If you haven't tried Windows 10 yet, here is a detailed guide on how to get started.
Sources have been reporting Windows 10 to be released in late Summer 2015, or tentatively early Fall. While it might seem like an eternity, at this point, there is every indication that the wait is well worth it.
The Microsoft Windows Insider program has been allowing millions to download and try the technical preview of the operating system, but the best build yet was released only a short while ago, and if you haven’t tried it yet, we highly recommend it.
In this quick tutorial, we will tackle the basics of how to install Windows 10 as a virtual machine, which allows to run different operating systems within self-contained “sandboxes” on your Windows desktop.
For this tutorial, we will need a free copy of Oracle VirtualBox, which can be downloaded from this page: https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads.
The installer is about 110Mb, and will take a few minutes to install.
Windows 10, comes as a 32-bit or 64-bit ISO, which can be downloaded by logging in with your Microsoft account here: https://insider.windows.com/.
Once you have signed up with your Microsoft account, you will be presented with different optional ISOs for download. The instructions on how to install the 32-bit version and the 64-bit version of Windows 10 are identical.
Warning: should you incur in any errors, chances are the ISO file downloaded could have been corrupted while transferring (rare, but plausible), in such case, just re-download the file and make sure the size is correct:
- Windows 10 Technical Preview x64 (3.92 GB)
- Windows 10 Technical Preview x86 (3.01 GB)
Wait a minute... what are ISO’s??
ISO is a compressed file, comparable to a .zip file, but typically designed to contain installation files for operating systems. The primary characteristic of an ISO file is its ability to be loaded as if it were another physical storage device, such as a hard drive, or an optical medium from a DVD reader.
ISO files are used to manufacture copies of installation discs for many operating systems and programs, including Windows.
Let's get started
When opening Oracle VM VirtualBox for the first time, you will be presented with this window. Let’s get started by clicking “New”.
You will now be given the chance to create a brand new virtual machine in which to install Windows 10.
In the “Name” field, type Windows 10, then select “Windows 8.1(64 bit)”, or “Windows 8.1(32 bit)” from the Version menu, depending on which ISO you have downloaded and whether your computer runs a 32 bit or 64 bit native operating system. Then, let’s click “Next”.
Now we’ll be choosing how much RAM our virtual machine will use. We’ll want to leave it at 2048, for good measure, but keep in mind, memory allocated for the virtual machine will be in use when the virtual environment is running.
Time to select the size of our hard drive for Windows 10. If your hard drive allows for it, anything above the recommended 25GB will ensure sufficient capacity for daily tasks. Still, we most likely won’t need more than that in this instance.
The type of hard drive should be the default VDI, to keep things simple.
The difference between Fixed size and Dynamically allocated is in the way we’d rather handle the virtual hard disk. With a fixed file size, the hard disk will be always the same size. When dynamically allocated, the virtual drive will grow, proportionally to the amount of space needed.
Here is our last chance to decide the size of the virtual hard drive we’ll be using for Windows 10.
It will take some time for the virtual hard drive to be create. Coffee and a newspaper may be required at this stage.
Finally, our virtual PC is ready to start setting up Windows 10.
Let’s click on “Storage”, from the box on the left, and then let’s expand “Controller: IDE”, if it’s not already open.
To load the Windows 10 ISO we downloaded, let’s click on the first “plus” symbol that shows when selecting “Controller: IDE”
Next, let’s click “Choose disk”, which will open a dialog onto the local storage.
Let’s navigate through to the location where the ISO has been downloaded into, and select it.
At this point, we are ready to click on Run, and be welcomed by a familiar logo:
The install wizard begins with the typical basic settings related to language, time/currency and keyboard layout.
Next, we are given the choice of installing from scratch, or repairing an existing installation of Windows 10.
A quick reminder of the risks involved in installing a preview version of an operating system for us to click and move on...
since we are not upgrading a previous operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8.1, we’ll click on “Custom” Install Windows only”. This will create a new installation of Windows 10.
Next, we select the hard drive available, which we created earlier during setup of the windows 10 VirtualBox. Note that no real (physical) storage device is shown, as this is merely a simulation of a PC.
No matter what we do within this window, no part of the native operating system is affected.
From this point forward, the setup program will be taking control.
Windows 10 will restart automatically once all settings and apps have been set up by the system.
At this point windows will restart a second time. This is completely normal and no action is required.
Finally, we are now in the last portion of the installation, where we’ll be given a chance to customize basic desktop settings, or leave it alone and pick “Use express settings” for simplicity.
Using the same credentials used when downloading our ISO of Windows 10, we’ll setup the account information that will be using to personalize our experience of Windows 10.
For added security, Windows will ask a secondary email address where to send a verification code to activate Windows.
Once the information is accepted, Windows 10 will conduct last minute set ups.
Finally... we are in Windows 10. Let’s take a brief walk around.
The interface is every bit as slick and functional as predicted. The taskbar menu offers direct access to power functions, programs and apps, which can be scrolled through to reveal more items.
When clicking on the expand button on the top right corner, the taskbar menu maximizes, without hiding the taskbar itself.
One last look to the virtual desktops, a neat productivity feature that allows users to predefine the position of a set of apps on a screen.
So there you have it: a little Windows 10 sandbox to experiment with and explore until the official release of the last Windows we’ll ever need.