I just learned of another feature about Windows 7. I remember hearing this mentioned at the PDC keynote, but I hadn’t really heard or seen anything about it since. I searched around and found this article
How-to: Getting started with .VHD files in Windows 7
My primary laptop has been running the 32-bit version of Windows 7 build 6801 since PDC. So, instead of wiping my primary work laptop to install the beta, I decided to upgrade from build 6801 to 7000 (the beta). I was a bit surprised to see that the upgrade worked (I tested out on another PC before trying it on my primary laptop). I’ve been running with the upgrade since the beta was released and I’m happy to report it is running well!
However, I decided I wanted to try out the 64-bit edition. Before the “boot into VHD” feature, I probably would have just wiped the laptop. Thankfully, I don’t have to. I followed the instructions above. I now have a dual boot configuration running both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.
I am not a big fan of virtualization for desktop OSs (ours or anyone else's). I am such a performance/resource snob that I don’t want to give up CPU cycles and memory across multiple OS instances. Furthermore, running Vista or Windows 7 in a VPC is less than ideal because you don’t get graphics hardware acceleration or Aero. The greatest part about this approach is that I get all the memory and CPU dedicated to the OS, graphics hardware acceleration, and Aero!