Comprehensive Resource Guide to Windows 8 Developer Preview Installation


While there are many resources today listing one or the other approach to install Windows 8 Developer Preview, there are barely few that tell you why or when you should adopt which approach. Not everyone's hardware is alike, therefore there is no “one size fits all” solution. Different folks need different solutions. And that's what this post aims to do. It lists out all the approaches for installation, describes when you should use which, and finally points you to useful links on the Web that show how to actually install the preview. So let's plunge right in.
Before you start, make a note of these things
  1. The Windows 8 Developer Preview is a a pre-beta version of Windows 8 for developers. The prerelease software may change without notice.
  2. You can't uninstall the Windows 8 Developer Preview. To go back to your previous operating system, you must reinstall it from restoration or installation media.
Now that you are sure, you still want to go ahead, you can read on.

What to install?

There are three downloads on the MSDN download page: 
  1. Windows 8 Developer Preview with developer tools English, 64-bit (x64)
    Size: 4.8 GB
    This includes the following: 
    64-bit Windows 8 Developer Preview
    • Windows SDK for Metro style apps
    • Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 Developer Preview 
    • Microsoft Expression Blend 5 Developer Preview 
    • 28 Metro-style apps including the BUILD Conference app
    You must download this if you want to work with Visual Studio 11, which is the next generation IDE, after Visual Studio 2010.  
    Your PC must have a 64-bit processor for this to work.

  2. Windows 8 Developer Preview English, 64-bit (x64)
    Size: 3.6 GB
    This download does not include developer tools. You need to download the Windows 8 Developer Preview with developer tools 64-bit (x64) if you want to build Metro style apps.
  3. Windows 8 Developer Preview English, 32-bit (x86)
    Size: 2.8 GB 
    This download also does not include developer tools. You need to download the Windows 8 Developer Preview with developer tools 64-bit (x64) if you want to build Metro style apps.

System Requirements

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Taking advantage of touch input requires a the screen that supports multi-touch
  • To run Metro style Apps, you need a screen resolution of 1024 X 768 or greater

How to install?

Now we come to the main part. There are several approaches to this.
  1. Using VirtualBox (Oracle VM VirtualBox)
    Use this option you don't want to go in for VMWARE. The general opinion among users seems to be that VMWARE is better on many counts than VirtualBox. But since I haven't tested them myself, I cant vouch for that fact.
    Our very own C# Corer hero, Dhananjay Kumar aka debug mode, provides a step by step article on how to install Win 8 on a Virtualbox:
    Step by step installation guide to install Windows 8 Developer Preview on Virtual Box
  2. Install on VMWARE
    For this, you will need VMWARE Workstation 8 as that's the one supporting Windows 8 installations.
    Use this option when you want to leverage the powerful features of virtualization. You can work on Win 8 without losing your existing data or OS. You just work in a virtualized environment.
    Kunal Chowdhury demonstrates a step by step guide to do this:
    Step-by-Step Tutorial to Setup Windows8 in VMWare  
    For this approach, it's essential that your hardware (CPU) supports virtualization. You can verify that by checking your CPU (processor)'s configuration. For example, in my case, I determined that my processor does not support virtualization by going to the Intel site and checking the code of the processor against the listings. There are also many tools and utilities that can help determine this:

    Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool

    The Hardware-assisted virtualization (HAV) detection tool checks if the computer processor supports HAV and if this setting is enabled.
    CPU-Z is a freeware that gathers information on some of the main devices of your system.

  3. Install on a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD)

    Use this option when you can't use either of the two approaches mentioned above.
    Scott Hanselman has written an excellent article on this approach.

    Guide to Installing and Booting Windows 8 Developer Preview off a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk)
  4. Install by booting through a USB key
    Patrick Hines describes his experience using this approach:
    Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview on Samsung XE700T1A
    You will need a USB key with a minimum of 16GB. And also loads of patience in case the process doesn't work and you need to troubleshoot it like Patrick did.
  5. Dual boot with Win 7 and Win 8

    This is a great option if you want to keep both Windows 8 and Windows 7 on the same machine and you don't want to or can't use any of the above mentioned approaches.
 describes a step by step guide to do this.
    How to Dual-Boot Windows 7 and Windows 8 Side By Side
  6. Direct install on an HDD
    This is the riskiest of the lot and will erase all the existing content on the HDD so do this only if you are willing to do a clean install. In my case, none of the above approaches worked, I wanted to install Win8 as soon as possible, and I had a spare HDD so I chose option 6 but I would strongly recommend not to use this approach as the developer preview software is not even in the beta stage.

What Next?

Once you have installed Windows 8 successfully and want to look at some developer resources, these may come in handy: