The new version of Windows, Windows 11, is out. As an IT enthusiast or professional, you probably want to test it out. See the new layout for yourself, and test the new look and feel of Windows 11. The best way to do this is in a VirtualBox.
Using VirtualBox we can safely test Windows 11 before we upgrade our work/daily computer. Windows 11 requires a TPM 2.0 chip, which can prevent the installation on VirtualBox. By making a small change in the registry we can still install Win11 as a VM.
In this article, I am going to walk you through downloading the official Windows 11 ISO and the installation of VirtualBox and Windows 11.
1. Download Windows 11 Official ISO
So the first step is to download the official Windows 11 ISO from Microsoft. To download the ISO you will need to be a Windows Insider. If you are already one, then you can skip the first step, otherwise, follow along to register yourself as a Windows insider.
Step 1 – Register for the Windows insider program
To register for the Windows Insider program you will need to have a Microsoft account (the account that you use for Outlook, Microsoft Office / 365, etc). If you sign up for the Windows Insider program then you get early access to the latest features and Windows Update.
Head over to https://insider.windows.com in click on Register.
Log in with your Microsoft account and accept the Program Agreement and click on Register Now. After the successful registration, you will be taken to the Windows Insider page.
Step 2 – Download the Windows 11 Official ISO
With the Insider registration completed, we can download the official ISO for Windows 11. The file size of the ISO file is around 5Gb.
- Navigate to Windows Insider Preview Downloads page
- Scroll all the way down, just below the grey box you will see Select Edition
- Select the latest Windows 11 Insider Preview (Beta Channel)
- Click Confirm
- Select the desired language and click Confirm
- You will now see a download link that is only valid for 24 hours
- Click on 64-bit Download
2. Install VirtualBox
While the ISO file is downloading we can continue with installing VirtualBox and creating the virtual machine.
If you don’t already have it installed then you will need to download and install it. You can find the download here at virtualbox.org. Install the Virtualbox application with all the pre-selected features.
3. Create Virtual Machine for Windows 11
To install Windows 11 we will need to create a new virtual machine in VirtualBox. I have created the virtual machine with minimum specifications. Depending on your use case you may want to give your VM more memory and disk space.
- Open VirtualBox Manager and click on New
- Give you VM a name
- Select a location to store the VM, make sure you have atleast 20Gb diskspace free
- Make sure type is set to Microsoft Windows
- Select Windows 11 (64-bit) as version
- Give the VM atleast 4096MB Memory (more is better, but keep some left you for computer self)
- Click on Create
Next, you will need to create the Virtual Hard Disk. The requirements for Windows 11 are 64Gb disk space, but my VM only uses 11Gb at the moment. So you can start with a small dynamically allocated disk of 20Gb. You can always increase the disk space later when needed.
Change the disk size to your requirements and click on Create
The virtual machine is now created. Before we start it we need to change one setting, the number of vCPU’s. By default, the VM only gets 1 vCPU, which is not much. To improve the performance of your VM you should increase it to at least two.
Assign no more then N-1 vCPU’s to your VM where N = the number of physical core on your computer. This way you keep one core free for your host, in the event that your VM locks up or use all your cores.
- Select your VM on the left side
- Click on Settings in top bar
- Select System > Processor
- Change the Processor(s) to atleast two
- Click Ok
4. Install Windows 11 in VirtualBox
We are now ready to start our new virtual machine and install Windows 11. In VirtualBox click on Start to start your new VM. VirtualBox will prompt you for a start-up disk.
1. Click on the folder icon to select the Windows 11 ISO file
2. Add the Win 11 ISO file to the Optical Disks
Click on Add to select the Windows 11 ISO file that we downloaded
Select the file and click on Choose
3. Start the VM
Click on Start to start the VM with the Win 11 ISO disk
4. Open Command Prompt
When you see the Blue Windows Setup screen press Shift + F10
This will open a command prompt
5. Create registry keys
1. In the command prompt, type regedit and press enter.
2. Navigate to the following path in the registry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Setup
3. Right-click and create a new key: LabConfig
4. Open the key LabConfig and create the DWORD 32bit values below. Set the data to 1 for each value.
Close the registry editor and close the command prompt
6. Start the Windows 11 installation
Select the language that you want to install and click Next.
On the next screen, click Install Now
7. Product key
Simply click “I don’t have a product key”
8. Choose the version to install
You can choose which version of Windows 11 you want to install. Just pick Windows 11 Pro and click Next
9. Installation type
Accept the user agreement and click Custom: Install Windows only on the next screen.
10. Select the disk
The last step is to select the disk to install Windows 11 on. Windows 11 will now be installed in your VirtualBox.
11. Windows 11 finalization
The VM will reboot after the installation, starting Windows 11 for the first time. Just like with Windows 10 you will need to go through a wizard to finalize your Windows 11 installation.
During the setup wizard, you will get the option to sign in with your Microsoft account. Make sure you use the same account as that you used to sign up for Windows Insider
5. Install VirtualBox Guest Additions in Windows 11
After the installation is finished we need to do a couple of things to make working with the VirtualBox more convenient.
- Installing the VirtualBox Guest Additions
- Make the clipboard bi-directional (allowing your to copy/past between host and VM)
- Enabling bi-directional Drag and Drop.
Installing the VirtualBox Guest Additions
To install the VirtualBox Guest Additions we can mount a virtual cd.
- In VirtualBox click on Devices
- Select Insert Guest Additions CD image
- Open the Explorer in Windows 11
- Select and open the CD Drive (D:)
- Start the VBoxWindowsAdditions application
- Click Yes on the User Account Control warning
- The installation may minimize to the taskbar, open from the taskbar again if necassary
- Install the Guest Additions (just click next, install)
- Select I want to manually reboot later
VirtualBox Clipboard and Drag and Drop settings
Before we reboot the Windows 11 VM we first change the clipboard and drag and drop settings.
- Again click on Devices
- Choose Shared Clipboard and select Bidirectional
- Do the same for Drag and Drop, also under Devices
- Restart your Windows 11 machine
In VirtualBox, you can safely test out Windows 11. If you give the virtual machine enough memory, disk space, and CPU’s then you can also install the programs that you use on it to see if they work.
If you have any questions, just drop a comment below.