How to install Windows 10 in VirtualBox

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).

First, download and install Oracle VirtualBox and then visit http://preview.windows.com and join the Windows Insider Program so you can grab the ISO.

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.

Download Windows Technical Preview

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.

Downloading the Windows 10 ISO

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.

Create the Windows 10 Virtual Machine

Click Create.

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.

Installing Windows 10 Technical Preview in VirtualBox yes!

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.

Check the solid state drive attribute if you have one

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.

Choosing your virtual optical disk file

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.

Windows 10 setup: pick the custom option

Go ahead and install it on Drive 0 Unallocated Space.

Install Windows 10 Technical Preview 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.

Installing Windows 10 in VirtualBox

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.

Windows 10 Getting Ready

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.

Use express settings for Windows 10 setup

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.

Windows 10 is almost ready

But when you get to the desktop it’s all worth it!

Windows 10 chillin' in VirtualBox

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

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:

Tweak Data Execution Prevention

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

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

Installing VBox guest additions manually

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.

VirtualBox Graphics Adapter

That’s it!

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!

Oh and don’t forget to drop your name and email address in the little form in the right rail of the page.  I would love for you to become a member.  Members receive exclusive and original content from me and I promise to never sell or give your email address to any third-parties.

Thanks!

Windows 10 in VirtualBox is beautiful

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  • Aaron Franke

    Doesn’t work for me.

    VirtualBox 4.3.16 r95972

    Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9841

    Error message in Device Manager:

    Windows cannot initialize the device driver for this hardware
    (Code 37)

    (Operation Failed)
    The requested operation was unsucessful

    • xOOn

      Same error on the graphic driver

    • Sparky

      Me too!

      Sparky

    • Ali Almamery

      The same but iam on Build 10041

  • Laimis Db

    yeah… it doesnt work for me too, when i start i get and error screen of making me restart the system, error code: 0x0000000A and some parametres. DEP is done like you and bits are selected corrrectly windows 8.1 32bit with Preview-x86-EN-US

    • خليل بن موسى

      i think it doesn’t in x86 :/

  • Bradley Bertrim

    I’d like to point out that you run the Guest Additions installer with the /force option. This will make it ignore the OS check when installing. So you would instead run VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd-x64.exe /force

  • Suhail Jadliwala

    Running VboxWindowsAdditions-amd64.exe has no effect my resolution. I have a laptop with 1368×768 resolution, but the only options available are 1600×1200, 1280×1024, 1152×864 and 1024×768. What can I do?

    • Ricardo De la Vega

      Suhail, Guest Additions should fix this problem. I’ve had the same problem for my Windows VM but with GA everything started working well. Don’t forget to answer “No” to the tricky question about 3D Acceleration. Hope this can help you.

      • Suhail Jadliwala

        Got the original windows 10. Thanks anyways.

  • This is the Internet

    1. I can’t get any drivers. I’m running Linux, so there is no DEP and I selected 64 bit for Windows 8.1

    Any suggestions?

    • stillchip

      Make sure PAE extensions are enabled, won’t install. Driver extract and install fixed my vidoe so Win 10 screen adapts when I stretch it’s box so I’m all set!

  • Matt Barna

    VM installed, VirtualBox display adapter won’t work. I tried the options listed here, and still won’t work.

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  • Zzznorch

    I can add my name to this problem with “additions”. It would appear there has been a change in the driver model that prevents these drivers from loading. It should certainly be fixable at some point. However, I do find this a troubling indicator as it would appear the portends hardware compatibility problems down the road with Windows 10. I had to replace several pieces of hardware due to Windows 8.x incompatibility issues and it worries me that I may run into the same problem with Windows 10 if the various manufacturers deign to not update their driver software. PL-2303 serial driver chip support has been a big problem with Windows 8.x.

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  • Hi vonnie, nice well explained guide. I’m also running Windows 10 TP, have you noticed that Win 10 is slower than Windows 8? As it was newly installed, the speed was good but after few days it’s running slow.
    Also the shut down time was too low at the starting but now it’s taking too long. Are you having the same issue? Which version you’re running? 32-bit or 64-bit?

