Windows

How do I... Install Windows Vista in a Mac OS X environment using VMware Fusion?


This blog entry is also available as a TechRepublic download and gallery.

It is indeed possible to run both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X at the same time on a single personal computer. The key is VMware Fusion, a virtualization platform that allows you to run Windows in an OS X environment. This How do I... shows you how to install Windows Vista in an OS X environment. If you currently own an Intel Mac and want to run Windows alongside OS X, this tutorial is for you.

Note: I have a dual desktop configuration with my iMac. I run OS X on one monitor and Windows in full-screen mode on the other monitor. It provides me with the best of both worlds. Let's begin.

  1. Open VMware Fusion from the dashboard of OS X. Click the New button (Figure A) to begin to create a Windows Vista virtual machine.

Figure A

Begin VMware Fusion

  1. Next, click Continue to choose the applicable OS platform, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Choose platform

  1. Click the drop-down and choose Windows as the OS and Windows Vista as the specific version of Windows (Figure C).

Figure C

Choose Windows version

  1. On the Name window, simply choose a name for your virtual machine and save the file to your Home directory in OS X.

Note: You can save files anywhere you want but I typically save them to my Home directory (Go | Home).

  1. On the Virtual Hard Disk window, choose a reasonable size for your virtual machine. If you are installing Windows Vista, select a minimum of 10-15 GB for your hard drive.

  1. On the Windows Easy Install window, you can configure your VM for an automatic fast installation by entering a login and password along with the Vista Key for installation. These step bypass the need to enter the Vista key during the install. If you would like to perform these steps manually, deselect Use Easy Install (Figure D). My original screenshot included my Windows Vista key -- wouldn't that have been fun.

Figure D

Easy Install

  1. At this point, you can load Windows Vista off your media or an image file. Personally, I never use media. As soon as I receive media, I convert it to an .ISO image file and archive it on my Maxtor 500-GB network drive. My kids love playing Frisbee with my DVDs. Furthermore, you get much better performance running the installation from an image file as opposed to media. I convert my DVDs using a program called WinISO. You can use NERO or ROXIO as well. It all depends on what you are comfortable with.

  1. If you choose Use OS system installation disk, insert your media into the drive bay and click Finish. If you choose Use Operating System Installation Disk Image File, navigate to your .ISO image and click Finish (Figure E). It is now time to sit back an relax. I usually grab a cup of java and browse out to Pandora to listen to some tunes.

Figure E

Finish

  1. As you drink your java and jam to some tunes, you can see the progress of your new VM of Windows Vista over the next couple of screens (Figure F and Figure G).

Figure F

Installing Windows Vista

Figure G

Start for the first time

  1. Once the installation has completed and you log in for the first time, the VMware Fusion tools are automatically loaded. After all the drivers are installed, reboot your VM, download Microsoft patches, and secure your system as you would a physical installation of Windows Vista (Figure H). With VMware Fusion, you have the same tools available in the Windows version of VMware Workstation 6. You can suspend a virtual machine for use later. You can take a snapshot of your VM and revert to it later if you are testing or you break something.

Figure H

Windows Vista on a iMac

  1. You can change the settings of your VM by clicking the Settings button (Figure I). If you want to operate the VM in Full Screen, click the Full Screen button. The Unity button allows you to run Windows apps in Mac OS X just as if it were a program running on Mac OS X. A separate How Do I... on using Windows Unity is currently being developed.

Figure I

Settings button

  1. As far as performance is concerned, I was able to work in Windows Vista and perform adequately. Games in Windows Vista rendered appropriately and have not slowed down the system. I did see a slowdown on the VM side when opening multiple tabs of Firefox, playing a movie , synching my iTunes, and opening Office for the MAC (Figure J). My system currently has 1.5 GB of RAM for my MAC, and I allocated 512 MB to Windows Vista. If I allocated 1 GB to Windows Vista, performance would increase. It may be time to upgrade my iMAC from 1.5 GB of RAM to 2 GB of RAM.

Figure J

Performance

  1. After you click Settings from the VMware Fusion toolbar, you can tweak your VM just like you can in Windows. Simply choose the category you want to change and adjust accordingly (Figure K). With each area you select, you get a nice graphic of what you are adjusting (Figure L).

Figure K

Adjusting display settings

Figure L

Adjusting hard drive settings
35 comments
mattp
mattp

I'm running Vista x64 (which is way faster than leopard doing same tasks) on a macpro. Is there a flavor of virtual pc that will let me install leopard? I enjoy both platforms but primarily do design for the 85% majority (at least according to my logs) through visual studio/adobe. My biggest problem is that booting into Leopard (bootcamp) causes the clock to reset when I boot back into vista x64. Also, I fiddle with iPhone design in leopard... which would be easier to do it in a virtual environment and still keep projects up in vista. Anybody done this?

dev.heba
dev.heba

really, it sounds great ;) may try it

leobabur
leobabur

How do I install windows 2003 server with oracle 10g cluster ware including virtual SAN, this will be the real tutorial. Many of people would like this article but for the most of the people this is not more than a fun.

Randy Hagan
Randy Hagan

I currently use this solution to run Windows on my MacBooks, allowing me to serve both software platforms on a single system when I travel -- as just one answer to oz_penguiin's ill-informed and snarky comments. This article glosses over critical issues on setting hard disk space. You only get to do that once, when you first install the virtual machine. So you better set enough room for all the applications and files you want to run on the Windows side. Your article gives the impression it's easy to change that size later (e.g. the last screen shot in the article which shows a greyed-out setting for Max size edit box), but it's not. The alternatives are to burn your Vista license activation and install a new copy on a new virtual machine or, if you're an extremely cautious code warrior, to poke under the hood and change code to create a larger partition. I have another MacBook with an XP Pro virtual machine. What I'd like to know is how to upgrade from XP into Vista on my VMware virtual machine. Anybody know?

oz penguin
oz penguin

I am glad to here that it possible to run a virtual machine, but I have no idea WHY anyone would want to downgrade a Mac. Are you sick of stability? or speed? or just wanting to feel a little more vulnerable to hacking and viruses?

ali_shabdar
ali_shabdar

I installed Vista Business Edition on my wife's Macbook (I upgraded the RAM to 1.256 GB) using Parallel and I have to say it is really rocking. Drag & drop between OSs, docked Windows apps and a fast response time are the advantages. As far as I know it uses all hardware capabilities of the Macbook so you can expect a much better 3D experience with Makbook Pro or iMac. (DirectX is one of the strengths of Parallel over VMWare) It might be a bit more expensive but it definitely worth it and is one of my motives to change my laptop to a black Macbook. It's worth to mention that I enjoyed VirtualBox too cos' it's fun and free! There are some limitations and bugs (in Mac version) but it gives you an acceptable level of service in non-production environments.

Lei Fan
Lei Fan

The technology that will make your life fun and easy is the good technology. Yes, of course you could do and say a lot of cool and fancy terminologies here, so what? Enjoy your life, buddy. enjoy the fun tech brings to you.

niels.bertram
niels.bertram

The first sensible suggestion I read since clicking the article. I am not too sure why someone wants to limit running mickey mouse stuff in their VMs. Instead of silly games or MS Office Calendars lets get some real use out of a VM: install, configure, tweak, rac it and if ya don't like it blow it away and start afresh. No one was implying to run a production Oracle Database from a MacBook, testing and evaluating does work fine however. By the way, 10g runs much quicker on RedHat host and guest with VMWare player. You don't have to fork out any money for expensive machines, operating systems or VMware Fusion. Cheers, Niels

softy.123
softy.123

Do you think maybe people should install Server 2K3 with Oracle 10g cluster ware (whatever awful thing that is) including virtual SAN on their workstations? You've missed the point entirely. Being able to install Windows on a Mac, and run it in a virtual machine window is a very handy thing to be able to do. It eliminates the need to keep a pesky Windows PC in one's office.

dwstclair
dwstclair

Do you really want to run that configuration as a Virtual Machine? It just doesn't sound like a good idea. Would it work? I don't know but even if it did I don't think I would chose to do it. I don't see any purpose for your question except to imply the whole idea of running concurrently with OS X is silly. I don't see any problem installing Windows 2003 server and Oracle, but why would you want to try and run a clustered server-database application (which sounds mission critical) on a shared partition with any other OS be it OS X, Solaris, XP, Linux, Unix, *BSD, etc?

dwstclair
dwstclair

If you use Boot camp to create the partition and then use your VM of choice does anyone know if you could change that partition sizes with DiskStudio after the alternate partion was in use?

kristian
kristian

Hey, in most industries most desktop applications are written for PC/Windows. So, if one wants all the advantages of Mac and still being able to do ones job...

rdakin
rdakin

These are my reasons: DEVELOPMENT As a professional web developer, I am always testing on multiple platforms. How nice to have them in one box! APPLICATIONS Some applications are not available for Mac (or aren't as good). I use Quicken to track all of my personal finances; sadly, the Mac version is terrible. ACTIVE X Some archaic websites won't function without Active X components. I don't believe any Mac browser supports Active X (could be wrong here). Also, I don't believe any Windows viruses could "leak" through to OS X, because of the separate partitions and file formats, but again I could be wrong here. However, the whole notion of sandboxing your operating systems should keep one from catching the other's bugs.

