How to Install Windows 10 Without Harming Your Current OS

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The technical preview of Windows 10, Microsoft’s newest operating system (OS), is all over the news. Even though I am very satisfied with my Windows 7 system, I wanted to see what is all the fuss about.

So I decided to take Windows 10 for a test-drive and see for myself.

VirtualBox

Obviously, I did not want to jeopardize my perfectly working OS, so the only way to go was to install Windows 10 on a virtual machine.

To do this I used Oracle’s VirtualBox software. Its latest version is freely available here. Be sure to download the correct version for the OS you are currently running. It requires 157MB of disk space.

The installation of VirtualBox is very smooth and straightforward. You launch the downloaded setup file (after checking it for viruses, of course) and go through the installation process by clicking Run, Next, Next, Next, Yes, Install, Install, and Finish.

Here are all the installation steps visualized:

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Windows Insider Program

To get your hands on the Windows 10 technical preview, you need to register and sign in to the Windows Insider program.

If you don’t already have a Microsoft Live account, you have to create one to be able to finish the Windows installation process.

Before going any further, please, make sure that you have what it takes to run Windows 10.

Windows 10 System Requirements
  • Processor: 1 GHz or faster
  • Memory: 1 GB (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Free hard drive space: 16 GB
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
  • A Microsoft account and Internet access

Download Windows 10

To download Windows 10 technical preview, click here — as of today the most current build number is 9926.

Select your preferred language, then choose between the 64-bit (x64) and 32-bit (x86) versions of Windows 10.

The download will take a while depending on your bandwidth, because the files are quite large — 3GB and 4GB.

After the download finishes, the downloaded file will have a .iso extension. For example, the 64-bit US English version of the file is called Windows10_TechnicalPreview_x64_EN-US_9926.iso.

Installing Windows 10 on a Virtual Machine

To install Windows 10 on a virtual machine, first launch VirtualBox.

In VirtualBox click on the New button in the upper left corner.

Now you will create your virtual machine where you will later load Windows 10. You need to choose the name, type, and version of the OS. Then, you select the memory size and hard drive space that will be allocated to the virtual machine. Then, you select the hard drive file type and whether the space on the drive should be dynamically allocated or of a fixed size.

Here is what I selected:

After everything is selected VirtualBox will create your virtual machine. This process will take a while.

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After the virtual machine is created you will be back to VirtualBox’s main window, where you will have to click on the Start button to load Windows 10 on the virtual machine. VirtualBox will ask you to give it the location of the Windows ISO file you downloaded earlier.

Here is the whole process visualized step by step:

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Now that the Windows 10 installation file is loaded, the OS’s installation process itself can begin. The process is standard and fast. You select a few settings, such as your preferred language and keyboard layout, then you agree to the license terms.

Crucially, when asked which type of installation you want, you need to select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

Personally, I also selected not to share my information with Microsoft — but I am a privacy-concerned person.

Finally, you will have to sign in to your Microsoft account and enter a security code that will be sent to your email account.

Again, here is the whole process visualized:

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After this, your installation of Windows 10 will quickly complete and you will be able to play around with your new toy.

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Working with the Virtual Machine

You can work with Windows 10 on the virtual machine the same way you would work with a normal Windows installation. To use the virtual machine in full-screen mode press Right Ctrl+F.

When you want to finish working with Windows 10, simply click on the Power button and select Shut down.

To use the virtual machine again, you need its files created by VirtualBox as well as the original ISO file you downloaded from Microsoft’s website.

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To delete the virtual machine including all its files, press Ctrl+R or right-click on the virtual machine’s name in the left pane of VirtualBox and select Delete all files in the popup window.

This will delete the virtual machine’s files but not the ISO file you downloaded from Microsoft’s website. You will have to delete that file manually.

Opinion

Windows 10 is very fast (installed in less than 6 minutes), small (less than 12GB space on the drive), and elegant (flat design). And it operates smoothly, too.

Most of the features are the same as in Windows 7, which is a plus for business users who are not keen on learning new things whenever a Windows upgrade cycle comes around.

There are extras taken over from the world of smartphones, such as Cortana, that some might consider useful.

I have my reservations about the compulsory Microsoft account and the integration of Microsoft’s cloud computing system directly into my PC — without me having a choice about it. Hopefully, this will not be required outside the testing phase of the OS.

Also, I don’t like the start menu which resembles a smartphone’s menu too much — I am not a big fan of smartphones and I like the Windows 7 start menu just fine. Again, I would welcome the ability to choose from various start menu layouts.

I am sure that Windows 10 will find many fans around the world, but so far I am not among them. I feel as if Microsoft is trying very hard to cater to the younger generation with its price (free), placing emphasis on smartphone and Xbox integrations, and making hip design choices.

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But I can’t see why I should make the upgrade when I am perfectly comfortable with my trustworthy 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium.

I will be on the lookout for any proclamations from Microsoft regarding business users and what should be the reason for them to move away from Windows 7.

Because the above pie chart of operating systems usage couldn’t speak any clearer — Windows 7 is good.

I will be happy to give Windows 10 another try in a few months, but only in VirtualBox.

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