The first question is how to get the ISO of Windows 11. You would not like to use a valid license just for evaluation and testings. Luckily Microsoft gives you free access for evaluation purposes to many of its products for a limited amount of time. In the case of windows, you get a fully functional Windows 11 enterprise for 90 days which is more than enough for evaluation and testing. The link to the evaluation center is: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/ and the link to Windows 11 is: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-windows-11-enterprise. If you need more than 90 days, buy a license or, in case of emergency, look at the Microsoft official documentation for the slmgr.vbs utility at: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started/activation-slmgr-vbs-options.
Installing Windows 11 on VirtualBox is not a straightforward process as you might expect. Microsoft has some new strict System requirements, driven mainly by the changes in the security landscape and the new emerging security threats and attack vectors.
When you try to install Windows 11 on VirtualBox as is, after hitting the install button, you will eventually get a polite message saying: “This PC can’t run Windows 11” with a non-copyable link to https://aka.ms/WindowsSysReq.
The shortcut link redirects you to the System requirements page at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11-specifications.
Let’s analyze the minimum requirements step by step:
– 1 GHz 2 cores 64-bit processor.
– 4 GB RAM.
– 64 GB disk space.
– UEFI firmware with Secure Boot capabilities.
– TPM Version 2.0.
– DirectX 12 Graphics card with WDDM 2.0 driver.
– High definition 720p 8-bit color display 9 inches.
– Internet connection.
– The Home edition requires a Microsoft account.
Currently, VirtualBox does not have TPM support which drives some issues with the secure boot requirement.
Microsoft knows very well that many users want to check the new beast virtually before deciding to install it. That is true, especially for IT managers that will make the final decision in large organizations. Many use VirtualBox as a virtualizer, and that might delay the adoption rate. So Microsoft leaked a semi-official bypass mechanism to enable the installation of Windows 11 in environments that do not support the strict requirements. The bypass requires stoping the installation process at the beginning and tweaking some keys in the registry.
I compiled the information from two posts. The first one by Simon Coter on the official Oracle blog site at https://blogs.oracle.com/virtualization/post/install-microsoft-windows-11-on-virtualbox and additional information found at https://digitalmasta.com/how-to-install-windows-11-on-virtualbox/.
Step by step instructions:
- VirtualBox Machine->new
- Type: Microsoft Windows
- Version: Windows 2019 (64-bit)
- Memory size: 4GB min, I used 8GB
- Hard disk: new, VHD, Dynamically allocated, 64GB min (I used 128GB)
- System->Motherboard: enable EFI
- System->Processor: enable PAE/NX, min 2 cores I used 4.
- Display: VBoxSVGA, Enable 3D acceleration, Video memory (if you can) 256MB
- Machine -> start
- Progress as usual, but Stop before pressing “Install now”!
- Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> System -> Setup
- Right Click on the Setup and AddKey named “LabConfig” under it (Casing matters !!!)
- Under the “LabConfig” key, create 4 DWORD (32 bit) Values
- Set each one of them to 1
- Exit Regedit
- Exit the command prompt
- Now you can click on “install now” and continue the installation.
From now on, it should be the standard installation process.
Don’t forget to install the Virtual machine additions at the end of the installation.