kbproctor
kbproctor

I have 4 or 5 pieces of proprietary software from a few of our vendors that will not run on a Mac. Since I need these programs to do my job, I have a choice, carry two laptops or run a virtual machine. I choose the virtual machine. The idea that my Mac is contaminated by running Windows XP on it is lessened somewhat by running Parallels with an identical desktop in both OS platforms or in Coherence Mode with an auto hiding toolbar for Windows and then betting the vendor reps that I can indeed run their software on a Mac. The stupefied looks of utter disbelief and confusion are almost worth more than the payoffs.

dwain.erhart
dwain.erhart

I want to use my Mac to perform tasks native to Windows OS's (servers, disk images, exchange administration, active directory work, DHCP server tie ins etc.) I simply want to use both environments to accomplish tasks. I also want to be able to assist my MAC users when they have issues. I want to be able to walk through a Windows or Mac help desk call without having two computers on my desk. Does that make sense to you? Perhaps in a limited world view - you are downgrading a Mac. But that is a VERY limited statement made by someone who may not have to support a Windows/Mac/Linux environment. Believe me, with office space at a minimum (here at my job) it is a welcome tool to be able to use a single machine to accomplish the lions share of my daily duties. Nuff Said!

drbayer
drbayer

For some reason this posted more than once - sorry about that.

drbayer
drbayer

For some reason this posted more than once - sorry about that.

drbayer
drbayer

There are some really good reasons for running Windows on a Mac. Let's say you need to administer Active Directory or run LoB apps that only run on Windows or LoB web apps that require Internet Explorer or any of a number of other issues. Personally, I'm about to migrate my system here at work to a Mac Pro, but for me to be able to do my job I will have to run at least 1 Windows VM. The jury is out as to whether I'll run Parellels or VMWare Fusion, but it will have to happen.

Zed3
Zed3

A couple reasons why I would want to run windows on my Mac. 1. At work, I need to test browser applications across several browsers and in both OSes. 2. At home, I have Windows software (expensive software) that I don't want to re-purchase for the Mac. I run Parallels on my iMac. Running a virtual OS also allows me to install software to test without worrying about screwing up the environment. With Parallels, I can take a snapshot before I install and easily get back to a clean environment.

ali_shabdar
ali_shabdar

Very important point! But just have a look at 90% market share of Windows on personal computers. It simply means that you eventually need it sometimes. A real example is our office where people are using exchange server web application to access their e-mails. This means it is not fully functional in non-IE browsers. It also has issues with Entourage. In such scenario, a OS X lover who hates restarting to Windows would love to have a virtual machine in hand. Apart from that, it is a great tool to ease-up the migration where you are still addicted to some Windows apps. And who says that a .NET developer can have a Mac?!

marcharris21
marcharris21

We are all aware of the possibility of running windows on a mac, but what about running OS X on an Intel PC?

teksty32
teksty32

Edited Message was edited by: beth.blakely@...

kbproctor
kbproctor

Boot Camp is just a bootloader, nothing more. The virtual machines actually reside as a file on your hard drive. I can move my entire Windows setup from one Mac running Parallels to another and have it fire right up and run. Some of the tools in Parallels are supposed to allow you to increase the size of your VM, but they have not worked for me. I have not tried the tools in version 3 as I had started over and set my Max Size to 50 gigs. The VM is dynamic up to that point. I run very little on the Windows side of things. Only what I absolutely must so I should be in good shape. All documents are save in the shared folders so I can have access to them from either OS. I also remember someone asking about upgrading from XP to Vista and the latest update for Parallels is supposed to support that. Don't know about VM Ware.

dwstclair
dwstclair

Apple provides a stable hardware and software package partly because they control the hardware. As a result Apple provides a pretty rich suite of stuff they have tested together. Microsoft for good or ill only provides the OS and a few applications and virtually no hardware. Lot's of vendors add hardware to the Microsoft system along with their own drivers. Whether or not it will integrate (play nice with others), scale, or upgrade becomes more of an adventure because all of this is an exercise left to the studend er user.

kbproctor
kbproctor

One of the major reasons that OS X is so stable is that Apple uses a very limited set of hardware. Instead of having to work with millions of possible hardware combinations, Apple has a couple of dozen or so. They can make the OS work very well with this set of hardware rather than having to compromise to try to make everything work, sort of. The chances of a PC having the right combination of hardware are quite slim. I suppose you could build one, but besides the inevitable "Because we can" why?

patrick
patrick

from what i understand it is outside of the mac user license to install their os on anything other than mac hardware.

ali_shabdar
ali_shabdar

You've got to hack stuff in OS X (hackintosh or etc.) which makes Steve Jobs' neck veins visible!!!

