The best way to test a new operating system without putting your computers at risk is to install and try it on a virtual machine. That’s also true when it comes to Windows 11, Microsoft’s brand new operating system, which, although nice and shiny, comes with plenty of changes and also has its share of bugs. Unfortunately, it also has some steep system requirements, including TPM 2.0, which free virtual machine applications can’t handle yet. Paid ones are usually easier to configure and have more options than free virtual machine apps, but they cost quite a lot of money. For most home users, that’s not something worth paying just to test Windows 11. The good news is that there is a way to install Windows 11 on a virtual machine using VMware’s Workstation Player, which is free for personal use. You will need to bypass the TPM and CPU checks of Windows 11, but it’s not as hard as it may sound. Without further ado, here’s how to install Windows 11 in a virtual machine using VMware Workstation Player (Free):
- Download and install VMware Workstation Player Free
- Download a Windows 11 ISO file from Microsoft
- Create a new virtual machine in VMware Workstation Player Free
- Customize the virtual machine in VMware Workstation Player Free
- Start installing Windows 11 in the virtual machine from VMware Workstation Player Free
- Bypass the TPM, Secure Boot, and RAM system requirements of Windows 11
- Continue installing Windows 11 in the virtual machine like you normally would
The first step to install Windows 11 on a virtual machine is to get the right tool for that. For now, the best VM apps, and the only ones that work well with Windows 11, are VMware’s virtualization solutions. And, the one that we focus on in this guide is the VMware Workstation Player app that’s free for personal use. So, start by using your web browser to download VMware Workstation Player. Then, install it on your computer.
Next, use your web browser again to go to this webpage: Download Windows 11. There, find the section titled “Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO)”, select Windows 11 in the list, and click or tap on Download.
Select the language of the Windows 11 ISO file to download, and click or tap on Confirm.
Now press the 64-bit Download button and save the Windows 11 ISO file somewhere on your computer.
You now have both tools required to install Windows 11 in a virtual machine: VMware Workstation Player (Free) and the Windows 11 ISO file. Next, let’s see how to actually install Windows 11 in VMware’s free Player:
Fire up VMware Workstation Player Free on your computer. In its window, click or tap on “Create a New Virtual Machine.”
Choose “I will install the operating system later” in the “New Virtual Machine Wizard” window, and then click or tap on Next.
Select Microsoft Windows under “Guest operating system,” choose Windows 10 x64 in the Version list, and press Next.
Enter a name for the Windows 11 virtual machine and choose the folder location on your computer where you want to save its files. Then, press Next.
VMware Workstation Player Free now asks you to Specify Disk Capacity for the Windows 11 virtual machine. Enter 64GB or more, but not less, as this is the minimum free disk space required by Microsoft for Windows 11. Then, choose whether you want to “Store virtual disk as a single file” or “Split virtual disk into multiple files”, and press Next.
On the next step of the Windows 11 virtual machine configuration wizard, you might be tempted to press Finish thinking you’re done. But don’t do that yet, as you still need to adjust a few settings:
When VMware Workstation Player Free says that it’s “Ready to Create Virtual Machine,” click or tap on Customize Hardware, not on Finish.
This opens VMware Workstation Player’s Hardware window. In it, select Memory on the left and increase the amount of RAM allocated to the Windows 11 virtual machine to at least 4096MB.
If you have a powerful processor, you might also want to increase the number of CPU cores allocated to the Windows 11 virtual machine. However, that’s not mandatory, as VMware Workstation Player Free gives it two cores by default, which is the minimum required by Windows 11.
Next, select CD/DVD (SATA) on the left of the Hardware window. Then, on its right side, select “Use ISO image file” and Browse or type the location of the Windows 11 ISO file you downloaded on the 2nd step of this guide.
You can leave the other settings as they are or customize them to your liking. Once you’re done, click or tap the Close button from the bottom-right corner of the Hardware window and then the Finish button from the “Ready to Create Virtual Machine” window.
Back on the dashboard of VMware Workstation Player Free, the Windows 11 virtual machine is now created and listed on the left side of the window. To start it, double-click on its name on the left, or select it first and then click/tap on “Play virtual machine” on the right.
The Windows 11 virtual machine starts from the ISO file and, almost instantly, it asks you to “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD.” Click or tap inside the virtual machine, and then press any key on your keyboard, as instructed.
Then, Windows 11 starts its installation wizard, first asking you to choose the language, time and currency format, and keyboard or input method you’d like to use. Ignore this for the moment. Instead, inside the virtual machine, simultaneously press the Shift + F10 keys on your keyboard to open Command Prompt.
Unfortunately, if you continue the setup process, it will eventually tell you that “This PC can’t run Windows 11” because “This PC doesn’t meet the minimum requirements to install this version of Windows.”
If you were using a commercial virtual machine application such as VMware Workstation Pro, that wouldn’t be a problem because you could configure your virtual machine to use TPM passthrough and enable Secure Boot in its settings. However, free tools such as the one we use in this guide, VMware Workstation Player Free, don’t offer these features. So, in order to be able to install Windows 11 in the virtual machine, we need to bypass the operating system’s TPM and Secure Boot checks, and, if you need to, also RAM. Here’s how to do that:
In the previous step, you’ve pressed Shift + F10 to launch Command Prompt during the Windows 11 setup process. Now, in the Command Prompt window from the Windows 11 virtual machine, type and execute the following commands one after the other:
reg add HKLM\System\Setup\LabConfig /v BypassTPMCheck /t reg_dword /d 1
reg add HKLM\System\Setup\LabConfig /v BypassSecureBootCheck /t reg_dword /d 1
reg add HKLM\System\Setup\LabConfig /v BypassRAMCheck /t reg_dword /d 1
All the commands should end with messages telling you the “The operation completed successfully.” After you run all three of them, close the Command Prompt.
Now that you’ve configured the Windows 11 setup to bypass the dreaded TPM, Secure Boot, and RAM checks, you should be able to install it inside the virtual machine. From here on, you can continue the installation as you normally would. If you need help with it, we’ve detailed all the next steps in this dedicated guide: How to install Windows 11 from USB, DVD, or ISO. After you finish installing it, you can start testing Windows 11 on your brand new virtual machine and see how you like it. 🙂
Now you know how to install Windows 11 on a virtual machine without paying for anything. VMware’s Workstation Player app is free to use for personal use, and Windows 11 can be downloaded and installed without a product key, as Microsoft doesn’t require it. So all there’s left to do for you is try Windows 11 and decide whether you want to upgrade your computers and devices. Let us know how it all worked out for you and whether you encountered any issues installing Windows 11 in a virtual machine in a comment below.