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February 3, 2010

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation

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VMware is a virtualization platform where you can install multiple Operating Systems (OS) on your desktop or laptop computer. How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation

For example, if your computer is running Windows Vista but you want to experiment with Windows 7 for development or certification, you can install a guest OS of Windows 7. In fact, you can install an entire virtual domain on a single computer.

With VMware Workstation, you no longer need to purchase multiple physical computers to meet your development or certification needs. A desktop or laptop with good processing power and plenty of available memory is all that you will need to unlock your desktop from a single OS to multiple OS’s.

For example, my current configuration is a 64-Bit computer with a quad-processor and 8GB of RAM. It allows me to run up to 10 virtual machines simultaneously. If your computer is 32-bit with 2-4 GB of RAM, you can run 1-4 virtual machines simultaneously. You can experiment with the memory settings depending on the specifications of the computer you own.

Note: Please review the specifications of VMware prior to downloading the software to assure that your computer meets the minimum requirements.

VMware Workstation System Requirements

The hardware requirements are as follows:

  • Standard x86?compatible or x86?64?compatible personal computer
  • 1.3GHz or faster CPU minimum
  • Multiprocessor systems are supported
  • Support for 64?bit guest operating systems is available with Intel VT or AMD?V CPUs
  • Operating system installation media (disk or disk image) for virtual machines
  • For Windows 7 Aero Graphics Support:
    • Intel Dual Core, 2.2GHz and above or AMD Athlon 4200+ and above
    • nVidia GeForce 8800GT and above or ATI Radeon HD 2600 and above
    • At least 3GB of host system memory

Download a Free 30-Day Trial Copy

If you want to follow along with the steps that I’m going to demonstrate in this tutorial, you’re going to need a trial or licensed version of VMware Workstation. You can download a trial version here.

When you run the executable, follow the simple wizard to install the software. You may be prompted to reboot your computer after the installation of VMware Workstation.

Creating a Virtual Machine

Let’s begin by opening VMware Workstation from the Start menu. Alternatively, you can type, “VMware” in the instant search field and select VMware Workstation from the list of programs (Figure 1).

Creating a Virtual Machine
Figure 1: VMware Workstation Main Window

Next, click File | New | Virtual Machine. A wizard appears to create a new virtual machine as shown in Figure 2.

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 2: New Virtual Machine Wizard

Click “Next” and choose how you want to load Windows 7. You can load it from installation media (DVD) or you can use an ISO image. For the purposes of this article, we will use an ISO image (Figure 3).

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 3: Loading Windows 7 from an ISO Image.

Next, select “Installer disc image file (ISO)” and browse to where your Windows 7 ISO image resides. Click “Next” and enter the Windows 7 product key (Figure 4).

Note: You can optionally personalize Windows 7 with a user and password.

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 4: Entering a Windows 7 Product Key

Click “Next”, and enter a virtual machine name and choose a location for your virtual machine to reside. You can simply accept the defaults and move forward in the installation (Figure 5).

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 5: Entering a Virtual Machine Name and Location

Click “Next” and accept (Figure 6) the default disk size of 40 GB. You can increase or decrease this size as you see fit.

Experimenting with different sizes will help you obtain your sweet spot for all Windows 7 virtual machines. Additionally, you have the option of splitting the virtual machine in 2 GB files; this will help when moving your virtual machines between computers.

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 6: Specify the Disk Capacity

Click “Next” and you can customize your virtual machine hardware prior to beginning the Windows 7 virtual machine Operating System (OS) load (Figure 7).

For example, you can add disks, serial ports, and printers. You can also remove unnecessary hardware such as floppy drives and sound cards (Figure 8).

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 7: Customizing Virtual Machine Hardware

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 8: Add/Remove Hardware

Click OK and Finish and Windows 7 begins to load (Figure 9). Since you entered the product key, VMware Workstation enters an “Easy Install” mode. Just sit back, relax, and a Windows 7 virtual machine is installed.

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 9: Windows 7 “Easy Install”

VMware Tools

In the current version of VMware Workstation (VMware Workstation 7), the VMware Tools are automatically installed so you no longer have to worry about whether you remembered to install the VMware Tools or not. The VMware Tools install the following components:

  • VMware Tools service
  • VMware device drivers
  • VMware user process
  • VMware Tools control panel

Working with a Virtual Machine

Now that your virtual machine (Figure 10) is ready, you can use it like it was a physical computer. If you choose View | Full Screen, you can work with your virtual machine a full-screen mode. Other options you have when working with virtual machines is the following:

  • Power On a Virtual Machine
  • Power Off a Virtual Machine
  • Suspend a Virtual Machine into Memory
  • Snapshot a Virtual Machine

How to Install Windows 7 in VMware Workstation
Figure 10: Windows 7 Virtual Machine

Now that you are familiar with VMware Workstation, experiment with the different settings, test new drivers and software on Windows 7. Additionally, you can use VMware Workstation to prepare for any certification programs you wish to achieve.

Finally, if you must stay current on a wide range of different technologies, including the multitude of operating systems on the market such as Windows 95, 98, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista, Server (2000, 2003, 2008), and other permutations of the Windows operating systems, VMware Workstation and virtualization is the answer.

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About the Author

is a writer in sunny Florida. His articles and blogs have appeared on web sites such as CIOUpdate.com, Techrepublic.com, SearchTechTarget, Datamation, and DatabaseJournal. You can visit his web site at www.stevenscottwarren.com and follow him on twitter at @stevenswarren.


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