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Earlier this month, Microsoft made the Windows 7 beta available for anyone to download and test drive it. Unless you have a spare computer, it can be somewhat inconvenient to test out new operating systems on your main system. Although it is possible to dual boot Windows 7 with Vista or XP, you may still prefer to install it on a separate machine. VirtualBox is just the separate machine you’ve been looking for, and it’s free!

VirtualBox is a free and open source virtualization program. Essentially, it is like having a complete and separate computer within your computer. You can install any operating system on it, including Windows 7. The latest version of VirtualBox (2.1.2) has support for Windows 7, which makes it very easy and convenient to install.

First, you’ll want to download VirtualBox and install it. VirtualBox is available for multiple platforms: Windows, OS X, Linux, and Solaris. During the installation on a Windows system, you may receive a warning that untested software is being installed. Be sure to click continue when those boxes appear, as essential components for VirtualBox to function properly are being installed. More »

For those of you who have waited long for the beta release of Windows 7, Micosoft has finally released the link for you to download a copy to test. In case you have not downloaded, here is the link:

The file size is about 2.4GB in size, so make sure you are on a broadband connection and have several hours to spare. You will have to burn it into a DVD to use it.

Once you have downloaded it, you will have to install it on a working machine in order to access the full functionality. As this is still a beta release and not suitable for daily production use, it is not wise to erase or upgrade your existing Vista to Windows 7. A good way is to create a dual boot system where you can choose to boot into Vista or Win 7. Here’s how it’s done:
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