How to safely test-drive Win10 — step by step

Fred Langa

As with any product that’s still in development, running Windows 10 Technical Preview has risks.

The safest and easiest way to install and work with the preview of the next Windows is within a virtual machine — here’s how.

Long-time readers might recall a similar article, the March 14, 2012, Top Story, “Step by step: How to safely test-drive Win8.” Today’s article is in the same vein but covers recent changes in virtual PC (VPC) software and the process of installing Windows 10 Technical Preview (Win10 Preview, for short).

If you’d like a quick refresher on what a VPC is and how it works, please see that March 14 article.

VPCs are not only safe and simple to set up — you can run them on just about any operating system. And in this case, both Windows 10 Preview and the virtual PC software are 100 percent free. Best of all, running in a VPC, Windows 10 Preview presents essentially no risk to your primary (host) system. It’s as if Win10 were installed on its own, separate, physical PC!

The three major steps to get everything going

These steps assume that you don’t have virtual-PC software already installed. As with that earlier Windows 8 article, we’ll use Oracle’s VirtualBox. Not only is it free, but it’s highly capable and relatively easy to set up. (Note: VirtualBox is updated frequently. If you already have it installed, now is a good time to get the latest version.) The steps are:

  • Download and install VirtualBox on a standard PC;
  • Use VirtualBox to create a new virtual machine that’s optimized for running Win10 Preview;
  • Download Win10 Preview and install it on the new virtual machine.

Before you begin, some important preliminaries

The requirements for running Win10 Preview inside a VirtualBox VPC are relatively modest. The vast majority of today’s PCs, running any current version of Windows — Vista, Win7, or Win8 — will likely meet or exceed the minimum specifications.

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.