The graphical Windows 7 installation process is relatively easy and doesn’t take long to complete on a typical computer. In this video, you’ll learn how to install Windows 7 on a virtual machine.
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As we’ve always mentioned in our operating system installation videos, before you do any major change to an operating system, you want to always have a backup. Even if you’re performing an upgrade or even a clean install, we want to make sure that we can go back to this previous configuration if we ever run into any problems. Also, always check the minimum requirements for the operating system that you’re installing. You want to make sure that you have enough memory, have enough free disk space, and any other hardware requirements that you’ll need to run the new operating system.
It might also be a good idea to put the installation media into a drive, start that, and begin the Upgrade Advisor process before you ever do an installation. It will look over your hardware, it will look at all of your installed applications, and give you an idea if those apps and if the hardware is going to work properly once the new operating system is installed. If you’re going to be installing a lot of different operating systems on this computer and you need to share files between all of those, you may want to choose the FAT32 file system during the install. And if it’s a Windows operating system only, perhaps the NTFS option for file systems is going to be your best selection.
For Windows 7, the hardware requirements for the 32-bit version is a 1 gigahertz processor. That’s also the minimum for the 64-bit version. The 32-bit version needs at least 1 gigabyte of RAM. The 64-bit version needs twice that to be able to have a minimum installation of Windows 7.
We need 16 gigabytes of free disk space. We need 20, a little bit more, for the 64-bit version. And both of these versions need a Direct X 9 graphics device running that WDDM 1.0 or higher display version.
This WDDM is a Windows display driver model. It’s a standard for driver hardware. So we need to be sure that the hardware that we’re using meets at least this minimum.
I’m not going to install Windows 7 on a physical device. I’m going to build out a virtual machine in VirtualBox. And to do that, we’ll click the New option. This particular machine is going to be in the Auxiliary Control Center. And it’s going to run not Linux, it’s going to run Microsoft Windows. And we’re going to choose the 32-bit Windows 7. That’s the version that I’m going to install in this case.
I need a certain amount of memory. We know the Windows needs at least 1 gig of memory. So I’m going to specify that in this 32-bit version. Obviously if this was the 64-bit version, we would need twice that amount.
I don’t have a drive configured already. But it recommends one that’s at least 25 gig Remember, we need at least 16 gig just to install Windows. So 25 would allow for Windows and a little bit more on that drive. That’s a pretty good number. So let’s create it right now.
I’m going to use the VirtualBox disk image. That’s the default. And then we get to decide whether we want all of this space dynamically allocated so it’s built as we use it or if I’d like to use a fixed size. This takes a little bit more time when you’re first building it, but this will give you the best type of performance. So I’m going to choose fixed size.
This is my Aux Control Center disk, 25 gig. That all looks good. So now we’ll Create. And now VirtualBox will build out a 25 gig file on my storage of my computer. It’s going to be used for this virtual hard drive.
If you have a computer with a physical DVD-ROM, you can put the Windows 7 installation media in that physical drive and the virtual machine will use that. In my case, I don’t have a DVD-ROM drive. But I can tell the Windows 7 installation media that’s in an ISO, to connect to and use this virtual machine.
So I’m going to go to the settings for our Auxiliary Control Center, choose Storage. I’m going to choose this empty DVD-ROM. And I’m going to choose a virtual DVD drive. And I have a Windows 7 Professional ISO file that I have on my machine. And now we have virtually added the DVD-ROM. I can click OK and start the machine.
If you’ve run through the installation of Windows Vista before, you’ll find that Windows 7 is very similar, especially in the prompts that you get. The first is the language to use, the time and currency format, and the keyboard. All of those match the version for my computer, so I’ll click Next.
You have an option here to simply click the Install button. If you’re performing a repair of the operating system, you may want to move down to Repair Your Computer and you’ll have a number of prompts to go through, depending on what you’d like to accomplish. In our case, we simply want to install the operating system. I’ll click Install Now.
We now get to choose the type of installation we’d like to do. If we were already running Windows Vista and we started the Windows 7 upgrade process from inside the Windows Vista operating system, we could choose the Upgrade link. But we have a completely empty hard drive. There’s no data on it. So we’re going to choose the Custom option that installs a new copy of Windows.
Now, we can choose where we would like to install Windows. If we would like to simply use the entire disk, we can click Next and Windows will automatically allocate that. We can also choose Drive Options and change the partitions, make different sized partitions, format them with different file types. And then Windows 7 will use those settings to install the OS.
In this case, we’re going to simply use this entire unallocated space to install Windows 7 and have it in one big partition. So let’s click Next. And we’ll now go through the process of copying files from the installation media to the drive itself.
Once the copy process is finished, Windows will restart. And during this process, there may be a number of restarts before we prompted to add additional information into the Windows 7 installation.
Once the file copy and a couple of boots have completed, we’re now prompted to add a username and a computer name for this computer. The username for this one is going to be Rodney McKay. And this is going to be in our Auxiliary Control Center.
Let’s click Next to continue to the next prompt. We now need a password for this configuration. So we’ll add this mix. And we’ll say that this is our favorite color. I’m going to click Next.
Now, we’re prompted for the product key for Windows 7. We want to be sure that we have our Windows 7 installation disks and media so that we can reference that and apply it to this. Obviously, every Windows installation has a different license key associated with it. So make sure you don’t share this with anyone and make sure you don’t lose it in case you need to reinstall Windows later.
And then we’re prompted as to how we would like Windows to update itself. Well, we’d like this to use the recommended settings, maybe have Windows only install important updates or ask later. We’ll decide later on how we would like to have Windows updated. I’m going to choose the recommended settings.
Now, we need to choose the time and date that we’re going to use. Our time zone is going to be Mountain Time. And then you want to check that the date and the time are correct on this screen. And if they are, you can click Next.
At this point, Windows 7 asks where you will be using this version of Windows. Is this going to be on a home network, a work network, or something that is in public? And Windows will adjust the security settings for the operating system, depending on where you happen to be. This system will be at a workplace.
Now, Windows will finish the installation process and begin preparing the desktop for first use. And now, we’re finished. We have installed Windows and now we have a desktop that we can use to complete any of the post-installation tasks.
If this is your first time running Windows 7 on this hardware, we may want to test and make sure that our video driver is working properly, that we can print to any printers. And that way we can be sure that the OS did install and use that hardware correctly.
We also want to be sure there we’re updating the operating system, make sure that we’re running the latest service pack, and also make sure that you have all of the latest security patches running on this OS. You can usually get both of those by running a Windows update. If you’d like to install additional security applications, this would be a good time to do it. Install antivirus and anti-malware software.
There’s probably also updated drivers that were not on the Windows installation DVD. So you may want to go out to those manufacturers’ websites, get the latest printer drivers and the latest video drivers and install that in your operating system as well. And lastly, if this is a clean install, then we will need to install any applications that might be used by the end user.