December 03, 2012, 3:34 PM — Upgrading to a new operating system can be an intimidating undertaking that massively disrupts your daily workflow. And considering the dramatic interface changes introduced in Windows 8, you may not want to invest in Microsoft's latest OS without first giving it a thorough shakedown.
Fortunately, there's an easy, hassle-free way to test-drive Windows 8. Using a program called VirtualBox and the evaluation version of Windows 8 Enterprise, you can try out the new OS for free, without disturbing your current operating system. Read onwell show you how.
For this project, you'll need to use the evaluation version of Windows 8 Enterprise, which you can download directly from Microsoft at the MSDN Evaluation Center website. There are a few things you should know about the evaluation edition, but you might want to start the download nowat 3.4GB, it will take a while.
Wording on the download page identifies it as Windows 8 evaluation for developers, but anyone who has a Microsoft account (such as a free Hotmail or Live account) can download the software and try it out. The download link is at the very bottom of the page. Simply select the 32- or 64-bit version of the operating system, log in, and fill out a brief questionnaire. Just like that, youre downloading Windows 8!
Of course, Microsoft doesnt give away Windows for free, and this evaluation version has a couple of major limitations. First, the trial period expires in 90 daysat which point the OS will automatically shut down after every 60 minutes of use.
Second, you can't upgrade from the evaluation version of Windows 8 Enterprise to a full version of Windows 8. Instead, you have to uninstall it completely and start over with a non-evaluation version of the OS. Every app you've installed, and every file you've tinkered with, will be obliterated when the trial ends and you install another operating system. So back up your data! The bottom line is that you shouldn't use the evaluation version of Windows 8 Enterprise as your main operating system, which is why we recommend installing it in a virtual machine.