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How to Test Drive Windows 10 in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1

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We’ve discussed Windows 10 on the blog previously, particularly noting how it will be available for free to Windows 7 and 8 owners in first year of release. For many, the promise of a free migration from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will be enough of an impetus to go to Windows 10. To persuade those out there that were on the fence, Microsoft released a free Technical Preview build on Windows 10 for them to try. However, one complaint we’ve heard is that people don’t want to do fresh installs just to try a Technical Preview build of an operating system.

But what if a fresh install were not needed? What if all it took to try Windows 10 was approximately an hour of your time? With hardware virtualization, it can be that easy. Before we get started however, be aware that a relatively high-performance system with at least 8 GB of system memory is recommended.

Download These First

Windows 10 Technical Preview – Available for free from Microsoft in both x86 and x64 formats. Project key included for free—all legal of course.

Oracle VM VirtualBox (Windows 7 only) – A free download from Oracle that requires only x86 hardware. However, you will need quite a bit of free disk space and a sizable amount of RAM to proceed. Windows 8.1 users will not need VirtualBox as it has Hyper-V.

Virtual Box Method (Windows 7 and Windows 8)

  1. Open the VirtualBox installation file and proceed through installation. Aside from the installation directory, no custom settings should be required. When prompted, agree to the driver installations.
    Windows 10 via VirtualBox - Step 1
  2. After installation, open VirtualBox.
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  3. Under the Machine menu, click new.
    Windows 10 via VirtualBox

    1. Enter a name for the virtual machine and ensure that Type and  Version are set to Microsoft Windows and Windows 8.1 (32bit or 64bit) respectively.
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  4. Allocate at least 2048 MB (2 GB) of system memory.
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  5. Choose Create a virtual hard drive now and click Create. Select VDI as the format.
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  6. Choose Fixed size for better performance or Dynamically allocated to save disk space. Fixed size is recommended.
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  7. Allocate approximately 50 GB for the virtual machine. Finish by clicking Create.
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  8. The virtual machine has been created.
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  9. Under Machine, click Start.
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  10. You will be prompted to select a start-up disk, so point it at the Windows 10 Technical Preview ISO file that you downloaded earlier and click Start. Then proceed to install Windows as normal.
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  11. You now have Windows 10 Technical Preview installed.
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Hyper-V Method (Windows 8.1)

Before we install Windows 10 Technical Preview, we need to install Hyper-V, a free hardware virtualization tool included in Windows 8.1.

  1. Open your Search Charm by vertically swiping the right edge of your screen.
    1. In the Search bar, enter “turn windows features on or off” and click on the program when it appears.
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  2. In the Windows Features dialog box, enable the check box for Hyper-V and click OK. It will be downloaded and installed automatically.
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  3. Restart your computer when prompted.
  4. After logging back into Windows, open the Hyper-V Manager using the Search Charm.
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    1. Under Actions, select Connect to Server and choose Local Computer. Click OK to continue.
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  5. Under the Action menu, choose New > Virtual Machine.
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  6. Click Next on the Before Your Begin screen.
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  7. Specify a name and directory location for your Windows 10 virtual machine. Then click Next.
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  8. When asked, choose Generation 1 and click Next.
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  9. Allocate at least 2 GB of memory (2048 MB) and click Next.
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  10. Choose a Connection if available or desired. It is not strictly required.
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  11. Allocate at least 40 GB for the virtual hard disk.
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  12. Select Install an operating system from a bootable CD/DVD-ROM and point it to your Windows 10 Technical Preview ISO file that you downloaded. Click Next.
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  13. At the Summary stage, click Finish.
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  14. After the automated setup, right-click on the new Virtual Machine and choose Start.
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  15. Right-click on the VM again and choose Connect.
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  16. You will be greeted with the Windows 10 Technical Preview install screen. Proceed through installation.
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  17. Congratulations, you can now test drive Windows 10.
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    Please note that you may be stuck in a 4:3 window at first. To change the resolution, update the display properties in Windows 10, not Windows 8. You may need to run the virtual machine in full screen mode.

 Let us know in the comments if you’ve had a chance to test drive Windows 10

Wallace Chu

Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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