There are a number of options when it comes to Virtual Machine Windows 7 Setups.
Virtual Machine Windows 7 installs can be completed in a number of ways and there are a number of Virtual Machine Technology providers that allow you to install Windows 7 as a Virtual Machine.
We will discuss these and look at a number of the more popular Windows 7 VM options, but first lets briefly discuss what a Virtual Machine is.
A virtual machine (VM) is a “completely isolated guest operating system installation within a normal host operating system”. Modern virtual machines are implemented with either software emulation or hardware virtualization. In most cases, both are implemented together. What this means is a virtual machine runs in a pre-exisitng environment. You can install a virtual machine right inside your PC, Laptop or Server. You first need to install the base virtual machine technology that allows you to do that. Lets dive right in to what these Virtual Machine Technology’s are. We will only be discussing the main ones that I use along with some free options as well.
This is an enterprise class virtual machine solution and is aimed at corprate infrastructures and enterprise classed systems. So what exactly is VMware View?
VMware View provides remote desktop capabilities to users using VMware’s virtualization technology. A client desktop operating-system – typically Microsoft Windows 7 – runs within a virtual environment on a server.
The VMware View product has a number of components which are required to provide the virtual desktops, including:
- VMware vSphere for Desktops (includes ESX/ESXi virtualization)
- VMware vCenter Server (management of virtualization environment)
- View Composer (advanced View management, with automation and cloning)
- View Manager (administration of the View Environment)
- View Client (communication between view and the desktop OS)
Now let me just add that you do not need all of these components to run VMware View. As you scale things though you will need to reevaluate your current infrastructure and the management capabilities that are installed and then see what is available to better manage and support your environment.
Virtual Box by Oracle
Oracle VM VirtualBox (formerly Sun VirtualBox, Sun xVM VirtualBox and innotek VirtualBox) is an x86 virtualization software package, created by software company Innotek GmbH, purchased by Sun Microsystems, and now developed by Oracle Corporation as part of its family of virtualization products. Oracle VM VirtualBox is installed on an existing host operating system as an application; this host application allows additional guest operating systems, each known as a Guest OS, to be loaded and run, each with its own virtual environment.
Supported host operating systems include Linux, Mac OS X, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Solaris, and OpenSolaris; there is also a port to FreeBSD. VirtualBox also allows limited virtualization of Mac OS X guests on Apple hardware, though OSX86 can also be installed using VirtualBox 
Fusion by VMware
VMware Fusion is a virtual machine software product developed by VMware for Macintosh computers with Intel processors. Fusion allows Intel-based Macs to run x86 and x86-64 “guest” operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows 7, Linux, NetWare and Solaris as virtual machines simultaneously with Mac OS X as the “host” operating system using a combination of paravirtualization, emulation and dynamic recompilation.
Workstation by VMware
VMware Workstation is a virtual machine software suite for x86 and x86-64 computers from VMware, a division of EMC Corporation, which allows users to set up multiple x86 and x86-64 virtual machines (VMs) and use one or more of these virtual machines simultaneously with the hosting operating system. Each virtual machine instance can execute its own guest operating system, including Windows, Linux, BSD variants, and others.
In simple terms, VMware Workstation allows one physical machine to run multiple operating systems simultaneously, whereas other VMware products help manage or migrate VMware virtual machines across multiple physical host machines. Workstation is sold and developed by VMware; VMware Player is a similar program with fewer features supplied free of charge.
VMware Workstation supports bridging to existing host network adapters, CD-ROM devices, hard disk drives, and USB devices (including USB Isochronous devices such as webcams, microphones etc.), and provides the ability to simulate some hardware. For example, it can mount an ISO file as a CD-ROM, and .vmdk files as hard disks, and can configure its network adapter driver to use network address translation (NAT) through the host machine rather than bridging through it (which would require an IP address for each guest machine on the host network).
Multiple successive snapshots of an operating system running under VMware Workstation can be taken, and the virtual machine can be restarted in the state it was in when any snapshot was saved.
VMware Workstation includes the ability to designate multiple virtual machines as a team which administrators can then power on and off, suspend, and resume as a single object, making it particularly useful for testing client-server environments.
There are tons of Virtual Machine technologies and solutions. I have discussed the ones that I feel are the most versatile, cost effective, user and admin friendly. For a complete list of Virtual Machine Technology providers, please see this post.
About the Author
Barron J. Nel is a well known and respected Virtualization Technology Expert, Solutions Architect and Consultant with over 15 years industry experience. | Virtual Machine Windows 7