Run Windows on OS X: Installing Windows 7 in VMware Fusion

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What is VMware Fusion?



One of the drawbacks of using an Apple computer (i.e. Macbook Pro, iMac, etc) are the numerous applications available only to Windows machines. VMware Fusion is the answer for those who want to use an Apple computer but need access to Windows based software.

Fusion is an application that allows you to install any version of Windows, Linux, etc., onto your Mac and run it as an application. Upon opening Fusion you can install Windows as you would on any normal PC and create a “virtual computer” that runs on top of the Mac OS.

In this virtual machine you can install software, run applications and use it as you would a regular Windows machine, all inside your Mac. It is the ideal solution for corporate employees who need a Windows environment for networking or to run native Windows applications, like full Microsoft Office.

Fusion is also useful for the average consumer who would like to purchase Windows-only software, like a CD label maker. VMware Fusion is available through VMware.com and costs $79.99.



Installation Requirements



Before installing Windows 7 you will need to have VMware 3.0 or higher installed on your computer. I will be running VMware Fusion 3.1 on a Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz Macbook Pro running Snow Leopard 10.6.3. The full system requirements are as follows:


  • Any Intel® Mac

  • Minimum 1GB of RAM (2GB RAM recommended)

  • 700MB free disk space for VMware Fusion and at least 5GB for each virtual machine

  • Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later; Mac OS X 10.6 or later

  • Operating system installation media (disk or disk image) for virtual machines



If you are running Fusion 2.0, you can purchase a downloadable update or the full version here: http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/. You will also need a licensed full-version disc of Windows 7, not an upgrade disc.

Installing Windows 7 in VMware Fusion



When VMware Fusion 3.0 is first opened you will be greeted with the following screen (Figure 1.1) containing three options. Choose “Install Windows or another operating system (OS) in a new virtual machine (VM).”

[caption id="attachment_13597" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Figure 1.1"][/caption]

A new window will pop up and ask you to insert your Windows disc, which you may do now and press “continue.” I will be installing Windows 7 with an .iso file and selecting “Continue without disc.” If you choose this method you will see the following options (Figure 1.2). Choose “Use operating system installation disc image file,” browse to the folder where you have placed the .iso image, select it and press “continue.”

[caption id="attachment_13598" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Figure 1.2"][/caption]

On the next screen, choose “Operating System: Microsoft Windows and Version: Windows 7," as seen in Figure 1.3, and press continue.You'll now be given the option to choose Windows Easy Install by checking the “Use Easy Install” box. Using Easy Install will bypass the Windows setup screens that help you create a user account, password, etc and complete those steps right now. I suggest keeping this box checked to make things easier as the setup continues. For this tutorial we will keep the box checked as we proceed

[caption id="attachment_13599" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Figure 1.3"][/caption]

Enter the password you will use for the administrator account on this virtual machine as well as the Product Key that came with your Windows 7 software. You will also need to specify the Windows Version that you will be installing: Home, Professional, Ultimate and press continue.

The last step before installation is choosing the level of integration your virtual machine will have with your Mac. The “More Seamless” option will allow your virtual machine complete access to any file on your Mac that Windows can open. While this makes using Windows applications to edit your current files easy, it increases the risk for Windows viruses to cross over to your Mac files (Figure 1.4, 1.5). Choosing “More Isolated” will require you to drag and drop files into the virtual machine in order to edit them. Using the isolated option, you will still be able to create a shared folder between your Virtual Machine and your Mac to exchange files. I prefer the more Isolated choice and will continue with that bubble selected.

[caption id="attachment_13600" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Figure 1.4"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_13601" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Figure 1.5"][/caption]

You will now be able to review the specifications and memory allowances for this virtual machine. The “Customize Settings” button will allow you to choose where on your computer the Virtual Machine will be saved. I have created a folder in My Documents where I will save all Virtual Machines. When you are ready to begin installation, press “Finish.”

The Windows Virtual Machine will now start up automatically and begin the installation process. During installation the Virtual Machine will restart itself several times. Once completed, you will be brought to the sign-in screen. Your password is what you entered during the setup process (see Figure 1.6). After signing in, VMware will begin to install Vmware tools which is required for everything to work properly. The virtual machine will then restart once more and bring you to the sign-in screen.

[caption id="attachment_13602" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Figure 1.6"][/caption]

After signing in again, your virtual machine is ready to use. You may have noticed that the screen resolution during installation was incorrect. Ctrl-click on the virtual desktop and click “Screen Resolution.” A window will pop up and you may select your resolution. All of your trackpad gestures should also be working, including two-fingered scroll, secondary tap, etc.

Inside the virtual machine you can choose to view in “Full Screen,” which will expand the Windows desktop and make it seem as though you're strictly using Windows. You can return to the single window view by placing the mouse in the top center area of the desktop to bring up the following menu (Figure 1.7). Selecting “Unity” will hide the Windows desktop but allow you run any application within the virtual machine as though it is native to your Mac (Figure 1.8). You can run an application though the VMware icon in the menu bar as well as return to Single Window view, suspend the Virtual Machine, shut down, etc.

[caption id="attachment_13603" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Figure 1.7"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_13604" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Figure 1.8"][/caption]

When you're finished with the Virtual Machine you can suspend it, which saves its current state and allows you to return to it by pressing “Resume.” Or you can Shut it Down completely by pressing the VMware icon in the menu bar or Virtual Machine > Shut Down. Quitting Fusion will also ask you to Shut Down the virtual machine.

The next time you start up Fusion, you will either be greeted with your Windows 7 virtual  machine in a suspended state or the “Virtual Machine Library” which can also be accessed from the menu bar by clicking Window > Virtual Machine Library. A list of your virtual machines will be displayed in the left hand column with their status on the right. Clicking the play button in the left hand column or the round “Start Up” button will both open your Windows 7 virtual machine and begin the start up process. Pressing the “Settings” button will allow you to customize the permissions of the virtual machine: CPU power, Folder Sharing, USB Devices, etc. In the event you wish to delete the selected virtual machine, just press the delete button on the bottom right hand corner.

When you're ready to install another virtual machine, you can do so by pressing the Home button in the left hand column and repeating the process for a Windows or Linux machine.

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Contributor

Steven Warren

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.