Windows 10 tip: Quickly create a virtual machine to test new features

Beginning with Windows 10 version 1709, the Hyper-V Manager includes an option to create a new virtual machine from a single dialog box. Be sure to check these four settings before you use this one-click option.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

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Be sure to check each of these four options before clicking the big blue button in the lower right corner.

Click to enlarge

In the Windows 10 era, new feature updates arrive every six months. Each one comes with a long list of new features as well as the risk that the upgrade will result in crashes, hangs, or other productivity-sapping problems.

So how do you test a new feature update for compatibility with essential apps without putting your work at risk? Simple: Create a virtual machine on your primary PC.

In this post, I assume you're running Windows 10 version 1709 or later and that you've already done the preliminary work of enabling Hyper-V. (For a refresher, see "Windows 10 tip: How to enable Hyper-V and create virtual machines.")

I also assume you've downloaded and saved the correct Windows 10 installer file in ISO format. (See "Where can I get installation files for Windows 10?" from my Windows 10 installation FAQ.)

Use the Start menu search box to find and open Hyper-V Manager.

Make sure your PC's name is selected in the center pane and then click Quick Create at the top of the Actions pane on the right. That opens the dialog box shown here, which offers a simple alternative to the old, multi-step New Virtual Machine Wizard. (This option is new as of Windows 10 version 1709. The old wizard is still available, if you prefer. Click New > Virtual Machine.)

Here are four items to check every time you use the Quick Create option. (Each step is labeled in the accompanying screenshot.)

  1. Because you're creating this VM from scratch, you don't want to use one of Microsoft's download-and-run virtual machines. Instead, click Local installation source.
  2. Click Change installation source to specify the full path to the ISO file containing the Windows 10 installation media. Hyper-V will mount the ISO file as a virtual DVD drive.
  3. Click More options to show the Name and Network boxes. If you don't do this, you'll get a generic name for your VM and its underlying files.
  4. Replace the generic "New Virtual Machine" placeholder with a descriptive name for the new VM and, if necessary, specify a virtual network switch to use instead of the default switch.

Click Create Virtual Machine to finish the process.

An entry for your new VM appears in Hyper-V Manager's Virtual Machines. You can now double-click that descriptive name to start the virtual machine in its own window and begin installing Windows 10.

Before you do that, though, consider making a few adjustments to other settings, a topic I cover in the next installment.


Windows 10 tip: How to enable Hyper-V and create virtual machines

Every business edition of Windows 10 includes a full-strength virtualization platform, Hyper-V. If your PC meets the requirements, you can begin creating virtual machines for testing software and services without risking your daily productivity.

Windows 10 tip: Turn off Cortana completely

In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, version 1607, Microsoft removed Cortana's on-off switch. But it's still there, if you know where to look. Use this tweak to make Windows search strictly local.

Windows 10 tip: Shut down OneDrive completely

In Windows 10, OneDrive is built in. The connections are so tight, in fact, that OneDrive has its own node in File Explorer, with no obvious way to remove it. But the options to disconnect OneDrive are there if you know where to look. Here are the full instructions.

Windows 10 tip: Repair your Windows 10 installation

Performing a clean install or a reset means you have to reinstall apps and desktop programs and start over with settings and preferences. If you suspect Windows has become damaged, there's a less drastic solution: Run Setup to repair Windows. Here's how.

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