If you don’t have a free Tablet from the Microsoft Build event, installing Windows 8 in a virtual environment is probably a good idea especially if you don’t have a spare tablet or PC lying around. The first step is to download a copy of Virtual Box and getting it installed. The install is very straight forward so I won’t review the step-by-step on that. From there, go download Windows 8 and copy the .iso file somewhere you won’t lose it because you will need it in just a few minutes.
Note: This was written during the launch of Windows 8 Developer Preview. You can run Windows 8 Consumer Preview on VirtualBox too. The steps are essentially the same.
Ok ready to get started?
Before we begin
In order to run a Windows 8 VM, your CPU must have built-in hardware-assisted virtualization technology. For Intel this is VT-x and AMD it’s called AMD-V. To test your CPU, download the Microsoft Virtualization Detection Tool and scan your system.
The first time I ran the tool, my system reported that it didn’t support VT-x. Fortunatly I found a new BIOS upgrade for my mothboard which added the support to my system. After updating the system with the new BIOS, enabling the VT-x support in my bios settings and rebooting, I was good to go with the How-To below.
How To Install a Windows 8 Virtual Machine using VirtualBox
First, Launch VirtualBox and Click New from the VirtualBox Manager Console.
Give your Virtual Machine (VM) a name, Change the OS to Microsoft Windows and the Version to Windows 7.
Note – Don’t worry about x64 etc… be sure to choose Windows 7 for your OS Version or the install will die later on…
Assign your Windows 8 VM some memory. My recommendation is at least 2Gigs / 2048MB as shown below. More is always better however for a VM, less is probably OK. Just don’t go under 1GB / 1024MB.
As a new machine, leave the Hard Disk settings at default. Click Next
For this next setting, 99% of you should choose Dynamically allocated. If however you want… 5-15% more performance, choose Fixed Size. Personally, I use Dynamic for everything but Virtual Servers.
Note – If you choose Fixed size, your Virtual Hard disk will expand to the full size at install vs. dynamically expanding over time. That’s a lot of wasted space if you ask me… Drop a note in the comments if your confused.
Choose the size of your Virtual Hard Disk size. The default is 20GB however if you chose Dynamic above, I would recommend nothing smaller than 40GB.
Verify your settings and Click Create.