In this article you will learn how to install the Microsoft Windows Server 8 Developer Preview in a virtual machine by using VirtualBox.

Honestly, friends, I don’t think I “get” Windows Server 8 just yet. With Windows 8 Microsoft seems to be attempting a sort of “grand unified theory” with operating systems. In other words, Windows 8 works just as well in a tablet form as it does with a standard PC form.

But why would we need a touch-friendly Metro user interface in a server OS? Moreover, why would Microsoft abandon the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) for its server tools?

These are questions that I need your help in answering. In the meantime, earlier this month Microsoft released a Developer Preview (DP) build of Windows Server 8 to its Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers.

In this tutorial I will teach you how to get the Windows Server 8 DP up and running in a virtual machine. We are going to use the free, open-source Oracle VirtualBox VM 4 as our virtualization platform because (a) it is free; (b) VirtualBox is cross-platform; and (c) it runs the DP quite well, thank you very much.

Let’s get to work.

Determining Prerequisites ^

Your two guiding principles if you are considering installing Windows Server 8 Developer Preview in a virtual environment are:

You can download and run the Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool as a quick way to determine whether your proposed host system supports HAV.

Windows Server 8 Virtualbox - Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool

Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool

If your computer contains an Intel processor, you can also use the Intel Processor Identification Utility, which serves the same purpose as the Microsoft HAV tool.

Windows Server 8 - Intel Processor Identification Utility

Intel Processor Identification Utility

The reason why your host (hardware) computer must exceed the system requirements for the Windows 8 DP is, of course, because you need to allocate at least the minimum specs to the virtual machine itself. Here are the latest minimum system requirements for the virtual machine:

  • Processor: 2.0 GHz or faster (x64)
  • Disk Space: At least 10.0 GB of free disk space
  • RAM: 2.5 GB of available physical RAM
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Taking advantage of touch input requires a screen that supports multi-touch
  • To run Metro style Apps, you need a screen resolution of 1024 X 768 or greater

Obtaining the Bits ^

To get this party started, we need to download the Windows Server 8 DP and VirtualBox. You can download Windows Server 8 DP from the MSDN Subscriptions site. Note that you must have an MSDN license in order to download the software (bummer for us systems admins, I know).

Windows Server 8 - Downloading the Windows Server 8 Developer Preview

Downloading the Windows Server 8 Developer Preview

Next, you should hit up the Oracle VirtualBox site to download the latest version of VirtualBox. In order to support Windows Server 8 DP, you will need at least version 4 of this software.

Windows Server 8 -  Downloading VirtualBox

Downloading VirtualBox

Setting Up VirtualBox ^

Once you install VirtualBox, fire up the application and click New from the main toolbar.

Windows Server 8 - Creating a new virtual machine

Creating a new virtual machine

In the VM Name and OS Type dialog box, select Windows 2008 (64 bit) as the operating system type. Next, click Continue to, well, continue. 🙂

Windows Server 8 - Selecting a guest OS

Selecting a guest OS

In the Memory dialog box, provide a value of at least 1536 MB. Don’t be stingy with RAM allocation here, friends!

Windows Server 8 - Allocating RAM

Allocating RAM

Next, step through the virtual disk creation wizard, accepting all defaults. Unless you plan on installing additional software in the virtual machine (VM), the 20GB base value should be fine.

Windows Server 8 - Creating the virtual hard disk

Creating the virtual hard disk

Once the virtual machine has been created, select the VM entry in the VM list and then click Settings on the main toolbar.

Windows Sever 8 - Configuring the VM settings

Configuring the VM settings

In System > Motherboard, ensure that IO APIC is enabled.

TROUBLESHOOTING TIP: If you have difficulty booting Windows Server 8, try changing the Chipset value from PIIX3 to ICH9.

Windows Server 8 - Setting motherboard options

Setting motherboard options

In System > Processor, ensure that Enable PAE/NX is is turned on.

Windows Server 8 - Setting processor options

Setting processor options

In System > Acceleration, ensure that both hardware virtualization options are enabled. You may also need to enable HAV in the virtual machine BIOS.

Windows Sever 8 - Enabling hardware-assisted virtualization

Enabling hardware-assisted virtualization

In Storage, select the virtual optical drive and browse to the Windows Server 8 DP ISO image that you downloaded from the MSDN site.

Windows Server 8 - Mounting the Windows 8 DVD image

Mounting the Windows 8 DVD image

If you want your Windows Server 8 virtual machine to access the Internet, make sure you have networking enabled in Network > Adapter 1. The default option, NAT, is fine.

