Watch the video:
0:00 - Explanation 1:02 - Downloading the Microsoft Edge Virtual Machines 2:00 - Extracting VM files 2:54 - Importing VMs into Hyper-V 3:48 - Adding RAM, Setting CPUs, etc. 4:06 - Starting Win 10, 8, or 7 VM 5:06 - Installing software & Creating a Checkpoint
Downloading a Windows ISO and setting everything up inside of Hyper-V takes some time to say the least.
But what if you could skip that step? Well, you can. Microsoft provides official pre-installed test versions of Windows, primarily for testing Microsoft Edge, but you can use them for just about anything. It makes testing software and more so much easier on older platforms. You don’t even need to spend time creating a user account ~ It’s all there!
To begin, head to the Microsoft download page and select your version. I chose Windows 10 x64. There isn’t an option for Windows 11, but this is undoubtedly coming sometime in the future. More platforms are supported than just Hyper-V, although I’ll only focus on that in this guide.
The one downside is that there’s a larger download size. In fact, it’s around six gigs, whereas the standard windows ISO is about two to three. But regardless, it’s a heck of a lot faster to download a fully set up system instead of installing it from scratch.
After downloading, extract the zip to where you want to keep all the virtual machine files. You can move these later, but I’ll keep them to just one folder.
Open hyper V and look on the right-hand side of the main menu. We will click “Import virtual machine…”. Select a browse next to the folder. Then choose the folder where we extracted the ZIP file to. This should contain “Virtual Hard Disks” and “Virtual Machines”. Hit next twice, and you can choose to either move it or, in my case, register the virtual machine in place. Highlight your virtual machine, right-click settings, and you can customize the amount of memory, processors, and the rest. When you’re done, hit OK, and right-click the virtual machine. Connect and hit start. When it’s booted into the password,
Just like that, you’re logged into an account on a new virtual machine without having to install Windows at all. Isn’t that great?
You should install all the software you wish to keep, customize, change the background, etc. And when you’re done, stop the virtual machine. Right-click the VM on your virtual machine list and choose checkpoint. Whenever the 90-day trial expires, you can return to this checkpoint. Then, when you don’t have to redownload a fresh copy in the future, you’ve already got a pre-customized, preinstalled virtual machine ready to fire up whenever you need it.
Isn’t that neat? Just like that, you have a test environment with minimal requirements. The only downside is the large download size. I would take that any day for the speed I got it up and running.
On top of this, the files seem to be a lot larger than a fresh install on a new custom virtual machine. Though that takes much longer, you must sit through the installation and set up a user account. This is so much faster and much more worth it.