Windows 8 CP – Part One

Microsoft made available to the general public the hugely anticipated Windows 8 Consumer Preview on 29th February. Its ‘no compromise‘ philosophy, combining the excellent Metro UI with a traditional desktop metaphor, had already raised many eyebrows. Too many people wanted to see how well it worked, whether Microsoft had pulled off the ultimate gamble or was going to fall flat on its face; there were, indeed are, questions abound. Fueled by all this, it instantly became one of the most downloaded softwares in the following days, racking up a million downloads on the first day of availability. And I wanted to join in on the downloading and the installation and the exploring and the fun…

Consumer Preview is basically a euphemism for Beta. Despite this monicker, Windows 8 CP has been lauded by most tech pundits for being remarkably stable. A casual and technically inquisitive user can use it as his or her primary OS for most general tasks. Since Windows 8 is a clear departure from most UI paradigms established by previous windows versions, perhaps the best approach would be to try it out on a secondary machine to see how well it suits your day to day workflows and tasks; and also to start getting used to it. Getting a secondary machine is not a very practical approach for most. So the next best way to try out Win8 CP is on a virtual machine.

This post originally started out as a guide on how to set up a virtual machine and go about installing Win8 CP on it. However, by the time I was done, this post turned out to be a log of the various failures during the installation.

At my disposal were two laptops – a personal 13” Macbook Pro(mid-2009) and a Lenovo T400 Thinkpad, my work laptop. The Macbook Pro, has a 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo(P8400) with 8 GB of DDR3-1066MHz RAM, a 500 GB HDD. I am currently running a preview seed of Mountain Lion on this(which perhaps complicated matters).The Lenovo has the exact same CPU, but has only 4 GB of DDR3-1066MHz RAM and a 160 GB HDD. This laptop runs Windows 7 Enterprise Edition 64-bit. Though both have approximately the same amount of free disk space, but the Lenovos’ HDD is fully encrypted, which means disk performance is considerably worse on this laptop.

I started off first with my Macbook, preferring to avoid touching my work laptop for this kind of tinkering. I spent an hour downloading Virtualbox(I should never have deleted the .dmg from an earlier download!) over a very slow connection. Post installation, it got even more frustrating. Virtualbox kept crashing every few minutes during the virtual machine creation process. It took umpteen attempts and a ‘Repair Disk Permissions’ before I managed to get the VM set up. Phew! Now it would be a piece of cake I thought and proceeded to start the VM. I pointed Virtualbox to the Win8 CP .iso file to do a fresh install and……….got greeted by a kernel panic! After a reboot, I tried again and another kernel panic. I guess Virtualbox 4.1.8 does not play well with Mountain Lion(preview).

 

After the initial setback, I decided to not give up and try to set up Win8 CP on my work laptop. Here I didn’t have to worry about Virtualbox. My work laptop is equipped with VMware Player, which was good enough for my needs. Quickly, and with nary a error, I had the virtual machine ready. I powered it ON to be greeted with this message:

I checked the BIOS settings and indeed, VT was disabled. I enabled it and finding no mention of ‘trusted execution’, ignored it and rebooted the laptop. Yet again, I got the same message. Cursing my luck I ignored the message and foolishly soldiered on only to have my efforts and anticipation thwarted again:

 

Now, after a bit of research online and finding no way forward I’m quite irritated and frustrated. On my Macbook there is no hope of running Virtualbox, till I get a stable version for Mountain Lion, which is unlikely. And I don’t want to tinker around too much with the BIOS and VMware on my office laptop – explaining all this to our IT team in case something goes wrong will be embarrassing at least and serious at worst. So tomorrow I download the 32 bit version of the Consumer Preview(which is incidentally smaller than the 64 bit version) and do everything all over again.

Hopefully I will have a success story to report…

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