Windows Server 8 - Enabling Internet access

Enabling Internet access

Cool beans! We are now ready to install Windows Server 8 DP!

Installing Windows Server 8 ^

Configure the virtual machine to boot from the virtual optical drive. If the boot is successful, you will see the traditional Install Windows dialog box.

Windows Server 8 - Windows Server 8 installer

Windows Server 8 installer

You know the drill—click Install Now.

Windows Server 8 - Windows Server 8 installer 2

Windows Server 8 installer

Select the version of the operating system that you want to install. The Full and Server Core options should be self-explanatory to anyone who has installed Windows Server 2008.

The Features On Demand installation option gives you a more scaled-back installation of Windows Server 8 with the flexibility of adding in extra features (including core features like Control Panel and Windows Explorer) on an as-needed basis.

Windows Sever 8 - Choosing an installation type

Choosing an installation type

Accept the license agreement and click Next to continue.

Windows Server 8 - Accepting the license terms

Accepting the license terms

We are performing a clean installation here, so double-click Custom (advanced).

Windows Server 8 - Choosing an installation method

Choosing an installation method

Make sure the correct virtual hard disk is selected and then click Next to continue.

Windows Server 8 - Selecting a target virtual hard drive

Selecting a target virtual hard drive

Time to hurry up and wait…

Windows Server 8 - Windows Server 8 installation progress

Windows Server 8 installation progress

During first launch there is a brief Settings wizard to complete. Here we assign an initial password to the default, built-in Administrator account.

Windows Server 8 - Windows Server 8 settings wizard

Windows Server 8 settings wizard

The lock screen in Windows Server 8 looks virtually identical to the lock screen in Windows 8, at least at this point.

Windows Server 8 - Windows Server 8 lock screen

Windows Server 8 lock screen

Enter your password and click Submit to log on.

Windows Sever 8 - Logging onto Windows Server 8 Developer Preview

Logging onto Windows Server 8 Developer Preview

As previously stated, Windows Server 8 includes the new-fangled Metro UI, albeit in a scaled-back form from what we have in the Windows 8 DP.

Click the Desktop tile to shift the UI from Metro to “classic” Windows.

Windows Server 8 - The Metro UI

The Metro UI

Navigating Windows Server 8 ^

Once you switch into the Classic Windows interface, the completely revamped Server Manager tool appears automatically. Again, between you, me, and the wall, I am unsure why and how this new interface is an improvement over the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). On the other hand, nobody at Microsoft asked me for my input.

From the left-hand navigation bar, click Local Server.

Windows Server 8 - The Classic Windows UI

The Classic Windows UI

The Server Manager interface is essentially a Web page (does anybody know if this is indeed an HTML5/JavaScript mashup?) inasmuch as just about everything on this page is hyperlinked.

Windows Server 8 - The completely revamped Server Manager

The completely revamped Server Manager

Besides the new window chrome, many of the Control Panel dialogs look the same as they did under Windows Server 2008 R2. For instance, in the Properties section of Server Manager, you can click the computer name and/or or Workgroup link to invoke System Properties.

Windows Server 8 - Accessing System Properties

Accessing System Properties

In the integrated Services panel, you can start, stop, pause, or resume services by right-clicking the appropriate service entry.

Windows Server 8 - Managing Windows services

Managing Windows services

Yet another nice enhancement to Windows Server 2008 is a greatly expanded cmdlet set in PowerShell v3.

Windows Server 8 - Windows PowerShell v3

Windows PowerShell v3

Microsoft added the Fluent (ribbon) interface to Windows Explorer. I do enjoy the inclusion of Control Panel, Uninstall, and System Properties buttons on the toolbar.

Windows Server 8 - Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer

Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer

If you point your mouse to the lower-left corner of the screen, you see what Microsoft calls “charms” (the Windows team seems to avoid the term “icon” at all costs). If you click the Start button, it takes you back to the Metro UI.

Windows Sever 8 - Windows Server 8 charms

Windows Server 8 charms

If you click Settings from the charms menu, you can shut down or reboot the system, among other actions.

Windows Server 8 - Settings dialog

Settings dialog

Conclusion ^

If all has gone well in your following this tutorial, then you have Windows Server 8 DP up and running. As you can tell, I have strong opinions about this version of Windows Server. To that end, please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments portion of this post—I would love to chat with you about this.

If you want to install the client version of Windows 8:
How to install Windows 8 Developer Preview in VirtualBox

1 Comment
  1. Easyn 10 years ago

    If you want to use remote need to use bridged and not NAT, with NAT your server is in its own private network.

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