How to Install & Run Windows 8 in VirtualBox

Sep 15, 2011 - 25 Comments

Installing Windows 8 in VirtualBox

We already covered how to install Windows 8 in VMWare, and now we’re going to show you how to get Windows 8 running inside of VirtualBox. If you’re wondering why, well, VirtualBox is advantageous for several reasons, the two main being that it’s free and it’s available for all major platforms including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Download these first:

Put the Win8 ISO somewhere you can find it easily, and install VirtualBox before proceeding. You’ll notice the setup is a bit more complicated than using VMWare, but we’ll walk you through everything so just be patient and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Installing & Running Windows 8 in VirtualBox

This was tested in Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 but will also work in Windows 7 and Linux, and probably any other place VirtualBox runs:

  • Launch VirtualBox and click on “New” to create a new virtual machine, give it a name (Windows 8 etc) and select “Microsoft Windows” as the operating system and select “Windows 7” as the version

setup Windows 8 in VirtualBox

  • Click on “Next” and allocate RAM to the virtual machine, I chose 2GB because I’m using the 64bit version, but you can go with more or less
  • Again click on “Next” and choose to “Create a new hard disk” then select “VDI” as the virtual disk image file type
  • For disk storage, choose either “Dynamically allocated” if you want an expanding drive or “Fixed size” if you want to just set 20GB and forget it – this choice doesn’t matter much
  • Choose about 20GB from the disk size selector then click on “Create”
  • You’ll now be at the VirtualBox boot screen, so select your Windows 8 virtual machine and click on “Settings”
  • Choose the “System” tab and first under “Motherboard” check the box next to “Enable IO APIC” to enable it
  • Now click on “Processor” and check “Enable PAE/NX” so that it is enabled

Windows 8 configuration for VirtualBox

  • Now click on the “Storage” tab and look for “IDE Controller” on the left, click on the “Empty” slot under that
  • Next look for where it says “CD/DVD Drive: IDE Secondary” and click on the little CD/DVD icon next to it
  • Select “Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file…” and navigate to the Windows 8 Dev Preview ISO file you downloaded earlier – this tells the virtual machine to boot from that iso image so that you can install Windows 8

Choose Windows 8 ISO in VirtualBox to boot from it

  • Click on “OK” to return back to the VirtualBox main menu, click your Windows 8 VM again, and then click on the “Start” button to boot the virtual machine
  • Let the VM boot and then select “Next” and follow through the instructions to install Windows 8, the virtual machine will automatically reboot and load Windows 8 when it is finished

How long it takes to intall largely depends on the speed of your computer, but it’s generally pretty quick. Windows 8 runs fairly well in VirtualBox, but unless you have a touch screen you won’t get the full experience of Metro, which is probably the most compelling thing about Windows 8 anyway.

Windows 8 in VirtualBox

Note: Some users have trouble installing Windows 8 64-bit version in VirtualBox, if you encounter a constant reboot loop, crashes, or freezes during install, try using the 32-bit ISO of the Developer Preview instead. If you continue to have problems, you can always use the free 30 day trial and install it in VMWare instead.


Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. QA Bob says:

    If you are installing an x64 on Virtual Box do not forget about turning on ioapic. Otherwise you are SOL.

    vm modifyvm –ioapic on

    this is with alias file where vm=’VBoxManage’

  2. Markus says:
    Got all you need ;)

  3. Joshua Guttman says:

    VirtualBox install went flawlessly. As far as Windows 8 goes, I’ve never seen a more confusing and hacked together operating system. There is no way businesses are going to buy it.

  4. ryne says:


    its on the windows site where you downloaded the Windows 8 at

  5. Blake Dein says:

    hey guys, i have got the virtual machine working but it asks me for a product key? I dont know where to get one. Have been searching online for days…. NOTHING!!!! help!

  6. Cintra says:

    Got it working OK in latest Virtualbox on my iMac but for sound. Ubuntu sound is working OK.. any ideas?


  7. Scott says:

    Failed to open a session for the virtual machine Windows 8.

    Failed to load VMMR0.r0 (VERR_SUPLIB_WORLD_WRITABLE).

    Result Code: NS_ERROR_FAILURE (0x80004005)
    Component: Console
    Interface: IConsole {1968b7d3-e3bf-4ceb-99e0-cb7c913317bb}

    Any ideas?

    • Jaro says:

      There is some problem with permissions, when running the file. Either apply change of permission to directory, where VirtualBox is installed, or simply run
      $ sudo chmod o-w /usr
      to change permissions.

  8. […] installed it on virtual box on my mac for an installation guide on this, Osx daily writes a great one. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  9. Jay says:

    I have everything right and when I click start then Install is comes up with a screen saying Select Driver to be installed. Load driver a required CD/DVD device is missing etc. From that I can’t go any further.

  10. […] you’re having fun with this, check out our other posts on virtual machines, including installing Windows 8 preview in VirtualBox, Internet Explorer test VM’s for Mac OS X, and more. stLight.options({ […]

  11. Paz says:

    Great! Really useful, tho I think you should make the links open in a new window :) Regards

  12. kstill says:

    @Huib: you either don’t have hardware virtualization or haven’t turned it on. It is required for running Windows 8 virtually.

  13. oriste says:

    @lee I just finished the install on an early 2011 MBP (2.2 GHz Core i7 with 8GB RAM). Went flawlessly after I set the switched in System as instructed in the article.

    Agree with @Alex

  14. Lee says:

    Everytime i try to choose the virtual cd/dvd part it has an error and won’t let me install it- using a macbook pro 2008 running osx lion

  15. Huib says:

    i am use it on a 32bit Notebook but if i boot i gets a message : computer needs to restart
    CODE :0x0000000A
    I am using a Acer Aspire 9410Z
    Help me!


  16. Alex says:

    Windows 8 will be like windows phone 7 … Awesome at first glance then boring after a few weeks of usage … but thats just my opinion ..anyways thanks for the awesome tips..installed and worked perfectly =)

  17. gilarax says:

    Will there be a walk-through for Parallels 7?

  18. Ravi says:

    im also using virtual box 4.1.2 on Win7 64 bit ultimate, mine Win8 developer preview is stuck at “Expanding files 98%…” then it gives error :- Windows cannot install required files. Make sure all files required for installation are available and restart the installation. Error code 0x8007045D

    Please let me know what to do. Virtualization is enabled in BIOS, I have quad core i7 processore, DELL XPS 15 L502x pc

  19. Gauts says:

    Thanks a lot… It worked perfectly… Was trying since long until i got to ur post and ur advice works just perfect.. installed windows 8…

  20. davis says:

    runs better in VMWare or Parallels if you ask me

  21. Eduardo says:

    I did the VMWare method and used it for a while and got bored, it’s probably not fair to judge without having touch but I’m just not that enthusiastic on my first impression with a mouse in Metro. Anyway, with a year for hardware and everything to catch up I think it will be decent, and something tells me there will be many more touch PC’s than Macs in the very near future.

  22. […] Don’t want to use VMWare? Here’s how to install Windows 8 in VirtualBox, which will run in Windows, Linux, and Mac OS […]

  23. […] Install Windows 8 in VirtualBox – totally free […]

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