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

  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

  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