Microsoft has decided to offer a free Virtual PC image of Windows XP SP2 that is already activated. The reason they are offering this is so that users will be able to test out websites on Internet Explorer 6 SP2 because you can’t have two versions of IE installed on a single computer. With the recent release of Internet Explorer 7 many users were complaining about not knowing how their site looked in IE 6.
The image file is only 292MB which is about 200MB less than the typical Windows XP installation CD, so I don’t know if it is missing some features or what? John, the person who sent me this tip, was actually wondering if he could use the VMware importer so that he could run this in Linux. The VMware Importer does work with Virtual PC images but I’m not sure if the version of Windows XP, that Microsoft provides, is specifically designed for the Virtual PC software and checks to make sure that is what’s running it. Unfortunately I don’t have VMware on my Linux box at this time but I may have to try it out.
Virtual PC is offered as a free download from Microsoft but only version 2004 is currently available to the public. Windows Vista users need to have Virtual PC 2007 which is currently being tested and will also be a free download when it is released later this year.
Three things I want to mention now that I have had a chance to try out the image. First is that I keep forgetting that Vista users can install and use Virtual PC 2004 for this it’s just that Virtual PC 2004 doesn’t let you run Vista as the guest operating system. I have Virtual PC 2004 installed on Vista right now and I got the image up and running.
Second is that there is some concern whether this is a trial version or not. When running the image it says that it is an evaluation copy in the bottom right corner (similar to what pre-release version of Vista has). To see if it had some sort of time limit I set the clock ahead one year and nothing happened so I don’t think that this has an expiration.
The third thing is whether you can actually install software on this. Yes, you can because I was able to get Firefox installed and running without any problems.
Here are the download links that you should find useful: