Windows 7 and Existing Virtualization Environments

So far we have only discussed the virtualization capabilities inherent in Windows 7—virtually loading Windows 7 and using the Windows XP Mode virtual system within Windows 7.
Windows 7 can also be deployed into other virtual environments, however, and the remainder of this topic discusses our experience in doing so. If you are interested in virtualizing Windows 7 under another virtual environment, we strongly suggest you get thoroughly acquainted with the specific virtual environment that you are considering moving to.

Sun xVM Virtual Box

The first environment we want to discuss is Sun’s xVM Virtual Box software. This open source virtualization software can be downloaded from and installed on your system. At present, Virtual Box requires one of the following host operating systems to run properly:
• Linux (We have tested this on both Fedora and Ubuntu and have seen no issues.)
• Mac OS X
• OS/2 Warp
• Windows XP or later
• Solaris
If you plan to run Windows 7 using Virtual Box, you should make sure that your system has sufficient resources for all the various system configurations you plan to use. In addition, allow for system resource utilization by the host and allow 256MB of memory for the Virtual Box software itself. Your video output should also be fully supported by the host system.

Installing Windows 7 Under Sun Virtual Box

Before installing Windows 7 as a virtual system, you need to make sure your host operating system is installed on your computer and you have installed the Sun Virtual Box software.
After you have done these two things, you can start installing Windows 7.
1. Your first task is to start the Virtual Box console and then use it to create and configure a virtual hard disk instance for your Windows 7 installation. We have found that the settings shown in Tables 11.3 and 11.4 are the bare minimum that is acceptable for running Windows 7 from within Virtual Box.

Table 11.3 Minimum Settings for Running Windows 7 Under Sun Virtual Box

OS Type Microsoft Windows
Version Windows Vista (see note below)
Base Memory Size 512MB
Boot Hard Disk Click New, and see below
Hard Disk, Storage Type Dynamically Expanding Storage
Hard Disk, Location Any appropriate location on your system
Hard Disk, Size 20.00GB

Table 11.4 Expanded Recommended Virtual Box Settings for Windows 7 Virtual System

Section Tab Field Notes/Entry
General Basic Operating System Microsoft Windows.
Basic Version Windows Vista (we expect that an updated version with Windows 7 compatibility will be available by the end of 2009).
Basic Base Memory 800MB.
Basic Video Memory 128MB.
Basic Enable 3D Acceleration Yes.
Advanced Boot Order Whatever you think is appropriate.However, note that initially you will need to enable CD/DVD-ROM boot ahead of the hard disk.
Advanced Enable ACPI Yes.
Hard Disk Enable SATA Controller Yes.
Slot Hard Disk The VDI file that you create for the virtual system instance.
CD/DVD-ROM Mount CD/DVD Drive Yes.
HostCD/ DVD Drive Normally we would suggest this. However, see the next item for an alternative option.
HostCD/ Enable You must enable this option if you plan to let
DVD Drive Passthrough the virtual installation of Windows 7 use your computer’s CD/DVD drive.
ISO Image File We found some issues with DVD drive passthrough from our host system. As a result, we wound up creating an ISO from the DVD drive on the host system and then mounting the ISO as a DVD image with this option to install Windows 7 to our virtual environment.
Floppy Mount Floppy Drive If your system has a floppy drive,and you plan to allow the virtual system to use it, you must

Table 11.4 Continued

Section Tab Field Notes/Entry
select this option. We never used it because none
of our test systems had floppy drives.
Audio Enable Audio If you want your virtual system to be able to use the host computer’s audio capabilities, you must enable this option.
Audio Host Audio Driver If you select Null audio driver, the Windows 7 virtual system will”see”an audio card but will not be able to send any sound out through it.
Audio Audio Controller SoundBlaster 16.
Network Adapter 1 Enable Network Adapter You must enable at least one network adapter for your virtual system to be able to communicate on the Internet.
Network Adapter 1 Adapter Type Intel Pro/1000 MT Desktop.
Network Adapter 1 Attached to NAT.
Network Adapter 1 Cable Connected Yes.
Serial Ports Port1 Enable Serial Port Enable this only if you plan to let the virtual system use your computer’s serial ports. In our test cases, we left this turned off.
USB Enable USB
USB Enable USB 2.0 (EHCI) Controller Yes.
Shared Folder By default, no shared folders are created. We found it useful to create a shared folder for the virtual system, which linked to the host system’s desktop. Click the plus sign (+) icon in the upper-left corner to create a shared folder.

