Windows is Complicated. Virtualbox can help.

Windows is finicky, unstable, unreliable, likely to catch a virus and, when you buy it preinstalled, loaded with spyware, spamware, and other bloat that kills performance.

It's basically everything you would hate to do to an otherwise perfectly good piece of computer hardware.

However, sometimes it's necessary to use Windows out of the compassion of your heart to help others - such as creating a screencast on how to install Chrome or Ubuntu.

Occasionally, you run into geniuses who have so much extra brain power that they prefer to use windows because it taxes a part of their brain for unrealistic problem solving that just doesn't get exercised any other way.

It's hard to have compassion for someone who wakes up everyday and bangs their head on the wall on purpose that way, but if you can manage there are other exercises in futility you might assist them in finding, such as using any assortment of app (desktop or otherwise) that can't run in Chrome and Firefox.

If you're the kind of sadist who introduces that kind of masochist to use PHP, I have special, personal message for you from the blackest and most dark and exquisitely bitter part of my heart: I hate you.

Whether your cause is for good or for evil, VirtualBox is here to help.

Installing Windows 7 in VirtualBox

Forward: This is mostly about the Windows configuration and not as much about VirtualBox. I highly recommend you take a look at How to Install Ubuntu in VirtualBox if you need any of the specifics about using VirtualBox itself.

  1. I'll assume you can figure out how to download and install VirtualBox and the Extension Pack

  2. You can install Windows 7 from a DVD in the drive, a *.iso, or a *.dmg (and possibly other formats).

  3. If you are not using a license key, it may be useful to restart the installation just before the countdown begins ticking. Before you enter in your Product Key take a snapshot from the Machine -> Take Snapshot... (Host+T) menu item.

  4. Since VirtualBox has Snapshots, you don't need System Restore. And because VBox uses a virtual drive that fills up based on number of writes, not number of gigabytes stored (read about TRIM) and assume it's not being implemented properly yet) you should disable system restore right away to prevent disk bloat.

     alt-click on Computer
     System Protection (list on the left)
     Turn off system protection
     Delete (if needed)
     (close window)
  5. Now is the time to perform windows updates. This process will seem like it completes several times, but even when you are positive it's done, reboot and run one more time. It will most likely take 6 or 7 runs through this process to complete entirely (the Windows team has figured out how to download all the updates at once or install them in one shot).

     (type in searchbar) Update
     (click) Windows Updates
     (wait long time)
     Reboot (from menu in bottom right)
  6. Machine -> Take Snapshot... (Host+T) As long as your not connected to a network with any other Windows computers (i.e. you're using VirtualBox's default network settincgs), you probably don't have a virus just yet, but we're about to visit the Internet and we don't have a browser yet... so it could be dangerous.

  7. The best thing about Internet Explorer is that it really is the best application to download a web browser. Using any other application to download a browser just isn't as high of a return on your time (i.e. you probably already have a browser) However, for those of you who aren't comfortable with Internet Explorer (or otherwise have a normal sense of conscience)... have you tried PowerShell? (p.s. don't worry that (, looks like <, the Windows team hasn't figured out how to render fonts yet - it's a project 25 years overdo, but annoying the user enough that they need to walk away from the screen and go to natural light has always been a higher concern - safety first!)

     (type in searchbar) PowerShell
     (New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile(
       , "$env:UserProfile\Desktop\ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe"
  8. (For Windows 8, skip this step) The only good anti-virus is... well... none. (You're much better off to use an Operating System - such as OS X or Linux, duh). However, as much as it pains me to say that Redmond got something right, Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender have even less bloat than Avast (WOW!). For example, you're computer will be usable - despite that it really does have anti-virus running.

  9. If you're using a mac, you'll want to swap ctrl and cmd. You can switch control and command by saving the following (maybe using notepad) to a file called swap.reg and then double-clicking it (note that without the header comment or if the line lengths are too long, it will not load as it will be considered a "binary file").

     Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
     [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout]
     "Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,05,00,00,00,5b,e0,1d,00,1d,00,5b,e0,\
  10. Machine -> Take Snapshot... (Host+T) And you're done.

  11. P.S. You might enjoy chocolatey or Nuget

  12. P.P.S. Productivity: SublimeText2, Spotify

  13. P.P.P.S. Windows 8:


  • HD begins at 1280x720 (720p),
  • MacBooks can do 1152x720,
  • and Windows 8 requires at least 1280 x 800, but prefers 1366x768


I use alt-click as a replacement for right-click since some people have always been left-handed and just recently the use of gesture devices (such as the MacBook gesture trackpad) don't have a concept of right-click.

By AJ ONeal

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