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date 8.Apr.2012

■ Running Windows 8 in Oracle's VM VirtualBox

When MS announced the availability of windows 8 consumer preview a month ago, I tried to run it under various virtual machines without success. Both the open source virtualbox and microsoft's own virtual PC weren't ready at all. It was a total failure.

VirtualBox v4.1.8 (the current version at the time) did well installing and running windows 8 (there are plenty of step by step guides if you google) so you could get a glimpse of the horrors that are awaiting to befall upon us in the metro future. But there was a glitch, one couldn't install Guest Additions, an essential component that e.g. allows to communicate with the host hard disk. After some more googling, all I managed was a completely hosed installation.

Take #2: better luck next time

One month down the road I downloaded VirtualBox v4.1.10 and tried again. Things went smoother but still VBoxWindowsAdditions.exe wouldn't behave. If you check the pic to the right, the 'experimental' Direct3D support was preselected and couldn't be turned off. After the installation was complete I would see some horrible shaking of the VM display. Clearly this component isn't ready for mass adoption, but why it wouldn't let me turn it off?

Then it dawned on me to use the display properties of windows 8 and disable the buggy display driver installed by guest additions. This is easier said than done if the display is shaking like a tumble drier, but I somehow managed by right clicking on the desktop, and after a few screens I found the advanced settings page with the display driver and disabled it. The default windows display driver cured the screen shaking issue, so you could call the installation a full success. It would be much easier using the control panel, but try to find the control panel without a start menu!
VM guest additions

Windows 8: spooky fish

Ballmer must have hired an extra-terrestrial as head of development for win8 because what they did with with the user interface is gross stupidity out of this world. Touch screen interfaces may be reasonable for a tablet or a mobile phone, but not for a desktop computer as we now know it — so why bother with a dual metro/desktop setup? I hope that by the time they release the final version they would allow people that have no use of metro to discard it altogether, opting for just the familiar windows desktop interface — with Start button please.

The first time you use win8 on a normal computer (vis: no touch screen) you will be amazed at how hard it is to find your way without a Start menu. In particular I was frustrated finding out how to shut down the darn thing. You must press the Windows key to switch from the desktop to the metro screen, then click on the user login icon top right, and from the next screen find the on/off button to turn win8 off. A lot of people are extremely annoyed by this daft situation but there are a few tips for win8 survival here and here.

If you are using xplorer² you will be glad to hear that it works fine on windows 8 too. This isn't hard to understand once you realize that the internal win8 version is 6.2-8250, which basically makes it windows vista SP2 with an ugly face.

We can only hope that the leap year 2012 will bring the end of the world before MS have a chance to unleash this half-wit OS to the world :)
windows 8 on VM

ps. VirtualBox is already up to version 4.1.12 so the latest guest additions may work better.

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