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Running Windows 7 Beta 1 on Macs

Updated February 16, 2009

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Race for the next OS: Windows 7 and Snow Leopard could ship the same month

Windows 7 Beta 1 on Mac: Mostly smooth sailing so far

By John Rizzo

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Windows 7 Beta testers take heart: Windows 7 Beta 1 runs on Macs. Readers are reporting success in installing Windows 7 Beta 1 on Macs using Boot Camp, VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop, and Sun VirtualBox, with some glitches. Our own experience was similar. Readers also commented on Windows 7 Beta itself.

At Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Parallels was demonstrating an older pre-beta version of Windows 7 running in a virtual machine. The company said that Windows 7 installed without alterations to it or to Parallels Desktop. This was also our experience with VMware, and readers said the same with other methods. Below is our report with screenshots. Scroll down further for reader reports.

MacWindows Report

We installed Windows 7 Beta 1 64-bit in VMware Fusion with good results. Installation was easy: we set the downloaded ISO disk image as the new virtual machine's CD/DVD disc, and chose Windows Vista 64-bit whenever Fusion asked what operating system you're installing. We gave the virtual machine 1 GB RAM on a 4 GB MacBook Pro unibody.

After Windows 7 booted in the virtual machine, we installed VMware Tools from the Virtual Machine menu. This enabled the Mac integration that you get with XP and Vista, and we were able to drag MP3 audio files directly from the Finder into Windows Media Player in the virtual machine. The audio files played normally. Networking worked automatically without any configuration or adjustments.

The only problem we had was that Spider Solitaire froze Windows 7 every time we tried to launch it. We can live without it (for now), but it is an odd thing to have broken.

After creating and new virtual machine with the install ISO disk image, The Windows 7 Beta Installer looks like this:

When Windows 7 Beta 1 boots, it asks you to create a Homegroup, which is a new kind of networked area. Note that VMware is telling us at the bottom that we need to install VMware Tools.

We waited until the Windows 7 setup dialogs were finished, then installed the standard VMware Tools.

After VMware Tools were installed, we fired up Interenet Exporer. We then launched Windows Media Player in Windows and dragged some MP3 files from the Finder directly into WMP.

Comment below

Reader Reports and Tips

First Reader Reports with Windows 7 Beta on VMware, Parallels, VirtualBox, and Boot Camp

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Most readers had good experiences installing Windows 7 Beta on a Mac. If you have a solution to any of these reported problems

Mike Eldridge also ran Windows 7 Beta 1 in VMware Fusion:

I am running Windows 7 64 bit premium in Fusion 2 with no issues. Fusion installed it as Windows Vista 64 bit and the install was flawless.

Aaron Schultz describes running Windows 7 Beta 1 in Boot Camp:

I installed Windows 7 on its own partition on a uni-body Mac. The first install was on a third partition after a Linux distribution, but I then merged the Linux partition and windows partition and reinstalled Windows 7. Originally I was using rEFIt, but I removed it, and Windows 7 loads fine with the standard Boot Camp tools. I installed the 64-bit version, and was able to install the Mac drivers, although this required launching the 64-bit drivers manually. So far so good though, Windows 7 feels like a nicely polished and smooth running port of KDE4.

Mike Magnesen is running Windows 7 in Parallels Desktop, but has some driver issues:

I'm running the public beta of Windows 7 as a virtual machine via Parallels. I am having some driver issues, including the wireless and sound card. Aside from that, everything else seems to be working great. If you've heard of any updates on these issues, I'd love to hear.

Sable Cantus installed Windows 7 in VirtualBox, but had a problem with Parallels Desktop. [However, the reader may not have had the newest Parallels Desktop 4 Build 3810, which added Windows 7 support.] Cantus said:

I was not able to run Windows 7 in Parallels (see screenshot).

But I was able to install and run Windows 7 in VirtualBox - which has become my favorite VM (full screen Ubuntu here).

