Brian Keller

Director of ALM Evangelism for Microsoft

Installing the Windows 7 Beta with Virtual PC 2007 SP1

Installing the Windows 7 Beta with Virtual PC 2007 SP1

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4/30/2009 Update: Now that the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) is available to MSDN / Technet Subscribers, and soon to the rest of the world, this post is starting to get a lot more traffic. The steps outlined in this article still apply to the RC, however you will need to substitute step #2 with the appropriate steps based on where you are downloading the RC from.

Yesterday we made the Windows 7 Beta available for public download. Hopefully you’re as excited as I am that the beta is here! The Windows 7 Beta is already getting some rave reviews for its new features, performance, and stability. But it is a beta, and with that comes the potential risk that some things may not work as well as they will in the final release.

If you have a spare test machine that supports the system requirements then I highly recommend installing the beta on your test machine. But if not, one way to mitigate the risks of using pre-release software is to use virtualization technology such as Microsoft Virtual PC 2007.

Creating a Windows 7 Beta 1 virtual image (aka virtual machine) is fairly similar to the process you would go through to install the Windows 7 Beta “on the metal” (non-virtualized). But for people who have never used Virtual PC before there are some differences.

Here is how to install the Windows 7 Beta with Virtual PC 2007.

1. Download and install Virtual PC 2007 SP1. If you already have Virtual PC 2007 installed, make sure you have SP1 by clicking on Help –> About and confirming that the version number is at least If not, then you can follow the same link to upgrade to SP1.image

2. Download the 32-bit edition of the Windows 7 Beta from here. The file is about 2.5GB, so while you are waiting for the download to finish it’s a good time to go whet your appetite by watching some Windows 7 preview videos here and here.

Note: It is important that you download the 32-bit edition of the Beta even if you’re running on 64-bit hardware since Virtual PC 2007 only supports 32-bit guest operating systems. If you want to try the 64-bit edition in a virtualized environment, then I suggest using Hyper-V to do so (if I get a chance I’ll write up a separate blog post for Hyper-V, as this article applies specifically to Virtual PC 2007).

Note 2: Be sure to record the Windows 7 Beta product key you are given since you’ll need this later.

3. Open Virtual PC (Start –> Programs –> Microsoft Virtual PC) and click New… to launch the New Virtual Machine Wizard. Click Next.


4. Ensure that “Create a virtual machine” is selected and click Next.

5. Provide a name and location for your virtual machine and click Next. I suggest saving this in the same location that you will create your VHD file (step 8).

6. The next dialog prompts you for the operating system you will be running. Since Virtual PC 2007 SP1 isn’t familiar with Windows 7, just select Windows Vista from this list. Click Next.

7. The next dialog asks you how much RAM you would like to assign to your virtual machine. This is always a balancing act to determine the right amount of RAM to allocate to your virtual machine and how much to allow your host operating system to utilize, but as a rule of thumb I suggest allocating 50% of your physical RAM to your virtual machine. For example, if you have 1GB of RAM in your computer, try assigning 512MB to the virtual machine. Click Next when you have allocated your RAM.

8. Select “A new virtual hard disk” and click Next.

9. Give your new virtual hard disk a name and location. I suggest using a location that has at least 16GB of disk space available. An external (e.g. USB2) hard drive works well for this purpose since it’s portable and it allows your computer to load balance disk IO between your system drive and the external drive. For “Virtual hard disk size” leave the default value and click Next when ready.

10. Click Finish.

11. Your Virtual PC Console should now have a new entry representing your new virtual machine. Highlight this entry and click Start.


12. Your virtual machine should now boot up and look for an operating system to boot to. Since you haven’t installed an operating system yet, it will eventually time out with the message below. It might take a minute or two to time out while it looks for a network device to boot off of, so be patient.image

13. Now from the top of the Virtual PC 2007 window click on CD –> Capture ISO Image and select the Windows 7 beta ISO image you downloaded in step 2. It should be called 7000.0.081212-1400_client_en-us_Ultimate-GB1CULFRE_EN_DVD.iso. This will mount the ISO image as a DVD drive available to your virtual machine.


