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How to use VirtualPC 2007 to Setup a

Windows 7 Beta Virtual Test System

VirtualPC 2007 is a very impressive product in that it basically lets you setup a computer within your computer, so for example you could create a Windows 7 Beta test system within your system.  This means you can setup and test different OS's without the need for any additional hardware or systems and at not cost.

Note I taken a screen shot of almost every screen in the process of setting up VirtualPC and installing Windows 7 Beta which makes this process look far more involved then it really is.  Using VirtualPC and setting up Windows 7 Beta is very easy and most of the process involves little more then clicking 'Next' or 'OK'.

VirtualPC 2007 runs on:

- Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Ultimate, Enterprise, Business editions and European Business N only) not Windows Vista Starter, or European Vista Home N editions).

- Windows XP Professional, Tablet PC Edition (32-bit), Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, and Windows XP Media Center 2005.

- Windows Server 2003

Download and Install VirtualPC 2007 (Note VirtualPC 2007 is FREE)

Go to:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/virtualpc/default.mspx

to download VirtualPC.

Once you have installed VirtualPC, start it.

 

I will now walk you through installing the Windows 7 Beta, which can be downloaded from (to keep this consistent for all users I'd suggest downloading the 32 bit version:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/beta-download.aspx

Be sure to record the Beta Product Key as you will need that later.  While downloading the Beta, lets start on setting up VirtualPC to install and run Windows 7.

First we need to create a virtual computer, so click on 'New...'

Which starts the New Virtual Machine Wizard which walks us through the create of the virtual computer.

Select 'Create a virtual machine'

By default VirtualPC saves your virtual computers in a folder in your Documents directory so on a Vista system for example they are saved in 'C:\Users\Your User Name\Documents\My Virtual Machines'.  We will call this virtual system 'Windows 7 Beta'

 

We will select the defaults for 'Windows Vista' which creates a virtual computer with 512 MB RAM, Vista Sound Compatiable and a 65 GB hard drive.

We will use the default, but we can change this later if we wish.

Given this is a new computer we want to create a new virtual hard drive.

We will use the defaults as it gives the hard drive the same name as we named the machine.

OK press finish and VirtualPC 2007 will create a virtual computer for us to install Windows 7 Beta on.

Pressing Start is equivalent to turning on the power to our virtual computer. 

Just like a brand new computer our virtual computer starts up and looks for an OS to start, but we haven't installed it yet.

So we virtually place our virtual Install DVD in our virtual computer by selecting the CD and telling it to capture or use and ISO image.

* NOTE VERY IMPORTANT *

When you click on the virtual PC, it captures your mouse etc, meaning it will not release your mouse when say you want to go somewhere else on your desktop.  To get VirtualPC to release your mouse you must enter 'Alt-Ctrl' using the keys on the right side of your keyboard.  This is a security measure, but later on in the process I will show you how to change this behaviour so that VirtualPC behaves just like any other application.

 

Select your downloaded Windows 7 Beta ISO (it needs to be finished downloading before you can use it).

Now if we have taken too long to 'install' our virtual DVD we get the following error message, no problem.

Just tell our virtual computer to reboot and it will find our virtual install DVD.

And start installing Windows 7 Beta (note I'm shrinking the images to 50% to reduce the download hit)

 

Now simply follow the instructions given by the Windows 7 Beta installer.  I'll include screen shots and some comments so you can get an idea of how easy it is to install.

Since this is a new install we need to select 'Custom (advanced)' which makes this sound way more difficult then it really is.

OK sit back relax, or find something else to do as Windows 7 Beta will take a bit to install.

Almost there.

While it says that it will restart several times, we don't need to do anything but let it run. 

Now we configure our information in Windows 7 Beta.

Normally I'd use a much longer password, but given this is just a beta test I'll use a short one.

Enter the Product Key you noted when downloading the Windows 7 Beta.

I like to select 'Home Network' when testing so I can see how it works within my home network and with my Home Server (it does work which is very cool).

And there we go, one Windows 7 Beta ready to go.

Now there are a couple of things that can be handy to change.  First by now you might be very tired of entering right side Alt-Ctrl to escape the virtual computer to get back to your main desktop, plus you might want to copy/paste between your new virtual computer and your main desktop so select 'Action' from the VirtualPC Menu and select 'Install or Update Virtual Machine Addtions'.

So this is like installing a new program in our virtual system.

The Windows 7 does the usual and asks if we really want to install this

Now when Windows 7 restarts it will only capture mouse and keyboard events when it has focus (ie the current working application).

Second I like to increase the display resolution of the Windows 7 Beta from its default 800x600 to something larger like 1024x768.

 

NOTE that VirtualPC just resizes to become a larger display.

Now if I shutdown Windows 7 Beta I can change some of the hardware of my virtual computer, by selecting settings.

 

If I select 'Memory' I can increase the amount of memory in my virtual computer to say 1 GB.  You can change other settings if wanted or needed.

VirtualPC is a very powerful tool and there are all sort of things you can do with it but hopefully this introduction allows you to get going with VirtualPC and Windows 7 Beta.