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Installing the Windows 10 Technical Preview

October 3, 2014
win-10-installer-anim

Trippy! The eye-candy of the Windows 10 installer (smoother than it looks here).

The first thing I’ll say isn’t about the Windows 10 Technical Preview but about the virtualization program I used to install it.

The Windows 10 Technical Preview is meant to be run in virtualization — in software pretending to be a computer.

Microsoft is offering two download versions. One for Hyper-V, the bare-metal virtualization layer introduced in Windows 8 and the other is a standard disk image suitable for  installing in a virtual machine application such as VirtualBox or VMware Player.

Hypervisors are something I don’t properly understand so I downloaded the “.iso” disk image which I do understand.

The 3.7 GB disk image is a byte-for-byte digital copy of a physical DVD. I could burn the disk image onto a blank DVD to give myself a perfect physical copy — that’s the original purpose of disk images — but now we can just use the disk images as if they are real CDs or DVD.

I have an older VirtualBox installed — version 4.2.16 — and it had nothing but problems with the Windows 10 disk image. This reminded me of the hassle VirtualBox has become (in my opinion) in the last three years.

Rather than download the latest version of VirtualBox, which is 4.3.16, I installed VMWare Player 6.

Virtually effortless installation

All I really had to do was set it to “Windows 8.1”, point it at the disk image and it just worked. The Wi-Fi worked and VMWare Player automatically captured my mouse clicks for Windows 10 when the cursor was inside the VMWare Player window and released the cursor when it wasn’t.

This is better than VirtualBox, which asks the user to release the cursor by pressing the Control key.

I haven’t investigated how VMWare Player handles moving files in and out of the virtual machine — that’s is another area where VirtualBox can have problems.

Those kind of problems aside, installing an operating system off a disk image in a virtual machine is exactly the same as installing an OS on a real computer using a real DVD.

Click a box. Wait. Wait some more. Click another box. Wait, look at the pretty pictures and hope for the best.

In this case installation was fast because the Windows 10 Technical Preview is a bare bones version, with only a few language options and largely just the bells and whistles needed by business customers.

You have to create a user account and right near the end it encourages you to synch your camera images with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service.

Windows 10, or should I say Windows 7.5?

win-10-lock-screen

Oh my! Which wires do I cut to defuse this thing — the green ones or the red ones?

After installing Windows 10 I rebooted. The first thing I noticed is that  it still has a Windows 8 Lock screen featuring a large digital clock.

When you get tired of watching the seconds tick by, clicking on the Lock screen reveals the login screen.

win-10-start-button

It’ll do for a Start. The shut down button is still hidden…up there beside my name.

From the login screen Windows 10 goes directly to the desktop. The Windows 8 Start screen has been demoted to sharing space in a restored Start button/menu popup.

The pop-out Windows 8 Charms menu — which stored controls like shutdown just off the right side edge of the screen, is gone. Shutdown and restart are now accessed by clicking on the slotted circle icon for “power” beside the user name at the top of the Start menu.

And somewhere in all the jumble, lurking just out of sight, are the Metro Modern-style apps introduced in Windows 8. Microsoft says they’ve been tamed to open and close like regular applications and that they now share the screen with other application.

We shall see.

Otherwise Windows 10 can make you forget about the drama and tumult of Windows 8. It might as well be a point update of Windows 7.

I’m sure there are some surprises to discover, but my strong first impression is that Microsoft wants Windows 10 to be that much less surprising than Windows 8 and that much more what long-time Windows users want, which is apparently just more of Windows 7.

From → Windows

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