Windows 8 on Virtual Box

Before installing Windows 8 on an actual machine, it would be beneficial for testing purposes to install Windows 8 in a virtual environment just to get a first-hand feel of the operating system. In our case, we will use the virtualization software Virtual Box.

Virtual Box is open source virtualization software managed mainly by Oracle available under General Public License (GNU) that can run Windows, Linux, Solaris and Macintosh on home and enterprise environment.

Therefore, if you are curious to try Windows 8 out, Virtual Box just may be your answer. Windows 8 is highly diversified from its predecessors in terms of its features and usage.

What you should consider prior to virtualization?

Virtualization is not the optimum solution for testing Windows 8 but at least you get first-hand experience using Windows 8. Windows 8 operating system has been designed for speed and smoothness however; virtualization will not provide optimal performance.

Windows 8 supports touch screen interface that you will not be able to leverage on a virtual machine installation.

We can use other virtualization software like VMware however; web reports indicate that Windows 8 runs optimally on Virtual Box compared to VMware. VMware 3.x is not optimized for running Windows 8; VMware 4.0 can run Windows 8 with the same performance as Virtual Box however, you will need Workstation 8 for that.

It will just take you a few minutes to get Windows 8 running if you follow the steps below.

Running on Virtual Box

  • To run Windows 8 on Virtual Box, follow the steps given below:
  • First, download the latest version of Virtual Box and Windows 8. Enable virtualization on your BIOS by accessing the BIOS menu.
  • Create a new virtual machine after starting Virtual Box and select the type as Windows/Windows 7. Since you are about to install Windows 8, it requires 20 GB of space. Create a virtual disk that can meet the minimum space requirements. Windows 8 will run more optimized on a solid-state drive if it is selected as virtual disk.

  • Once the virtual OS has been created, access the Settings to start installation.

  • Enable IOAPIC in the motherboard settings and change the chipset to IPH9. In addition, enable PAE/NX in processor, set the video memory as 128MB, and enable 2D and 3D acceleration. Go to System and select VT-x/AMD-v and Nested Paging.

  • The virtual drive will be listed with a .vdi extension. Select the drive under Storage. Click host I/O cache and do not forget to mount your Windows 8 Developer Preview. Move to ICH6 IDE controller in case you used an IDE.

  • Start the virtual machine and install Windows 8 by choosing the appropriate options. The installation process is analogous to installing previous versions of Windows.

You can try different settings based on your processor but the settings used in the above environment are known to be stable. You will have a fully functional Windows 8 Developer Preview within your Virtual Box after following all these steps.

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