Today I’m taking a look across the fence and am going to walk you through the installation of Windows 7 Release Candidate under Parallels 4.
The installation is pretty self-explanatory, however it did take me a few attempts to get the correct setup, as 7 isn’t officially supported by Parallels yet. But if you follow these steps, you’ll be up and ready in no time:
Head on over to the official Microsoft download page. You’ll need to sign in with a Windows Live ID, but you’ll get an activation key that’s valid for one year for your trouble.
Create a new virtual machine, select the .iso image and choose ‘Windows > Other Windows’ as the OS you’re going to install. Be sure to select a custom setup and assign your VM at least 512MB of RAM. Set the other options according to your preferences.
Update: If you download the latest version of Parallels 4, you now can also access an experimental Windows 7 option here instead. (Thanks Alex!)
After you’ve configured your VM, Parallels will reboot using the Windows 7 .iso image. Follow the steps on screen and enter your Activation key when asked. This part is mostly smooth sailing, provided you’ve setup your VM correctly. If you selected other options (e.g. if you selected ‘Vista’ as your OS version), your installation may stall or throw other errors. In that case, double-check your VM settings, or start over with a new VM.
Once your installation has completed, you’ll want to install Parallels Tools for Windows, in order to enable seamless mouse, clipboard and app switching between OS X and Windows 7. Select ‘Virtual Machine > Install Parallels Tools’ from the menu bar and wait for the installer to complete. Reboot when prompted and you should be all set! Now you can get to the real business of exploring the exciting new innovations that “7” offers:
Some of the more interesting new Windows features such as Aero Peek and other UI changes won’t yet work, due to the limited graphics card drivers Parallels currently uses. But 7 still seems to run faster than Vista, given similar resources, and works well enough for everyday use.