I've got a highly optimized Windows 7 for making music. Up until now I dual-booted into another copy of Windows 7. I use that for Photoshop, testing applications and regular work so the registry of the music-installation remains clean.

Now I got a new notebook with 16gigs RAM, Core i7 and SSD-HDD.

I'd like to ditch the dual-boot and emulate the work Windows 7 on the music-Windows 7 with either VMWare Workstation or VirtualBox. Which one would you recommend for that purpose and why? Keep in mind that I want to do some heavy work on the virtual machine!

  • 1
    Personally, I would prefer VirtualBox (4.1.x) series, but surely it would be best for you to just give them a go and see which is best.
    – tombull89
    Sep 7, 2011 at 8:21

4 Answers 4


Hard to know what you mean by "making music", but VirtualBox should provide everything you need.

  • Support for audio in/out (see "Audio" settings under each VM.)
  • USB devices (sound cards, keyboards, etc.) can be passed straight to the VM.
  • Video RAM can be allocated to the VM, in case Reaper/FLStudio/Reason needs it.
  • Use RightCtrl-f for fullscreen mode. You'll forget you're in a virtual machine.

One thing I'd consider doing is partitioning your SSD, though. If you store your audio sessions on the extra partition, you can connect it directly to the VM or change it back to the host OS, if you need. This will keep your audio files outside of virtual disks and will give you better I/O speeds.

I think you'll find that VirtualBox VMs run at surprising speed, too.

  • It's different. the music-making Windows 7 will run natively, the work-Windows 7 will be the VM. To store the data I've got a 2nd HDD in my notebook. The fullscreen-thing is very handy. My external HDD doesn't seem to work in the VM. After passing it to the VM the driver installation failed for some reasons.
    – Hedge
    Sep 7, 2011 at 23:00
  • nvm I had to install Oracle's VirtualBox Extension Pack to get USB 2.0 devices to work properly.
    – Hedge
    Sep 7, 2011 at 23:09

Just my personal experience: Using VMWare on Windows hosts and VirtualBox on Linux hosts works fine. Using VirtualBox on Windows hosts often lead to crashes of the VMs, e.g. just disappearing. Using VMWare on Linux was also very confusing to mw and showed also a lot of instability.


I use VMware Workstation 7 and do pretty much what you're thinking of - on my notebook I run Windows 7 64-bit host, and install very little software on the host - I do everything in virtual machines.

I have my Windows 7 (also 64-bit) virtual machine with all my various software and Windows development tools.

I have another Ubuntu VM with other Android dev tools.

I will frequently create a temporary VM to try out some software - so I don't pollute my regular machines (VMs) with software and then removing it. After trying it, just delete the temporary VM.

I have had additional VMs for work (yet another different toolset), including running multiple VMs with a "internal" (within VMware) network so I can simulate multiple machines talking to each other.

I actually started using virtual machine when I had multiple toolsets and was concerned they'd interfere with each other. (it's happened in the past)

Mostly it works well - I only have 4GB in this notebook and that's a limitation - I can easily run one VM at a time, but running multiple VMs means I have to limit the RAM in those VMs. Occasionally something bangs away at the disk and locks up the machine for 30 seconds to even several minutes. Firefox can cause that - I have a tendency to open hundreds of tabs; eats memory and things go haywire for a while.

I'm envious of your 16GB RAM! what machine did you get? No budget for one right now, but eventually... (other than memory, this notebook works very well - big screen, 2 hard drives, etc)

VMware released Workstation 8 recently - I'm considering whether to upgrade or switch to VirtualBox.


Either will do what you want, so long as you have the hardware to allocate CPU/DISK/RAM to the virtual machine. I would suggest VirtualBox to try, if only because it's free and will let you see if running a VM will work out for you. VMware might allow for better integration with the underlying OS/Hardware, but I lack the funding to give you a proper analysis on the product. XD

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