My goal is to install Windows 7 on a virtual machine running on Ubuntu. The Lenovo machine came with Windows 7 installed, but did not come with a boot disk.

What are my options? Should I ask Lenovo for a disk? Will I need to purchase Windows just for the virtual machine?

  • Install the trial. That is the only legal way to run Windows within a virtual machine without purchasing it. You would need to reinstall the operating system every 180 days. – Ramhound Jun 2 '11 at 12:56
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    @Ramhound - 180 days is for the server editions. Only Win 7 Enterprise is available in the Win 7 client editions as a 90 day trial. You cannot re-install after the 90 day trial; that is also a violation of the terms of use. You also must meet eligibility requirements as explained technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/ee388361 – P.Brian.Mackey Jun 2 '11 at 13:05
  • Dual Boot is an option if you want to run native linux, or wubi if you'd like Ubuntu is the easiest way ;) – robx Jun 2 '11 at 20:32

OEM licenses (the ones that come with factory built machines) only allow you to perform a clean installation on the original machine. The license does not allow for virtualization. So, you cannot re-use the one that came with the machine for this purpose without breaking the contract you electronically signed with Microsoft.

You can download a trial version if you meet the eligibility requirements laid out here. In all likelihood, if you do not have an MSDN account you need to buy Windows 7 from a retail store to remain legal.

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    This was found an illegal contractual binding in Germany in 2000, see reference I ZR 244/97. – peth Jun 2 '11 at 16:02
  • @user112553 not knowing the OP's nationality, does this apply only to Germany? – Kruug Jan 30 '13 at 20:13
  • @Kruug I'm afraid so. No idea if license resale restrictions were challenged in other countries or if there is an EU directive that would trump. – peth Feb 13 '13 at 13:27
  • It would likely be found in violation of EU law. Can't add restrictions after selling Windows, even if that Windows sale happens to be tied to a PC sale. And it's insufficient to merely point out during the sale that restrictions exist. All terms of sale must be available for consideration. IOW, the defense "Nope, I wasn't told I couldn't do that" is a very strong defense and trumps a EULA in the EU. I guess that's some nominative irony. – MSalters Oct 23 '15 at 13:59

You can virtualize your existing Windows 7 installation, either using the method ntw1103 mentions or using VMWare's Converter, which will turn it into a VMDK file.

This is perfectly legal if you have Win7 Pro. Microsoft's license does not allow virtualization (last time I looked) of less-expensive licenses of their operating systems. (This is as of XP and Vista, I haven't read the Win7 licenses in detail.)

It's a wild thought and probably won't work for you, but you might consider trying ReactOS, which is a Windows-impersonating OS, an operating system using no Microsoft code but attempting to duplicate all its APIs and run all Windows programs. It's currently in alpha but it looks interesting, and I believe you can download a VM containing ReactOS directly.

  • Hmm . . . I don't need this VM for serious work, maybe I'll try it out. – Eric Wilson Jun 2 '11 at 16:25
  • @EricWilson Another alternative to ReactOS is Zorin-OS(.com). It attempts to mimic the layout of Windows 7 and uses WINE for running Windows programs. – Kruug Jan 30 '13 at 20:15

If you need it for testing purposes Microsoft has prepared virtual machines for many windows versions for compatibility testing.


VMs expire after 90 days.


If your computer has windows 7 installed still, you can create a virtual hard disc copy of your machines hard drive. you can download Disk2vhd which will allow you to do this here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx By doing this, you can get the windows7 install for your laptop turned into a virtual machine, and I believe this is legal?


I am not an attorney, but I assume the license is bound to the machine. If he creates the virtual disk, installs Linux on the same machine, and virtualizes the Windows on the new Linux installation (still on the same machine), there should be no problems.

If they moves machines, then yes, there is legal area to sue. However, Microsoft will not come after someone because they took a legal license and virtualized it. That's just not going to happen realistically. Knock on wood.

However, there may be a way to get an upgrade license to work as a fresh install. It may be worth your time investigating, and I may know, somehow, that it is possible.

Best of luck!

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