How-To User Aero When Playing With Virtual Windows 7

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Because some of you were asking me how I was able to use Aero in combination with Windows 7 when I installed it inside a VMWare virtual machine I will explain how I did it in this how-to post.

Click here for a Dutch version / Klik hier voor een Nederlandstalige versie.

Before you can start please verify that you can enable Aero on your host (from which you will launch Remote Desktop later on) is able. It doesn’t have to be enabled!

Step 1 : Create a virtual machine to install Windows 7

Virtual Aero - Create VMWare specs

Because Windows 7 isn’t available to choose from, I chose the guest OS to be Windows Vista x64 Edition (you can also choose the x86 Edition of course!).

Notice : I used VMWare Workstation 6.5 for this how-to. I’m not sure if it works with older versions of VMWare or with Virtual PC 2007, please let me know if that also works!

Step 2 : Install Windows 7 inside the virtual machine

Now we can start installing Windows 7. Installing it the default way will do.

Virtual Aero - Installing Windows 7


Step 3 : Enable Remote Desktop inside the virtual machine you just installed

Virtual Aero - Enabling Remote Desktop

Step 4 : Fire up MSTSC (Remote Desktop)

Notice : If you have only one pc, you can start mstsc on the machine which also runs VMWare (or Virtual PC).

Before you can connect to the newly created virtual machine, first you have to check out the settings at the Experience tab. All the boxes should be selected, you can also select LAN (10 Mbps or higher) from the list.
When you checked that the settings are correct you can connect to the virtual machine.

When you’re lucky (like I was) you should see a Aero-enabled desktop. If somehow it’s not working, just read on!

Step 5 : Check if you can enable Aero

To check if you can enable Aero, just click right on the desktop and select Personalize (Or press the Start button and start typing Personalize your computer and select that option).

Press the Windows Color button at the bottom of the windows (see the screenshot below).

If your host is Aero-enabled you should see the screen (just like the screenshot below) where you can enable Transparency.

Virtual Aero - Enabling transparancy

If your host is not Aero-enabled you probably see the screen (just like the screenshot below), and you’re unable to enable transparency. You see this screen also if you’re running Windows Vista Basic or Windows XP on your host.


Step 6 : Aero enabled desktop via Remote Desktop

If you succeeded to enable transparency your Remote Desktop probably looks something like this.

Virtual Aero - Windows through Default RDP connection

Notice : As you can see in the image below, transparency doesn’t have to be enabled on your host machine. But it should at least be able to enable it!

Virtual Aero - No transparancy on host - transparancy enabled on vm