Problems installing Windows 8 in VirtualBox.

23rd June 2015

The issue.

Windows 8.1 I do C# development at home using my rather excellent second-hand Lenovo T420. However as I was intending to do some work away from home I decided to install Windows 8.1 within VirtualBox on my Macbook Air. The Air is nowhere near as good as the Lenovo (dual-booting with Linux Mint), but the form factor is more convenient.

I own a retail box Windows 8.1 which normally I have Boot Camp dual-booting, but as I recently refreshed my OSX install I did not have anything set up.

Taking a different tack to usual I installed VirtualBox, created a new VM and attempted an install of Windows 8.1 in that instead. I never got past the very first stages of the setup screen, getting the error:

A media driver your computer needs is missing.
This could be a DVD, USB, or Hard Disk driver.

Searching online resulted in comments from Microsoft about dodgy install media (it isn’t, and it’s an original DVD that otherwise works), plus there were various other hints and tips elsewhere all of which failed to sort the problem.

An answer that works.

In the end, I took the easy way out:

  • Use the OSX Disk Utility to create a .cdr disk image from the installation DVD.
  • Use the hdiutil command to convert that image to an ISO file.
  • Create a new VM and point at the ISO in the DVD drive settings area.
  • Run the install.

Incidentally, the terminal command to convert the cdr to an iso file looks like this (insert your own filenames):

hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -o [filename].iso [filename].cdr

Naturally, this also failed first time. The following changes fixed it:

  • Make the hard drive and DVD drive SATA not IDE.
  • Activate EFI in the motherboard system area.

The install then proceeded without a hitch.

I used the disk image because I’d already created it as part of my earlier attempts and so it was much faster to do it that way. However, I suspect that provided you make the two changes above the actual DVD may work. No guarantees though; you may also need the image regardless.