How do I install Windows 8 (Windows 8.1) with an .exe file?

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I purchased Windows® 8(.1) and received the .exe file (Windows8_install.exe). How do I create a virtual machine from it?


In order to install Windows 8(.1)in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine, you must have a full installation source of Windows 8(.1) (ISO image, DVD). It is not possible to install Windows in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine using an .exe file. Therefore, please do the following:

  1. Contact one of the Microsoft Authorized OEM Distributors to request either a Windows 8.iso installation image or physical DVD.

    Note: If you have another Windows PC (XP or later) available you can use this Microsoft article to create an .iso image. (You should only select ISO image and save it later at some other location: you do not need to burn it to a disk or create a bootable flash drive.)

  2. Once you have a full installation source of Windows 8/8.1, please see Installing Windows on your Mac using Parallels Desktop to learn how to install a Windows virtual machine.

If you are using Parallels Desktop 10, you may download a 90-day Windows trial. For more information, please visit Modern.IE Test Environment in Parallels Desktop 10.

Please also note that Parallels Technical Support does not provide any assistance beyond this article regarding this out of scope issue.

Alternative solution if you have a Windows 7® license

If you have a Windows 7 license, following these steps:

  1. Go to Microsoft Software Recovery.
  2. Follow the required steps to download a Windows 7 installation image (ISO).
  3. Install a Windows 7 virtual machine
  4. In the Windows 7 virtual machine, go to the Upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows 7 page.
  5. Download and launch Upgrade Assistant.
  6. Proceed with an upgrade.

As an alternative resource on this topic, we also recommend visiting this blog post:

How to Install Windows on Mac with an .Exe Image File in Parallels Desktop

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