Senior Administrator & Reviewer
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Republic of Ireland (North West)
Guide to installing Windows 8 and Power8 in VirtualBox
From my own experience and hearing the experience of others, the Windows 8 preview editions, including the release preview have a tendency to cause file system issues with other hard drives in the PC when switching between Windows 8 and an earlier OS. For example, when I was trying the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, nearly every second time I rebooted back into Windows 7, it ran chkdsk on several of my hard disks and in one case lost a handful of files I recently added to one drive.
While this issue can be avoided by disconnecting all hard disks except the HDD containing Windows 8 or running Windows 8 on a separate PC, not many people have a second computer lying around powerful enough to run Windows 8 and who wants to go about disconnecting all their HDDs each time they want to boot into Windows 8?
Well, one workaround is to install Windows 8 in a virtual PC and in this guide we will be using VirtualBox. From my experience at the moment, VirtualBox is unstable with guest additions in Windows 8 and the Metro Apps are sluggish without the guest additions. But then again, a sluggish Metro doesn't really matter if we're trying to avoid Metro, right?
Before we begin, make sure you have the latest version of VirtualBox installed. The latest version can be downloaded from here and installation or upgrading to the latest version is about as straight forward as installing a web browser.
You will also need to have the Windows 8 ISO handy along with its product key, currently available to download here. A Windows 8 installation with Power8 will result in a 9GB virtual hard disk and this will grow over time as Windows updates and other software is installed, so I suggest placing it on a volume with 40GB or more free space to allow for the virtual hard disk volume to grow over time.
Now for setting up VirtualBox for the Windows 8 installation:
Now for the Power8 installation:
If you would like to use VirtualBox shared folders or go full screen with most monitors, the Guest additions need to be installed. From my experience, Windows 8's Internet Explorer does not work properly with Guest additions, so I strongly suggest installing an alternative browser before installing Guest additions.
If Windows 8 is too unstable with the VirtualBox Guest additions, they can be uninstalled again by going into Start -> Control panel -> Programs and Features, then running the uninstaller. If you don't have the Power8 installed yet, move the mouse to the bottom-left corner of the screen until 'Start' appears, then right-click here and click 'Programs and features', then run the guest additions uninstaller.
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