Tommy compares VirtualBox and VMware Fusion, and Fusion was superior:

Windows 7 installs and runs with both Fusion and VirtualBox, though do not run as smoothly as does an XP virtual machine. In contrast, installed as the computer boot-into OS, Windows 7 is like butter (and very nice and noticeable OS evolution).

I gave Windows 7 1,536 MB of memory. In Fusion, it uses about 520 MB; in VirtualBox, it uses about 320. Interestingly, the Windows 7 virtual machine works a little smoother in Fusion. No drag/drop files from OS X Desktop to VirtualBox virtual machine, but I can in Fusion.

Aero stuff, eg new Aero stuff in Taskbar is incomplete (no doubt related to use of a basic interface, no Aero).

Mike Collins found the Mac side slow down with Win 7 in VMware:

Installed it as "Windows Vista" and did not use the Easy Install function. Went without a hitch. Installation of VMWare tools worked too!

At first, it was grinding my system to a halt. 2.4GHz Macbook Pro. I gave it 1GB RAM (of my 2 GB). Everything seems pretty zippy inside the VM, but outside there was a noticeable lag in just about every action. But, it seems to have recovered a good bit after 10 minutes of up-time. Also, upon startup, it insists on having the mouse pointer. Until it's fully booted, you can't do anything.

I am not seeing the "must run as full-screen" issue the Parallels user mentioned in your post is.

[Ed. note: we did not see the slowdown of Mac OS X. Our Mac had 4 GB RAM in it.]

Cemil Purut is running Windows 7 on VirtualBox, but video isn't working:

I've got Windows 7 Public Beta running on a 2.16 GHz iMac with OS 10.5.6 using VirtualBox 2.1. The VirtualBox Additions for Vista install fine as long as you run the installer in Vista compatibility mode. Networking, full screen mode, and mouse integration are all fully functional. Aero is disabled by default. I haven't been able to get the Media Center to play videos; it says the video hardware is not supported. Overall, Windows 7 seems to be an improvement over Vista in UI and speed. Still quite a few annoying security pop-ups, however.

TIP: Jason Pitman is running VirtualBox, and posted some instructions:

I am running Windows 7 beta on my MacBook Pro using VirtualBox. It runs perfectly. No crashes on anything yet. The only rift I hit was the installation of the Guest Additions. These need to be set to Windows Vista compatability mode and run as admin. I have a directions with some screenshots here.

Chris Bautista is also running it in Virtual Box:

I've got Windows 7 Beta up and running in via VirtualBox on a 17 inch, 2.4 GHz MBP with 2 GB of RAM and the 160 MB 7200 HD (a couple of years old). The virtual partition is set for an 8 GB size with 768 MB of RAM - not a lot for either, I know.

(I use a 15 GB partition on my MBP with Boot Camp to run XP SP3; I use a couple of applications I need - Autodesk Revit is one of them - on the partition and I'm not yet willing to try upgrading Win XP.)

The performance of Windows 7 via VirtualBox is acceptable, however, I haven't installed any applications yet. The standard install went smoothly, no issues - far easier to deal with then Ubuntu! - and surfing the web, typing in the text application, navigating around all went pretty well. I've never used Vista, can't compare against it. XP SP3 is pretty solid, can't see switching from it to Windows 7 for a while, but I'll take Windows 7 around the block to check it out.

If you have a tip Windows 7 on a Mac

Or, Comment below

Tip for Windows 7 Beta in VirtualBox verified, more reports

Monday, January 19, 2009

More readers commented on last week's reports on Running Windows 7 Beta 1 on a Mac. Tommy verified a previous tip for running it in a virtual machine in Sun's VirtualBox:

Jason Pitman's reader report that you shared is worth repeating. When I followed the directions, Guest Additions install worked, and the VirtualBox Windows 7 virtual machine improved significantly.

