Installing Windows 7 In VMWare Fusion

File this under the “how not to make a good first impression” section.  I’ve had a miserable 24 hours.  I’ve spent many hours working with VMWare trying to get Windows 7 installed.  After a couple of missteps I finally hit the right combination.

My first issue was that my VM image that was running Vista wasn’t big enough.  Of course it couldn’t tell me right away but only after installing temporary files and starting the installation process.

So I created a new VM image.  The installer gets to the point where it asks for the 20 character product key and it just says the product key is invalid.  No other explanation given.  I suspect, but have no idea because it doesn’t tell me, is that the activation process was looking for a previous installation.  But since my VM disk wasn’t big enough I had to do a clean install.

Finally, in desperation I did some research and came across an entry from January 2009 on how to install the beta of Windows 7 in VMWare.  I created a new VM using the Windows 2008 Server setting, did a clean install and did NOT try to enter my product key and activate.  Then I followed the instructions at  After that everything (so far) has been working fine.

Come on Microsoft!  You REALLY need to work on the end user experience and that starts with the installer.  Really!?  I have to edit the registry to get it to install?

How come I can’t get a better error message when the product key was failing?  If it was because it didn’t detect a previous installation then just say so.  Don’t make me Google it and guess.

VMWare:  Your support section sucks.  How about something that’s easy to find stuff?  You would think that Windows 7 would be THE #1 topic this week.

Look, I’m not a Windows person.  I admit that AND I’m running it in VMWare so it’s NOT just Microsoft and it’s NOT just VMWare.  Just frustrating.

Hopefully someone else finds this useful.

2 thoughts on “Installing Windows 7 In VMWare Fusion

  1. I’m going through this now. I did a clean install on Parallels with upgrade media. Fail. I’m doing the old “Vista” trick now. I wish I’d been able to read this blog post before I started. If the upgrade-on-top-of-clean-install doesn’t work, I’ll hit that registry setting & command line. This really is a shame as I like 7 and have been using the beta/rc for quite a while now. What a major fail on the part of M$. I have Multiple copies of XP & Vista Ultimate. But, because I ordered an upgrade disc, I am not allowed to do a clean install of 7. Can I please say FAIL again? FAIL FAIL FAIL

  2. For me, I wasn’t sure if it was VMWare or Windows or both that was the problem. Regardless, it pissed me off enough to write about it. And yeah, I wish I had found that article before I started as well.

    How stupid is it to get a activation failure and not give the user a clue as to why! The Windows installer is ‘better’ but saying it’s ‘better’ is like saying hitting yourself in the head with a hammer is ‘better’ than with a sledgehammer.

    My first impression of 7 (now that it’s installed) is pretty good. It seems to be snappier and easier to use than Vista. I hated Vista’s looks and I’m not sure I can quantify exactly what it is that’s different though…..

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