View Full Version : Windows 8 Preview & Experience Strategy Without Spending a Dime!

Dennis St. John
10-27-2012, 07:35 PM
Hello Everyone,

If you are like me, you are anxious to take Windows 8 for a spin, but don't yet want to remove and jeapordize your existing stable Windows 7 installation! Here's how you can get the full release of Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise OS installed on your ASUS laptop without spending a dime!

First, a little intro - I am a freelance IT professional providing related services to many small to medium sized business in my area. It's my job to be "ahead of the curve" so my clients can stay on course (not fall too far behind). That said, I likely won't be deploying Windows 8 within any of my client's businesses for at least a year (if Windows 8 doesn't turn out to be another ME or Vista type OS), but now that the new OS is out, I've really got to dive in and start learning.

Secondly, and the reason I am posting in this forum, is that I am a proud owner of an ASUS G75VW, with a slightly beefed up configuration from factory (I replaced the included 750GB 1st HDD with a hybrid Seagate 750GB SSD / HDD and moved the included 750GB drive to the second bay and re-installed from scratch. Been going on this configuration for about 3 months now. I also added another 4GB of RAM to bring the total up to 16GB.

You can probably already guess where I am heading with this thread but my recommended strategy involves setting up Windows 8 within a VM environment in my currently stable and existing Windows 7 Ultimate installation. I have a lot of programs installed that are working and don't really have time to start from scratch at the moment.

Here's what you'll need:

Windows 8 Enterprise Evaulation Edition (License will be valid for 90 days) - FREE to download from MS here:

Scroll to the bottom and click the "Get Started Now" button (I downloaded the 64 bit edition)

The filename I ended up downloading was:

Next, go grab VM Player from VMWARE here:

Note that when I first began this journey, I started out with VirtualBox by Oracle (another free VM solution) but ran into a lot of problems after I got Windows 8 installed with hard locking (not just on the VM but my entire system). I googled the issue to find out many others were experiencing this same issue. Not sure what the cause but I suspect it has something to do with the drivers it installs to virtualize things. Anyway, I'm a few hours down the road now with the virtual experience being in the VMWare environment and everything seems very stable.

I have a 2nd monitor attached to my G75VW and am running Windows 8 in full screen mode as I type this post. Everything is very smooth!

It's beyond the scope, at least for now, for me to provide a step-by-step of the setup experience installing Windows 8 in VMWare Player but given you've got this laptop, I am guessing most people reading this already consider themselves "Power Users" so you should already know how to mount an ISO to boot up from inside the VMWare Player software.

One thing - after you install VMWare Player - DO NOT use the express install. Setup your blank HD first, and then, proceed to attach the ISO to your CD/DVD drive so you can boot from it. Otherwise, you'll get a license error on install.

The aforementioned edition of Windows 8 does not require any key to get installed and will simply expire after 90 days. By then, you'll probably be ready to make the switch, if not sooner.

I just think ASUS users might find themselves waiting a little while longer for ALL of the official drivers for Windows 8 to be released, in addition to waiting for ASUS to get all the bugs worked out.

After getting Windows 8 installed, head over to ninite.com (my new favorite app installer) and download "Classic Start" (among other favorites). You'll really want this as Microsoft decided not to include the start menu on the desktop of Windows 8. This will provide a much needed transition experience so the upgrade is not such a removal from what you are already used to. First thing you'll want to click on is the "Desktop" button from the Windows 8 Start Screen. This will get you working in already familiar territory as soon as possible.

Please feel free to post any questions you may have and I'll be more than happy to answer as best as I can!

Hope this helps someone out there get going with a transitional Windows 8 experience!

All the best!

10-27-2012, 07:47 PM
@Dennis St. John, thanks a bunch for those pointers :)

Dennis St. John
10-27-2012, 07:58 PM
My pleasure! This forum has been a great deal of help to me with this laptop and I'm happy to contribute for once! :)

10-28-2012, 12:52 AM
I would like to add my 2 cents here...

I too am a Systems Engineer, and I have made the plunge to Windows 8, but I have to say that the VM strategy will only give you a "semi" Windows 8 experience to judge the OS. You'll be using Virtualization technology, so you won't have "true" direct control of your hardware via Windows 8.

