Windows Vista on Parallels

This post is obsolete and the screenshots have been removed.

After my (eventually) successful Ubuntu install on Parallels I decided to try and continue my streak and install Vista. I had licenses for Ultimate and Business. Parallels doesn’t support the 3D Graphics needed for the Aero interface and Bitlocker disk encryption isn’t supported in a virtual environment so I won’t be able to see these features of Ultimate. But with Ultimate I’ll be able to see all the features available in the Home editions.

Out of curiosity I went to Dell and found a machine that included Home Basic in it’s price. Home Premium added $30 to the price while Ultimate added $199 to the price. Before giving into to the implied benefits of something named “Ultimate” check out the feature comparison at Microsoft. You’ll probably find Home Premium is all you need. If you want the Aero interface features they’ll cost you $169 since there’s not much else in Ultimate a typical home user will use. I thought I read where Microsoft would have some “Ultimate Only” add-ons but nothing like this jumps out on their website. Maybe they’ll show up once I start running Ultimate.

Installation of Vista under Parallels was straightforward and easy. The process was the same for both Business and Ultimate. I selected File -> New from the Parallels menu to create a new VM. I selected a “Windows Express” installation on the first wizard screen. Since it was basically a straight click-through installation the screen prints are here, at the end. The wizard screen were self-explanatory – select Vista, enter a serial number and name, specify a name for the virtual machine (if you don’t want the default provided) and select whether you want to install from a physical CD or CD image. I do all my installations from a CD image and keep the images on a external hard drive. I find it easier than having all these CDs around (that I can’t keep track of anyway) plus the installation is faster and my physical drive is available to watch a DVD while the install runs. Parallels has a “Parallels Image Tools” that can make an ISO file from the CD/DVD so you don’t need any additional software.

As I said, the installation was straight-forward and without incident. The install was completely automated once I clicked “Finished” in the wizard. It appeared to be faster that the Ubuntu 7.04 installation although I didn’t time either one. The Parallels tools are needed in the guest OS and they are automatically installed at the end. There’s a warning to accept any security prompts of which there are a few. The only manual step was to set the correct time zone the first time I booted into Vista.

When starting up the Vista VM in parallels it goes right to the desktop without prompting for a password. I never entered an ID or password during the installation so I did a logoff. The ID that appeared for me to logon to was “Administrator”.

This implies that I’m running as the administrator under Vista which isn’t recommended from a security standpoint. It’s maybe less critical when running in a VM, especially one that does not run all the time. I’ll leave it for now but I’ll make a note and look into it down the road. Also, the account password was blank. While it’s a virtual machine that’s another configuration choice that’s likely to get the VM clobbered at some point down the road.

Coherence mode is enabled but the VM starts in a window.

The stats for the installations

Windows Vista Ultimate

  • Memory: 512MB
  • Screen Resolution: the screen sizes itself for the size of the window it is running in
  • Hard Disk (as seen by guest OS): 31.2GB of which 7.36GB is used
  • Hard Disk used on Mac: 5.5GB
  • Hard Disk Image Size When Zip’d: 2.6GB
  • Sound is enabled
  • USB is available

Windows Vista Business

  • Memory: 512MB
  • Screen Resolution: the screen sizes itself for the size of the window it is running in
  • Hard Disk (as seen by guest OS): 31.2GB of which 6.68GB is used
  • Hard Disk used on Mac: 4.9GB
  • Hard Disk Image Size When Zip’d: 2.6GB
  • Sound is enabled
  • USB is available

In both cases the screen resolution starts up at 640 X 480 if you don’t do anything, but the resolution changes as you size the window. By default 16MB is assigned to video memory which supports resolutions up to 2560 X 1600.

Screen Shots

The screenshots have been removed.