Where do I get Windows 8? Can I set up a dual boot? Can I install it in VM? How? This post answers those questions
This post is part of a series, you can see all the posts in the series here.
You can’t build a Windows 8 app without installing Windows 8. So you need to get a copy of Windows 8 and you need to install it. This blog post will either explain or provide links to references that explain the following:
- Where do I get a copy of Windows 8?
- How do I install Windows 8 as dual boot?
- How do I install Windows 8 in a Virtual Machine?
- What can you do after you have Windows 8 installed?
Where do I get a copy of Windows 8?
First check the System requirements to make sure your PC can handle Windows 8. You do not require touch, Windows 8 works fine with keyboard and mouse. Though you might want to learn a few keyboard shortcuts.
All of the options below will provide you with a .iso file, so you will either need a DVD burner so you can burn a DVD with the .iso file to install Windows 8, or you will need a tool like Virtual Clone Drive to read the .iso file directly.
Are you a student in a technical program?
You may be able to download Windows 8 for free from DreamSpark Premium. Note: this is only available for students in programs that have DreamSpark Premium. Many students have access to DreamSpark Standard which allows you to download a lot of free software including Visual Studio, but does not include the operating system software such as Windows 8.
Do you have an MSDN subscription?
if you are a Microsoft Student Partner, or you work at a company that has an MSDN subscription, you may be able to download Windows 8 using your MSDN subscription.
- Visit the MSDN download center
- Log in with your live id
- Type Windows 8 Pro into the Search box
- Choose Windows 8 Pro and download the .iso
There is a 90 day evaluation version of Windows 8 you can download for free, but note: IT CANNOT BE UPGRADED TO THE FULL VERSION. To upgrade, the evaluation must be uninstalled and a non-evaluation version of Windows must be re-installed. So if you are going to choose the trial version, you probably want to do it as a dual boot or in a virtual machine.
Until Jan 31, 2013 you can buy a Windows 8 Pro upgrade for $39.99. You can do the upgrade easily if you are running Windows 7. If you are running Windows XP or Windows Vista you will need to reinstall your apps after you upgrade.
How do I install Windows 8 as a dual boot?
If you are downloading the trial version, or you just aren’t ready to upgrade yet (though honestly I found, after a week on Windows 8, I didn’t miss Windows 7, and was completely comfortable working with Windows 8, my existing printer, external monitor, mouse, and programs all work fine on Windows 8). But still I understand that you may have reasons for keeping a copy of Windows 7 running on your laptop. You can of course set up your laptop to have dual boot so you can start it in Windows 8 or Windows 7.
- How to dual boot Windows 7 and Windows 8 side by side – this blog post explains how to create a new partition for your dual boot and install Windows 8 on that partition for dual boot. The screenshots for installing Windows will be a bit different because this blog was written for the developer preview not the release version of Windows 8. However, the instructions on how to set up the dual boot are well written.
- How to dual boot Windows XP and Windows 8 side by side – explains how to set up a dual boot of Windows 8 on a Windows XP machine. There are a few explanations in the support article about setting up a multiple boot system in Windows XP you may find helpful as well, even though that article talks about dual booting Windows XP and Windows NT.
- How to dual boot on a MAC – this blog explains how you set up a dual boot for Windows 8 on a MAC computer. Boot Camp won’t install from a USB drive so you will need to burn your downloaded ISO onto a DVD. The Windows team has a few notes about installing using Boot camp.
How do I install Windows 8 in a Virtual Machine
Installing Windows 8 in a Virtual machine won’t run as fast as upgrading your operating system to Windows 8 and from what I am seeing in the comments on these blogs, you may need to brace yourself for a bit of fiddling to get it working. But for those of you who are not ready to upgrade, it is certainly an option and I’ve seen lots of developers at our hackathons building Windows 8 apps inside a VM.
Here’s a twist on the virtual machine option to consider as well. Windows 8 comes with Hyper-V support. So you could install Windows 8 on your machine and then run Windows 7 in a Hyper-V virtual machine on your Windows 8 PC.
- Install Windows 8 using VMware – this post explains how to install Windows 8 with VMware 4.0 and above
- Install Windows 8 using Virtual Box – this post explains how to install Windows 8 with Oracle VM VirtualBox, but read the comments there are some readers who had issues and reading their comments and their solutions before you start could save you time.
- Install Windows 8 using Hyper-V – I couldn’t find a good blog post on this, but thanks to MCT and MVP Dave Franklyn for recording this video with instructions. I couldn’t maximize the viewer within his blog page so if you prefer you can go straight to the video on YouTube so you can make it full screen.
- Installing as a VM on a MAC – The Windows team has provided some pointers for installing Windows 8 as a virtual machine on a Mac.
- Install Windows 8 using Virtual PC – Is not an option, Windows Virtual PC is unable to host a virtualized install of Windows 8. Windows Virtual PC is being deprecated in favour of Hyper-V
- Install Windows 8 using Virtual Server – Is not an option, Windows Virtual Server is unable to host a virtualized install of Windows 8.
What can you do after you have Windows 8 installed?
Now you’ve got Windows 8 installed, you can develop apps for Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8! Great preparation for the Imagine Cup or your first step to getting rewards from the Developer Movement. Get coding!