I agree that running Windows 8 evaluation is a good idea if you're unsure, but I highly recommend creating a VHD and then installing Windows 8 as a separate bootable environment. Doing this means you'll have a VHD file on your hard drive that contains all of your Windows 8 data, and you'll be able to reboot and pick it as a boot option.

You always can reboot back to your previous environment if you like, but Windows 8 will be literally installed and running with direct hardware support of all devices, and if you choose, you can delete the VHD file, remove the boot option, and be running just as you were before.

Here's some information on the how-to: http://blogs.technet.com/b/haroldwong/archive/2012/08/18/how-to-create-windows-8-vhd-for-boot-to-vhd-using-simple-easy-to-follow-steps.aspx

Dennis St. John
10-28-2012, 01:04 AM
I concur this is great advice for a more direct experience and probably something I'll try too when time permits. Booting from the VHD method would certainly be a better way if you are wanting to have ALL resources available throughout the Windows 8 experience. Video card + NVIDIA driver comes to mind especially. As it stands in my version of the experience through VMware, the video card installs as "VMware SVGA 3D" and I'm sure wouldn't work too well playing some of the more graphically intense games, etc.

Thanks for weighing in madnj! I've never tried this method but am looking forward to it!

10-28-2012, 01:34 AM
@madnj, another good read. thanks a lot guys!

10-28-2012, 01:36 AM
Yeah, a buddy of mine works for MS consulting services, and he brought it up. One of the really nice things about VHD files is that you can actually copy a VHD file to another volume (back it up) while you're running the OS installed to that VHD. You can't restore to it while running, but you can just boot the other OS and restore by copying a backup of the VHD over top that way.

You actually can have a boot drive with 1-2 VHD files for booting and no actual file data if you choose. It's pretty amazing really, but you have to run at least Windows 7 pro to boot from VHD (you can't install home premium to VHD and boot from it from what I hear), but you can definitely boot Windows 8 from VHD and Windows 7 Pro/Enterprise/Ultimate.

Pretty cool stuff.

10-28-2012, 01:43 AM
@madnj, yeah i suspected that this VHD feature is available only for more premium windows versions, too. but it's a pretty neat feature for those who have them.

Dennis St. John
10-29-2012, 04:27 AM
I am updating this thread as I have performed the recommended method as advised by madnj per the guide posted at the link in his post and I'm up and running great! I would also like to add that in addition to getting a good look at Windows 8 this way, this basically gives you the abillity to dual boot Windows 8 and Windows 7 on the same machine! What a bonus!

Immediately after installing Windows 8 and booting up to it, I proceeded to download the latest Windows 8 video driver for the NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 670M from the NVIDIA website and graphics are running like a charm! I am now going to attempt to install some of the other ASUS G75VW drivers (for Win 7) in Windows 8 as well and see how it goes, but so far so good!

While my method originally posted is much easier and with less hoops to jump through, madnj's method is a true & full experience with Windows 8. It does take a considerable amount of time more to execute, but as the saying goes "you get what you pay for". Glad I tried it!

10-29-2012, 06:27 AM
well done guys :) I am trying to play with one now. w8 is really not that bad.

10-29-2012, 07:53 AM
Thanks for the heads up on the eval guys.

Rep to all.

10-30-2012, 03:39 AM
I actually did the Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day demo install to a VHD so much better then a virtual machine because you're actually using your own hardware. It's a 90-day only non-upgrade able so you have to reinstall after that. I just completed a clean install removing the GUID and going to my old favorite MBR. So once I get every thing reinstalled and a good backup image, I'll put it back on.

Dennis St. John
10-30-2012, 04:04 AM
I agree tkolarik! It does give you a MUCH better feel for what it will be like when you do decide to take the plunge all out. I'll say that I haven't had a lick of problems still (following the guide to the "T") and have used ASUS's Windows 7 drivers for this unit in Win 8. I'm sure they are going to release official Win 8 drivers for the G75VW at some point, and in time, but for now, all the Win 7 drivers seem to work just fine. Only exception is I download the NVIDIA driver straight from the NVIDIA website for the GTX 670M and it worked flawlessly (did this right after booting up to Win 8 for the first time). Cheers!