Windows 11 Insider Build on a VM

If you’re working in IT, or are generally curious about technology, you would have heard about Windows 11. Microsoft released a new version of Windows after almost 6 years, and currently, it is only available for the people who are part of the Insider Program Dev channel.

The Insider ISO file is not available as of now, and if you really want to test Windows 11, but not on your primary device, you can still do so on a VM. Now the steps I have outlined here are not part of some cool trick that I invented. This is pretty much common sense, but it took some time for me to “get it” while waiting for the official ISO to release.

ISO file

The first part of the solution involves getting a Windows 10 ISO file:

Windows 10 ISO selection web page
  • Fill in the required information (it doesn’t really have to be accurate) and click on Continue.
Windows 10 ISO Download Web page form
  • Select 64 Bit, your desired language, and then click on “Download“.
Windows 10 ISO Download OS platform selection
Windows 10 ISO

Microsoft Account

While that is getting downloaded in the background, we can work on the second part of the equation, the Insider enabled Microsoft Account.

Create Microsoft Account web page
  • Select Get a new email address and continue with the account creation
Microsoft Account email selection
Microsoft Account email selection
  • Once the account is created, go to the Microsoft Insider Registration page and sign in using the new account you just created.
  • Check the checkbox to click on the Register Now button, and that’s it. You’re part of the Windows Insider program.
Windows Insider registration page

Virtual Machine

The final piece of the puzzle involves using a virtualization software of your choice to create a Windows 10 Virtual Machine (VM) and upgrading it to Windows 11 by signing in with your new Microsoft account which you just created. But before we go ahead, a few caveats that I would like to mention:

  1. Internet should be enabled on your VM in order to log in using your Microsoft account and downloading the Windows 11 build.
  2. Depending on your choice of virtualization software, you will probably need to install extensions like VMWare Tools or Virtualbox Extension Pack in order to get the best experience out of your VM

Getting that out of the way, let’s move on.

  • To create a VM, you can follow this guide or any one of the plethora of options available on the internet.
  • Once that is done, and you are logged in with your Microsoft account, go to Start | Settings | Updates & Security | Windows Insider
Start, Settings , Updates & Security, Windows Insider GIF
  • Click on Get Started button, then Link an Account and link your logged-in Microsoft account by clicking on Continue
Link an account window
  • Select the Dev Channel and click on Confirm
Dev channel selection window
  • After another confirmation window, you’ll be asked to restart the VM. Click on Restart Now
Restart window

Windows 11

  • After the machine has restarted, log in and go to Settings | Updates & Security | Windows Update and click the Check for updates button.
Check for updates window
  • Soon you will see that among other updates, you have the new Windows 11 build getting downloaded
Windows 11 build download window
  • And now, we wait.
One eternity later meme

Finally, after the download, and installation, and reboots, we get to play with Windows 11.

Does anyone miss screenshots? Not anymore, I guess.

P.S.- Blog was updated to add all the screenshots.

By Sam

Hi, I am Samarth Joshi. Gaming got me into computers and programming, which ultimately led me to IT. Now just trying to share what I learn.