How to Install Windows 10 Server VHD on VirtualBox and VMware with Windows 8.1, Windows 7 PCs

It’s always good to install and play around with beta or technical preview versions of Operating Systems on a PC without disturbing the exiting working OS. The virtualization software is very useful for this purpose. Oracle VirtualBox and VMware do this job nicely on normal Intel based computers either desktop or laptop. Here is the way to download and install Windows 10 server OS (Technical preview as of now) as VHD format on VirtualBox and see the new features. It can be installed on VMware workstation or vSphere as showed here.

Instead of using the ISO file and do the installation from beginning, downloading the pre-installed version of VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) will save huge amount of time and in 2 minutes (after downloading the file) you will have a Windows 10 server on your PC by VirtualBox or VMware.

We have earlier mentioned a way of using Windows 2012 R2 server VHD on VirtualBox which is similar to below steps. Since Oracle VirtualBox supports VHD disk format out of the box, we can easily create a virtual machine and insert the VHD file to start the server.

How to Download Windows 10 Server VHD file for VirtualBox

Microsoft provide the technical preview version as beta now. Once they have released the final paid version, still we will be able to download the final Operating System and use it for 6 months free. Therefore, this method will be applicable for final version too.

You must have a Windows live account to download the Windows 10 server VHD from official Microsoft site.

1) Click on this link to download Windows 10 server technical preview. The link may change when the final version has been released. You must sign in to live account to download the file.

Download Windows 10 VHD

Remember to get the product key of this particular VHD file. We will be needing the key during the installation.

key for Windows 10 VHD

It’s a 7.5GB VHD file which will take some time to download depending on your internet speed.

How to Use and Install Windows 10 Server VHD on VirtualBox

2) After downloading the file completely, open VirtualBox and create a new virtual machine. Make sure to have the latest version of VirtualBox. We have published a guide about how to install Windows 10 desktop OS on VirtualBox here.

While creating the new virtual machine, select ‘Windows 10 (64 bit)’ as the guest OS version. 2GB RAM would be enough (you can assign more if your physical computer has more). In Hard drive section, select the existing virtual disk option as below. Now browse and open the VHD file of Windows 10 server which you have downloaded from Microsoft site. I highly recommend to take a copy of the VHD file before attaching to virtual machine, because you will have the original VHD file future use.

new vm of Windows 10 server

That’s it, the virtual machine is ready now. Since we have selected the Windows 10 OS as guest version, VirtualBox would change the other virtual machine settings accordingly. But still you can enhance the settings, like increasing the processor cores, display memory size and more.

change processor settings

3) Switch on virtual machine. Few initial inputs need to be given including the product key which we have got from Microsoft site.

product key of Windows 10 server

4) The Windows 10 server will boot quickly on VirtualBox with your Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 computer. Better to install VM guest additions  to get more features between VM and host computer and to get better display/screen performance too. Click on ‘Device’ and follow the below steps to install guest additions, reboot is required after the installation.

install virtualbox guest additions on Windows 10 server

With the above step, we have successful installed the Windows 10 server on VirtualBox with pre installed VHD file. Always better to take a snapshot before doing any changes. You can clone the virtual machine to create more similar virtual machines quickly with less disk space.

How to Use Windows 10 Server VHD on VMware Workstation or VM Player

Unlike VirtualBox, VMware doesn’t support VHD virtual hard disk format. Therefore we need to convert the VHD file to VMDK format ( supported by VMware) to use on VMware workstation or vSphere/ESXi.

We can use the WinImage virtual hard disk converter tool for this usage. We have already mentioned these steps in our earlier guide about Windows 2012 R2 here. Do check that guide to convert Windows 10 server VHD to VMDK and use it on VMware products, like VMware workstation, VMPlayer or vSphere.

We hope this guide would be useful in setting up and installing Windows 10 server on VirtualBox and VMware by the pre installed VHD file from Microsoft site. After installing VirtualBox guest additions and VMware tools on the virtual machine guest OS, you might be getting good display performance improvement, network support, USB 3.0 and more features.

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.

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