Windows 8 is here. You’ve seen all the screen shots, read all the blogger reviews, but what is it REALLY like? The only way to find out is to try it for yourself but switching your primary computer over to a preview OS isn’t feasible and not everyone has extra hardware laying around to test the new OS on. That’s where virtualization comes into play. Windows 8 can be tested on your current computer via Oracle VM VirtualBox. It won’t run as fast as a native installation but it will let you sufficiently explore the Windows 8 Developer Preview. Read below to find out how.
Begin by downloading the following packages. If you already have VirtualBox installed simply update to the most recent release.
Once downloaded, Install VirtualBox using the default options and open VirtualBox.
1) Click “New” from the top left of the VirtualBox window. Click Next on the first screen that appears as it contains no configurable information.
2) Enter a title for the Virtual Machine. Select “Microsoft Windows” as the Operating System. Select “Other Windows” as the version.
3) Specify the amount of memory for this virtual machine. Windows 8 requires 1GB of memory so allocate at least that much. I allocated 2GB towards this virtual machine however my system has 8GB total system memory so I can easily devote that much. Generally a Windows 7 computer with 4GB of memory can devote 2GB to a virtual machine when the majority of background programming is closed. Allocating too much can result in system instability and freezing. Click next once you have specified the desired amount of memory.
3)Specify the Virtual Hard Disk. The default settings are fine. Click Next.
4)Select the desired file type for the Virtual Hard Disk Image. The default of VDI is fine. Click Next.
5)Select the Virtual disk storage details. The default of “Dynamically allocated” is fine. Click Next.
6)Specify the virtual file location and size. When selecting the size keep in mind that the installation size of Windows 8 Developer Preview 32bit is just shy of 6GB. Leave at least 10% above that for paging. If you selected “Dynamically allocated” in the previous step then the image will only grow in size as necessary up to the maximum you specify here. The default of 20GB is fine — but as I said, the actual size on disk will be much smaller if you selected “Dynamically allocated” in the previous step.
7)Click “Create” to complete creating the virtual machine. You’ll see your new virtual machine appear in the left column of the main VirtualBox window.
8)Right click the new virtual machine you’ve just created and click settings. Click on “System” in the widow that opens. The click the “Processor” tab. Check Enable PAE/NX. Set “Execution Cap” as desired. I recommend 90%.
9)Click “Network” on the left. Enable Adapter 1. Select “Attached to: NAT”. Click “Advanced”. Select “Adapter type: Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop (82540EM)”.
10)Click “Storage” on the left. Next to the heading “IDE Controller” click the single disk with plus symbol. On the window that appears click “Choose disk”. Select the installation image you downloaded earlier. The default name for the 32bit installation of Windows 8 is “WindowsDeveloperPreview-32bit-English.iso”. This will attached the Installation media to the virtual machine. It will treat this image like a DVD drive and will boot from it allowing you to install Windows 8.
11)Click “OK” on the bottom of the Settings dialog.
12)Right click the virtual machine you’ve just created and configured and select “Start”.
Your virtual machine will now run, booting the Windows 8 Developer Preview installation media, and allowing you to install Windows 8 in a virtual machine. The installation proceeds similar to Windows Vista & Windows 7. Once the installation has completed the virtual machine will restart and you will be able to boot Windows 8.
Enjoy! Once you have Windows 8 installed I’d love to hear what you have to say. Sound off in the comments below!