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Setting up Windows 8 Consumer Preview with VirtualBox (Gallery)

The best way to try out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview beta is with Oracle's VirtualBox virtualization program. Here's how to do it step-by-step.
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Topic: Windows
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After making sure your PC can handle a Windows 8 virtual machine, download and install the latest copy of VirtualBox and the Windows 8 ISO file, then launch VirtualBox. Next, press the “New” icon in the upper left. For more, read Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols blog.

You can download the Windows 8 beta from the Windows Dev Center. You can also download VirtualBox 4.

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Now just start following the create a new virtual machine wizard.

 

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Be sure to pick Windows/Windows 8 for your VM. If you're going to be testing out the 64-bit version, select Windows 8 (64bit).

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VirtualBox may think that you'll only need 1GB for 32-bit Windows 8. Don't believe it. Set it up with at least 2GBs—that's 2,048MB. 

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Next create a new virtual drive for you Windows 8 VM. 20GBs should be more than enough for test purposes.

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Unless you plan on using your virtual Windows 8 machine with about VM program, it's best to just stick with the VirtualBox Disk Image for your virtual hard drive.

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Personally I prefer to use dynamically allocated virtual drives—just in case I start using a VM instance a lot and it expands beyond its original 20GBs of designated space.

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Once you're done with your RAM and disk settings, VirtualBox gives you a chance to go over your final settings before committing to them.

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Now, once the base Windows 8 VM is ready to go, it's time to start tuning it for its best performance.

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On the System/Motherboard tab you want to make sure you have enough RAM—2GBs for 32-bit at least 3GBs for 64-bits and that  Enable IO APIC is on.

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On the System/Processor tab, make sure you enable PAE/NX. And, if, and only if, you have a system with multiple core or processors, you can add another CPU to Windows 8. In my case with a six-core Intel Core i7, I gave Windows 7 two CPUs.

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Under the System/Acceleration tab make certain that both Enable VT-X and AMD-V and Enable Nested Paging are checked.

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Windows 8 wants all the graphics power you can give it. To do this, first enable both 3D and 2D video acceleration. This, in turn, will let you give Windows 8 up to 256MBs of video RAM, instead of the default maximum of 128MBs. Go ahead and up your video memory to 256. You'll be glad you did.

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Next, move down to storage and go to your virtual hard drive (.vdi) under the SATA controller and click host I/O cache. While there, your Windows 8 Preview .ISO file should have been mounted already/ If it hasn't been yet , mount with IDE and make sure you're using IDE with the ICH6 IDE controller.

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After you've completed these steps, you'll return to the VirtualBox main display. Here, click on your new virtual machine.

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You'll now be at the First Run Wizard. From here on out, you'll be installing Windows just as if you were on a new PC using a DVD.

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And, once that is said and done, which took me about ten-minutes on my system, you'll have a running copy of Windows 8.

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