[Guide]Install Windows 8 on VMware Workstation with VMware Tools

Finally Microsoft released the first distribution of Windows 8 as developer preview version. So, this is the time to play around with latest Operating System without disturbing existing physical OS. Desktop virtualization software will be helpful to run these types of beta and developer preview versions on your home or office computer. This small guide shows how to install Windows 8 on VMware workstation 8 and install VMware tools on it.

UPDATE: There is a new guide available for install latest Windows 8 consumer preview on VMware workstation and install VMware tools also.

Earlier Sysprobs covered an article on install Windows 8 on VirtualBox, but after the release of VMware workstation 8, this installation is possible with VMware too. I feel Windows 8 is working smoothly in VMware workstation than in Oracle VirtualBox.

Here are the steps to install Windows 8 on VMware workstation 8

1) Download the Windows 8 developer preview version. (it’s a free download from official Microsoft site. Download the correct version which is suitable for your host computer processor.)

I’m demonstrating these steps with Windows 8 32bit release and my host computer is Windows 7 32Bit.

Make sure Hardware Virtualization Technology (VT) is enabled in your host computer and the processor is 64bit ready. You can use this guide on enable VT in host computer BIOS and how to check it. 64bit support in processor is important to have VMware workstation 8.

2) Get the VMware Workstation 8. You can purchase or try the 30 days trail version. More information available here.

3) Create a new virtual machine. Easy install will not detect the OS type after Windows 8 ISO file is browsed.

Easy install not detect

DO NOT go to next step with the above option. Somehow, the installation tries to install the guest OS with easy install and throw some errors where you can’t go further.

Therefore select the last option as shown below.

install OS later

4) Select ‘Windows 7’ as OS version if you are going to install Windows 8 32bit version. Select ‘Windows 7 64bit’ if you are going to try Windows 8 64bit (but you have to assign at least 2GB RAM for guest OS.)

I have selected Windows 7 as guest OS type and assigned 1GB RAM.

Windows 7 OS type

Create minimum 20GB disk and browse the location for VM.

5) Mount the ISO file now.

load the ISO

Also, you can increase the processor cores before power on the virtual machine. My host is Intel Core2duo processor, so I increased to 2.

processor settings


6) Now power on the Windows 8 Virtual machine. Installation should start smoothly. Installation steps are very similar to Windows 7.

first installation screen

7) After two restarts you must be able to see the first personalization screen.

first boot

8.) Here you go. Create a local user name and wait for the Metro UI in Windows 8.

Windows 8 metro UI in VMware

Unfortunately most of the ‘tiles’ in Metro UI will not work now. Its because of screen resolution. If VMware tools not installed then the Virtual machine starts with 800×600 screen resolution which is not enough for metro UI. Metro UI tiles require more than 1024×768 resolution.

OK, here is the trick. Lets install the VMware tools for Windows 8.

How to Install VMware Tools on Windows 8

9) Go to ‘VM’ in menu bar and select ‘Install VMware Tools’ option. This will mount the VMware tools built in ISO file to the Windows 8 CD/DVD drive. Explore the CD drive, right click on ‘setup’ (use ‘setup64’ for Windows 8 64bit) and under compatibly tab change it to Windows 7, Press OK.

try VMware tools

10) Now execute the setup file. It should install without any issues. Restart the virtual machine after the installation.

That’s it. First thing I noticed is Windows 8 virtual machine’s screen size is changed automatically, better performance and tiles in Metro UI started working. Even I managed to run in full screen mode as running in physical hardware.

Here is the full screen of working Windows 8 metro UI desktop inside VMware workstation 8.

Full screen Windows 8 in VMware workstation

I have not checked the other features by VMware tools, but I can promise you will see the big difference inside the virtual machine after VM tools installation.

Let me know if this is useful for you and any new experience/findings.

Have fun.

Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

30 thoughts on “[Guide]Install Windows 8 on VMware Workstation with VMware Tools”

  1. Alternatively, some folks find that when using the easy mode (selecting the iso when creating the vm) will leave you with error while install – This is due to Windows 8 not supporting the auto attended install with the beta. TO get around that error, simply disconnect the floppy drive (“not connected”) as it is booting. This will allow you to install just like your notes above. Good read and guide – Thumbs up!

  2. I had “VMware Tools Unavailable” in the VM menu, but found a workaround: I manually mounted the windows.iso image in the VMware program directory and kicked off the VMware Tools installation.

    At the end, the screen size changed and the screen went completely black and I couldn’t see anything on screen. On a hunch I used Alt-Tab to make sure that the VMware Tools installer was in focus and waiting for me to click on “Restart Now” or similar. Luckily, it was. I hit Return and the VM rebooted.

    Now I’m looking at a pretty picture of a road winding towards some snow-covered mountains.

  3. Ugh, I get the error “The VMware Tools should only be installed inside a virtual machine.” And then it bombs out. 🙁

  4. Hi,

    Can i mount this OS in ESX Server..!
    I am not able to install it.
    Facing some error.

    Also not able to install 64-bit with developers tools.
    Can you please help me.

  5. hey please tell me that windows 8 dev pre 64 bit can be install in vmware 8 please tell me urgent….and how

  6. Hi,

    Do not try to do an automated installation.

    1. Choose Windows 7 X64 from the list
    2. Select “I will install the Operating Systems later”.
    3. Run through the wizard.
    4. Start the VM and mount Win8 ISO.
    5. Proceed as with any legacy installation

  7. Done.

    Win 8 64-bit in WMware Workstation 8 on Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit (Laptop).

    Insanely slow. Not usable for developement.

    Laptop hardware : Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 Ghz – 4 GB ram (3 GB usable) – 320 Gb harddrive.

    Virtual Machine settings : 2GB ram – 2 cpu cores – 60 GB harddrive space

    Any way to improve performance ?

      • You could try to give it a little less memory.. 1.5 o only 1 GB, as 2GB is the absolute max of ‘real’ memory assigned for any (normal) process in a 32bit environment, and VMware also needs some memory to keep track of stuff.. Take a look at the memory slider, it might say the memory swapping may occur above some number a bit below 2GB. Which would be a guarantee of slow responses. And then also your host system also has a little more breathing space.

  8. Hi,

    I tried this guide accordingly on VMWare 8. When it restarts after the installation. it shows an error saying “Windows Recovery Environment” error. Please help me on how to overcome with this.

    Thanks in advance… 🙂

  9. hmm.. no problems so far .. works perfect.

    *It seems there are some minor VMWare Version differences – all in all it runs that way*

    thank you!

  10. I tried running it with using the install later option at the bottom.
    When I mounted it after I went through some steps before being halted by a compatibility report that didn’t allow any further installation…
    Is there ANY WAY to get around this?Im out of options and very disappointed by this!

  11. Worked fine for me. VMware tools installed fine and everything’s running normally (far as i can tell). The mouse moves fluently between Windows 7 and VMware Workstation. The other install of Win8 did not. Seems to be operating just like my other desktop with Win8 installed natively! Thanks so much for this!!

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