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If you want to “play” with Windows 8 Consumer Preview or “Windows Server 8” Beta, then there are several installation options.


Hard disk

This the common solution, but mean the needs of a blank partition, or space to build a new partition, or the possibility to erase your disk. If you choose a dual boot configuration, of course, the bootloader must be modified to add the new entry. Physical installation permit to test most of the features and can give better performance (for example you cannot realize how fast is the boot procedure in an installation on a virtual machine).

Virtual Machine

Common solution, but that may limit some functions. As already written, for ESXi you need the 5.0 U1 version or a 5.0 version with some patches. For Workstation the 8 version could be fine. It’s a “clean” solution for your system and for test more systems, but is not the best solution for performance.

USB (aka Windows To Go)

This is a new option in Windows 8 (but to be honest is really similar at the procedure to install Hyper-V Server on a USB or flash support). It’s a “clean” solution and also quite portable (but system in-dependency is not guarantee after the first boot). You can use a USB stick (or flash card) or an hard disk. But at least 16 GB (or 20 GB in the 64 bit editio) are needed… so an USB hard disk could be better (also for performance aspects). The procedure is not so simple (and actually is not integrated with the installation procedure).

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This option it’s quite strange (and was introduced with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2). It’s an installation on a virtual disk but it runs in the physical environment (so with native performance and native hardware). It’s quite interesting because you do not need new partitions or un-allocated space, just a free space (40 GB could be fine) to build your system disk in a VHD file (you can create it before, for Windows 7) or during the installation. Again this option is not available during the standard installation process, but it’s quite simple (and you do not need other tools). The bootloader will be modified for the new entry, because you will have a dual boot environment.

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The simplest option, but you need to burn it to a DVD, unless you are using boot from LAN o or virtual environment or some hardware management tools).


For Windows Server 8 (Windows Server 2012) you can download a VHD file to run it on a Hyper-V enviroment without the need to install.


You your system does not have a DVD reader, you can start the installation from a USB device (hard disk or USB stick or flash).

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GUI or Core?

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Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2660 Posts)

Virtualization & Cloud Architect. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-17. PernixPro 2014-16. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-17. Nutanix NTC 2014-17. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.

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