[Tip] Install and Test Operating Systems Virtually in Windows Using Hyper-V

Whenever a new operating system (whether its a new Windows version or a new Linux distro or a new iOS version) is released or is being developed and tested, many people want to try its new features and user interface changes. To test the new operating system, you must first need to install it in your computer.

Some people install the new OS directly in their machines and some people do it in smart ways. They install the new OS virtually which doesn't actually install the OS on your computer but runs the OS like any normal software program inside the existing OS.

For example, we install and test new Windows 10 Insider Preview builds virtually in computers to try the new features and functionality. In this way, we can run and test the new Windows 10 build inside an already running Windows version which can be Windows 10 RTM build or Windows 8 or Windows 8.1.

Installing an operating system virtually is an absolutely safe way to try and test it. If you like the new OS, you can then install it normally on your hard disk.

Virtually installing an OS also provides another benefit! You can install unsupported OS as well for example, you can install the good ol' Windows 98 virtually in your new Desktop PC or laptop which doesn't support this legacy OS anymore.

Now the question comes how do we install an operating system virtually inside an already running OS? Actually there are many free as well as paid software available to install any OS virtually. Some of them are Oracle VM Virtual Box, VMware Workstation and Microsoft's Virtual PC.

But did you know the new Windows versions such as Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 already come with this functionality and you can install any operating system virtually in these new Windows versions without using any extra 3rd party virtualization software?

Yes, that's right. Actually Microsoft introduced a new feature called "Hyper-V" with the release of Windows 8 operating system which was implemented to replace the old Virtual PC program. Hyper-V allows users to create virtual machines on Windows 8 and later versions of Windows.


So if you are using Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 10, you can use Hyper-V feature to install any desired operating system virtually and test drive the OS inside your Windows OS running.

But there are some limitations which you must know:

  • Hyper-V can only be installed in Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 8/8.1/10
  • Hyper-V can only be installed in 64-bit (x64) edition of Windows 8/8.1/10
  • RAM should be 4GB or more in your computer
  • Your computer BIOS must support Hardware Virtualization (which all new PC and laptop support)

NOTE: Windows Server 2008 and later versions of Windows Server OS also come with Hyper-V feature.

If you have a 64-bit Pro or Enterprise edition of Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10 or if you have Windows Server 2008 or later in your computer, you can enjoy Hyper-V feature using following steps:

STEP 1: Install Hyper-V Feature

Hyper-V is not enabled by default in Windows and you need to install it manually. You can install it using following steps:

1. Open Control Panel, go to "Programs and Features" and then click on "Turn Windows features on or off" link.


2. It'll open a new window. Now check "Hyper-V" checkbox and click on OK button.


It'll take a few moments in installing Hyper-V functionality and you'll require to restart your computer.

STEP 2: Launch Hyper-V Manager

After installing Hyper-V, launch Hyper-V Manager which is the main program to create virtual machines and install OS virtually.

You can launch Hyper-V Manager from Start Screen/Start Menu's All Apps list. You'll find it in Administrative Tools section.


You can also search for Hyper-V Manager using search box and then you can click on the shortcut present in search results.

You can also launch it quickly using virtmgmt.msc command in RUN dialog box or Search box.

STEP 3: Enable Networking Support to Use Internet in Virtual Machines

This step is optional!

Once you launch Hyper-V Manager, you are ready to create virtual machines but if you do not enable networking support and create a new virtual machine, you'll not be able to use your existing Internet connection in the virtual machine.

If you do not want to use Internet connectivity in virtual machine, you can skip this step and jump to STEP 4.

But if you want to use your Internet connection in virtual machines as well, follow these steps to enable networking support in virtual machines:

1. In Hyper-V Manager, click on Action -> Virtual Switch Manager.


2. It'll open a new window. Now select External type and click on "Create Virtual Switch" button.


3. Now you can set any desired name to the virtual switch and select the correct Network adapter from the drop-down list.


4. Click on Apply button to create the virtual switch. It'll ask for confirmation, click on Yes button.

STEP 4: Create Virtual Machine to Install OS Virtually

Now you are ready to install desired OS virtually in Windows. just follow these simple steps:

1. In Hyper-V Manager, click on Action -> New -> Virtual Machine.


It'll start a new wizard to create virtual machine.

