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Virtualize Windows for free on a MacRun Windows programs in Mac OS X even if you can't afford Windows.
One of our CNET Live callers asked recently how he could run a Windows program on a Mac without buying Windows. I suggested buying Crossover for Mac. But Tales in the CNET Fans chat room had an even freer suggestion. Download the Windows 7 release candidate for free, and then install it in Virtual Box, the free virtualization software. Here's how to do it. First go get the absolutely legal and absolutely free Windows 7 release candidate. Microsoft is giving Windows 7 away for free until July 2009 so people can help test it. Your free version will work fine until March 2010 when it will begin shutting down every two hours. In June 2010, it will stop working completely. Go to microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/ and click "Get the Release Candidate," read all the caveats, and download the ISO image of Windows 7. You'll need to register for a Microsoft account if you don't already have one. Now go virtualbox.org and download and install virtual box. It's an open-source virtualization software like VMware or Parallels. Now go run Virtual Box. Select New and then next then name the new virtual machine. Under operating system select Windows 7. Press Next. Select the amount of base memory and then select create a new hard disk. This is actually poor verbiage. Your not creating a virtual hard disk, but in fact, a virtual machine upon which you will install Windows 7. Press next and Next again. Choose if you want to limit the size of this virtual machine's hard disk or whether you want it to expand it as the data expands. Letting it expand saves you space at first. Next you'll name the location of the new image. And decide the max size of the virtual disk as it will be reported in the OS. Press Finish and then Finish again. This is the confusing part. You've only created the machine and it's disk not installed the OS. So Start your new machine. You'll be prompted to install an OS. Press Next. Select CD/DVD even though you won't be using an actual CD. You'll press the little folder icon, and then here I've already added the ISO but if you haven't press add, and browse through finder to the place you stored the ISO file. Then select the Windows 7 ISO. And then press next. Press Finish and your machine will start installing Windows 7. The install may take awhile. But after a bit... You have a fully functional virtual Windows for free. At least for a year or so. That gives you time to save up for a new Windows. Thanks for watching and saving money. I'm Tom Merritt, CNET.com.