How to Create a Virtual Machine in Windows 7

Use Virtual PC or other options to build your bonus desktop

Your Windows 7 PC might not be compatible with some applications, you might want to run more than one operating system, or you could be itching to test software without affecting your system. When you want to create a virtual machine on Windows 7, the process is simple and straightforward.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 7.

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

How to Create a Virtual Machine in Windows 7

To create a virtual machine in Windows 7, you must first install Windows Virtual PC from the Microsoft website. Make sure your computer meets the system requirements before proceeding:

  • Windows 7 with an Intel, AMD, or VIA processor capable of hardware-assisted virtualization, with the setting turned on in the BIOS.
  • 2GB of memory (recommended).
  • 20MB of free hard disk space.
  1. Go to the Windows Virtual PC download page in your web browser.

    Screenshot of Windows Virtual PC download page
  2. Select an alternate language if desired, then select Download.

  3. Select the checkbox for the download version you want. You can choose either the 64-bit version (x64) or 32-bit version (x86). Select Next to download Windows Virtual PC.

    Screenshot of Virtual PC download versions
  4. Open the download file to begin the installation.

    Screenshot of download file at the bottom of Thank you for downloading page
  5. Select Yes on the Windows Update Standalone Installer window to begin the installation.

    Screenshot of Windows Update Standalone Installer
  6. Read the license terms and select I Accept if you agree to the terms. Wait while updates are installed.

    Screenshot of license terms
  7. Select Restart Now on the Installation Complete screen to restart the computer and continue creating a Windows 7 virtual machine.

    Screenshot of Installation Complete screen

    Be patient; the configuration process might take several minutes.

  8. When the computer restarts, select Start and enter "virtual" in the Start Search box.

  9. Select Windows Virtual PC when it appears under Programs.

    Screenshot of Windows Virtual PC in Start menu search results
  10. The Virtual Machines folder will open. Select Create Virtual Machine at the toolbar at the top of the folder. The Create a Virtual Machine dialog box will open.

    Screenshot of Virtual Machines folder
  11. Enter a name that will help you identify the virtual machine in the Name field.

    Screenshot of name and location for virtual machine
  12. Select Browse and navigate to the location in which you want to store the virtual machine file or leave the default location that is already entered. Select Next to continue.

  13. Enter the amount of RAM memory you want to assign to the virtual machine. This will depend largely on the requirements of the operating system you want to install on the virtual machine.

    Screenshot of Specify memory and networking options

    The amount you can specify will be listed beneath the RAM box.

  14. Select the Use Computer Network Connections checkbox if you want to connect the virtual machine to an external network. If not, clear the checkbox. Select Next to continue.

    Screenshot of Specify memory and networking options
  15. Create a virtual hard disk to which you will install the operating system you intend to use. Choose between a dynamically expanding virtual hard disk, which will expand to meet your virtual machine space requirements, an existing virtual hard disk, for which you will need to navigate to add the location, or use advanced options.

    If you select Advanced Options you can choose to create a dynamically expanding hard disk, a fixed-sized hard disk, or a differencing hard disk.

  16. Select the location for the virtual hard disk, enter the name for it, and choose Next. Select Create to complete the creation of your Windows 7 virtual machine.

  17. You can now go back to Windows Virtual PC via the Start menu again to access your new Virtual Machine in the Virtual Machines folder. Right-click the name of the machine, select Settings and navigate to the drive containing the installation disk of the operating system you want to install and use.