14. Now simply select your virtual machine and press <Enter>. If you’ve done everything right so far, then your virtual machine should now launch the Windows 7 Beta setup!

15. The first few screens should be self-explanatory. When asked what type of installation you want, be sure to choose “Custom (advanced)” since you are not upgrading from a prior version of Windows.


16. The rest of the setup steps should be fairly straightforward, so I won’t document them all here. But you may notice that Virtual PC “captures” your mouse when you click inside of the window and you won’t be able to move your cursor outside of the virtual machine. We’ll address this later (see “Virtual Machine Additions” below), but for now you can press the <right-ALT> key to release your mouse pointer. That’s the ALT key to the right of your space bar.

Enabling Networking: You will need to enable networking for your virtual machine in order to activate the Windows 7 Beta with the product key you received when you downloaded it in step 2. In order to enable networking, click Edit –> Settings –> Networking. If “Number of network adapters” is set to “0” then you’ll need to increase this value to “1” the next time you shut down your virtual machine since you can’t modify this value while your virtual machine is running. Next, select your physical network adapter from the “Adapter 1” drop-down. Click OK when finished. Your virtual machine should now be capable of using your network adapter.


Note: If you are completing these steps on your work machine, be sure to first check with your IT staff to determine if you’re allowed to enable networked virtual machines. Some companies have a policy against this to help protect against the risk of viruses. If you don’t activate the Windows 7 Beta you can still try it out, but it will stop working after 30 days.

Ctrl+Alt+Del to log in: When you get Windows 7 installed and it’s time to finally sign in it will expect you to send the usual Ctrl+Alt+Del characters to log in. But since you are running within Virtual PC, you will need to click Action –> Ctrl+Alt+Del in order to send this command to your guest virtual machine instead of your host operating system.

Virtual Machine Additions: After you log in for the first time I suggest installing the Virtual Machine Additions. This will allow your mouse to move in and out of the virtual machine without the need to press <right-Alt>, in addition to some other integration enhancements between your host and guest operating systems. To install virtual machine additions simply click Action –> Install or Update Virtual Machine Additions and follow the prompts. You will need to reboot in order for these changes to take effect.


Congratulations! You now have the Windows 7 Beta installed in a virtual machine using Virtual PC 2007. Remember that this won’t run quite as fast as Windows would run if you installed it into a non-virtual environment, but virtualization is a great way to try out pre-release software in a risk-free environment. I hope you have as much fun exploring Windows 7 as I have been. Bookmark for all of the latest news, and don’t forget to send us your feedback by clicking the icon on the desktop (you will need to have networking enabled in order for this to work).

  • Great tutorial!!

    anybody experiencing a BSOD after installing Install or Update Virtual Machine Additions?

  • Pascal -

    Yes this happens if you don't have Virtual PC 2007 SP1 installed. Please see step #1.


  • Well, it looks like I was too slow in getting my posts written, because a bunch of people have beaten

  • Please help me... On my vista machine I have 2 partitions, 1 for vista and one for the back up files incase vista crashes... Does it matter what hdd I put my vhd on? If not shpuld i use the backup one because it has more hdd space... thanks in advance

  • Does take quite a bit of time to's over 50 minutes now and still at the Completing Installation computer is well above minimum to install...oh well..will see after it installs.

  • Lee,

    Either should work. My preference would be the partition with more available drive space. Also if that's a different physical disk than your primary (system) partition then that's going to give you a speed boost since your computer will be able to spread the I/O requests across two physical drives.


  • John -

    Make sure you don't have any Virtual PC settings dialogs open. This can effectively "pause" the operation of your virtual machine. I'm not sure how long it took me to install since I was writing my blog post simultaneously, but depending on the speed of your CPU, hard disk, and available RAM it's not out of the realm of possibility that it could take upwards of an hour to complete everything on slower hardware. If I had to estimate, I probably could have installed everything in 30 mins, but that's on my brand new desktop.


