How to download and install Windows 8 on your PC
How would you like to get your hands on the latest version of Microsoft’s famous operating system, Windows 8?
The free to use Consumer Preview version is available to download from the company’s website, preview.windows.com, and anyone can try it out for free.
The only problem is that if you use the regular download tool, Windows 8 will overwrite your existing version of Windows 7.
While the latest version is amazing to use – it’s fast, colourful and different to anything you’ve seen before – it’s still not finished. So it’s not stable enough to run on a PC that you’re going to use a lot. Worse, when the final version of Windows 8 is released, it will stop working.
You can, however, try it out in a ‘Virtual Machine’. This is a program that operates like a computer-within-a-computer. A virtual machine behaves and acts just like a normal Windows desktop, except that it’s confined to the same kind of window as your browser or word processor.
- First, you’ll need to install the VirtualBox software from virtualbox.org on to your existing Windows PC. Now grab your copy of Windows 8 from Microsoft’s site – but instead of clicking the ‘download now’ button, choose the ‘iso file’ link. This will download a disc image, which is exactly the same as getting Windows on a DVD.
- Once you’ve downloaded Windows 8 – and it will take a while – start VirtualBox and select ‘new’. This will give you the option to create a Windows 8 PC – in the following options, 1 or 2GB of RAM is good, and select ‘VDI’ as the hard drive type.
- Give your machine a name and save it, then click ‘Start’. On the first boot it will ask you to choose ‘installation media’. This is the ISO file that you downloaded earlier, so just point the file browser at it.
- And that’s it. Windows 8 will install on your virtual PC and you can experiment with it to see how it works. When you’ve finished testing it, you can simply delete the virtual machine to free-up hard drive space.