Windows 10 Technical Preview: Download, Overview

Dennis Faas's picture

There's been much talk about Windows 10 beta, otherwise known as the "Technical Preview." The good news is that Windows 10 Technical Preview is now available for download to the general public, and it's absolutely free. But before you rush off to download Microsoft's latest offering, please take a few moments to consider some important details.

Things to Consider before Downloading Windows 10 Technical Preview

First, the Windows 10 Technical Preview is still in early development. That means the software is inherently buggy and prone to crashing, and can result in data loss. As such, we don't recommend you use this version of Windows 10 as your primary operating system (OS).

Second, you should not install Windows 10 Technical Preview unless you know how to partition your hard drive and/or dual boot your operating system, or run a virtual machine - the latter being the preferred method. These are, for the most part, the primary steps that one should take in order to install a beta operating system while still keeping the existing OS in tact. It is for these reasons that installing Windows 10 Technical Preview should only be done if you are technically inclined.

Third, the Windows 10 Technical Preview will expire at some point, which means that at some point it will simply stop working unless you purchase the full version - and may or may not require you to reinstall the OS. If you intend to use Windows 10 Technical Preview as your primary operating system (even if it's at some point in the future), be aware of this limitation.

Finally, this article is not meant to be an exhaustive guide, nor does it provide step-by-step installation procedures. It's merely an overview of the most important caveats when installing Windows 10 Technical Preview; as such, it contains some highly technical information.

With that said, let's move on.

Windows 10 Technical Preview Hardware Requirements

Windows 10 Technical Preview only runs on PCs or Windows tablets with an x86 processors; it cannot run on Windows RT or ARM processors. Minimal CPU requirements are 1GHz or faster, 1GB RAM, 16GB hard disk space, and a Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device. As stated, these are minimal requirements, and we recommend something substantially more than bare minimum. That said, you'll also need a Microsoft account and Internet access in order to download the Technical Preview.

Using a Virtual Machine to install Windows 10 Technical Preview

If you intend to use a virtual machine (software) to run Windows 10 Technical Preview, please note that there are hardware requirements. For example: if you intend to install Windows 10 64 bit, you need a 64 bit processor for your virtual machine.

While virtual machine hardware requirements aren't set in stone, we do have some suggestions. We recommend the host operating system should contain at least a quad core system in the 2+ GHz range, with a minimum of 8 gigabytes of RAM; for the guest operating system: set it to 1 or 2 cores, and 4 gigabytes of RAM. If you're using a virtual machine, an SSD (solid state disk) is highly recommended as it will make pausing and resuming the virtual machine much faster. There are many free virtual machine programs out there; we recommend VMware or VirtualBox.

Using a Virtual Machine

A virtual machine installation should (hopefully) be straightforward. If your attempt to install the Windows 10 VM isn't successful, reports suggest that you will need to enable Physical Address Extension (PAE) in your virtual machine and also enable EFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). In Oracle's VirtualBox, click 'Settings', then 'System'; in the 'Motherboard' tab, ensure the box next to "Enable EFI (Special OSes only)" is checked. You should check the "Enable PAE/NX" box under the Processor tab. (Source:

Using a Secondary Hard Drive or Partitions / Dual Boot

If you cannot run a virtual machine due to hardware prerequisites, the next best option is to install Windows 10 Technical Preview using another hard drive in the same system, or to partition your existing hard drive.

A word of warning --

If you go this route, we highly recommend you backup your existing system just in case something goes wrong (for example: you could accidentally format your current Windows installation during the Windows 10 Technical Preview install, or shrinking the partition could end up in data loss). Either way, this method has many caveats.

For all intents and purposes, disk imaging software is the best choice here for backing up. Acronis True Image is capable of such a backup. This will allow you to revert your system to exactly how it was before anything was changed just in case something goes wrong.

Partitioning the hard drive is possible under Windows XP, 7 and 8 by shrinking the existing volume. There's also a guide at that explains this process.

Download Windows 10 Technical Preview

With those caveats out of the way, you can download Windows 10 Technical Preview from Microsoft. Here are the steps:

1. Go to

2. Click on 'get started' further down the page.

3. Sign in using your Microsoft ID.

4. Accept the Terms of Service.

5. Once you have signed in you will see an option to download the preview. You will have to fill out a for more forms before you're allowed to download.

6. The download will come in the form of 'Akamai Net Session' downloader. Download it and run it; it should download the ISO.

7. Once you have the .ISO, burn it to disc using image burn or similar, or use DaemonTools (Lite) to emulate the ISO if using a virtual machine.

8. Insert the disc and either reboot your machine or start your virtual machine to begin the installation. In either case, you may need to adjust your BIOS settings to boot from CD (rather than hard drive).

Good luck!

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