Blog | Kilburnlad Parallels on SSD & Windows 7 to Windows 10

Parallels on SSD & Windows 7 to Windows 10

Windows 10 - Parallels


Windows has in the past driven me to distraction and I can honestly say that my computing life improved immeasurably after I migrated to an iMac in 2008. But I kept Windows going for a while, first as a virtual machine in VMFusion, and then in a Bootcamp partition when I acquired a MacBook Pro in 2009. The Windows frustration continued and I shared my feelings back in 2017.

When I upgraded both my iMac and later my MacBook, Windows was jettisoned.

Jump forward to 2020 and against my better judgement Windows is back. The story of how this came about might be of interest

Samsung SSD

When I updated to MacOS Catalina there were some applications that I didn't want to lose, but weren't compatible with the new OS. I decided to buy Parallels and retain a virtual copy of Mojave. As my new iMac has only a 250GB SSD drive and the Mojave VM occupied around 36GB, it represented quite an overhead. All was well until recently when I did some quite heavy video editing in iMovie, resulting in my Mac freezing. I was caught out because my daughter shared an iCloud folder containing all the individual video clips, this being possible with the advent of Catalina 10.15.4 and iOS 13.4. What I didn't realise was that all the files had been downloaded to the Mac. So much for shared 'cloud' storage. This share, combined with the production of a number of completed videos in iMovie, left me unknowingly with minimal remaining disk space.

After tidying up the video files and moving all the shared clips to an external drive, I re-established safe headroom. But I decided it would be better to move the Mojave VM to an external disk. I experimented with a spare SATA hard drive but it was far too slow to allow a decent user experience in the VM. So I bought a Samsung portable 500GB SSD. This worked fine with the VM, there being little discernable difference from when it was on the Mac's SSD.

Reinstalling Windows 7 and upgrading to Windows 10

Microsoft had offered free upgrades from W7 to W10 but this offer expired in January of this year (2020) so I had just missed it. Undaunted I dug out the W7 installation disk, launched a new Parallels VM installation, and successfully installed W7, although it took an eternity. But I couldn't activate it. I tried the Microsoft Windows telephone activation service but after being pushed around a bit came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to get anywhere. The only other obvious glitch was that Internet Explorer was returning errors. Hardly surprising as it was extremely out of date. I decided to proceed with the W10 upgrade and see what happened.

I had found a web page that indicated that despite the end of the free upgrade offer, it was still possible to do it. It provided a link to a Microsoft page where I could download Windows 10 Disc Image (ISO File). This I did and proceeded to update within the VM. I needed to consult a couple support pages in the Parallel's knowledge base but the process seemed quite straightforward. But then a problem. After the initial setup process completed I needed a product code. I tried the W7 code but this was rejected, presumably because the ISO file was a new copy of windows rather than an upgrade.

With a new copy of W10 coming in at £119.99 from Microsoft only months after I had missed a free upgrade, and a host of dubious much lower priced offers, I reluctantly decided to look on line for product codes. There are plenty of people offering cheap Windows codes but eventually a came across a site that listed a host of codes '100% working'. On the second attempt a code was accepted and and the W10 upgrade installed far quicker than W7. Perhaps the Windows world has improved! Because it was a volume licence key, when I tried to activate it I received an error. Because the code was from a volume licence, Windows was looking for the activation server of the organisation to which the licence had been granted.

After a bit more research I found a suggestion that the product key for the original W7 (or W8) should be accepted. As it had been rejected when I first tried to install W10, I wasn't hopeful, but I launched the change product key process and, sure enough, the key was accepted and W10 was activated. I assume that this was the case because W10 had been installed over a registered copy of W7.

After a bit of perseverance W10 is now up and running in the VM off the external SSD. So, why did I reinstall Windows after all my moans and groans in the past? Well, I do quite a lot of web site creation and modification and I have missed the opportunity to check the results in a Windows' environment. As we know, Microsoft has a habit of doing things differently to everybody else and what looks right on a Mac won't always look the same in Windows!

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