How to Try Windows 8 Consumer Preview without using your own Personal PC as the Guinea Pig


Introduction – Why do I want try something that will more than likely make my computer unusable?

Since the days of Windows 95 when Microsoft has released Beta Operating System’s to be tried out by the General Public (Translated, Try at your own Risk) we the user population would have to hope and pray that if we installed the most likely Non Stable Volatile OS that Microsoft currently had to offer to try on our own Personal Computer that It would not blow up in our faces (Not literally but it sure felt that way). So why would we allow ourselves to do this? To try something on our perfectly good machines when we know there was over a fifty percent chance that it may cost us the user lots of time and work? This is because we wanted to see the new Features that Microsoft had to bring into their new OS that they were releasing and would it work for what we needed it to work for. So here we are almost 20 years later, The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been released and once again we contemplate the same question; “Do I really want to screw up my perfectly working PC to try out Microsoft’s new OS ?” However, there is now a solution that was never readably there before and that solution is Virtualization. In this article I will be going over how to successfully obtain the necessary prerequisites and resources to configure your choice of Virtual Appliance to run Windows 8 consumer Preview on your Home PC or Laptop.

Before getting started let’s check to make sure we have everything we need to make this work…

I have a friend who strongly believes in that before starting any computer related task that you should have a frosty cold one at your side in the ready position, this of course is optional and can be substituted for something with just a little bit more carbonation in it instead.

Now first and foremost is we need to make sure that the PC (Desktop or Laptop) will be able to host the virtualized OS (In this case Windows 8 Consumer Preview), so the following host PC should have the following as a Bare Minimum in Hardware specs. Most PC’s that were made in the last 4 to 5 years should be able to meet those specifications…

· Intel Pentium Dual Core or AMD Athlon2 XII equivalent with 64 bit architecture that supports Virtualization Technologies.

· 2GB (Preferably 3GB) of System RAM.

· Running at least Microsoft Windows XP SP2 (32 Bit or 64 bit) Operating Systems or Higher Versions (For Both VMware Player and Virtual Box). For Mac users most versions of OS X (Virtual Box Only)

Second, we need to download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview from Microsoft. You will be given a choice of either 32 bit or 64 bit versions of Windows 8, I recommend choosing the 32 bit version for your virtual evaluation so you can save on the host system resources. The only real difference between the 32 and 64 bit versions is how much RAM you will be able to use and for evaluating the Operating System 4GB is more than enough. When you get ready to download the ISO Image File try to download it on a T1 or Cable ISP for faster download times, while you can still use Broadband or DSL due to the size of the ISO Image it could take at least 1 to 2 hours to download.

Lastly, you will need to download your choice of Virtualization Appliance and install on your Host PC. This topic will be covered in the next section of this article.

Choice of Virtualization Appliance

Since none of us are made out of money and the whole point of trying out an evaluation of something is not to put any cash up front we will be concentrating on two Virtual appliances from two different vendors that are absolutely free and fully functional Virtual Appliances for Home Use. Along with these Virtual Appliances I am also including links to tutorials that will help you configure and install the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for whatever Virtual Appliance you may choose.

VMware Player

This Virtual appliance can be downloaded directly from the VMware site after registering with VMware for a free account. You must download at the very Minimum Version 4.0.0 of the player for Windows 8 Consumer Preview to work. Once you have downloaded the executable file just double click on your mouse to start and click on all the default options to install on your PC, when your PC has completed rebooting click on these following links below to take you to the tutorials on installing and configuring the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on VMware Player.

How to Install the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on VMware Player by Brink from (Very Detailed)

Install Windows 8 Consumer Preview on VMware Player by Kubleo (You Tube Video How to Guide)

Oracle’s (Formally Sun’s) Virtual Box

Downloading Virtual Box is allot more direct and easier than it was for VMware. What is also nice about Virtual Box is that you can download the installer for either Windows or Mac. When you have gone to the download link you can choose between either the Windows host or OS X hosts download link. Along with the Virtual Box installer insure to download the “VirtualBox Extension Pack – All Platforms” as well. The Downloaded version of Virtual Box and the extension Pack has to be at least version 4.1.2 for Windows 8 Consumer Preview to work. Once both executables have been downloaded double click on the virtual box executable first and like VMware player just accept the default settings until the installation is finished (No Reboot required). Upon completion of the Virtual Box install double click on the extension pack and install the add-on as well, just accept the defaults selected. When both executables have completed being installed click on these following links to take you to the tutorials on installing and configuring the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Virtual Box.

How to Install Windows 8 In Virtual Box – What Do You See? By J. Dinesh from

How to Install “Windows 8 Consumer Preview” In Virtual Box by Brink from (Very Detailed)

What happens if I use a Virtual Appliance Version that is not covered in this Article?

You will then see Microsoft’s new re-incarnation of the Blue-Screen of Death as pictured here…

Pretty Slick on Bill Gate’s part, anyways I’m going to post which Virtualization Appliances (Free and paid) that will not support the Windows 8 Consumer Preview…

· VMware Player 3.X and older

· VMware Workstation 7.X and older

· Microsoft Virtual PC (All Versions including Windows XP Mode on Windows 7)

· Microsoft Virtual Server (All Versions)

· Oracle’s Virtual Box 4.1.1 and Older

With that being said here are the Virtual Appliances (Free and Paid) that will Support the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, two of which I have already covered in this article…

· VMware Player 4.X or Higher

· VMware Workstation 8.X or Higher

· Oracle’s Virtual Box 4.1.2 or Higher

· Hyper – V in Windows Server 2008 R2

· Hyper – V in Windows 8 (Please Note this will work only if you install Windows 8 on a Hardware based machine, It will not work in a Virtual appliance)

For More information concerning Virtual Appliance Compatibility please check out the following link from Microsoft.

When Does the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Expire?

As with all good things including the Windows 8 Consumer Preview it will expire as of this writing January 13, 2013. This will be basically about 2 to 3 months when the commercials editions are released for consumer purchase. If these dates change I will update this section accordingly.

In Conclusion

You should now have a fully functional Windows 8 Consumer Preview on your Personal Computer and you did not have to remove your existing Operating System to try it on. Please share your experiences and of course if there are any questions please feel free to leave a comment here or in the Connected Digital World Forums.

Acknowledgements – I would like to thank J. Dinesh from, Brink from, and Kubleo for their detailed how to guides on Installing and Configuring the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Virtual Box and VMware Player. With their valiant efforts it took me allot less time to write this article.