We already covered how to install Windows 8 in VMWare, and now we’re going to show you how to get Windows 8 running inside of VirtualBox. If you’re wondering why, well, VirtualBox is advantageous for several reasons, the two main being that it’s free and it’s available for all major platforms including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Download these first:
- Windows 8 Developer Preview – download this free from Microsoft Dev Center
- VirtualBox – download this free from Oracle
Put the Win8 ISO somewhere you can find it easily, and install VirtualBox before proceeding. You’ll notice the setup is a bit more complicated than using VMWare, but we’ll walk you through everything so just be patient and you’ll be up and running in no time.
Installing & Running Windows 8 in VirtualBox
This was tested in Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 but will also work in Windows 7 and Linux, and probably any other place VirtualBox runs:
- Launch VirtualBox and click on “New” to create a new virtual machine, give it a name (Windows 8 etc) and select “Microsoft Windows” as the operating system and select “Windows 7” as the version
- Click on “Next” and allocate RAM to the virtual machine, I chose 2GB because I’m using the 64bit version, but you can go with more or less
- Again click on “Next” and choose to “Create a new hard disk” then select “VDI” as the virtual disk image file type
- For disk storage, choose either “Dynamically allocated” if you want an expanding drive or “Fixed size” if you want to just set 20GB and forget it – this choice doesn’t matter much
- Choose about 20GB from the disk size selector then click on “Create”
- You’ll now be at the VirtualBox boot screen, so select your Windows 8 virtual machine and click on “Settings”
- Choose the “System” tab and first under “Motherboard” check the box next to “Enable IO APIC” to enable it
- Now click on “Processor” and check “Enable PAE/NX” so that it is enabled
- Now click on the “Storage” tab and look for “IDE Controller” on the left, click on the “Empty” slot under that
- Next look for where it says “CD/DVD Drive: IDE Secondary” and click on the little CD/DVD icon next to it
- Select “Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file…” and navigate to the Windows 8 Dev Preview ISO file you downloaded earlier – this tells the virtual machine to boot from that iso image so that you can install Windows 8
- Click on “OK” to return back to the VirtualBox main menu, click your Windows 8 VM again, and then click on the “Start” button to boot the virtual machine
- Let the VM boot and then select “Next” and follow through the instructions to install Windows 8, the virtual machine will automatically reboot and load Windows 8 when it is finished
How long it takes to intall largely depends on the speed of your computer, but it’s generally pretty quick. Windows 8 runs fairly well in VirtualBox, but unless you have a touch screen you won’t get the full experience of Metro, which is probably the most compelling thing about Windows 8 anyway.
Note: Some users have trouble installing Windows 8 64-bit version in VirtualBox, if you encounter a constant reboot loop, crashes, or freezes during install, try using the 32-bit ISO of the Developer Preview instead. If you continue to have problems, you can always use the free 30 day trial and install it in VMWare instead.