  • Thanks for the Step by Step.  Unfortunately I get an error each time I try to install on the virtual PC.  First the Copying Files step goes by very fast.  Expanding files seems to be alright but then when that is nearly complete I get the error message:

    Windows cannot install required files. The file may be corrupt or missing.  Make sure all files required for installation are available, and restart the installation.  Error code: 0x80070570

    Can anyone tell me what I might be doing wrong?  

  • I just finished installing it using an XP box with 2Gb RAM and a Core 2 Dual CPU - it all works. I did have some problems though and to help others will outline them here.

    1) Using a burned DVD to load W7 into Virtual PC 2007 SP1 did not work - the expanding files just stayed at 0%. I had to use an iso file as the W7 Beat source.

    2) Mapping an iso file across the network was not a good idea - got the same result as with a burned DVD. Had to copy the iso to a local hard drive for it to work. But it worked OK from both SATA and USB drives.

    3) Choosing "other" rather than "Vista" worked OK so long as I created a virtual PC with 1Gb of RAM and 10Gb hard drive. But I then had to install Virtual PC additions by logging onto the W7 virtual PC and running VPD Additions from the VPC CD rather than have it run automatically.

    4) Having chosen "other" as the VPC type I got a non-functioning sound card. I updated the sound driver by pointing the upate driver dialog to C:\Program Files\Virtual Machine Additions after which the sound driver loaded fine. So using "Vista" instead of "other" would have saved some time but is not obligatory. I did not have to create a new virtual PC of type "Vista" and do the .vmc file delete/point to original .vhd trick to get it all working.

    And I have to say I am well impressed both by Virtual PC 2007 SP1 and W7 Beta. It all works and is fast and stable.

  • I got the blue screen twice even with VPC SP1 installed after reboot when installing the Virtual Machine Additions.

    Host: WinXP Pro SP2 x86 MUI.

    Workaround was not to restart when prompted by installation but restarting after that dialog manually.

    What doesn't work is drag 'n drop from host to guest - vice versa is fine.


  • NICE! Thanks for the step-by-step Brian. This is the first time I did anything this technical..but I followed your steps and it is flawless. I am actually typing this from IE in Windows 7! Anyway....make sure to select "VISTA" as Operating system and "UPDATE ADDITIONS" for VPC. Its not even worth running w/o the additions. I've even got my native resolution of I am in true fullscreen mode. If only "Aero" was enabled,I wouldn't go back to my host XP hehe! Oh,and if possible,give your VPC at least 1,024 MB of RAM. I have 3GB total on my host PC,so I gave VPC 1, its FAST! I will check in to try to help others that post here..because I think people should try this out..its pretty interesting and pretty cool. Peace!

  • Hi, Its Lee again... I just realised that if you are using Vista Home Premium Virtual Pc wont work... To get round this you must set the compatibility settings on the exe file to Windows Xp (service pack 2) and set it to run as administrator. This also avoids any roll back issues...

    Also Thanks Brian for your info...

  • Hello, I'm having the same issue as Mike a few posts above. I get past Copying Files and most of the way through Expanding files and then I get the following error:

    Windows cannot install required files. The file may be corrupt or missing.  Make sure all files required for installation are available, and restart the installation.  Error code: 0x80070570

    I tried re-downloading the ISO as well as installing it on a different physical machine. Both machines were running VPC 2007 SP1. Same error on both.

  • Mike, Scott -

    There are any number of things which could be resulting in a corrupt file, but that's exactly what you have if you're getting those errors. Here are some things to try:

    - Make sure you're downloading the file to a partition that uses an NTFS file system. Other file systems may not support a 2GB+ file.

    - Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. It's possible that something is corrupting the file after download.

    - If the download manager that the Windows 7 page uses isn't working for you, try downloading from the direct link. I would also suggest using a download manager, such as, for grabbing this file. Here is the direct download URL:


  • well i get all the way into the "rebooting" part , so i let it do it and it just shuts it down and when I boot it up , it just shows me the setup screen !

    I am using Windows XP and Virtual PC !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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