Installing Windows 7 on Virtual PC 2007


We have not updated Virtual PC 2007 to add support for running Windows 7 as a guest operating system at this point in time.  However, this is possible to do – with two important caveats:

  • You really need to have hardware virtualization support to get decent performance
  • Understand that this is not supported.  If you encounter problems – feel free to come here and tell me about it – but do not contact Microsoft Product Support

So what do you need to do?  Well the process is quite simple.  The first thing is that when you create a new virtual machine – you should select Windows Vista as the guest operating system:

win720071

This ensures that the right virtual hardware is configured for the virtual machine.  You can then install Windows 7 directly into the virtual machine with no special steps needed.  After Windows has finished installing you will be able to install the virtual machine additions that are included with Virtual PC 2007 SP1.  After this stage you should have all the integration functionality and drivers for all the devices in the virtual machine:

win720075

So why do you need hardware virtualization support for good performance?  Well, virtual machine additions breakdown into two parts:

  • The integration features (drag-and-drop, desktop resizing, shared folders, etc..)
    • This part tends to be fairly robust and resilient to operating system changes.
  • Performance optimizations
    • This part is very operating specific and involves a bunch of work to get working each time a new operating system comes out.  This part is also only necessary if you do not have hardware virtualization.

Microsoft only supports Windows 7 on Windows Virtual PC when hardware virtualization is present.  And while Windows 7 is not supported on Virtual PC 2007 – in order to get decent performance you need hardware virtualization there as well.

Two closing notes to be made:

  • Amusingly, as Virtual PC 2007 has not been updated to officially support Windows 7 as a guest operating system – Virtual PC will identify the guest operating system as Windows Vista in various locations.
  • While I have not encountered any issues with Windows 7 – my usage does not represent thorough testing – so do not be surprised if you do encounter an unexpected error / inexplicable issue while using this configuration.

Cheers,
Ben