If you’re keen enough to want to check out the Windows 10 Technical Preview, you should be smart enough to know NOT to install it as your main operating system. Fortunately virtualisation using VirtualBox now supports Windows 10 so you can easily create a virtual machine and take it for a road test.
The Windows 10 Technical Preview is available as an ISO (disk image) file, which you can burn to DVD media or to a bootable USB stick, or, in our case, mount as an ISO image in VirtualBox. You need a Microsoft Account and an Internet connection to get the image, and be signed up to the Windows Insider Program.
Go to the Windows Technical Preview site, read through the release information there, then click the Get Started button. You will need to sign in with your Microsoft Account to join the Windows Insider Program.
You can then follow the steps to go to the download page and download the appropriate ISO file to your hard disk. It is available in 32-bit and 64-bit images which I can prove both work fine.
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You can follow the steps to install Oracle VM VirtualBox yourself; you will also want to install the Extension Pack which provides additional features.
Support and installation notes
- Technical Preview doesn’t support all PC processors and hardware configurations. You’ll need to check the system requirements list. For example, a number of older, 64-bit CPUs are blocked from installing the preview.
- The Windows Store requires an Internet connection, a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768, and a Microsoft account.
- Technical Preview doesn’t contain the proprietary drivers to play DVDs using Windows Media Player. Worse than that, if you run the installer as an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, then Windows Media Center will be removed.
- The preview won’t run on Windows RT 8.1 or ARM processors
- The preview is not available for Windows Phone.
- If you’re running Windows 7 without SP1, you can only upgrade to the preview by downloading an ISO file. If you install Windows 7 SP1, you can upgrade to the preview by using Windows Update or by downloading an ISO file.
- Technical Preview is supports English, Chinese Simplified, and Brazilian Portuguese; if you run an upgrade, from any other language pack, you can only keep your personal files when you upgrade, losing language packs any language interface pack (LIP), apps and Windows settings.
Create a virtual machine
In the VirtualBox Manager screen, select New to launch the Create Virtual Machine wizard. Give it a name and select Microsoft Windows as the type; for the version, choose Windows 8.1 as the most compatible currently. Be sure to choose a virtual machine architecture which matches the 64-bit or 32-bit version of Windows 10 you downloaded.
For memory, the 64-bit version of Windows 10 requires 2GB of memory, and I’d stick with that even for the 32-bit version.
Create a virtual hard drive; I usually stick with the default type, a VirtualBox Disk Image (VDI). There’s no point using space until you need it, so I always choose a dynamically allocated hard drive over the fixed size. I’ve got Windows 10TP to run on as little as 18GB of space; I hit problems with 16GB, so I won’t go lower than that. A lot of testers recommend 25GB for comfort, so that’s where I’ve stayed.
You will need a network adapter, acceleration settings for VT-x/AMD-V, Nested paging andPAE/NW. For the graphics memory, set to 256MB with 3D acceleration. Graphics drivers get interesting later, so this is the base support you will need. Don’t forget a virtual CD drive so you can mount the ISO image to install.
Select the Storage panel. In the Storage Tree, select the IDE controller, and then select Add CD/DVD drive. Select the IDE controller and not SATA controller for the CD/DVD drive. The Choose disk option allows you to browse to the location on your hard disk containing the ISO file.
On running the new virtual machine, the bootable ISO image begins the Windows 10 TP installation.
In Part II we’ll step through the Windows 10 Technical Preview installation, and in Part III, how to get the VirtualBox Guest Additions and drivers working. AJS