Windows 8 Developer Preview - Installation

18 September 2011

The Developer Preview build of Windows 8 was unexpectedly (to me anyway) released on Tuesday (13th September 2011).

Three builds were made available: a 64-bit version that includes developer tools, along with 64-bit and 32-bit versions of just the OS (no dev tools). Initially I decided to install the 64-bit + dev tools version in a VM using the newly released VMWare Workstation 8. However, VMWare gave me an error when I tried to setup a 64-bit VM:

The virtual machine is configured for 64-bit guest operating system. However, 64-bit operation is not possible. Long mode is disabled for this vitual machine.

I used the Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool (HAV) to first check that my machine actually supported 64-bit HAV. After confirming that it did, the VMWare issue was resolved by enabling HAV in the bios of my HP TouchSmart 610. I then used the instructions here for guidance on installing Windows 8 in a VMWare Workstation 8 VM.

The install was quick and easy. However, performance in the VM was not great (understandable in a pre-BETA release!) so I decided to try a dual-boot setup instead. This was very straightforward. All I had to do was:

  1. Using the Windows 7 Disk Management tool, shrink the primary partition on my drive (I allocated 60GB for the Windows 8 partition)
  2. Create a new Simple Disk in the 60GB of newly available space
  3. Create a bootable USB falsh memory stick and then expand the contents of the Windows 8 .iso onto it
  4. Boot from the USB drive

My initial notes and observations were:

  • I used the Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to try and create the bootable USB. However, this kept giving me an error:

    We were unable to copy your files. Please check your USB device and the selected ISO file and try again

    I knew there was nothing wrong with the USB stick, so I used the following method to make the USB stick bootable:

    1. Open a command prompt with Admin permissions
    2. DISKPART
    3. LISTDISK
      This will list all the drives attached to your machine. Make a note of the number (n) of the USB drive
    4. SELECT DISK n
    5. CLEAN
    6. CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
    7. SELECT PARTITION 1
    8. ACTIVE
    9. FORMAT FS=FAT32
    10. ASSIGN
    11. EXIT

    After that I used the USB/DVD Download Tool to extract the contents of the Windows 8 .iso and it worked just fine. At this point I also could have used something like WinRar to extract the .iso
  • The install was quick! Less than 10 minutes in total...
  • All my hardware (including wireless mouse and keyboard, touch screen, etc.) were all correctly identified and suitable drivers loaded
  • Performance of Windows 8 was really excellent! As a pre-BETA release, I expected it to be a bit sluggish. But no! Everything seemed fast & fluid (I think that's a Microsoft marketing line!), from boot times to starting apps and switching between them. And having used the preview for several days now, I haven't had any crashes or freezing. Nice work Microsoft for a pre-BETA!