  • Ron

    Just got the video to work.
    Changed display memory to 256 MB
    Enabled both 2D and 3D

    • I did that, but doesn’t work for me… 🙁
      Is it really that device in Device Manager without yellow triangle and exclamation mark?

      • Ron

        It may have been some of the other changes I had made leading up to the video options.
        I chose Windows 2012 (64 bit) as my Operating System.
        2048 MB base memory
        2 Processors
        VT-x/AMD-v, Nested Paging, PAE/NX Acceleration
        Enabled Audio and selected Windows DirectSound and Intel HD Audio

        I installed the drivers from a CMD prompt using VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd-x64 /force

        My device manager doesn’t show any exclamation marks, display will auto-size and the audio works.

      • Guest

        Hi Ron – This one worked perfect for me, thanks pal 😀

    • Michael Clausen

      Hi Ron – Your solution worked perfect for me, thanks pal 😀

  • LorenH

    Solution for 4.3.18 on Mac and PC: In Windows 10 VM, right-click VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd64.exe, choose properties and set the compatibility move to Windows 7. Then “Direct 3D Support (Experimental)” won’t be checked and you can proceed without install error.
    https://4sysops.com/archives/install-virtualbox-guest-additions-on-windows-10/

  • johnniedoo

    I have installed Win 10Tech pre as well. I am not able to get the screen resolutions to wide screen….same as others have indicated ->1600×1200 –>1280×1024.. I have monitors that are wide screen hd 1920×1080 or 1920×1200. but the VM will only provide me with those options and seems to have nothing to do with my mointors at all. not sure why. yet. I connect via dvi to one monitor and hdmi to the other. not that makes any difference.
    I an new to the VM by Oracle, I have run windows VM with the XP set up to run those few games that needed xp, but only set up and only used once or twice and got bored with it, but , i did save some of the basic things of it in the folders.
    I have no idea if that caused any issues, judging by/from the other posts with my similar issue , i guess not.
    Once i got windows 10 to install into the VM. I got no more error messages.
    It seems to load up no trouble. just would like to be able to make it landscape resolution.
    I have gone to each profile, added modes, and gone through the vm settings a dozen times to try to make the options expand . I have plenty of resources available, used high memory , 2D, 3D and all the proper boxes checked or not.
    win10 runs and works ok, i just cant get any of the additional stuff people suggest other than the ones that came easy. At least all seems to be working. only it is hard to know if the issue is with the VM or a limitation of this early tech preview. or neither.
    would like to be able to see it in higher def . if it is supposed to be and in wider interface.

    • Stuart McGurnaghan

      Close the VM down, run: vboxmanage setextradata “name_of_your_vm” CustomVideoMode1 2560x1440x32

      Then boot your VM to get that option in the display resolution list. The resolution of 2560 is for my 27″ imac. Change to suit your monitor.

  • Thomas Lake

    I can’t get audio to work. I’m using VirtualBox 4.3.22 with a Win 8.1 64-bit host and have installed build 9926 of Win 10. The speaker icon shows my audio devices and level set to 61% but no sound comes out.

    • ThezKing

      Using Linux Mint Sarah with 4.7 kernel. same Issue in VirtualBox 5.1. :/

  • Guest

    Hi Ron – worked perfect for me, thanks pal 😀

  • Ali Almamery

    Im having problem with the sound

    it says there is No Audio Output Device Is Installed 🙁

    • Ali Almamery

      I red some articles, and i think we should reset the macbook Pram

  • TDR

    so you run Virtualbox in Virtualbox… impressive!

  • Arnold Arnold

    I tried virtualbox, but in my agp video card does not work, that’s why the game does not start,
    dxdiag>dysplay>agp texture acceleration not work,
    when you install the driver, tells me that no I have access,
    virtualbox so he sees only his drivers, not the real drivers
    I spent 12 hours to fix it but nothing :((((

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