64-bit Windows 8 in a VM Requires Hardware Virtualisation

Here’s a quick tip for tonight relating to the Windows 8 Consumer Preview which I have written up yesterday as well as the installation process.

If you want to use the 64-bit version of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview you need to make sure that you computer can provide hardware virtualisation. This function allows a virtual machine to eliminate nearly all of its emulation overhead while containing a virtual machine in its environment and preventing malicious software spreading to the host. On Intel systems, hardware virtualisation is known as “VT-x” while on AMD systems it is known as “AMD-V” but provide effectively the same functionality.

Disappointingly, some computers are incapable of providing hardware virtualisation despite the hardware having the feature built in such as the Dell Studio 540. The main problem is that the BIOS contains no ability to enable the feature which means you are stuck as far as 64-bit guest operating systems are concerned.

You an check your computer’s ability to support hardware virtualisation you can use Steve Gibson’s SecurAble utility to find out.

The only way around it with Windows 8 is to install the 32-bit version in the virtual machine which doesn’t seem to require you to enable hardware virtualisation. The VM will run more slowly as a result of not being able to share the CPU natively with its host but at least it will still run for you.

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