Windows 8 on VMware Player

UPDATE: 25 August 2012 – VMware just released a new version of VMware Player and now fully supports Windows 8. See more: VMware Player 5 for Windows 8

With more than a million downloads of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview there must be some who want to use a virtual machine for getting some firsthand experience with Win8-32-33Microsoft’s latest.

Installing Windows 8 into an existing virtual machine running Windows 7 or the Windows 8 Developer Preview is straightforward, quick, and uneventful.

VMware Player is a popular virtual machine, but even the latest update (Feb 2012 to version 4.0.2 build-591240) does not yet know about Windows 8, so installing Windows 8 as a new machine is a bit tricky.

VMware Player wants to know what operating system you are installing, with Windows 8 not an option, selecting “Other” works up to a point. It installs fine, but without drivers for networking (among others). So this is quite useless. Selecting Windows 7 also works, but you wont get very far. Whether you tell VMware Player a product key or not, it will come to an error message complaining that it “.. cannot read <product key> ..”. It will restart when you close or accept this message only to reach the same point.

So here is the procedure for installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview as a new virtual machine in VMware Player.

Download a Windows 8 Consumer Preview ISO image. Note and copy the product key from the download page.

Win8-32-17Start VMware Player, click Create a New Virtual Machine. In the next dialog click “I will install the operating system later.” On the next page select Microsoft Windows and Windows 7 in the drop-down menu.




Select the file location for the virtual machine, disk and other parameters – the defaults will work fine and those items can be changed later.

Win8-32-24The setup will quickly get to a black screen where the new machine looks for an operating system. Of course, there isn’t one. You will shortly get “Operating System not found”.

Click on Change CD/DVD Settings and then click Use ISO image file. Browse to your downloaded ISO image file, and click OK.

Win8-32-01The Windows 8 Consumer Preview installation will now proceed.

Click Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

There will be a variety of items to be entered, but the installation will only take a few minutes.

Pretty soon you will be logged in and at your Start screen.


There is one other chore you should take care of before getting into Windows 8, Win8-32-34that is installing the VMware Tools. Click on the Desktop tile (just to get a less cluttered screen). Then from the Virtual Machine dropdown menu (top VMware Player bar), click Install VMware Tools. In the upper right area you will see a notice. Click it.

Win8-32-35In the next dialog click Run setup.exe.

Again there will be some additional items to enter or accept.

Once the VMware Tools are installed working with you virtual machine is much easier. The first thing you might want to do is to resize the window in which Windows 8 runs. You can do so by just dragging the VMware Player window (lower right corner).

That’s it – have lots of fun!


© 2011 Ludwig Keck

About Ludwig

Lending a helping hand where I can. . . My motto: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
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26 Responses to Windows 8 on VMware Player

  1. noitisnt says:

    VMware tools freezes on install and blacks out WIn8 to the point of needing it to “repair the OS”

    • Ludwig says:

      That has happened to me when I installed Windows 8 as “Other” operating system. When installing as Windows 7 – but selecting “later” install – there was no problem installing the tools.

  2. Bern says:

    For some reason it won’t accept the product key. I get to the Product Key input screen but it can’t verify the key that’s on the MS download site. I’ve also tried several others I’ve found on the net but none work. I’m installing Win 7 in the VM and hopefully the setup.exe install will work.

    • Ludwig says:

      All my installs worked without problems. I had caps-lock on and used this key from the Microsoft site: NF32V-Q9P3W-7DR7Y-JGWRW-JFCK8 .
      Good luck. Let us know of anything special you discovered.

      • Bern says:

        It worked – I didn’t even need a key this way though it generated a unique one for me. For this method, make sure you have at least 35GB total space on the drive; Win 7 took around 15GB and Win 8 requires 16GB free to install. My 30GB VM drive was inadequate and had to be replaced as well as have Win 7 reinstalled.

  3. Pingback: How do I install Windows 8 Consumer Preview in VMware Player? | Ask Ludwig

  4. kimlee says:

    It doesn’t work with VMware player 4.0.2 and Vsphere / Vserver 5.0.0 . HAL_INTIALIZATION_FAILED

    • Kay says:

      it works for me on VMware Player 4.0.2 build-5912540
      HAL_INITIALIZATION FAILURES I got only by using Virtual PC
      (HOST OS is Windows 7, 64bit SP1)

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  9. Stu says:

    Thanks for this, Works for me too.

  10. Robert says:

    Thanks for the post!! It was very helpful, I was having issues installing but your instructions worked perfectly!! Thanks again…

  11. dsn says:

    Worked like a charm. Running Windows 8 x64 as Windows 7 x64 on VMware 4.0.0 build-471780

  12. CUP CUP says:

    It only seems to work if the network is NAT. I normally choose bridged and that didn’t work at all. It couldn’t find the network driver etc. Also VMWare tools installation locked up the machine when it didn’t have a network.

  13. John says:

    It works a treat for me, installed Win8 32 bit on a VM Ware player 64 bit Windows 7 (don’t ask, my processor is as lame as a one legged man in an **** kicking contest). VMplayer told it was Win7, popped the ISO in to install later and Win8 popped up with a working network card. Now, all I need is for the apps to actually open when I click in them and where is the bleedin’ Programs menu in the desktop?

    • Ludwig says:

      Glad it works for you. Your question about where to find the desktop programs menu is a good one: There isn’t such a menu. Workaround: Press logokey+Q; that opens the Metro apps screen with search – so you can look for your programs – actually they are all displayed – you may have to scroll (mouse wheel) to see them all. Right-click an app, as programs are know called, in the bar at the bottom click “Pin to taskbar”. The taskbar can be increased in height (drag) so it can hold a lot of icons. Now you have a poor man’s program menu. Weep, if you must.

  14. Shariq says:

    Works flawless, I have installed 32bit win 8 using vmplayer on 64x Windows 7 and yes it was easy to install with your tutorial.


  15. Mat says:

    It worked perfectly. I am running the same configuration as Shariq. Thanks for the help!

  16. Agata says:

    Thanks, saved me couple of hours 🙂

  17. Michael says:

    Just a quick note to say Thank you. This was a great tutorial!!! Very nice job.

  18. Ludwig says:

    Many thanks to all my readers who took time to leave a comment. I really do appreciate the feedback!!

  19. Pingback: Inside Windows 8: Installing the Windows 8 Consumer Preview | Eye on Windows - News about Microsoft Windows OS

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