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I have no intention to currently upgrade my Windows 7 64 bit Desktop PC to Windows 8. However Windows 8 intrigues me, with all it new features including the brand new tile start screen.

Is it possible to use Virtualisation software such VmWare Fusion or Parallels (or this particular software restricted to apple macs), to use Windows 8 virtually within my Windows 7 environment, if for the very least only to learn or "get used to" working with it.

Do you think this is a practical idea or not ?

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2 Answers

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There's a good guide on how to get Windows 8 working under VirtualBox available here:

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/HowToGuideToInstallingAndBootingWindows8ConsumerPreviewOffAVHDVirtualHardDisk.aspx

VirtualBox installs as an application in your existing Windows 7 (or linux) operating system, and allows you install other operating systems (like Windows 8) such that they can run in a window as a guest of your current operating system. Modern computer hardware has special features to make this virtualization process more efficient, but there is still a performance penalty for doing this. Take that into account when evaluating a guest operating system.

It's worth noting here that this arrangement does not make you eligible for an upgrade edition of Windows 8. You must buy a full version of Windows 8, or have another version of Windows that is not in use (your "host" Windows 7 is still considered to be in use) and available to be installed (an OEM Windows 7 or XP license that came with another computer is not "available to be installed") to be eligible for a Windows 8 Upgrade edition and associated pricing.

Since you are reluctant to put this directly onto your main system, it sounds like it's intended for practice/learning or a trial. In that case, there is a free 90-day evaluation version that is available. I recommend starting with that. You can get it here:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/jj554510.aspx

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Thx for that. In terms of purchasing Windows 8, which version do u recommend? –  Simon Nov 26 '12 at 18:34
    
You would need either to own XP SP3 or newer to do an upgrade. During which, you would need to install Windows (pre 8) first, and then do the upgrade to W8. The full install would require the System Builder discs. –  nerdwaller Nov 26 '12 at 18:37
    
If I install with virtual box, then am I correct in saying there no need to upgrade my machine, as i'm using Windows 8 virtually ? –  Simon Nov 26 '12 at 18:42
    
Not exactly, you can buy a few different W8 options. 1) Upgrade which is somewhere around $30. That requires a valid license of XP SP3 or newer. So, to install this method - you would need XP SP3 or newer installed in your Virtualmachine and activated. Then you would run the upgrade assistant from Microsoft that gets you W8. 2) Buy the System Builder version (choose 32-bit or 64bit) and just install that to the virtual machine. Definitely avoid upgrading W7 since you want to keep it. Does that make sense? –  nerdwaller Nov 26 '12 at 18:54
    
I dont understand the bit about XP ? You mean buy a copy of XP (I didnt know it was still available ?) –  Simon Nov 26 '12 at 18:59
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Absolutely is practical if you have the space and can allocate the hardware. I would suggest using Virtualbox instead, it is a free, opensource alternative that is cross-platform (Mac, Linux, Windows, BSD).

Setup is fairly straight forward and you should be up and running in no time.

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How does it fair against bootcamp ? –  Simon Nov 26 '12 at 18:33
    
Bootcamp is a full install of your OS, so that uses all resources the computer has available. A virtual machine (whether that is VMWare or Virtualbox) uses a division of resources, as allocated by the host. So if you are in bootcamp, you are 100% in the other OS. If you are in a vbox - you can specify how many cores and ram and graphics support is allocated. So performance would be degraded. Although, you could get a good feel for the OS. –  nerdwaller Nov 26 '12 at 18:35
    
ah i see. What is your experience thus far of virtualising Windows 8 with Windows 7. The main reason I want to do it is to be ready for Windows 9 (when I will probably buy a new PC) and dont want to be lost, as I'm sure touch screen function will be here for a long time and is currently only in its infancy. –  Simon Nov 26 '12 at 18:38
    
I haven't virtualized it, I run linux and don't care for Windows. But I have read that it manages resources better and since my W7 vm is good, W8 would perform better - overall. –  nerdwaller Nov 26 '12 at 18:55
    
Oh so you run linux as your main OS, and Windows 7 within it virtually is that right ? –  Simon Nov 26 '12 at 18:57
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