In Part 1, we got hold of the Windows 10 Technical Preview build and created ourselves a VirtualBox guest machine onto which to install it. With the Windows 10 ISO image inserted to the virtual CD drive, on starting the new virtual machine, the bootable ISO image begins the Windows 10 Technical Preview installation.
As you work through the wizard, choose the Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) onto the 25GB hard drive. The familiar Windows installation procedure begins with the selection of location, language and timezone. The unpacking process from the ISO does take a while, as does the installation of the base system and devices, which is the first prompt to restart your system.
Next, you’ll be prompted to sign into your Microsoft Account. If this is associated with a Windows 8.x system, you’ll then be asked if you want to copy settings and Windows Store apps from that PC or whether to set this up as a new PC from scratch.
There is also a privacy verification step with an activation code that will be emailed to you. You also receive notification that your system is being configured to use OneDrive as your cloud backup (there is an opt out)
The rest of the installation procedure ticks over updating messages and desktop colours. You should arrive at a functional, if low resolution desktop featuring the Windows 10 interface with its new hybrid Start Menu/Start Screen.
Windows 10 is now running as a virtual machine, but you may have one thing missing. The ‘new’ Windows Start Menu. Depending on the build, you may have to tell Windows to use it. To do that, right-click the task bar, select Properties, Start Menu, then select ‘Use the Start Menu instead of the Start screen.’ You will need to log out of your current Windows session and log back in again to activate it
I’ve run this VirtualBox/Windows 10 installation several times. It doesn’t always work flawlessly, there are glitches with devices and networking, all dependant on your VirtualBox guest settings and the host hardware on which it runs. You could attempt to diagnose and fix the problems, but with experience, starting over from the beginning is more successful. You may need to tweak your VirtualBox Guest settings if the networking or graphics don’t work as expected. Bear in mind that this is a virtual guest machine so it won’t have access to the full range of fancy graphics that you run natively in the host.
If VirtualBox fails to install Windows 10, make sure you’re running the very latest version of the VirtualBox software. It has been updated since the Summer of 2014 for Windows 10 compatibility. At minimum you need VirtualBox 3.4.18 as Windows 10 is likely to fail under 3.4.16 or earlier.
A further fix to try is to go to System Properties on the host (not the virtual guest) PC, select the Advanced tab then Performance, Settings. Select the Data Execution Prevention tab and change the setting ‘Turn on DEP for essential Windows programs and services only’ to ‘Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select’. After a re-start, VirtualBox should install Windows 10 to completion.
Also bear in mind that Windows 10 virtual machines don’t always respond to power off commands – various restarts of Windows10 didn’t happen without a manual reset – ACPI commands are flaky at best.
Also remember that the Technical preview installer lacks bells and whistles, you can spend a lot of time looking at a black screen between messages coming up – getting devices ready takes an age, so have patience.
Part III will look at how to get the VirtualBox Guest Additions and drivers working. AJS