2. Click on Next button and it'll ask for the name and location to create the new virtual machine. You can leave them unchanged or set your desired name to the virtual machine. You can also change the location to save virtual machine files. Now click on Next button.


3. It'll ask for the generation type of virtual machine. By default Generation 1 is selected but you can also select Generation 2 option. Generation 1 is more compatible with guest operating systems as it supports legacy drivers, BIOS-based architecture, etc. Generation 2 is an advanced type which supports UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) firmware instead of BIOS-based firmware.


You can leave Generation 1 option selected and click on Next button.

4. Now it'll ask for the amount of RAM to allocate to the new virtual machine. By default, 1024 MB i.e. 1GB is selected. You can increase the RAM amount if you want. Better to increase the RAM amount to 2048MB i.e. 2GB. Now click on Next button.


5. Now the wizard will ask to configure the networking support. If you want to enable Internet connectivity, just select the virtual switch which you created in STEP 3 from the drop-down list. If you don't want Internet connectivity, leave it set to "Not Connected". Now click on Next button.


6. Now it'll ask for the storage size and location of virtual hard disk file. You can leave it unchanged. But you can change the storage size according to your requirements. For example setting the storage size to 25 or 30GB should be sufficient to install any operating system virtually in the virtual machine.


If you already have a virtual hard disk file (.VHD or .VHDX) of any operating system downloaded from Internet, you can select the second option "Use an existing virtual hard disk" and then select the file on your computer.

Now click on Next button.

7. The important step! Now you need to select the setup ISO file of your desired operating system which will be used to install that OS virtually. Select second option "Install an operating system from a bootable CD/DVD-ROM" and then select "Image file (.iso)" option and select the ISO file of your OS using Browse button.


After selecting the correct ISO file, click on Next button.

8. That's it. The wizard will show you a summary of all selected options, click on Finish button to create the virtual machine.

It'll take a few moments in creating the virtual machine.

STEP 5: Start and Connect Virtual Machine

Now you have successfully created the virtual machine and its time to install the new operating system virtually in your computer.

For this task, you'll need to first start the virtual machine and then connect it. Its actually very simple and can be done using following steps:

1. In Hyper-V Manager, right-click on the newly created virtual machine and select "Start" option.


2. Now double-click on the virtual machine or right-click on it and select "Connect" option.


That's it. It'll launch a new window in which you can install the desired operating system and then test drive it virtually.


STEP 6: Turn Off Virtual Machine

When you are done and want to close the virtual machine, only closing its window will not close it. It'll keep running in background. You need to properly turn off the virtual machine so that it doesn't take your system resources.

1. Right-click on the virtual machine and first select "Shut Down" option to shut down the guest operating system so that your customized settings are saved.

2. Again right-click on virtual machine and now select "Turn Off" option to completely turn the virtual machine off.


That's it. You can install any desired operating system virtually using above mentioned steps in Windows 8/8.1/10 or Windows Server 2008 and later.

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Posted in: Windows 10, Windows 8 / 8.1

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  • Nice. I never knew about it.

  • I‘m not able to install Hyper-V Platform due to my processor not supporting SLAT. At least, I can still test operating systems by using other virtual machines.

  • I have used hyper-V under Windows 8 to evaluate the Windows 10 preview earlier this year. Everything worked fine except that I have never been able to enable audio in the VM. Tried everything including remote desktop. Can you please explain in detail just how one goes about getting audio in hyper-V?

  • Hello VG, Thanks for another nice article. Could you please share the details of your desktop customization(first screen shot)? Is it a theme or a software. Looking nice.

  • VG

    ^^ "AskVG Colors" theme to enable colored titlebar with XP Luna wallpaper and "Show color on Start, taskbar and action center" option enabled:


    Try to check the virtual machine settings. It contains lots of options to customize related to audio, video and much more.

  • I followed all the instructions and tried to install Windows 8.1 Pro virtual machine on Windows 10 Pro.
    But when I start the virtual machine it gives an error

    An error occured while attempting to start selected virtual machine(s).

    'Windows 8.1 Pro' failed to start.

    Windows 8.1 Pro' could not initialize.

    Could you please let me know what could be the cause of this error.

  • Will Hyper-V support Linux distros?

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