Two days ago, Microsoft announced Windows 10 to the world and then, the following day, released the technical preview as an ISO for everyone to test.
Since this is a beta release, we shouldn’t install it on our production computers. But thank God for VirtualBox! Because with VirtualBox we can play with Windows 10 without nuking our real production machines. We can break it, bend it and blow it up all within the safe confines of a virtual environment.
Here’s how to install Windows 10 in VirtualBox (bonus: in less than 90 minutes).
Even if you already have VirtualBox installed, make sure you update it to the latest version or else you may encounter issues with Windows 10.
Getting the Windows 10 ISO
After joining the Windows Insider Program, you’ll see a screen with a product key and download links.
Scroll down to grab the ISO in your geographic region and wait for the download to finish.
I’m on a fast link so mine finished in minutes but it could take a while for you depending on your connection. I’m using the 64-bit English version which was almost 4GB.
Once you have VirtualBox and the ISO, it’s time to rock.
Getting Windows 10 in VirtualBox
Kick open Virtual Box, press Ctrl + n to open the Create Virtual Machine window and pop in these settings:
- Name: Windows 10 Technical Preview
- Type: Microsoft Windows
- Version: Windows 8.1 (64 bit)
- Memory Size: 2048 MB
- Create a virtual hard drive now
Incidentally, if you’re using the 32 bit version change (64 bit) to (32 bit) in the Virtual Machine settings.
Now on the next screen, leave the File size at 25GB but make sure the Storage on physical hard drive is set to Fixed size.
Using Fixed size will make your VM perform better than Dynamically allocated.
When your screen looks like mine in the screenshot below, click Create and hang out for a few minutes. It took me about 2 minutes but, then again, my host OS is using the lightning fast Samsung 840 SSD so time could vary for you depending on your setup.
After you create the VM, select it and press Ctrl + s to open the Settings screen.
I want my guest OS to recognize that it’s installed on an SSD so under Storage, I selected my SATA controller and put a check box in Solid-state Drive.
Next, we need to point VirtualBox to our shiny new ISO.
Select the Empty CD icon in the Storage Tree section and then in the right pane, click the little DVD icon with the down arrow and browse to your ISO.
Now it’s time to spin up your Windows 10 VM.
After a few minutes the Windows icon will disappear and you’ll see the setup screen which looks identical to the Windows 8 and 8.1 setup screens.
Go ahead and install it on Drive 0 Unallocated Space.
Now we’ll just have to wait for the installation to finish.
It took about 30 minutes on my system.
After the installation, the VM will automatically reboot and attempt to load itself.
The installation will go through several phases.
- From showing the Windows logo
- To turning completely black for 5 minutes and
- Then changing and hanging on the Getting devices ready… screen
Have patience! I know you want to jump in but everything is probably okay. It just takes some time.
It actually took about 15 minutes before my VM was finally ready for me to do anything with it.
Eventually, it’ll reboot again. This is the last reboot and it’ll take you to the Settings screen.
If you have a Microsoft Account, Use express settings is the fastest way to get going.
Eventually you’ll end up at the Almost ready screen which felt like it took an eternity to finish.
I think it was about a solid 15 minutes.
But when you get to the desktop it’s all worth it!
Now it’s seriously time to have some fun!
What happens if it doesn’t work?
The easiest mistake to make is selecting the wrong OS bit version during the VM creation process.
For example, a common error is selecting Windows 8.1 (32 bit) for a Windows 10 (64 bit) ISO when it should be Windows 8.1 (64 bit).
You should also disable any peripherals you don’t need. For example, when the VM is off, you can open the VirtualBox Settings screen and disable the audio driver.
But what if it still doesn’t work?
If you still can’t get your VM to work try toggling the DEP settings on your host OS.
Press the Windows Key + w and enter this:
View advanced system settings
Click the Settings button under the Performance section and change Turn on DEP for essential Windows programs and services only to Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select:
Click OK to confirm the changes, then reboot your physical computer and relaunch the VM.
Once last thing, I had some issues getting VirtualBox Guest Additions to work.
After going through the installer I saw this:
The VirtualBox Guest Additions cannot be installed on this version of Windows
So here’s how I fixed that…
Try to install Guest Additions by pressing Right Ctrl + d.
If that fails, open the command in your VM, change to the drive of your VirtualBox image CD and type this:
VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd-x64 /extract /D=C:\Drivers
We’re basically manually extracting the VirtualBox drivers to a folder on the VM.
Now, in the VM, open the Device Manager, double click the Display Adapters section and update the driver to use the files we just extracted to C:\Drivers.
VirtualBox should find a VirtualBox Graphics Adapter.
Also, if you notice you were having problems with the Start Menu not showing up this should fix that too. I couldn’t get the Start Menu to open but after manually installing guest additions everything works!
Please let me know if you ran into any problems!
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