Running Windows 8 in VirtualBox

Oracle VirtualBox Guest Additions received an upgrade recently (May 22, 2012). The prior release did not install in Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my computer. The new version installed without any problems and provides all the expected features. VB-W8-01

So I decided to try the 64-bit version of Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The installation took about fifteen minutes. I can’t give an exact time as I stopped to take screen shots along the way.

Installing Windows 8 in VirtualBox is straightforward.


In the Create New Virtual Machine dialog Windows 8 and Windows 8 (64bit) are included in the available operating system version options. The “First Run Wizard” steps right through the procedure. In my case the installation media was an ISO file – this is the quickest way.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview does require a product key, this is provided right on the ISO download page.

Once up and running, VirtualBox presented Windows 8 pretty much as you would expect. In desktop view the windows feature the “aero” translucent borders. In the final release this will be replaced with borders in, pardon my saying this, Windows XP style appearance – square corners, no translucency.

VB-W8-02There was one unusual quirk: The photo viewer could not run at the same time as Internet Explorer, it was one or the other. When one was open the other would not launch. A look through the display settings showed that the “Extended Features:” for “Enable 2D Video Acceleration” was not checked (I had accepted all default settings during installation, but set the video memory to 256 MB). Once this was checked, there was no longer a conflict running the Photo Viewer and Internet Explorer at the same time. This quirk might have been unique to my machine, but you might want to keep this in mind.

VirtualBox in the “General – Advanced” settings has setting for the clipboard set as bidirectional shared between the virtual and the host machine by default. This works with text and images on the clipboard. Files, however, cannot be shared, the Ctrl-CCtrl-V, copy and paste, operation does not work. This is not a major problem, USB devices work seamlessly as does the shared folder feature.

One of the nicest features with the “Guest Additions” working, is that you can drag the virtual machine window to any size and the display settings in Windows 8 are properly adjusted.

VirtualBox offers a very complete virtualization, I have sufficient memory so I can operate several virtual machines simultaneously. The only no-no is this: do not play music in the VMs at the same time – it works just fine, but, oh, the cacophony!


© 2012 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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3 Responses to Running Windows 8 in VirtualBox

  1. wildsparc says:

    Cannot install the guest additions, the file is there on the host but in windows 8 (the guest) it does not know what to do. Anyway I think I forget about the whole windows 8, in my opinion it is very unusable and requires a lot of my time to get it working properly and the freaking tiles work on my nerves. WIthout the guest additions I do not get all the charms so it is a very very handicapped system, simply said: A utter complete waste of time.

    • Ludwig says:

      There is a funny quirk that aggravates installing the Guest Additions. Don’t give up. Here is a link to my post explaining the work-around: VirtualBox Guest Additions in a Windows 8 virtual machine. It does take some getting used to Windows 8. Give it another try, you may find that it is not a complete waste of time.

      • wildsparc says:

        I made some progress, the guest additions are installed but now the mouse in the host looses control and makes the host handicapped. I will wait for some months till most issues with VirtualBox & windows 8 are resolved. I cannot say it is working stable for me. And indeed windows 8 has a learning curve which should not be the case in my opinion. I will get used to it eventually as microsoft is pushing & pushing to get everybody on the new interface. So i feel more or less forced to get used to the new quirks.

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