Windows 8: install the pre-beta in a virtual machine

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Bernard Perron
@bernardperron
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I have to tell you something. Just three times nothing. To test certain programs or functionalities of Windows, it happened to me to install Windows in a virtual machine to tinker at leisure without fear of damaging my system. To test Windows 8, I therefore used a virtual machine. In this post, I'll explain how I did it.

There are several software for creating virtual machines. Of these, VirtualBox is one of my favorites. It is free, runs on Windows as well as Linux or Mac OS X and supports a large number of guest systems. In short, VirtualBox is an application that I particularly appreciate. I forgot... A virtual machine is, as its name suggests, a "fake" machine created by software that simulates its hardware components (processor, hard disk, memory, graphics card, etc.). Thanks to this software, we can therefore simulate another machine and do practically everything that we would do with a real machine. Except that since simulating a machine is rather costly in resources, the performance is much lower than on the machine that hosts the virtual machine and that certain hardware accelerations are difficult to set up.



The first step is to download VirtualBox (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X) and install it. Read the installation program messages carefully (active connections will be cut off for a few seconds while the software is being installed) and accept the installation of peripherals when Windows asks you to.

Once the installation is complete, launch VirtualBox. You get the window below:


Let's create the virtual machine. To do this, simply click on "Create" to launch the wizard. First choose the name of the machine (whatever you want) and define the type of system you are going to install in your machine. Here, as "Windows 8" does not yet exist, choose "Windows 7" or "Windows 7 (64-bit)" depending on the system to be installed. It looks like you can also choose "Other Windows". Be careful, once you have installed Windows in your virtual machine (VM), do not touch this setting again, otherwise you will not be able to restart... Then set the amount of RAM to allocate to the VM. 1024 MB is a minimum, but try not to exceed more than half of the amount of RAM installed on your computer, otherwise you will experience a very noticeable drop in performance when your VM is running.


Difficult to install Windows without disk. Fortunately, the wizard offers you to create this disc in the next step. Leave the default disk type (VDI disk) and choose a dynamically allocated size disk. This means that the hard disk image file will grow as the disk fills up. Then give a name to this disk image and choose its maximum size. 20 GB should be more than enough.

Validate everything, and you're there, you have your virtual machine almost ready. It remains to check a few parameters and ask your new machine to start on the DVD drive that will contain the image of the Windows 8 installation disc. What you do not know is that to write this post , I simply installed Windows 7 in a virtual machine running Mac OS X and then installed VirtualBox. In the following, I go back to Mac OS X since for technical reasons, certain features are only accessible from the real machine (especially the hardware acceleration of the processor). This way you can see that everything works in Mac OS X as well. So here you are again on the VirtualBox home screen.


Select your virtual machine and click on the "Configuration" button. In the "System" section, check that the "CD/DVD disk" is in the first position and that the "Enable IO-APICs" option is checked. In the "Processor" tab, check that the "Enable PAE/NX" option is checked. Finally, in the "Acceleration" tab, check the two options offered.



In the "Display" section, there is no need to enable 2D or 3D graphics acceleration, it is not supported for this system. In the "Storage" section, under the "IDE Controller" heading, you should see a CD icon and the "Empty" heading. Select this title. Then, on the right side of the window, click the CD icon and choose the Windows 8 installation disc image file you downloaded. The title "Empty" has changed in favor of the name of the image file.

Commit your changes and start your virtual machine and enjoy! Comments or questions? Feel free to leave a comment or visit the forum in the "Windows 8" section.


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tags: Microsoft Microsoft Windows 8 Virtualization Windows Operating System
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