Test drive Windows 8 in VirtualBox – Detailed screenshots guide

It’s been more than a month since Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been released. Some of you might not yet have installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview just because of want of a spare machine – or maybe you do not want to create a partition and run your machine as dual-boot or for any other reason.

I have been running, first the Windows 8 DP and now Windows 8 CP as dual-boot with Windows 7, and as a Virtual machine. Here we will see step by step along with screenshots, installation of Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Oracle VirtualBox and then test drive Windows 8 in Virtual Box.

We have already see how to install Windows 8 DP on Oracle’s VirtualBox, but we still go through the process and then focus on how to test drive Windows 8 in VirtualBox.

Test drive Windows 8 in VirtualBox

Let us see how its done, right from installing & configuring VirtualBox. For each step , corresponding Screenshot is provided that will guide you as you can refer to it before taking that step.

There are many VM’s but here will be using VirtualBox. For running it as VM, I wouldn’t run it on less than , say 2GHz processor with 2GB RAM for 32 bit and 4GB for 64 bits machine. Also your PC should support virtualization –  Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) or AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology.

First of all, check if your PC supports Virtualization.

The main advantage of running the OS as VM is, you don’t have to make changes to your Hard disk – so no need of creating new partitions, etc, to install Windows 8 CP. You just install VirtualBox and create a new Windows 8 VM and run it on your present OS.

First download the Oracle’s VirtualBox from here.  Go here to download Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

All these screenshots are from VirtualBox ver 4.1.2r73507. A newer version 4.1.12 has been released now.

Let us start the installation of VirtualBox. During the install you might be asked ‘Would you like to install this device software’ . Just say ‘Install’ and proceed .


Follow the onscreen instructions during install, as you reach this screen. Click on ‘New’ to start the process of creating a new virtual machine.


Follow the Wizard instructions Enter a name, I have entered the name as ‘Windows 8 CP’. In ‘OS Type’ > for Operating System , choose Microsoft Windows and for version, choose Windows 7 (64 bit) as Windows 8 is not listed. (Check if it’s there in newer version of VirtualBox available). If you are going to run 32-bit of Windows 8 , choose accordingly Windows 7 (32-bit).


In the next screen, you have to select the amount of RAM you want to allocate to VM. If you have 4GB, allocate a bit less than 50% , that is a bit less than 2GB.

Next, check the ‘Create new hard disk’ option.

Select the default VDI option for the type of file for the new virtual disk as we will be running this on VirtualBox.

Next select ‘Fixed size’ for virtual disk file as I assume you’ll at least allocate 20GB for it. Fixed size will be faster to use.


Next provide the location for Virtual disk to be created. I have left it at its default location on C drive. And provided 20GB as its size.

So once all this configuration done, it’ll provide the summary page. Check the parameters and press the ‘Create’ button.


The creation process begins… and takes a bit of time depending on kind of machine you have.


Note that you can alter many of these configuration at later stage also . So you can further tweak these settings using the ‘Settings’ option from the main window.


Once the virtual disk is created, you’ll get this window. Let us start tuning.


From the Settings > System > Motherboard, make sure ‘Enable IO APIC ‘ is ticked, Adjust Base memory a bit less than 50% else you’ll see the warning as shown. Set ‘chipset’ to ICH9 . Though you can also use PIIX3 but may have poorer performance.


Next we will see System > Processor and check ‘Enable PAE/NX’ in ‘Extended feature:’ and if you have multi core processor, you can set it to use 2. Else leave as it is.

Now in System > Acceleration, Enable VT-x/AMD-V and also Nested Paging.

Now moving to settings> Display (in left pane) Enable both 2D and 3D video acceleration and increase the video memory via slider as per your system.

Next we will see the Settings > Storage. Under SATA, enable ‘Use host I/O cache’. If you see that your Windows 8 ISO gets mounted then fine else use the IDE with ICH6 type controller.

So we have kind of fine-tuned the settings to run our guest OS smoothly. Now once this is done we will ‘Start’ our Windows 8 CP installation


Select the downloaded ISO of Windows 8 CP for media source to begin the Windows 8 CP installation process.


Test drive Windows 8 in VirtualBox

Nows the Windows installation will begin. The installation and its screenshots will be similar to what you expect in a normal installation on a native hardware.


Just follow the Onscreen instructions.


Click on Install Now.


Enter the Product Key which is given on the Windows 8 CP download site. Also note the keyboard icon which opens up an online keyboard –  useful for installation on a Tablet


In the next screen, accept the License terms and then choose ‘Custom install Windows Only (advanced)’ option.


This will show the 20GB space on which this installation will be done which we had allotted earlier.


If we were doing a regular install (not on VirtualBox) or a dual install,  that is on a Hard disk with different partitions, then we may see this kind of screenshot.


Next the installation will begin, and will take 10-15 minutes or more. depending on your machine. Computer will also restart during the installation.


After that you’ll get:


You will also get the Personalize option


Then you can choose Express settings or Customize settings.


Next is the option where you have to choose if you want to sign into Windows using Microsoft Account (Live ID) or your Normal Local Account. And its benefits are listed on the screen. If you don’t want to use your Live ID to sign in, just click on Next.


And here click on ‘Local Account’. Here you can read the what benefits you get using Microsoft account. One of the benefits is you can access Windows Store. Even if you skip Microsoft account now, later after installation you can change the option to signing in to your PC.


Enter the username & password, retype password, the Hint and click on Finish.


Now you’ll see ‘Finalizing your settings’ window, ‘Preparing’ Window and then the Windows 8 Metro UI.


Thus you can start and play around with Windows 8 CP from within your present OS which may be Windows 7. Then you can shut down the Windows 8 CP to be back again on Windows 7. One can anytime  switch between the 2 OS. In this way one can play around as a Virtual Machine.

Enjoy !

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
The author has been a Microsoft MVP awardee in various Windows categories (2006-2016) and currently a Windows Insider MVP. A Technology Enthusiast, interested in anything technical and is committed to Microsoft technologies and products. He is actively associated with various Microsoft online communities, forums, Newsgroups and has been actively involved in Beta testing various Microsoft products and bug submissions.