the virtual machine and in the network settings you want to select "Bridged" from the drop down menu. It is set to work automatically with default settings, but I usually set it to bridged anyway since it's more full/complete than the default, which is NAT I think.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I'm having no issues NATing my Win8 CP build on Win7 Ent 64. Networking (and everything else) is working as intended with no customization.

Guest said:

Hi, this is caused by the floppy drive from within VMWARE

If you disable it, it will definitely work

Regards

Chris

Guest said:

@Windows Recovery Environment comment

I was able to solve this issue by making the following changes in settings after the VM was created and before I installed the OS.

In settings

Under System: Enable IO APIC

Under Processor: Enable PAE/NX

Under Acceleration: Enable VT-x/AMD-V and Enable Nested Paging

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

I tried it out in this fashion last night, and it worked okay, but I couldn't get it activated. Tried to bridge the connection with the host machine but no dice. My network adapter isn't very traditional so I'd probably blame that for the issue. Otherwise the OS was fine... the setup options were a little confusing to me and having no START button seemed like heresy, but overall I'd say it's not bad.

j05hh j05hh said:

Been using it for the last hour and I find to show the start menu isn't very responsive. Its probably just the memory/ hdd I have allocated for it. I still prefer the start button over this. Will not buy.

Guest said:

@Windows Recovery Environment comment

In settings

Under System: Chipset - ICH9

solved my problem

Guest said:

I ****ing hate the Metro style.

So sad that Microsoft has so many employes and no one could came with a better idea than the ugly Metro style.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

If ANYONE knows what partitioning is, it absolutely will not overwrite your previous installation. Windows 8 even supports dual-booting so that it's practically hassle free. This even supports the quick launch features with Windows 8...

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@m4a4: Nobody said dual booting would overwrite anything.

Thanks for all the helpful tips everyone.

Guest said:

same here did all the proper steps but get a error 5 seconds into installation.

Guest said:

So I install Windows 8. There's no start button. How do I launch paint?

Guest said:

Followed instructions, Awesome!

But I can't get my 1366x768 resolution to appear, even though I already installed virtual box additions and the new ati catalyst for windows 8 consumer preview. Other than that, everything else is great.

Guest said:

@Guest above, vbox video driver does not support win8 cp.

To set your resolution close virtualbox, open .vbox file, looks for ExtraData section and add a string custom video mode:

<ExtraDataItem name="CustomVideoMode1" value="1366x768x32"/>

Guest said:

Try one of the other solutions. As you might have found by now, changing the chipset to ICH9 causes W8 to hang periodically.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Guest said:

So I install Windows 8. There's no start button. How do I launch paint?

Go into the Metro and start typing "paint". It will automatically start a search. If you right click on paint you will also get options to pin it somewhere

Guest said:

You probably don't have enough memory allocated

Guest said:

Wow, I am a Windows Sys Admin, and an ex-web developer. I consider myself a technical person. The UI was very un-intuitive, and somewhat cumbersome. Some experimental UI's just seem natural on first touch, this is clearly not one of them.

I see a sharp learning curve coming for many people. IMHO this new version will have no more adoption than Vista, and I see the tomatoes flying on M$ from every corner (except the fanboys of course).

I also doubt enterprise users will adopt this, I mean this looks just unserious and unproductive.

Maybe it's just the beta, but I doubt much will change. Win 7 beta was very good, this one is just awkward.

Just get Bill back in the office...

jmjsquared jmjsquared said:

Nice one, Matthew. If Mark Twain were tech-blogging today, he would be as informative and user-friendly as this article is.

Using VMWare Workstation and Virtual PC, as Guest #1 advises, I find creating the virtual machine and only later installing the OS works where the one-shot deal often fails. Disabling Hardware Virtualization also avoids conflicts that cause installation to fail, especially when running more than one virtualized machine on the same hardware.

I've virtually-installed Windows 8 DP and CP on Windows 7 hosts on dual core machines using just one core and notice a lag in performance that, for playing-around purposes, is very acceptable.

