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How to install Windows 7 Beta 1 with Virtual PC 2007 SP1 – Guide, tips, tutorial

Here are the steps to install the Windows 7 Beta 1 with Virtual PC 2007 SP1.

  1. Download and install Virtual PC 2007 SP1, if you don’t have SP1 then follow the same link to upgrade to SP1. Clicking on Help –> About and confirming that the version number is at least
  2. Download the 32-bit edition of the Windows 7 Beta from here.

    Note: It is important, you download 32-bit Windows 7 Beta even if you’re running on 64-bit hardware since Virtual PC 2007 only supports 32-bit guest operating systems. If you want to try the 64-bit edition in a virtualized environment, then use Hyper-V.
    Note 2: Be sure to record the Windows 7 Beta product key you are given since you’ll need this later.

  3. Open Virtual PC (Start –> Programs –> Microsoft Virtual PC) and click New… to launch the New Virtual Machine Wizard. Click Next.
  4. Ensure that “Create a virtual machine” is selected and click Next.
  5. Provide a name and location for your virtual machine and click Next. I suggest saving this in the same location that you will create your VHD file (step 8).
  6. Select Windows Vista from this operating systems list, since Virtual PC 2007 SP1 isn’t familiar with Windows 7. Click Next.
  7. Next allocate 50% of your physical RAM to your virtual machine. For example, if you have 1GB of RAM in your computer, try assigning 512MB to the virtual machine. Click Next when you have allocated your RAM.
  8. Select “A new virtual hard disk” and click Next.
  9. Give your new virtual hard disk a name and location with at least 16GB of disk space. An external (e.g. USB2) hard drive works well for this purpose since it’s portable and it allows your computer to load balance disk IO between your system drive and the external drive. For “Virtual hard disk size” leave the default value and click Next when ready.
  10. Click Finish.
  11. Your Virtual PC Console should now have a new entry representing your new virtual machine. Highlight this entry and click Start.
  12. Your virtual machine should now boot up and look for an operating system to boot to. Since you haven’t installed an operating system yet, it will eventually time out with the message below. It might take a minute or two to time out while it looks for a network device to boot off of, so be patient.
  13. Now from the top of the Virtual PC 2007 window click on CD –> Capture ISO Image and select the Windows 7 beta ISO image you downloaded in step 2. It should be called 7000.0.081212-1400_client_en-us_Ultimate-GB1CULFRE_EN_DVD.iso. This will mount the ISO image as a DVD drive available to your virtual machine.
  14. Now simply select your virtual machine and press <Enter>. If you’ve done everything right so far, then your virtual machine should now launch the Windows 7 Beta setup!
  15. The first few screens should be self-explanatory. When asked what type of installation you want, be sure to choose “Custom (advanced)” since you are not upgrading from a prior version of Windows.
  16. The rest of the setup steps should be fairly straightforward, so I won’t document them all here. But you may notice that Virtual PC “captures” your mouse when you click inside of the window and you won’t be able to move your cursor outside of the virtual machine. We’ll address this later (see “Virtual Machine Additions” below), but for now you can press the <right-ALT> key to release your mouse pointer. That’s the ALT key to the right of your space bar.
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