2. After you have created the virtual system instance, including its associated virtual hard disk image (VDI file), you can install Windows 7.
3. Mount the Windows 7 DVD in your system’s DVD drive.
4. From within Virtual Box, select the Windows 7 virtual system instance and then click the Start arrow (see Figure 11.13).
Starting the Windows 7 instance for system installation.
FIGURE 11.13
Starting the Windows 7 instance for system installation.
5. Based on the recommended settings, your virtual system should start to boot and then load from your host system DVD drive. If you have any issues with this process, stop the virtual system, copy an ISO image of the Windows 7 DVD to your system, and then mount that ISO image as the DVD drive under Virtual Box.
6. Install and configure Windows 7 as you normally would.
7. After Windows 7 is installed in your virtual environment, test the network connectivity from within the virtual system using Internet Explorer.
8. Configure the Windows 7 virtual instance as you would any other system installation. Note that you can perform normal application migration operations from within Virtual Box with no issues, so migrating applications and settings should be as simple as they would be to a regular Windows 7 installation.

VMW are

The next environment we discuss is VMW are. In this case, we ran Windows 7 under VMW are Workstation 6.5.2. However, any VMW are product will support the 32-bit x86 platform that you need to run
Windows 7, and virtually any VMW are product that you can get will also support 64-bit Windows 7 installations if your underlying hardware will support it. In practice, this means that you can run Windows 7 virtually under VMW are installed on Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008, any recent version of Linux, and Macintosh OS. The precise operating system requirements may vary depending on which version of VMW are you are using. VMW are Server, for example, requires that you use a server version of Windows as your host operating system;Windows XP and Windows Vista would not work properly.


To run the 64-bit version of Windows 7 as a virtual system under VMW are, your host system must have a 64-bit processor and a BIOS compatible with x86 virtualization. Intel systems require VT hardware visualization, and AMD64 processors must be revision D or later. Also, see the discussion earlier in this topic about hardware virtualization requirements under Windows XP Mode.
You should note the minimum system requirements for running Windows 7 under VMW are shown in Table 11.5.
Table 11.5 Minimum Requirements to Run Windows 7 Under VMW are
Memory 512MB for VMW are, plus 768MB for Windows 7, totaling 1280MB. Of course, more is better, and
VMW are recommends 2GB-4GB of memory to run a guest OS under VMW are.
Disk VMW are requires 1.7GB for installation purposes. You will also want 20GB of disk space available
for the actual Windows 7 installation.

Installing and Configuring VMW are

The first task you need to perform is to install the VMW are software. Install and configure the VMW are environment using the procedures laid out in the VMW are documentation. In our case, we needed to install both VMW are Workstation (which creates the virtual machine) and VMW are Player (which runs it).
After you have done so, create a new virtual machine. During the configuration, you will be asked for the location of the installation media, as well as configuration information, such as your license key and the default user. By entering this information ahead of time, you can allow VMW are to automatically configure the system. This situation also pointed up the ease of having an ISO image of the Windows 7 installer. From within VMW are Workstation, we selected File, New, Virtual Machine, which launched the New Virtual Machine wizard. From there, we selected a typical installation and then pointed the installer at the ISO file we had created earlier. The wizard asked us for a product key, user name, and password; then it asked for a virtual machine name and a location in which to store the virtual machine. Finally, it asked for some configuration information—how big the disk was to be and whether to store the virtual system disk as a single file or split into smaller files.
Once the virtual system was created, we ran it from VMW are Player. The first time we powered up the virtual machine, it automatically detected the ISO; started it; and ran the installation process, configuring the Windows installation using the information we had already entered.


One item we noted during our testing process was that configuring VMW are under a Linux host was less simple than configuring other virtual environments. After we got past the configuration issues, however, there were no problems of any kind running Windows 7 under VMW are.

Other Virtual Environments

A number of other virtual environments exist that you can use to virtually deploy Windows 7. As a rule, you should stick to virtualization software that supports either x86 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit) technologies. Wikipedia maintains a useful list of virtualization software that supports Windows-oriented virtualization.

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