Prediction: Final release will include the ability to effortlessly toggle back-and-forth between a classic Start Menu/Desktop and the new Metro-cious UI.

Guest said:

I have 2 hard drives in my PC; one for Windows 7 and the other for storage/installs/games. I just partitioned my Windows 7 drive and installed Windows 8 on it and dual booted. Worked fine with no problems. I've since deleted the Windows 8 partition though.

Windows 8 ran fine with no problems, but it just felt like Windows 7 with a different Start menu. There was nothing really different in terms of doing the same things as I normally do on Windows 7, aside from having to open a huge full screen menu to get to anything.

I'm sure there are behind the scenes changes that effect performance. Windows 8 "felt" smoother and faster, but I'm not sure if that's just because I didn't have much installed on it. I did some coding in Visual Studio, played some Battlefield 3, and watched some TV in Windows Media Center. It was the exact same experience as on Windows 7, even Windows Media Center was exactly the same.

If it's the same when the full version comes around, I may skip Windows 8 and wait for the next version. There's not enough changes to justify the price, which no doubt will be expensive.

Guest said:

Thanks, that resolved my issue!

Guest said:

hello guys, i'm having this problem. anyone can try to help me?

Failed to open the CD/DVD image C:\Users\ASUS\Downloads\Windows8-ConsumerPreview-64bit-Engli
h.iso.

Could not get the storage format of the medium 'C:\Users\ASUS\Downloads\Windows8-ConsumerPreview-64bit
English.iso' (VERR_NOT_SUPPORTED).

Result Code: VBOX_E_IPRT_ERROR (0x80BB0005)

Component: Medium

Interface: IMedium {53f9cc0c-e0fd-40a5-a404-a7a5272082cd}

Callee: IVirtualBox {c28be65f-1a8f-43b4-81f1-eb60cb516e66}

Guest said:

You can also install it into a virtual hard drive (.VHD), and dual boot that way.

Google "boot Windows 8 vhd"

Guest said:

On the Start Screen, type "Paint". Literally start typing on the Start Screen!

Guest said:

This new start screen is NOT GOOD. I have a Nokia Lumia 800 with Windows Phone 7.5 and this start screen feels like my cellphone with the lack of touch...really awkward in other words. Also the implementation of the menu system of the later Office suites into the Explorer is really bad. I usually like new stuff but this I really wont be using...

avoidz avoidz said:

Installed this Consumer Preview and hated the Metro UI. It's built for swiping with fingers not the accuracy and actions of a mouse. Really awkward to use and find anything (had to google to find out how to close anything). Too basic for serious users.

DAOWAce DAOWAce said:

burty117 said:

How the hell do you get the start menu back!

I was asking this when I tried the beta for Windows 7.

Needless to say, it had the same answer: You don't.

This is why I still use Vista, even though Seven Classic Start exists, all the other pointless UI changes make me stay away from 7 (especially ClearType being forced on)

Guest said:

Hey guys, i have a problem installing this.

After the system restarts during installation, the installation does not continue and makes me start it again.

Any help?

avoidz avoidz said:

And don't get me started on Windows Explorer and the Ribbon...

MrAnderson said:

Does anyone know how to make it use my full screen size... I even tried adding in a customeVideo setting in the command line and it did not work.

I have a Nvidia graphics card with at least 1G of video mem, and I gave the virtual machine 4G of Ram... it only will take up a portion of my 1080 screen

Guest said:

Use the VirtualBox config manager to "enable PAE/NX" when setting up the Windows 8 virtual environment.

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-w
ndows_install/when-installation-starts-in-virtual-box-i-ge
-the/e14f4e64-bcdb-4d50-8df6-106cafc0b1af

Mantrhax Mantrhax said:

Too bad that windows 8 is already a fail

windows 8 = Windows me

penn919 said:

It's something nice to know, but I have no use for this really.

indiangamer said:

if i uninstall them both Windows 8 and Virtual box will it free my ram and hdd space which i allocated for windows 8 on virtualbox

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