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As I've upgraded from an old disk to a new one and decided to rather re-install the OS than copy an image and drag along all the 'crap' accumulated over the years I thought it would be a good idea to run the 'old' OS in a virtual machine thus making the transition easier: in case of need I'd still have access to 'the old machine' during the time I'm setting up the new one and not everything is migrated yet.

I've done this in the past with a WindowsXP machine, so didn't expect too many problems. I was so wrong =) It took me the better part of the day figuring out what could be the problem, mostly looking in vain for help on the internet =(

Hence I'll write down below what I did to get it working so maybe someone else can benefit from it...

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Here is a list of things I did to get this working, I've left in some 'key-mistakes' but left out the majority of dead-ends I tried. If anyone would like to add suggestions please feel free as I'm an absolute amateur when it comes to virtualisation.

  1. (optional) Uninstall as much as you can from your current OS (programs you don't need but also the video-driver/audio-driver/etc as in the virtual machine the hardware won't be visible anyway...). The less data is on the disk, the smaller the virtual disk will be later on, thus taking up less precious space.

  2. Create an image of the current OS. You can do this 'on-line' using Disk2Vhd from SysInternals. Simply attach an external disk, select the OS partition to convert and create the VHD on the external disk. In theory you can use the machine in the mean-while but I'd advice against it.

    => remark : there is (or used to be ?) a limitation on that the source-disk should not be above 127Gb. Since my current disk was only 120Gb I did not have a problem with that, nor do I know if the problem still exists...

    => remark : I already removed the BitLocker partition ages ago, not sure if you can virtualize things if the bitlocker thing is present, let alone if it's in use. Looking online you'll find several guides on how to get rid of it.

  3. Swap disks and boot the 'new' OS. Load the .vhd in a new Virtual machine using Windows Virtual PC.

    => This will not work as WinVPC does not support 64bit and emulates a 32 bit machine. Hence the OS tries to boot up and fails =(

  4. Get VMWare Player and install it (freeware).

  5. Get V2V image converter from Starwind (freeware but requires registration) and install it.

  6. Convert the .vhd to a .vmdk image (takes a while, preferably work from one disk to another disk).

  7. Create a new Virtual Machine in VMPlayer indicating you will install Win7 64bit on it later. Put the machine in folder X, opt for a single-file virtual disk.
  8. Replace the created .vmdk in folder X with the .vmdk created supra. => Starting up the Virtual Machine like this would get me the 'morphing windows' followed by a blue screen and a reboot ... over and over again.

  9. Open the .vmx file with a text editor and look for these entries:

    scsi0.present = "TRUE"
    scsi0.virtualDev = "lsisas1068"
    scsi0:0.present = "TRUE"
    scsi0:0.fileName = "<filename>.vmdk"
    ide1:0.present = "TRUE"
    ide1:0.autodetect = "TRUE"
    ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-raw"

    And replace the information with this:

    bios.bootDelay = "5000" 
    scsi0:0.present = "FALSE"
    ide0:0.present = "TRUE"
    ide0:0.fileName = "<filename>.vmdk"
    ide0:0.virtualDev = "lsisas1068"
    ide1:0.present = "TRUE"
    ide1:0.autodetect = "TRUE"
    ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-raw"
  10. Save & start the Virtual Machine and keep your fingers crossed. For me it worked perfectly from here.

Remark: As the OS notices that the 'hardware' changed it will require re-activation. In my case this fails as I re-used the key for the 'new' OS. YMMV.

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PS: I assume this is clear from the 'question', but the host OS is Win7 64bit too... (Enterprise Edition) – deroby Jun 6 '13 at 20:39
This is helpful for other people who might share the same problem. Thx for sharing with us! – Forza Jun 7 '13 at 11:05

I do not have a great deal of knowledge about VMs (yet) but I thought I'd mention that VMware already has a solution for this: VMware vCenter Converter. From their main page:

VMware vCenter Converter transforms your Windows- and Linux-based physical machines and third-party image formats to VMware virtual machines.

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Not sure why you got voted down as I've found that tool to be quite useful too. (actually used it to get supra win7 to run virtually in win8) – deroby Feb 14 at 13:29
I guess my answer could be more informative perhaps. VMware does have a link to their 100-page user's guide for how to do this on the page that I mentioned, so I guess I figured I shouldn't repeat it here. Don't know. \V/_ – Dave Feb 16 at 22:17

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