We reported last week that the Windows 7 Beta 1 ran great in a virtual machine, except for Spider Solitaire. Alex Bombaci found other standard Windows games crashed:

I installed the new Windows 7 beta under a virtual machine on my 17" Mac Book Pro. The installation was fine, it seems to work properly, Internet Explorer works as well, but Aero theme still not work (Parallels 4 does not support). I tried to launch Mines and Hearts and both the games crashed and blocked the virtual machine.

Another reader left a comment on our Windows 7 Beta Reports page that Windows 7 could not see the Mac's iSight camera.

Got a tip for Windows 7 Beta 1 on a Mac?

Comment below

More reader reports of Win 7 on Macs

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jim Noeth reports some problems with running Windows 7 Beta 1 in VMware Fusion. (Except for the lack of Aero, we did not see these problems.) Noeth wrote:

I installed Windows 7 Beta 1 64 bit version in Vmware Fusion with no problems. I did have a few 'freezes' when using Internet Explorer and also noticed (as another poster mentioned) that when the Windows 7 virtual machine is booting, the host system is not accessible. I've not done much with it yet, but I did put Firefox and Thunderbird on it, both worked with no problems. Aero doesn't work, but then I really didn't expect it to work either.

Host system: MacBook Pro, 15 inch, 2GB memory, 160 GB disk
Guest system: 1 GB memory, 12 GB virtual SCSI disk

Eddie Bayne commented on Windows 7 itself:

I am running Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro using Boot Camp. It is very quick and stable for a beta.

PowerPC owners take heart: Win 7 runs on Virtual PC

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fred Horvat reported that he can run Windows 7 Beta 1 on a PowerPC Mac with the (long discontinued) Virtual PC emulator:

I got Windows 7 Beta running under Virtual PC 7.03 on my dual G5 with OSX 10.5.6. I also got the network card working inside the Virtual machine. I had to follow the Vista install steps for Virtual PC Mac to get it to install (do a Web Search for instructions if curious). Performance is a bit pokey and not really for day to day use though. I can't say yet if performance is any better than Vista under Virtual PC. I have not done any Windows performance optimization yet.

TIP: Fix for Boot Camp/Win 7 sound issue; runs great in Boot Camp

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Greg Stewart sent a short review of the Windows 7 Beta 1 running in Boot Camp. He also reported a suggested fix for problems with audio:

Just wanted to report on the beta. I have Win 7 64-bit beta running in Boot Camp on a Mac Pro (early 2008) and the Win 7 32-bit beta running in Boot Camp on a MacBook (late 2006). The Mac Pro install was an *upgrade* no less, and it was flawless...everything transferred over, no driver issues at all (I was flabbergasted). The only issue is lack of sound on the MacBook, but it should easily be solved (from what I read in the Apple Support forums) by updating the Realtek driver.

As Eddie stated, Windows 7 is very quick and stable on both of my machines. And the user interface has been improved, more in usability than in eye candy. Have to give Microsoft its due; they seem to have done a good job with this one.

If you've tried Windows 7 Beta on a Mac

No sound in Win 7 Beta on VirtualBox

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ken Mastro reports:

I installed Windows 7 Beta 1 into Sun's Virtual Box with no hitches. I haven't had much time to play with it but no major problems yet, except no sound. It's also somewhat sluggish. I have a 24" IMac, 10.5.6, 2.8 GB Core 2 extreme.

More on Realtek driver for Win 7 sound in Boot Camp, Parallels

Monday, February 16, 2009

Allen O'Loughlin wrote from New Zealand verified a fix for Windows 7 Beta sound issues in Boot Camp and in Parallels Desktop:

I'm running Windows 7 on a Boot Camp partition on my MacBook Pro 4.1 with 2GB RAM & OS X 10.5.5. It installed without a hitch. Had to install newest Realtek driver to get sound. I can't see the Windows 7 partition in my Parallels Desktop (which is running an XPH virtual machine).

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