Test Windows 7 RC on a Virtual Machine [Part 1]

Guy McDowell 09-05-2009

vbox_logoMicrosoft has released it’s Windows 7 Release Candidate (Win7RC) and is making it available to, well, pretty much everyone!


In the past, beta’s and release candidates would normally be released to IT professionals who had an extra computer kicking around to test things like this on. Yet, what if you just have the one computer at home and really want to test Win7RC, what do you do?

Here’s the answer and it’s not as scary as you might think. Install a virtual machine (VM). What in blue blazes is a virtual machine you ask? Think of it as a computer within a computer. Then you can install whatever you want to test on it, without fear of losing your main operating system and the files on it.

I’m going to outline the installation of Sun’s VirtualBox. There are quite a few VM’s out there, I just chose Sun’s since it was recommended to me by a friend who is vastly more knowledgeable about computers than me. Yes, it’s true. Someone knows more than me. Okay, most people know more than me.

Step 1 – Download Sun VirtualBox

Head on over to Sun’s VirtualBox Download page where you can download the version that’s right for you. You can use VirtualBox on Windows x86, Mac OSX (Intel Based), Linux, and of course, Solaris.

I’m a PC, so I’ll go for the Windows version. It’s 63 MB, so if your connection is slow this is a good time to call your neighbour and say hi.


Step 2 – Start the Install

installer_iconFind the VirtualBox install file on your desktop and double-click on it. The install will begin. During the install you’ll come across two or three Windows Logo Warnings. Go ahead and click continue if they make sense to you.

The next window you will see will as kyou what options you want. I’ve left it as it was and installed the options. I’d like my test of the Win7RC to be as full-functioning as possible.


At this point, you may receive a warning about VirtualBox disabling your network card for a bit. That’s okay. Just click Yes.



At the end of the install, you’ll be asked if you’d like to start the VirtualBox after the end of the install. Sure, why not?

Step 3 – Register


It seems there is no way around the registration. I don’t like to register software, just because I hate spam. They do give you the opt-out option, so go ahead and use that.



I found it peculiar that they felt the need to thank me for “finding the time to fill out the registration form”. I felt that the tone of that ‘thank you’ was a little snotty. Whatever. Maybe I’m just insecure. The software is good.

Step 4 – Start VirtualBox

Now VirtualBox is ready to get going! Once it’s fully installed you’ll be presented with the following window.



Just because VirtualBox is running, doesn’t mean you have a virtual machine just yet. To do that you need to create a new virtual machine. Which is a nice segue into Step 5.

Step 5 – Create a New Virtual Machine

Simply start by clicking on the blue sun-looking icon that reads New. This gets things started. From here on in you just have to follow the prompts. But I’ll give you a few pointers anyway.

create_vm_step_2This is what makes Sun VirtualBox perfect for testing out Windows 7. It already has provisions for that version. How cool is that? Okay, so it’s only moderately cool compared to monkey knife fights and ninjas.

So name your Virtual Machine and select the right Operating System and Version. Click Next.

create_vm_step_3The set-up suggests 512 MB yet Microsoft says Win7RC requires a minimum of 1 GB or 1024MB of RAM. So that’s what you should go for. If your computer has less than 2GB of RAM, you may want to reconsider installing Win7RC on a virtual machine. It just won’t work well enough to give it an honest evaluation.

create_vm_step_4The default configuration here is just fine. What you do on the next screen however, makes a big difference.

create_vm_step_6There are choices here and one may be better than the other. Microsoft suggests having a minimum of 20GB for an install of Win7RC. So you could select fixed-size storage and set it for 20GB. I’m playing it on the wild-side and using the Dynamically expanding storage option. This is likely to affect the performance of the virtual machine and Win7RC. I’m okay with that for my installation since I’ve only got about 20GB of free space on my computer and don’t want to use it all if possible.

create_vm_step_7On this screen you select the location for your Virtual Machine to run in on your computer. It’s best to name it something meaningful and relevant to your situation. Here, you also allocate how much disk space that the Guest OS will think it has for a hard drive. I chose 10 GB. You’re probably better to choose 20GB if you have the space.

There are just two screens that follow this one. Both of them tell you information about your new virtual disk. The information isn’t that important, but allows you to confirm if the set-up is the way that you want it. If the information makes sense, go ahead and click Next. If it doesn’t, click the Back button and change your choices where necessary.

lets_all_go_to_the_lobbyEven if you finish the creation of the virtual machine, you can change the parameters later on. No worries! That’s part of what makes Sun’s VirtualBox such a good test bed for software and operating systems. It’s flexible. Semper Gumby for my Marine friends out there.

In Part Deux Test Windows 7 RC on a Virtual Machine [Part 2] Read More of this article, I’ll be covering the install of Windows 7 RC on my newly created Sun VirtualBox virtual machine. Stay tuned and don’t touch that remote. Now for intermission…Let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobbeeeeeeeeee, and get ourselves a treat!

Continue Reading: Test Windows 7 RC on a Virtual Machine [Part 2] Test Windows 7 RC on a Virtual Machine [Part 2] Read More

Related topics: Virtualization, Windows 7.

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  1. Bravehart
    May 25, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    To; Guy McDowell
    I'm still not sure what I have to download for windows 7RC ISO
    there are 3 options for the SDK ISO which is which is not clear to me? Could you also expand on the ISO mount, does it mean that windows 7 has to reinstall everytime when you start
    the Virtual machine?

  2. Guy McDowell
    May 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Glad to hear it! It's a nice warm fuzzy feeling when things work.

  3. Ash
    May 23, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Hey Thanx i installed it on mac and was very cool

  4. Red Gear
    May 13, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Do you have comparison data of any virtual machine?

  5. fasil
    May 11, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Nice post, It would have been great if the final screen shot of Windows7 on VirtualBox was posted...........


  6. anon
    May 9, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    IIRC, the registration process is optional, because I do not remember having to register. I think I just clicked next and it skips the screen

    • Guy McDowell
      May 10, 2009 at 12:12 am

      The 'Confirm' button was greyed out until I put in a name and an e-mail address. I found that weird, but it's no big deal really. It's great software and the price is exceptional.