There has been a lot of buzz flying around Windows 7 since its public beta release earlier this year. Team Fusion released a Practical Guide to Windows 7 on Mac with VMware Fusion when the Windows 7 public beta was released earlier and lots of users took advantage of the opportunity to check out the forthcoming version of Windows.
In fact, I have been running my day to day work life out of a Windows 7 Public Beta VM using Mirrored Folders and Shared Applications since the beta was released and it has been working really well with a couple of known caveats that we mentioned at the time.
Today, Microsoft released a public release candidate of Windows 7. We have installed Windows 7 RC on a number of Macs from a first generation MacBook Air to a higher end MacBook Pro and Windows 7 RC is really responsive with the default VMware Fusion settings on all Macs we have tried.
Personally, I am excited to see the improvements in my day to day use of Windows 7 at work. More important, I am excited that the Windows 7 Release Candidate is the easiest way for you to try out Windows on your Mac for FREE (at least until the beta expires). That’s right, you can download Windows 7 Release Candidate through July 1st and it’s free to use until it expires on June 1, 2010.
While VMware Fusion won’t formally support Windows 7 until it is released later this year, the Windows 7 Release Candidate works really well in VMware Fusion 2.0.4 based on our initial testing.
Getting Up and Running with Windows 7 in VMware Fusion
Windows 7 Release Candidate, both 32-bit and 64-bit editions, is not officially supported with VMware Fusion 2 today, but the VMware Fusion features you rely upon including Drag and Drop, Unity, Shared Applications, and more all seem to work really well so far.
The caveats we mentioned for the Windows 7 Public Beta around 3D, Shared Folders, and Mirrored Folders are NO longer an issue with the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
We plan to fully support Windows 7 after it is officially released with a future release of VMware Fusion.
See below for some guidance on how to set things up for best success.
NOTE: If you have an existing Windows 7 Beta virtual machine or Windows XP virtual machine, you CANNOT upgrade them to Windows 7 RC according to Microsoft. You will need to create a new Windows 7 RC virtual machine.
Download the Windows 7 Release Candidate
First, download the Windows 7 Release Candidate ISO from Microsoft’s Windows 7 site and get yourself a release candidate product key. You can use 32-bit or 64-bit, but the world is moving to 64-bit for better performance, so this example will assume you are using the 64-bit edition of Windows 7. Just download the Windows 7 ISO to your desktop.
Creating Your Windows 7 Virtual Machine
First, you’ll create a new virtual machine, the same as you’ve done before via “File>New”:
Next, we’re going to point the New Virtual Machine Assistant at the Windows 7 Release Candidate ISO you just downloaded. Typically, if you just insert a Windows install disk, VMware Fusion automatically recognizes what OS is in it, but in this case, we have to point it at the ISO.
Click “Continue without disk.”
Then, choose “Use operating system installation disk image file”:
Just select the ISO in the dialog that pops up:
Windows Easy Install will parse the disk image as Windows Vista (either 32 or 64 bit, depending on which ISO you downloaded). Accept the Vista default option.
Next, enter the serial key that was provided to you by Microsoft, and paste it into the Windows Product Key entry in Windows Easy Install.
At this point, you should see your final configuration setup, with 1 GB of RAM assigned, and a virtual hard disk that will expand up to 40GB (but will start much smaller). Click “Finish.”
Once you hit “Finish,” Windows Easy Install will be off and running, installing Windows 7. You’ll see some reboots, and VMware Tools will install automatically.
After that’s all finished, you should be able to play around with Windows 7 as you would expect.
While the Windows 7 Release Candidate works well in our limited testing so far, it is not a supported configuration today, so there could be bugs you encounter until we have full support in a future VMware Fusion release with the final shipping Windows 7 software.
Tweaking Windows 7 for the Best Experience
One of the most used VMware Fusion features is Unity 2.0, which includes Mirrored Folders so that Windows applications work like Mac apps and they work with your existing files and folders stored in your Mac