We are closing in on the official announcements relating to the next version of Windows and that means the ability to preview this upcoming version of Windows will soon be within our grasp.

However, it begs the question of whether or not previewing a new version of Windows is for everyone?

With the perpetual beta status of many pieces of software, apps and services it seems we are in a constant state of testing every day and as a result we may not be aware of the level of risk involved in testing something like an operating system.

If you are prepared to accept that kind of risk then maybe testing out the next version of Windows is in your wheel house but if you are risk adverse then you may want to hold off.

I recently wrote about the risks in participating in a preview program similar to this back in late July. My post Using the Windows Phone Developer Preview and Reading the Fine Print talked about those risks around the Windows Phone Developer Preview had  set back when some users had to reset their phones to the commercially available version of Windows Phone 8 in order to install the released Cyan update for Nokia Lumia’s.

There were many users unhappy about that but then again they did sign up for the preview process and chose to accept a certain level of risk.

On Windows Phone there is not much choice for testing the preview but with Windows itself there are multiple options that can allow you to try out the preview version of Windows Threshold without risking your data or production machines.

So here are the possible options, in no particular order, for trying out the Windows Threshold Technical Preview:

Install over current Windows installation. Label this one as not even recommended. Why risk your entire setup for testing what is basically a beta version of the Windows operating system. I do not see any options that would make this acceptable.  Leaks prior to the release of the Windows Threshold Technical Preview also showed that you can not roll back to your previous OS from the preview so this option really is a non-starter.

Install in a Virtual Machine. If your current hardware and operating system supports virtual environments then this is probably the safest way to preview Windows Threshold. Once the initial image is installed in the virtual machine (VM) most virtual software allows you to select an option that can revert the VM back to its original condition once you are done testing.  Testing in a VM does have some drawbacks because if your host machine does not have enough juice then a VM based OS can run very sluggish. You also never get the full impact of your hardware because of the virtual environment even on some powerful devices.

Dual Boot with current Windows installation. I like this idea myself because you get to physically use the hardware specs of your machine but it is installed alongside your current OS on a separate drive and not overtop of it. You do have to boot into that preview of Windows Threshold to run it which means exiting your current OS and restarting your computer but to keep the two environments separate I am OK with that inconvenience. You must have another physical hard drive or have your current one partitioned with space to support the previews installation.  Never install a preview OS on the same physical partition as your current OS because that will make a huge mess.

Install to a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD). This is similar to dual booting and while you use all the physical hardware for the preview the hard drive is actually a file, the VHD, instead of a separate physical partition or hard drive. That means performance will take a hit in the hard drive response times. Still a pretty solid want to test if you only have one hard drive and do not want to do a destructive partitioning.

Install on an old machine. This may not be possible for everyone but if you have a fairly recent machine that is not longer being used and has the specs to run Windows 7/8/8.1 then you could use that system for a clean installation of the Windows Threshold preview.  Most non-geeks will not have this kind of hardware laying around the house.

My preferred choices from above:

  1. Dual Boot
  2. VHD
  3. Old Machine

Whichever method you choose to employ for testing out the Windows Threshold Technical Preview remember this – if it comes even close to your personal data or current storage devices, hard drives, etc. then for your own sanity – back up your data!

Stay Data Safe when testing at all times!

Are you planning to try the Windows Threshold Technical Preview?

  • Yes (66%, 337 Votes)
  • No (18%, 93 Votes)
  • Not sure (15%, 78 Votes)

Total Voters: 508

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