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These have been around for years. I put together a guide for personal use a while ago, for how to get them running under VirtualBox on OSX. Should be a similar process under Linux. I don't have a blog or anything, so I'll include them here, hoping they'll be helpful to people here, sorry about the length (I last did this a few months ago, so it should be pretty up-to-date).

- Extract the RAR files. On OSX use UnRarX: http://www.unrarx.com/ At least with UnRarX, it will still work despite the first RAR file being a self-extracting .exe file which, obviously, can only run on Windows. You may have to open the multi-part archive using the second file, it will still work.

- Install VirtualBox from https://www.virtualbox.org/ Inside of VirtualBox, create a new virtual machine using the wizard. Make sure to choose the appropriate OS (for example Windows 7) and give it enough memory (the default 512MB is definitely not enough). Also, we're using 32-bit OS only. The important part is to select the .vhd file you extracted from the .rar files as an existing hard drive.

- Do not run the virtual machine yet. It won't work, because it's designed only to work with Microsoft Virtual PC. To make it compatible, click "settings" in VirtualBox to change some things:

- On the system tab, check Enable IO APIC. This is necessary to get your mouse to work (I think).

- On the storage tab, remove your VHD from the "SATA Controller" list. Then add the same VHD file back, only under the "IDE Controller" tab. The VHD is expecting an IDE controller, and you'll get a BSOD if you don't do this step. Under the network tab, change "attached to" from "NAT" to "Bridged Adapter". This is necessary to be able to access a webserver running on your local machine, that is outside of the VM. (You don't need to do this if you just want to access websites in general). Start the Virtual Machine.

- You'll notice the mouse doesn't work. We'll get to that. For now, the Tab key and Alt+Tab are your friends. Log in with either the "IE User" or the "Admin" account. The password is "Password1".

- It will ask you to activate. Ignore for now.

- In VirtualBox, go to the "Devices" menu in your OS menu bar and click "Install Guest Additions...".

- In Windows, launch Explorer somehow. Easiest way is the "run" command (try Windows Key + R) and type "explorer". From within explorer, use Tab and Enter and arrow keys to navigate to the inserted CD. Select the "Autorun" file and hit "Enter" to run it.

- You are now installing guest additions. During the process, you'll need to Alt+Tab to the new prompt window to hit enter every time you need to confirm something.

- Once guest additions is installed, use the start menu to restart the virtual machine. Once it restarts, your mouse should now work inside the virtual machine, hooray!

- It will ask you again to activate. Try to activate online. If it works without asking you for a product number, awesome. If it asks you for a product number, hit cancel, open up a command prompt (run "cmd"), and type the following:

    slmgr -rearm
(If it says you don't have permission, then try logging in under the other account when Windows starts up, if more than one account is listed, e.g. both "Admin" and "Administrator". One of them should work.) This will activate Windows for 30 days, and you can redo this every 30 days. Note: if you don't activate or run this command instead, then Windows will shut itself down after 15 minutes.

- Open up IE. It should be able to browse the Internet. But it will not open up sites on nonstandard ports, so browsing to your own site at something like
will not work. To fix this, go to Internet options, then the Security tab. Click the Trusted Sites icon. Click the Sites button. Uncheck the "Require server verficiation (https:) for all sites in this zone" checkbox. Click Add, then type in the IP address of your machine (for example
). Click Close. Then, with the Trusted Sites icon still selected, change the security level for this zone to the lowest possible setting. Now, browsing non-standard ports like 8080 should work.

- If you find yourself Cmd+Tabbing between the Virtual Machine and the rest of your programs, you may find that every time you Cmd+Tab back to the Virtual Machine, it opens up the windows menu. This can get real annoying real fast, because it removes focus from whatever you were working on. You can disable the "Windows key" inside of the VM from this Microsoft webpage:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/216893 Obviously, this will disable any windows key shortcuts, but that's probably fine. Remember, normal shortcuts like Ctrl+V etc use the Ctrl key on the Mac keyboard, not the Cmd key.

Awesome guide, thanks a lot!

Since the WinXP is just a single exe file, UnrarX cannot extract it. Any idea to fix this besides extracting it on a Windows computer?

The Unarchiver works for me: http://unarchiver.c3.cx/unarchiver

Hackers don't search for easy solutions ;) You can use any hex editor to cut the PE file: just cut from the beginning to the point where the Rar! signature starts and rename the extension to .rar.

Challenge accepted.

Edit: There is no "Rar!" in Windows_XP_IE6.exe :(

That's because it's not a RAR archive :( Windows_7_IE8.part01.exe and Windows_Vista_IE7.part01.exe are RAR archives, but Windows_XP_IE6.exe is not.

It looks like a self-extracting CAB file, 7-zip can open it and maybe some other archivers as well.


Thank you for this. What I wish I could find was a way to buy a low-cost version of Windows to run in VirtualBox on a Mac, not for testing IE, but just to be able to use Windows occasionally.

I'm not sure why MS wants to make buying Windows without a PC so expensive. I suppose they feel that locking us into PC hardware (that won't run MacOS, thanks to Apple's lock-in policies) is the best way to lock us into Windows. For me, someone who uses Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android for different things, it all just drives me toward a policy of trying to find ways to get by without MS and Apple as much as I reasonably can. A $39 "Windows for VMs" package would keep my foot in the Windows world, but lacking Apple's (current) hardware quality advantage, MS is the easiest to learn to do without entirely.

Have you seen the pricing on Windows 8? It's $48 here in Australia (roughly the same in USD) and I believe there's a $40 download-only version too. It sounds like that would suit your needs?

It's my understanding that that's an upgrade price, not a new installation. They're doing it, because so many Windows users are saying they'll keep using Windows 7, an actual computer OS, rather than upgrading to the new "post-PC" Windows 8.

You could be right, and I could be wrong, though....

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