Guide: Install Windows 8 as a virtual machine with VMware
Microsoft publicly released release preview of their upcoming version of Windows operating system - Windows 8. So grab one yourself and look how the next generation of Windows will look like.
You can get free Windows 8 release preview ISO image installation on this Microsoft Website. The installation is available in English, German, French, Japanese and Chinese (simplified) language versions, each in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
Unless you want to do a clean installation on some of your less used computer or laptop, the best way to try Windows 8 developer preview is to install it in a virtualization software, such as VMWare Workstation or Parallels desktop on Mac platform.
Both programs are pretty expensive, however both have a trial version (30 days for VMware Workstation, 14 days for Parallels desktop), which should be enough for you to take a peek on Windows 8. Getting the trials can be a little frustrating (lots of registrations etc.), but eventually its worth it. Look at associated software to this article for download links and more information about VMware.
In this article we will show you, how to install Windows 8 release preview in VMware.
Installing Windows 8 Release Preview to VMware Workstation
Creating new Windows 8 virtual machine in VMware
In order to run Windows 8 in a virtual machine, you will need a machine capable of running Windows 7 and around 25 GB of free space on your disk. The more RAM you have the better, as having a virtual machine launched takes heavy toll on your system resources.
Launch your VMware and click on the "Create New Virtual Machine" button, to launch a wizard that will take you through the installation process.
Create New VMware machine
Unless you are a very experienced VMware user, we recommend to select "Typical (recommended)" option in next window to use a set of pre-defined configuration settings.
Because VMware does not yet support Windows 8, it won't automatically recognize it from the developer preview ISO. So to avoid possible problems and errors, its best to choose the "I will install the operating system later" option. This will create an empty virtual machine in which we will later install the Windows 8 release preview.
On the next screen choose the Guest Operating system (Windows) and in the version selecting box, pick either 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7, depending on the release preview ISO you have downloaded from Microsoft Website.
We are installing the 32-bit version, to avoid problems that previous 64-bit Windows 8 release preview version caused for some users, when installed in VMware.
Another window will open, and prompt you to enter the name of your new virtual machine and its location your hard drive. Keep in mind you will need at least 25 GB of free space, so pick the location wisely.
Next step is to allocate disk space for the virtual machine. Because we have chosen Windows 7 settings in previous steps, VMware will suggest optimal size based on that choice. But you won't need that much, but for performance reasons it is wise to not go below 25 GB. Also it is best to not change the default "Store virtual disk as single file" option and leave it as it is. It's not like you will be needing to move the virtual machine from one computer to another, so the second option is not needed.
A new window will show up, that prompts you to finish creation of your virtual machine. But do not do it yet, lets first customize the hardware setting of the machine. So click on the "Customize Hardware..." option.
Define the hardware settings for Windows 8 virtual machine
You will need to at least 1GB of RAM for 32-bit and 2GB for 64-bit Windows 8 version. If your system can afford more, its not bad to raise this amount to avoid sluggish experience of the virtualized system. As for processor value, you should define it depending on your computer. In our case (dual core), we will use 1 processor and 2 cores.
In the CD/DVD option make sure the "Connect at Power On" option is checked, and in the connection part select the "Use ISO image file" option and browse to the Windows 8 release preview ISO you have downloaded and select it.
After that, click on "Close" button to save the settings and you can click on the "Finish" button on the still opened New Virtual Machine Wizard window.
And that's it...almost... The new, but still empty virtual machine is ready to be used. But because we provided the ISO file in CD/DVD hardware, when the virtual machine is started for the first time, it will automatically boot up from the ISO and start the installation process, much like if we would insert a bootable disk in an empty computer to make a new clean installation.
Installing Windows 8 Release preview to VMware
Installation process of Windows 8 Release preview
Now it's time to finally install the Windows 8 Release Preview from ISO installation image to the virtual machine we have prepared in previous step.
Power on the virtual machine (start button) and wait until it boots up and the installation process begins. There might be some information window pop-ups, just "ok" them, and let VMware launch the virtual machine.
If the boot was successful, you will now see Windows 8 setup screen, very similar to Windows 7. Here you can change your time zone and keyboard input, however you cannot change the language. This option is tied to the ISO you have downloaded from Microsoft website. When ready, click on "Next" button.
Because we will install to an empty machine, there will be only one option "Install Now" on the next screen. The next screen will prompt you to enter serial key number for the installation. You can find that on the very same page you have downloaded the Windows 8 release preview is from.
After you enter the serial number, you will be prompted to read and accept the license agreement. You can pretty much only accept is. Because we install to empty machine, we will chose the "Custom: Windows Only" option on the next screen, which will afterwards lead to another screen where you select the drive where the system should be installed. Since our virtual machine has only one disk, there is not much to change and we can proceed with click on "Next" button. This will start the installation process.
Once the setup is finished, the machine will restart and boot up to again to continue with the process.
Setup of new installation of Windows 8
After the reboot, you will end up in new Windows 8 screen. First thing you can do, is to change the color of your Metro user interface. For those who do not know what Metro is, it is a brand new GUI that will be introduced Windows 8. We have changed the default blue color to nice purple one. And of course you need to name your computer.
After you click the Next, you will need to confirm your choice of settings in another window. Looks like there is only one choice "express settings", but it is more likely the retail version will have more option choices here.
If you click on customize, you can change one of the two network settings. But that's just unneeded side-tour, so you can completely ignore this screen and just continue with the setup process.
The next screen takes you to login window. You can now either log in with your existing LIVE account, to link it with Windows 8 services like Market, Messenger Live, Hotmail, or whatever Microsoft has for us in its sleeves.
However, if you do not have / do not want to log in with your existing LIVE account, you can create new free one or only local account with the "Don't want to sign in with a Microsoft account" option. This option leads to another screen where you can click on Local Account to create one. Be advised that a lot of features won't work, if you are not logged on-line with your existing LIVE account.
After you finish the Local Account setup, the installation will do its final operations and Windows 8 will finally launch and welcome you, with its new Metro GUI.
VMware tools installation to Windows 8 virtual machine
After you install Windows 8 release preview to your VMware, you might have noticed its not the fastest and feels sluggish. To solve this, we need to install VMware tools to the virtual machine, which will install drivers and libraries that will greatly improve the performance. So let's see how we can do this.
Click on the VM → Install VMware tools... menu option in main VMware window. This will mount VMware tools to a virtual drive in your virtual machine. Now just double-click on the mounted drive to start the setup process.
Select "Typical" type of installation and just click "Next" through several windows until the installation is finished.
And that's it. With VMware tools you should notice a considerable improvement to your Windows 8 virtual machine performance.
Windows 8 release preview
Now you can start to explore the release preview of Windows 8 operating system. It should be working until the retail version will be released and who knows...maybe even a little bit longer.