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How to run Windows 11 in a virtual machine, step by step

Microsoft has completed the rollout of Windows 11 and recommends its use for any user that you have a personal computer compatible with your requirements. The operating system is available as a free upgrade from previous systems, for clean installations using ISO images, and also as the version to be used by OEMs in pre-installs on new PCs.

However, there are many users who still keep Windows 10 as the main system of useWhether it’s for stability, because they like the user interface better, or because they’re just waiting for Microsoft to complete the development of Windows 11 and offer all the features promised at launch and that, like the Android subsystem for Windows, have not yet been implemented. Considering that Windows 10 will be officially supported until October 2025, there is time to upgrade. This does not mean that you can not try the latest Windows.

Windows 11 in virtual machine

If you prefer to keep Windows 10 as the main operating system for the moment, but at the same time you want to try the new features that are coming for Windows 11, you can do it in several ways. One of them is to install Windows 11 and Windows 10 on the same computer using a dual boot process that we already offered you. It is a suitable method for the user who is looking for the maximum performance of both without interfering with each other and with the possibility of starting the one you prefer quickly and easily. But you can only run one of them at a time, you have to split storage space, and it can be complex for novice users.

Another good way to test Windows 11 is through virtual machines, ideal for testing software and especially operating systems. Basically, the main operating system acts as a host and gives a part of the hardware resources to the virtual machines. We will need a virtualization application (there are very good and free ones) and the ISO image of the system also available for free to complete a process that, as you will see in this merely practical article, is not too complicated.

Previous issues

Virtualization applications require a certain hardware level of the machine. You have to allocate resources of the PC that acts as host, especially processor, memory and storage. For best results, try creating the virtual machines on your most powerful computers.

On the other hand, modern CPUs include hardware virtualization features that help speed up virtual machine applications. On AMD processors, the feature is called AMD-V and is usually enabled by default on compatible models. With Intel processors it is different and it is usual for Intel VT-x to come disabled by default. if it’s your case you will have to activate it in BIOS/UEFI. If you need it, follow this guide.

For this article we have used the WMware Workstation application on Windows 10 that acts as a host. If you don’t have this type of paid commercial applications, you can use other free ones such as WMware Player, Oracle VirtualBox, Microsoft’s Hyper-V or Parallels if you work with a Mac. The process is basically the same in all of them and it should be noted that the industry offers hypervisors that work on Windows, Linux or macOS.

Download Windows 11

If you follow us regularly you know it by heart. Microsoft has made the process easy and you can download the ISO image without going through the tedious media creator that Windows 10 forced you to do.

  • Go to the Windows 11 page.
  • Select the third available option, “Download Windows 11 Disc Image (ISO)”.
  • In the dropdown, select “Windows 11 (multi-edition ISO)”.
  • Select the Spanish language.
  • Confirm and download the “Win11_Spanish_x64v1.iso” image that we will later use for the virtual machine.

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Create the virtual machine

As we said, we are going to use the commercial version of WMware Workstation Pro, but the rest of the hypervisors work in the same way. Let’s go step by step:

  • We open the application and click on the “create a new virtual machine” button.

Windows 11 in virtual machine

  • We can use the automated wizard or customize it. We select the first option (they can always be customized later as we will see).

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  • We select the location of the Windows 11 ISO image that we downloaded in the previous step.

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  • We select Microsoft Windows and the version Windows 10 x64 or higher.

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  • We put a name to the virtual machine to differentiate it from others that you use. The ideal is to have an exclusive folder for all the machines that we have. The name can be any.

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  • We allocate the disk space that the system will occupy. We leave the standard 60 GB for this version on virtual disk in a simple file. Depending on how much free space your PC has, you can allocate more. The application will create a folder in the path that we saw earlier as if it were a partition.

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  • You would be ready to create the virtual machine, but at this point it is better to review the hardware options and assign the ones that best suit our needs and host machine.

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  • We allocate 8 Gbytes of RAM and four CPU cores and terminate the VM.

Add the VTPM

You already know that Microsoft has increased the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11 and especially the TPM security module. Even if you have a host PC that physically supports them, it’s not uncommon when you want to create a Windows 11 virtual machine you get an error message like the one in the following image:

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There are several ways to fix the error, editing the VMX file created by the virtual machine or acting on the registry. Here we propose another method that seems to us the simplest and that is done at the click of a button within the same configuration of the virtual machine. Step by Step:

  • Right click on the virtual machine and select Settings.

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  • Open the Options tab and in the panel look for access control.

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  • Click on encrypt, write a password and accept to save the changes.

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  • You are now ready to add a TPM module to the virtual machine.
  • To do this, right-click on the encrypted virtual machine and select Settings.
  • In the Hardware tab click the Add button and add the Trusted Platform Module.

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  • Press OK and you will see the added TPM.

From here you will no longer have any problem like the one indicated in the error in the image.

Install Windows 11

  • Start the Windows 11 virtual machine by clicking on the start button. The installation occurs in the same way as if we were doing it on a physical machine.

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  • If we do not have a license at hand, we omit the key writing and continue. Remember that legally, a virtual machine needs a valid license just like a physical system.

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  • Same with Windows editions. Legally you must use the one for which you have the license.

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  • The installation recognizes as a typical partition the virtual machine of 60 GB that we have created in the folder of the hard disk. We install on it.

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The rest of the installation is trivial. The machine will reboot several times before moving on to the language and keyboard settings, the computer name and the online account with a Microsoft ID or a local account to use, to end the always tedious privacy section that should always be disabled by default.

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The wizard will keep working until it completes an installation that a fast machine with an SSD completes in just a few minutes. From here on, its operation is similar to that of a physical machine with the system, although its performance will always be lower and will depend on the amount of hardware resources that you have assigned to it.

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You can try various configurations (without going overboard so as not to penalize the proper functioning of Windows 10 that acts as a host) and review the additional options section to access other components such as memory card readers, webcam, etc.

As you can see, virtualization it is a great resource to test Windows 11 (or any other software) and you can use it on other non-Windows systems like Linux, macOS, OpenBSD… The process is basically the same and you can also use free versions of other hypervisors like VMware Player, Hyper-V, VirtualBox or Parallels.

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