Zed3
Zed3

It's my understanding that Microsoft's license agreement requires either Business or Ultimate to install in a virtual environment.

dwstclair
dwstclair

As I understand it the crop of VMs out there allow you to either use a partition or a file to house the alternative OS in. If the alternative OS is running then there are ways to share files as though those the main and alternate OS were on the same network. If you chose to create an alternate OS in what appears to be a file to the parent OS then the only access to files created by that OS must be in special shared folders. This configuration is nice because the whole alternate OS can be copied to another virtual machine. For example distributing fresh OSes to a class is as easy as making a set of fresh files from a master file. A new master file with each days material can be distributed each night before the students get to class which can be really nice. If the alternative OS is created in it's own partition then all the files associated with it should be assessable with the right software even when the alternative OS is not running. But all of these options are the type of option that is attractive to someone working at a desktop i.e. a single user.

softy.123
softy.123

Well yes, the component pieces of a new PC will cost less than a comparable Mac, but not by very much, and the Mac will be less expensive if your time to assemble the PC is taken into account (at least if the cost of MY time to assemble it were taken into account - and I suspect that any competent IT person's hourly rate would similarly affect the calculation). But even if you set aside the cost of your time to select and assemble components, debug, etc., how much is stability worth? How much is it worth to know that future OS upgrades will work? How much is it worth to have a superior system? Windows PCs are like WW2 battleships taken out of mothballs, and fixed up with Bondo and paint, with swarms of Japanese Zeros flying around them, constantly attacking from all sides. This is the consequence of having so many vendors of components, so many writers of drivers, and so many enemies. The Mac on the other hand is a beautifully executed piece of work, created by a relatively small cadre of closely knit hardware and software engineers. Not having to cope with accommodating an unlimited number of outside vendors of motherboards and such is a tremendous advantage, as is controlling both the hardware and software of the system. Lest you think I am just some silly Mac person from way back, who gives cute names to his computers, puts his mouse in a little fuzzy suit with ears, and places little plastic animals on top of his monitors, I'll point out that I've been building systems since 1975, have been a hardware designer, an applications programmer, a systems programmer, a computer peripheral manufacturer's production test manager, a CEO of a computer company, and a few other things, none of which were in any way Mac oriented. And after all these years, have recently come to the conclusion that the Mac is THE BEST computer platform out there. It was somewhat ridiculous and laughable before OS X, but now pretty much beats the pants off of anything else, for general purposes. I am in the process of switching over to it almost entirely. I may or may not dump my remaining Windows 2003 servers (but probably will) and will most likely keep some Linux machines around just to keep my hand in.

braga_newton
braga_newton

When considering the OSX TCO, if you are deploying OSX in a mixed IT corporate environment, you must include other factors which add to the final TCO, e.g. IT skill set (you must build your IT staff skills in different platforms), cost / time getting the OSX computers to work with corporate systems (a lot of business apps do not support OSX native yet, you must look at VM, Citrix, etc to deploy them to OSX clients), system integration (how to implement Open Directory w/ Active Directory, Novell IDMS or any other authentication/ network resource / identity management system), etc. Obviously that would not apply to an OSX only business environment, but I have not seen many companies using that. And also, that would not apply to the consumer market.

kbproctor
kbproctor

It has been argued that a comparably equipped PC will cost about the same as a Mac. I love my Macs, but I think the PC would still win out slightly on initial cost, particularly in any quantity. However, when you start adding up other costs in licensing, virus removal, help desk calls, and general upkeep, the Mac wins hands down. Add to that the fact that Apple equipment is usable longer in most cases, and you have dramatically lower TCO. Being able to combine two laptops/desktops into one package through virtualization lowers the TCO even further for those of us that run user friendly networks that allow the user a choice in OS platforms.

drbayer
drbayer

The limited hardware set is part of why Macs tend to be more expensive as well. The hardware is for the most part very well engineered, but without competition on the scale there is in the PC market, they can't hit the same price points that PC component makers can. In order to hit those price points, the PC component makers cut corners whenever they can which can sometimes result (not always - some manufacturers consistently make a very good product) in a less stable component. So yes, on the whole Macs tend to be more stable in large part due to the combined control over hardware and software that Apple has. As consumers, we have to pay for that stability if we want it.

jpb
jpb

There are too many editions, it's like going to a restaurant and ordering a pizza and they have 23 kinds of bread, 11 varieties of cheese, 7 kinds of pizza sauce and 300 different toppings, but then on top of that there are thousands of combinations you are NOT allowed to make for nonsensical reasons. And, just to make the problem more acute, you can't get Pizza XP with DirectPlate version 10, which is an improved eating interface for gamers that they have deliberately made only for Pizza Vista to force people to buy Pizza Vista so they can have DirectPlate 10. (apologies for taking the analogy to the absurd extreme).

drbayer
drbayer

It is my understanding that in addition to Business & Ultimate versions you can also use the Enterprise version of Vista in a VM. Of course, you can only get that in an enterprise environment through a volume license agreement...

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