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The Windows 10 Technical Preview (TP) contains several Linux-inspired features, including workspaces (multiple virtual desktops), windows spread (task view), and a Ubuntu style search. Microsoft took good ideas from multiple sources, including user feedback, and turned them into what appears to be an attractive and stable operating system. The Windows 10 TP has been downloaded over 1 million times and feedback has been surprisingly positive.
Do you occasionally need Windows or have you been thinking about switching? Being in the preview state, Windows 10 isn’t ready to be your main OS, yet. Nevertheless, you can give the TP a free test run. Here is how to install it on a virtual machine or dual boot it with Ubuntu.
Windows 10 TP System Requirements
The Windows 10 TP system requirements are modest:
Processor: 1 GHz or faster
RAM: 1 GB (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
Free hard disk space: 16 GB
Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
A Microsoft account and Internet access
Since it’s not possible to upgrade from Linux to Windows 10, you need to download the ISO files. Make sure you download the Windows version matching your hardware, as the 32-bit Windows 10 TP won’t run on 64-bit hardware.
Install Windows 10 TP As A Virtual Machine
For this article, I’m using Ubuntu 14.04, installed on a HP Compaq nw8440 mobile workstation. The CPU is a Centrino Duo 64-bit.
Prepare Your BIOS
Before you set up Windows 10, reboot your computer, enter the BIOS, and make sure Virtualization Technology is enabled; per default, it’s disabled. Depending on your BIOS, you will find this setting under Advanced BIOS Features, CPU Settings, or another category. I found it under System Configuration and Device Options. Just poke around until you spot it.
Install VirtualBox & Set Up Virtual Machine
Back in Ubuntu, head to your Software Center to find and install VirtualBox (our unofficial VirtualBox user guide). When you open VirtualBox, click New, give your virtual machine a name, the Type is Microsoft Windows and under Version choose Other Windows 32-bit or 64-bit, depending on what you’re intending to run.
From here you can go with default settings. If you can, allocate more than 1GB RAM. The virtual hard disk can be dynamically allocated, although dedicated space appears to result in better performance. After creating the virtual hard disk, I also went into Settings and under Display increased the Video Memory.
When you’re done, launch your virtual machine by clicking Start. When you do this for the first time, you need to pick the ISO you want to install.
Error During Windows 10 TP Installation
At this point I’ve run into a “Your PC needs to restart.” error, which fortunately is easy to fix. Power off the virtual machine, open Terminal, and type the following command, with vmname being the name you gave your virtual machine, and minding the upper / lower case spelling:
VBoxManage setextradata "vmname" VBoxInternal/CPUM/CMPXCHG16B 1
Click Enter, restart your virtual machine, and you should now be able to proceed with installing Windows 10 inside VirtualBox. When you see the screenshot below, you’re almost there, although the setup may take a long time.
Dual Boot Windows 10 TP On A Linux Machine
Everyone will tell you that it’s easier to install Windows first and then set up a dual boot with Linux. That’s true and we have shown you how to set up a Windows 8 & Ubuntu dual boot that way before. Today, I’ll briefly take you through the hoops of installing Windows next to an existing Ubuntu installation. This can be a long and complicated process. Fortunately, the Ubuntu documentation is very thorough.
Attention: Installing Windows will overwrite the Ubuntu boot manager (GRUB). We provide resources on how to restore it (and I’ve successfully done it myself), but we highly recommend that you make a backup of your data, in case things go wrong. You should also back up the master boot record.
Create An Ubuntu LiveUSB
To install Windows 10 TP, you need separate drive space. If you don’t already have a spare partition, create one now. Since this can go wrong, we recommend that you first prepare a backup of your data.
To create the Ubuntu LiveUSB, we recommend following the instructions on the official Ubuntu documentation.
Create An NTFS Partition
Boot into the Ubuntu LiveUSB, which contains GParted, a tool to repartition your drive. Open GParted via the Software Center and create a minimum of 16GB of unallocated space. Right-click the unallocated space, select New, be sure to select NTFS as File system, and click Add. When you’re done, click the green checkmark to Apply All Operations.
If you have a spare partition, use GParted to format it to NTFS. Because all data stored on the partition will be erased, you should first back it up.
Create A Bootable Windows 10 TP USB
In addition to a large enough USB stick (4GB+), you need UNetbootin, a utility that will help you create a bootable USB flash drive. Install UNetbootin via your Ubuntu Software Center, open the tool, set the Windows 10 TP ISO file as Diskimage, pick USB Drive as Type, set the target Drive, and click OK.
Use the bootable USB to install Windows 10, which should be straight forward. You might have to enter the BIOS (see link above) to enable booting from a USB disk and/or change the boot order.
Recover Ubuntu After Installing Windows
When you now boot your computer, you’ll notice that it can only boot into Windows. That’s because the master boot record was overwritten. The easiest way to restore it is using Boot-Repair.
Boot into your Ubuntu LiveUSB and follow the instructions on how to install Boot-Repair in Ubuntu, as well as using the tool to restore GRUB. Boot-Repair will not only let you boot into Ubuntu again, it will also give you a dual boot menu.
Looking For Another Way To Try Windows 10 TP?
Christian has outlined how to install Windows 10 TP on a spare PC, on a virtual machine inside Windows, and on a virtual hard disk. You can also upgrade to Windows 10 from an old Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer. Whatever you do, don’t make Windows 10 TP your main operating system, yet.
Running Linux & Windows Side By Side
Running Windows 10 TP as a virtual machine can give you a good impression of its visuals and features, but it will never match the performance of an independent installation. Setting up Windows to run next to Linux, on the other hand, can be a tedious process. Kudos to you if you’ve done it!
Have you tried the Technical Preview? Is there anything that Microsoft could do to make you switch to Windows as your main operating system? What is your impression of Windows 10, so far?