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Windows 7

© May 2009 Anthony Lawrence

I downloaded the free Windows 7 Release Candidate from Microsoft's Technet Site. I'll be running it under VMware Fusion for now though I'll probably have to install it elsewhere to see the feature I'm really interested in: Windows XP.

Yeah, I know that sounds funny, but XP is very much a part of Windows 7. You download Virtual PC and XP from https://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/default.aspx and install them into Windows 7. With that done, you can install XP applications as you normally would. Those apps run either in "Seamless Mode" (where they appear to be running in Win 7) or you can go right into the XP desktop if necessary. Apparently that's often necessary at this point.

This is quite a can of worms, isn't it? First of all, you might find that Virtual XP may not work at all if you don't have the right processor. Secondly, you'll have to keep up with XP patches as well as those for Windows 7. What's going to happen in 2014 when Microsoft officially stops providing those XP patches? Depending on what you are using XP for, you might need to install separate XP A/V and security software - uggh.

Oh, I almost forgot: you'll have to have ponied up for the Professional or Ultimate editions (you'll get Ultimate if you download from the link I gave above) and of course you'll need plenty of RAM. Microsoft says 2GB but my bet is you'd be very unhappy with that.

So what's it like running Windows Seven under VMware Fusion on a Mac Book Pro?

Not as awful as you might think. Because I'm somewhat memory constrained with 2GB, I only gave Windows Seven 1 GB of RAM to work with. That tends to hobble the performance just a tad, as the Control Panel "Windows Experience Rating" points out. It rates this machine as a 1.0, the lowest possible rating (highest is 7.9). However, it got that score for having lousy graphics performance. The Processor score was actually 3.3, RAM managed 4.5 and the hard drive got 6.4 - the system is a bit sluggish but it certainly meets my needs of curiosity and familiarization.

But.. I really wanted to see that Virtual XP and that would require Boot Camp. I've been avoiding Boot Camp from day one because I don't want to waste the disk space. Would this force me into it? Well, maybe, but first - where the heck is Boot Camp Assistant? It's supposed to be in Applications/Utilities but no, it wasn't. Turns out that it had gone missing on at least some installations but those didn't seem to include me. Maybe I deleted it sometime in the past? I don't know, but I had to go find it on the DVD and reinstall it.

But that didn't get me anywhere. Boot Camp Assistant couldn't repartition my hard drive because it insisted that some files could not be moved. I tried repairing the disk as suggested in an Apple document, but still got the same error. It certainly would be helpful if Boot Camp would say what files it can't move - it's quite possible that these are files I could do without, at last temporarily. If Boot Camp bothers to keep a log like that anywhere, I can't find it, so for now I'm stuck. I either reinstall from scratch or buy an external Firewire drive or just forget Boot Camp.

I have about a year to play with this free version. After that I'll have to buy or beg a real installation. That should be enough time to either figure this out or break down and start from scratch.

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Tue May 5 22:31:12 2009: 6332   TonyLawrence

I suppose I could use Boot Camp on my wife's Mac Mini.. probably smarter to just go buy a little Firewire drive. Apparently you CAN get USB drives to boot but that would hobble Windows on the disk side.

Aaargh. Small as it is, I just don't want to spend any more money right now. I've scouted e-bay for small used Firewire drives and aren't finding any.. I'll keep looking.

Wed May 6 00:56:41 2009: 6334   BrettLegree

I still have to pull it down myself and give it a whirl in Fusion. The previous beta was pretty snappy (I have 4 gigs in my MBP, and gave 7 half of that - it was more responsive than Vista SP1), so we'll see how this goes.

I'll have to find another machine to try the Virtual XP as I'm not keen on chopping up the HDD with Boot Camp.

Or maybe I could repurpose my current Time Machine drive for a test (it is a FW external drive).

Wed May 6 11:54:25 2009: 6337   TonyLawrence

I have an early MBP so am stuck at 2GB.. usually that's fine, but when I do want to run a VM I get swapping.

Wed May 6 12:31:25 2009: 6338   BrettLegree

Hey, it's still better than Lauren's new PC, right?


Wed May 6 12:57:42 2009: 6339   RyanNorris

I had the same problem with Boot Camp about a week ago and found that running a defrag program on the Mac boot volume would allow Boot Camp to repartition the hard drive. I used iDefrag from Coriolis: (link) , but I would say that any OS X defrag program would work.
Great site by the way, I stumbled upon years ago when I was beating my head against the wall over a SCO box. It's been a great resource for me ever since.

Wed May 6 12:59:11 2009: 6340   TonyLawrence

Yes, I've seen mention of defragging - I suppose there's little harm in trying..

Wed May 6 13:44:33 2009: 6341   Niall

Did you try booting from the OS X install disc and repairing from there? Could be it's system files in use that cannot be moved. If you boot from disc that shouldn't be a problem.

Wed May 6 13:49:48 2009: 6342   TonyLawrence

I downloaded the Coriolis demo to see what was fragmented.

Gee, what a surprise - the biggest offender was Firefox's "places.sqlite" file. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Firefox's stupid use of databases? Oh, yeah, I have: (link)

Several of the other large fragmented files belong to Spotlight. I bet I could fix this by trashing Firefox and Spotlight temporarily.

Wed May 6 13:51:36 2009: 6343   TonyLawrence

Yes, I did boot from the Leopard install to run repair. That didn't help.

Wed May 6 13:58:20 2009: 6344   RyanNorris

My problem came form having a boot camp partition, deleting it and then deciding six months later to try it again.
If you do end up running iDefrag be prepared for a wait. It took about 1.5-2hrs for my 250GB drive to defrag. I just ran the Compact algorithm, not exactly a true defrag, more of just moving files around to clear out the free space on the hard drive.

Fri May 15 20:07:43 2009: 6371   Althage

The problem I've noticed with XP mode in Win 7 is that when I want to run a program that needs more than 12 MB of Video Memory I get an error. I don't know if this is only because I am running Win 7 on a BootCamp Partition on my MacBook with Integrated Graphics or if XP Mode is always limited to something less that 12 MB of Video Ram, but it does bother me. Running the programs I want to under 7 and just setting Compatibility Mode under Program Properties to Windows XP seems to work alright though. Also, under compatibility mode they give you the option to run under XP with Service Pack 2 or 3, which seems weird to me, but whatever they need to do I guess.

Mon Oct 12 22:09:10 2009: 7209   TonyLawrence

Apparently not everyone loves Win 7: (link)

But that cute little kid in the Microsoft ads sure does!


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